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Northam delivers update on COVID-19 response efforts, says statewide vaccination numbers increase

Published: May. 6, 2021 at 10:43 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WHSV) — Governor Ralph Northam is set to address Virginia on the Commonwealth’s latest COVID-19 response efforts on Thursday, May 6, at 11 a.m.

You can watch the live stream below, on the WHSV Facebook page or on the governor’s Facebook page.

“The vaccines are working,” Northam said to begin his briefing. “They’re helping reduce the spread of this disease... Fewer people are going to the hospital, fewer people are dying.”

On the topic of vaccination numbers, Northam said Virginia is doing extremely well. He says overall, almost 80 percent of individuals age 65 and up have had at least one shot, and more than half are fully vaccinated.

Now, everyone age 16 and above are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Northam says almost 60 percent of people who are eligible have received at least the first dose.

“I am grateful for everyone who has gotten their vaccine already,” Northam said.

Northam expects to see approval from the federal government of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for those ages 12 through 15 soon. He says according to preliminary results from a VCU survey say 66 percent of Virginia parents plan to get their children vaccinated when they are able.

Northam says the results also indicate 63 percent of Virginia parents say they will vaccinate their younger children when the vaccine becomes available to them.

At community vaccination clinics, Northam says 300,000 doses have been administered this week. Next week, the governor says mobile vaccine units will be launched to focus on vaccinated underserved areas.

Community vaccination clinics are now accepting walk-ins, as well as local pharmacies. You can text GetVax to receive information for three vaccination clinics near you.

Northam also reiterated the ease in COVID-19 restrictions beginning on May 15, which you can read more on below. Vaccinated individuals can also socialize in small groups without masks when outdoors.

Northam says if COVID-19 case numbers continue to trend down, and vaccination numbers increase, changes in mitigation efforts may change on June 15.

“We still have work to do. We are not at the finish line yet. We need to take precautions that we all know work,” Northam said.

On Sunday, April 18, vaccine eligibility expanded to all individuals in the Commonwealth age 16 and above.

On Thursday, April 22, Governor Northam announced an ease in some of the COVID-19 restrictions for social gatherings that will begin on Saturday, May 15:

  • Social gatherings: The maximum number of individuals permitted in a social gathering will increase to 100 people for indoor settings and 250 people for outdoor settings. Social gatherings are currently limited to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
  • Entertainment venues: Indoor entertainment and public amusement venues will be able to operate at 50 percent capacity or 1,000 people, up from 30 percent capacity or 500 people. Outdoor venues will be able to operate at 50 percent capacity — up from 30 percent — with no specific cap on the number of attendees.
  • Recreational sporting events: The number of spectators allowed at indoor recreational sporting events will increase from 100 to 250 spectators or 50 percent capacity, whichever is less. Outdoor recreational sporting events will increase from 500 to 1,000 people or 50 percent capacity, whichever is less.
  • Alcohol sales: Restaurants may return to selling alcohol after midnight, and dining room closures will no longer be required between midnight and 5:00 a.m.

The universal mask mandate, which requires Virginians aged 5 and up to wear masks when inside public spaces and when social distancing is not possible, remains in effect. However, vaccinated individuals are not required to wear a mask outdoors in small groups.

COVID-19 in Virginia

As of Thursday, May 6, Virginia has had 664,394 total cases of COVID-19, including confirmed lab tests and clinical diagnoses, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

That total reflects an 842 case increase since Wednesday. The Virginia Department of Health reports a 5.3% 7-day positivity rate for total testing encounters, and a 4.4% 7-day positivity rate for PCR tests.

Seventeen additional deaths were reported on Thursday, leaving the death toll at 10,861.

According to the data dashboard, as of May 6, 3,921,689 people have been vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 2,840,635 people are fully vaccinated.

7,934,615 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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