'This isn’t a matter of weeks, it’s a matter of months’: Gov. Northam expects coronavirus cases to continue to climb in Virginia

'This isn’t a matter of weeks, it’s a matter of months’: Gov. Northam expects coronavirus cases to continue to climb in Virginia
Gov. Ralph Northam, pictured Tuesday, has been holding daily briefings on the spread of COVID-19 in Virginia and the state's response. (Source: Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT/AP) - The Virginia Department of Health confirmed 219 cases of coronavirus in the state on Sunday - up 67 cases from the day before. Officials expect the number to continue to climb in the coming days and weeks.

“We are seeing this sharp increase in positive tests because we do have more capability of testing coming online," said Northam. "But we are also seeing it because this virus continues to spread.”

Governor Ralph Northam will continue to update the commonwealth on the coronavirus outbreak in daily briefings, but they will now be moved to 2 p.m.

A decision on the fate of public schools for the rest of the academic year is expected to be announced Monday.

So far, six Virginians have died from the virus, and it has now spread to all regions of the state.

On Thursday, the first child under 10 years old was reported to have tested positive for coronavirus.

The state’s testing capacity increased this week, but on Saturday Northam said the priority is for health care workers and people in nursing homes.

Health officials say another hurdle in testing going forward is having enough swabs to take samples - the state is currently in short supply. On Saturday, Northam said more supplies are coming, but exact details on quantity and timing were unknown.

Governor Northam says social distancing remains the key to stopping the spread and encouraged people to stay off beaches and away from parties, saying “this is not a vacation."

Businesses can be charged and even lose licenses if they choose to stay open with more than 10 people inside, which is following new federal guidelines. That includes restaurants, bars, movie theaters and gyms.

Rewatch the Governor’s previous briefings here:

Stay tuned to NBC12.com for more updates.

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