Inspectors from the Virginia Department of Health made an unannounced inspection Tuesday at Liberty University, where any students wishing to return to campus from spring break were welcome to do so. The inspectors found Liberty in full compliance with Governor Northam’s recent executive orders in response to the growing COVID-19 pandemic. Lynchburg City officials were among those objecting to Liberty’s decision, and some asked the VDH to conduct the inspection.
NEWS RELEASE: (LYNCHBURG, VA.) – In response to citizen concern regarding the re-opening of Liberty University, CVHD Health Director Kerry Gateley, MD, MPH dispatched two environmental health specialists to perform an unannounced inspection of campus conditions. CVHD staff visited open areas and food establishments across campus, including Montview, the buffet at Reber Thomas, the Tilley Student Center, and the Tinney Café.
During their inspection, CVHD did not observe any violations of the State of Virginia’s Executive Order 53 , which placed temporary restrictions on certain businesses and organizations, in light of COVID-19. “All operations appeared to be in compliance with the governor’s emergency order, which becomes effective at midnight,” reported Jim Bowles, CVHD’s environmental health manager. “We observed that all operations were carry-out only, no seating was provided, and onsite security guards — present at each location — were limiting the number of customers in line to 10.”
CVHD staff observed that all food, including on the buffet line, was dispensed by food service workers. Items that are usually self-served, such as bags of chips, were relocated behind countertops to prevent handling by customers, while condiments were offered in single-service packages. Staff were
also observed sanitizing equipment, such as soda machines and utensil dispensers, every fifteen minutes.
In summary, no violations of the executive order were found. No groups larger than 10 were observed on campus — in the food-service areas or elsewhere — while inspectors reported extensive measures had been taken to remain compliant with the governor’s order. While the health department inspectors reported no significant findings at this time, we will continue to monitor campus conditions in the weeks ahead.