During the early parts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Harrisonburg was seeing cases spike at an alarming rate.
At one point, the city had the highest per capita infection rate in the state of the Virginia.
On Wednesday, the city marked a much less pandemic panic-inducing milestone: No new positive cases of the new coronavirus had been recorded that day, the first time since early March.
That’s according to Michael Parks, the director of communications for the city, and the Virginia Public Access Project, which has been tracking cases throughout the state.
Two dozen city residents have died of COVID-19, and there are 937 probable cases in the Friendly City, though the true number is likely higher due to testing issues, according to data from the Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Public Access Project.
Most of the deaths were linked to an outbreak at the Accordius Health nursing home on South Avenue.
The Virginia Department of Health credits Gov. Ralph Northam’s now expired stay-at-home order, social distancing and other measures for helping flatten the curve of infections and keep hospitals from being overwhelmed.
A model on the VDH website estimates that the state’s approach to the pandemic prevented 7,770 cases of COVID-19 in the Harrisonburg metro area since May 15.
Northam allowed Virginia to enter into Phase 3 of his reopening plan Wednesday, loosening restrictions on many businesses, including movie theaters.
At the last minute, however, Northam decided restaurants and bars would continue to operate under Phase 2 restrictions, with no bar service allowed and capacity restricted to 50%.
The decision comes as many Southern and Western states that aggressively moved to reopen are seeing surges in new infections.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told lawmakers Tuesday that people must stop congregating in bars as states reopen to help limit the virus’ spread.
As of Wednesday, Virginia had just over 63,200 cases, according to VDH.