Contact tracing driving Virginia Governor’s COVID-19 watch

Briefing now set for Tuesday at 2 P.M.

Contact tracing driving Virginia Governor’s COVID-19 watch
Last week Governor Northam announced stricter enforcement of mask mandate

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Virginia Governor Ralph Northam is keeping a close eye on the coronavirus this weekend, and contact tracing is driving his decision making.

“That’s what we’ve been seeing when we’ve gone into some of the restaurants and bars, some of the employees, you know, are just flouting our guidelines,” said Northam. “They’re not wearing face masks.”

Right now, the problem spot remains Hampton Roads. The positivity rate there is 12%, and in Portsmouth alone, it’s 18%.

Northam says he’s considering a rollback on the public gathering ban from 250 people to 50 people all because people won’t comply with his mask mandate.

“I don’t think that’s too much to ask, and if people don’t follow those guidelines, there are going to be consequences,” said Northam.

The governor says he’s satisfied with the stepped-up inspections by the Virginia Department of Health and Virginia ABC. Business and liquor licenses are on the line for non-compliance. Last call for alcohol at bars could come earlier too.

“When they don’t maintain their social distancing, those indoor places tend to be loud. They’re having to talk more loudly. That just spreads more virus into the air,” said Northam.

With the start of fall classes around the corner, Northam says the school year will be different for each division, and they are working through as many challenges as possible to make sure teaching doesn’t stop.

“When we talk about opening schools, we certainly want to do it safely and responsibly but we also know when we say virtual learning, you know there are a lot of individuals that don’t have broadband in their homes,” said Northam.

Northam will hold another COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday at 2 p.m.

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