Northam holds COVID-19 briefing, discusses Capitol safety

Published: Jan. 14, 2021 at 10:23 AM EST
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Governor Ralph Northam addressed the commonwealth on Tuesday, January 14, and gave a COVID-19 briefing to update Virginians on the COVID-19 response and vaccination efforts.

To begin the briefing, Governor Northam provided an update on Virginia’s vaccination plan. Northam said the current goal is to vaccinate 25,000 Virginians a day and to do so as quickly as possible.

Northam also said the commonwealth is receiving 110,000 vaccine doses per week, and that only a handful of states have given more vaccine doses than Virginia, and those states are bigger than the commonwealth — including California, Texas and Florida.

Northam said Virginia has distributed 100% of doses to 160 vaccination clinics and sites across the commonwealth, and a number of health districts have now moved to vaccinating those in Group 1B, which includes teachers, frontline and essential workers and those aged 75 and older.

Across the commonwealth, many hospitals and health networks have worked to vaccinate their communities quickly and efficiently. Northam said NOVA Health System has administered more than 35,000 doses of the vaccine, and Valley Health in Shenanandoh has set up a large vaccination site to administer doses to the community.

HHS has discussed the idea of allowing states to vaccinate those aged 65 and older, or those under the age of 64 who have underlying health conditions, and HHS has been in contact with Virginia about the possibility of doing so.

Northam says about half of Virginia is now eligible to receive the vaccination, but everyone will need to be patient. Northam and his team encourage the community to get vaccinated when their time comes, if possible, and even if you do receive the vaccine, you should still follow COVID-19 guidelines.

Northam also touched on schools throughout Virginia and their next steps. Northam said he and his team want schools to reopen, but emphasized the importance of school officials and teachers receiving the vaccine, and keeping students and staff masked and socially distanced while in the building. The Virginia Department of Education will soon release new guidelines for schools with additional information.

Northam said schools should also prioritize who should be in the school buildings — such as students with disabilities or those who speak English as a second language.

To conclude before taking questions, Northam addressed threats of violence to state capitols and security leading up to next week’s inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

Northam said violence has no place in Richmond or in Washington. He also addressed the Virginia National Guard members and state troopers in Washington, D.C. — saying he wants to bring these officials back to their families and ask for their help with vaccination efforts, but as long as there is a threat in the nation’s capitol, they should stay.

Northam used this explanation to urge Virginians not to choose violence as we approach Inauguration Day.

“If you are planning to come here or up to Washington with ill intent in your heart, you need to turn around and go home,” Northam said. “You’re not welcome here, or in our nation’s capitol.”

You can watch the COVID-19 briefing below.

Thursday’s briefing comes one day after Governor Northam delivered the State of the Commonwealth address, where Northam focused on the coronavirus pandemic and the riots that occurred last week at the U.S. Capitol.

You can read more about the State of the Commonwealth address by clicking here.

In a mid-December briefing, Northam established new COVID-19 restrictions, which went into effect on December 14, 2020, at 12:01 a.m. These new restrictions, which are said to be in effect until at least the end of January, are as follows:

  • Modified Stay at Home Order: All individuals in Virginia must remain at their place of residence between the hours of 12:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. Exceptions include obtaining food and goods, traveling to and from work, and seeking medical attention.
  • Universal mask requirement: All Virginians aged five and over are required to wear face coverings in indoor settings shared with others and when outdoors within six feet of another person. This order expands the current statewide mask mandate, which has been in place since May 29, and requires all individuals aged five and over to wear face coverings in indoor and outdoor public settings outside of their own household. These changes are consistent with new CDC guidelines, released December 4, which recommend universal wearing of face coverings.
  • Reduction in social gatherings: All social gatherings must be limited to 10 individuals, down from the current cap of 25 people. Social gatherings include, but are not limited to, parties, celebrations, or other social events, regardless of whether they occur indoors or outdoors. This does not apply to religious services, employment settings, or educational settings. Restaurants and retail stores are already governed by strict social distancing requirements, and are not included in this limit.
  • Continued limits on dining establishments: Virginia restaurants are currently governed by strict social distancing and sanitization requirements, which remain in place. The on-site sale, consumption, and possession of alcohol remains prohibited after 10:00 p.m. in any restaurant, dining establishment, food court, brewery, microbrewery, distillery, winery, or tasting room. All restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms must close by midnight.
  • Teleworking: Employees that can telework are strongly encouraged to do so.

COVID-19 in Virginia

As of Thursday, January 14, Virginia has had 417,839 total cases of COVID-19, including confirmed lab tests and clinical diagnoses, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

These cases result from 5,724,777 total COVID-19 tests run in the commonwealth.

That total reflects a 5,294 case increase since Wednesday. The Virginia Department of Health reports a 15% 7-day positivity rate for total testing encounters, and a 15.5% 7-day positivity rate for PCR tests.

74 additional deaths were reported on Thursday, leaving the death toll at 5,626.

According to the Virginia Department of Health’s COVID-19 vaccine data dashboard, as of January 14, 215,101 people have been vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 27,429 people are fully vaccinated. 943,400 total vaccine doses have been distributed throughout the state.

You can now call WHSV for the latest COVID-19 case numbers in the health districts we cover, as well as the case numbers in Grant, Hardy and Pendleton Counties, W. Va. Our COVID-19 hotline will be updated daily. To listen, you can call 540-433-9191 ext. 101 Monday-Friday.

For a comprehensive summary of COVID-19 cases and testing in Virginia, you can visit the Virginia Department of Health’s website and view their COVID-19 dashboard.

For the latest factual information on COVID-19, you’re encouraged to check both the Virginia Department of Health and the CDC.

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