WATCH: City, county leaders across Central Virginia declare local states of emergency

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“We choose to stand together and to be prepared and do everything in our power to minimize the impact it will have on the residents of our region," Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said Friday.

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — City and county leaders from Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield, Hanover and Goochland all declared local states of emergency, effective immediately, during a joint press conference Friday morning.

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney opened up the briefing by announcing a local state of emergency for the city before introducing the region’s path forward.

“In light of the imminent, potential threat to the public health and public safety,” Stoney said. “I am declaring a local state of emergency in the City of Richmond, effective immediately.”

Richmond had already activated its regional incident management team of first responders, who Stoney said would be coordinating efforts on the ground, before the press conference began. The mayor said leadership from surrounding jurisdictions have agreed to meet regularly and share resources and work together to ensure all localities have regional support for their citizens. 

“While this infectious disease has yet to become prevalent in our region, we know that the numbers will grow. And we’ve already seen the examples of communities and countries that are being seriously challenged because they did not take the early steps to address community spread or realize the threat COVID-19 poses until it is already on their doorsteps,” Stoney said.

“The leaders of this region are choosing a different path,” Stoney said. “We choose to stand together and to be prepared and do everything in our power to minimize the impact it will have on the residents of our region. We know that the coronavirus knows no borders, does not know what county it is in or what city it is in. We know that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Richmond’s mayor continued.

Leaders from Chesterfield, Henrico, Hanover and Goochland followed suit on Friday, declaring states of emergency for their areas.

“In Henrico, we are monitoring the situation closely and are ready to do whatever is necessary to address whatever threats this pandemic poses,” said Dan Schmitt, the vice chairman of Henrico County’s Board of Supervisors. “You’re already seeing this in the difficult decision to close schools in order to ensure the safety of our children.”

Citing the importance of regional cooperation, Schmitt also said Henrico County will be ready to mobilize any resources needed and “to tap additional resources from the state and federal governments.”

Schmitt told residents to visit the county’s site for more details on the coronavirus.

“As we move through this process, Chesterfield will continue to work collaboratively to monitor this evolving public health issue,” Leslie Haley, the chair of Chesterfield’s Board of Supervisors, said during the briefing.

Haley provided the county’s website, which was developed in the response to the outbreak, for residents with any questions or concerns about COVID-19.

“Our number one priority is to make sure our residents, our businesses and our visitors are aware of the latest information and the precautions they need to take,” Haley continued.

Following the Friday morning press conference, the City of Petersburg announced it was also declaring a local state of emergency in response to the virus.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News for updates.

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