CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Governor Ralph Northam delivered a briefing on Tuesday afternoon. He began the briefing by discussing the protests across Virginia.
Northam said our country is experiencing turmoil. He spoke about the deaths of African Americans and that the protests we are seeing are for them. "Racism and discrimination are not locked in our past...they are still with us,” the governor said.
Northam says, “we’re going to keep listening and learning,” and that he will be meeting with chiefs of police, as well as other state leaders.
Governor Northam says his message to protesters is “I hear you,” and that he pledges to stand with them.
70th District Del. Delores McQuinn spoke at the briefing. She talked about the devaluation and dehumanizing of African Americans she has seen. She said now is the time to deal with issues of racism head on, and to come up with strategies to heal Virginia. Del. Quinn says we are a nation in crisis, but we will not stay here. She urges peaceful protest and to work together.
Shirley Ginwright with the Virginia African American Advisory Board spoke at the briefing. She says we have to change our laws, and that we cannot go back to business as usual.
Jim Bibbs, chief human resources officer for the Virginia Port Authority, said he believes Virginia is putting together a road map for the nation to follow. Bibbs says a there is a lot of work to go, but he is confident Virginia will get there. He adds that, “We need police reform and to have dashcams and body cams on all the time.
Gov. Northam says they have been involved and working with leaders to understand why this is happening.
When asked about the conversation with President Trump, he said it was one of divisiveness. Northam was asked to send the Virginia National Guard to Washington, D.C., and he refused. He said the Washington D.C., mayor didn’t request it, the guard was needed here, and did not want to deploy the guard for a “photo op.”
Northam encouraging folks to protest peacefully and to try to follow guidelines to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Governor Northam took a break and then returned to talk about coronavirus.
Gov. Northam says health data continues to look good, and hospital bed capacity remains steady. Testing is also increasing and that the number of positive results is generally trending down.
Governor says Northern Virginia and Richmond will remain in Phase One. Accamack County has not entered Phase One yet, but may enter Phase Two this Friday with the rest of Virginia. The governor said he will talk much more about Phase Two at his briefing on Thursday.
Northam says we are still safer at home, and encourages teleworking, as well as social distancing.
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Commonwealth of Virginia - Office of Governor Ralph S. Northam
Governor Northam Announces Phase Two Guidelines to Further ease Public Health Restrictions
~ Phase Two expected to begin Friday June 5, Northern Virginia and Richmond to remain in Phase One ~
RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today signed Executive Order Sixty-Five and presented the second phase of the “Forward Virginia” plan to continue safely and gradually easing public health restrictions while containing the spread of COVID-19. The Governor also amended Executive Order Sixty-One directing Northern Virginia and the City of Richmond to remain in Phase One.
Most of Virginia is expected to enter Phase Two on Friday, June 5, as key statewide health metrics continue to show positive signs. Virginia’s hospital bed capacity remains stable, the percentage of people hospitalized with a positive or pending COVID-19 test is trending downward, no hospitals are reporting PPE shortages, and the percent of positive tests continues to trend downward as testing increases. The Governor and Virginia public health officials will continue to evaluate data based on the indicators laid out in April.
“Because of our collective efforts, Virginia has made tremendous progress in fighting this virus and saved lives,” said Governor Northam. “Please continue to wear a face covering, maintain physical distance, and stay home if you are high-risk or experience COVID-19 symptoms. Virginians have all sacrificed to help contain the spread of this disease, and we must remain vigilant as we take steps to slowly lift restrictions in our Commonwealth.”
Executive Order Sixty-Five modifies public health guidance in Executive Order Sixty-One and Sixty-Two and establishes guidelines for Phase Two. Northern Virginia and the City of Richmond entered Phase One on Friday, May 29, and will remain in Phase One to allow for additional monitoring of health data. Accomack County delayed reopening due to outbreaks in poultry plants, which have largely been controlled through rigorous testing. Accomack County will move to Phase Two with the rest of the Commonwealth, on Friday, June 5.
Under Phase Two, the Commonwealth will maintain a Safer at Home strategy with continued recommendations for social distancing, teleworking, and requiring individuals to wear face coverings in indoor public settings. The maximum number of individuals permitted in a social gathering will increase from 10 to 50 people. All businesses should still adhere to physical distancing guidelines, frequently clean and sanitize high contact surfaces, and continue enhanced workplace safety measures.
Restaurant and beverage establishments may offer indoor dining at 50 percent occupancy, fitness centers may open indoor areas at 30 percent occupancy, and certain recreation and entertainment venues without shared equipment may open with restrictions. These venues include museums, zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens, and outdoor concert, sporting, and performing arts venues. Swimming pools may also expand operations to both indoor and outdoor exercise, diving, and swim instruction.
The current guidelines for religious services, non-essential retail, and personal grooming services will largely remain the same in Phase Two. Overnight summer camps, most indoor entertainment venues, amusement parks, fairs, and carnivals will also remain closed in Phase Two.
The full text of Executive Order Sixty-Five and Order of Public Health Emergency Six is available here.