Northam discusses vaccine transparency during COVID-19 briefing Wednesday; extends restrictions through Feb.

Published: Jan. 27, 2021 at 11:34 AM EST
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Governor Ralph Northam held a COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday, January 27 to address the Commonwealth on the COVID-19 response and vaccination efforts.

Northam said there were two items he wanted to address during the briefing: The supply, logistics and moving of the COVID-19 vaccine, as well as discussing transparency when it comes to COVID-19 vaccinations.

Since the first vaccine doses came to Virginia in mid-December, more than 520,000 COVID-19 vaccines have been given in the commonwealth as of Wednesday, Northam said.

Northam said in just one month, more people have been vaccinated in Virginia than those who have tested positive during the entire pandemic throughout the commonwealth. He said with the help of CVS and Walgreens, the commonwealth’s new goal is to move up to 50,000 vaccine doses administered per day from its current goal of 25,000 per day, which Virginia has surpassed.

Northam said Virginians should remember how the system works when it comes to distributing the COVID-19 vaccine. He said there has been some confusion about the number of doses in Virginia, and said that 15 days ago, the outgoing Federal Secretary of Health told states to open up eligibility to everyone aged 65 and older, and the number of doses sent to states would be expanded.

Northam said two days later, states learned there were no more doses to release, and many places began to hold on to the remaining doses they had.

Northam then said he spoke with White House officials on Tuesday, and heard that other states were dealing with the same issue — not enough supply and not enough transparency. Federal officials promised states are going to receive about 16% more doses with guarantees lasting at least a month to allow for long-term planning.

Northam said on average, 26,000 vaccines have been given per day in the commonwealth, and 64.2% of first doses have been administered.

Northam said hospitals should be just about done administering first doses, and asks them to shift the excess supply of the second doses to other organizations that need them.

“There is no excuse for first doses to not be used,” Northam said.

Northam said Virginia has been allocating shots based on population, since members of the general population are beginning to receive the vaccine. At the beginning of vaccine distribution, only health care workers were eligible to receive the vaccine, so vaccine doses were sent where those workers are.

In turn, the Virginia Department of Health is issuing clear guidance for current doses: Half of the available doses should go to those aged 65 and over, and the other half should go to frontline workers or those with a severe illness.

“It will take several weeks to reach everyone, and please keep that in mind,” Northam said. “If you jump in line [for the vaccine], you are taking someone else’s vaccine... I’m asking everyone to do the right thing.”

Northam also addressed how certain data, such as race, will be collected in the commonwealth for transparency purposes for vaccine administration.

Before taking questions, Northam said many Virginians are wondering how they can receive a vaccine, or how they can sign up an elder they are close to. There are many plans in the works, including a change in the Virginia Department of Health’s vaccine dashboard that will provide more information and clarity regarding vaccine distribution and administration, but they are not quite ready yet.

For now, Northam suggests calling your local health district or visiting their website for more information.

To finalize, the COVID-19 restrictions Northam put into place last month will extend until the end of February. Those restrictions can be found below, under the video player.

You can watch the COVID-19 briefing below or on the Governor’s Facebook page.

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 February, 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 Wednesday, January 27, Virginia has had 488,553 total cases of COVID-19, including confirmed lab tests and clinical diagnoses, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

That total reflects a 5,227 case increase since Tuesday. The Virginia Department of Health reports a 11.8% 7-day positivity rate for total testing encounters, and a 12.3% 7-day positivity rate for PCR tests.

54 additional deaths were reported on Wednesday, leaving the death toll at 6,228.

According to the Virginia Department of Health’s COVID-19 vaccine data dashboard, as of January 27, 524,722 people have been vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 78,261 people are fully vaccinated. 1,166,600 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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