Northam introduces COVID-19 call center, discusses pre-registration website during briefing Wednesday
Governor Ralph Northam held a COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday to address the Commonwealth’s latest COVID-19 response and vaccination efforts.
Northam began the briefing by addressing the current numbers: More than 1.4 million vaccine doses have been administered in the Commonwealth, and 12.4 percent of Virginians have received at least the first dose of the vaccine, putting Virginia in 12th place in the nation. Northam says the state receives about 130,000 vaccine doses from the federal government per week.
Northam said on average, the Commonwealth is seeing about 34,000 doses administered daily. The goal is to administer 50,000 doses per day.
Northam also said new emergency legislation has been signed that will allow more medical professionals, such as dentists and medical students, to help vaccinate. Northam said the bill also requires vaccinators to collect race and ethnicity data.
A new, statewide pre-registration system for the COVID-19 vaccine has gone live, which you can access at vaccinate.virginia.gov. The website can be used to pre-register for the COVID-19 vaccine or to check your status if you have already pre-registered.
Northam said there was a strong response to the launch of the website, with the site getting 300 registrations per minute at its peak. Since the website’s launch, Northam says 240,000 Virginians have signed up.
If you have already pre-registered for the vaccine with your local health district, you do not need to pre-register again using the statewide system. Over the weekend, 1.6 million records were migrated over to the statewide system from local health districts’ systems, Northam said, and the remaining will continue to migrate over throughout the week.
On Wednesday, the second component of the statewide pre-registration system opened. The dedicated call center can be used to speak with a live person by calling 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682). Northam asks that if you are able to use the statewide website, please do so instead of calling the call center, so those who do not have internet access or are having difficulties with the website can get the help they need. The call center is staffed seven days a week from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.
Northam also warned Virginians about COVID-19 vaccine scams, and says the vaccine does not cost you anything — do not respond to anyone asking for money to reserve your vaccine.
Northam said the majority of school divisions throughout Virginia have come up with a plan for in-person learning, and his administration is working with the remaining few who have not. Northam also said beginning on Monday, outdoor sporting events can host 250 spectators, as long as there is social distancing. Overnight summer camps will also be allowed this summer, but basic safety needs will stay in place for the foreseeable future.
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 Northam said will remain 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, February 17, Virginia has had 555,592 total cases of COVID-19, including confirmed lab tests and clinical diagnoses, according to the Virginia Department of Health.
That total reflects a 2,284 case increase since Tuesday. The Virginia Department of Health reports an 8.7% 7-day positivity rate for total testing encounters, and an 8.9% 7-day positivity rate for PCR tests.
Thirty-eight additional deaths were reported on Sunday, leaving the death toll at 7,075.
According to the data dashboard, as of February 17, 1,061,692 people have been vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 366,058 people are fully vaccinated. 1,766,575 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.
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