RICHMOND, Va. (WVIR) - Governor Ralph Northam delivered a coronavirus briefing at 2 p.m. Tuesday, July 28.
Northam began by saying cases are stable in 4 out of 5 Virginia health regions, however there is a concerning rise in Hampton Roads. He said his administration is focusing a lot of attention on the Hampton Roads Area.
Northam says Virginia has so far avoided the dramatic increases in COVID-19 that other states have seen as of late. He credits people doing the right thing by following guidelines of wearing masks, staying at home, practicing social distancing and checking in on their neighbors.
Gov. Northam says everyone is questioning what tomorrow will bring, and he is worried people are starting to lose hope. However, he says he sees hopeful signs ahead. He cited the progress being made on vaccinations and the fact they’re being fast tracked. He said the situation in nursing homes has turned around, hospitals have discharged more than 12,000 people with COVID-19, and Virginia has enacted the country’s first COVID-19 workplace guidelines.
A meeting was held Tuesday morning with Dr. Deborah Birx. Northam said it was a positive meeting, she was complimentary about Virginia’s work on the coronavirus.
“She advocated for wearing masks, she advocated for social distancing, for staying at home unless you need to be out while the message from our president is to liberate Virginia and putting pressure on governors like myself to open our states and send our children back to school” Governor Northam said.
Northam says Virginia is currently testing roughly 17,000 to 20,000 people a day.
Northam announced an executive order for Hampton Roads area effective Friday, July 21. The order states that there will be no alcohol sales after 10 p.m., all restaurants must close by midnight, indoor dining is only allowed at 50% capacity including breweries and wineries, and public and private gatherings of more than 50 are prohibited. Northam says the new restrictions will be in place for 2 to 3 weeks. If the numbers start to trend down, then officials will look at lifting those restrictions.
Northam says roughly $645M in CARES Act funds will soon be distributed across Virginia’s localities. Money will be used for rent assistance, eviction protection, food distribution, and other programs.
Dr. Norm Oliver says some businesses in the Tidewater area have had their licenses suspended due to a lack of enforcing guidelines.
Northam said currently testing time can take 1 to 2 days, but some commercial labs are experiencing backlogs that causes results to not get back to folks for a much longer time. He said some commercial labs take 7-10 days to give back COVID-19 test results. Northam says scientists are working on quick-turnaround tests for COVID-19 that aim to give results much faster. He used the example of the test for strep throat that gives results in as little as 15 minutes.
When asked about students returning to school in fall, Gov. Northam said “it is a recipe for disaster” if students go back to school without first getting COVID-19 numbers down.
“When you have individuals who are asymptomatic and you don’t know who they are and have no way of tracing them and you put them into a mix of other individuals, it can get out of hand very quickly”said Governor Northam.
Governor Northam talked about the importance of coronavirus briefings and is working to set up weekly briefings.
Current statistics of coronavirus in Virginia:
The Virginia Department of Health reports there is now a total of 86,994 COVID-19 cases in the commonwealth as of Tuesday, July 28. This marks 922 new cases of coronavirus since Monday. The death total from the virus in Virginia is at 2,095, 13 more than yesterday. A total of 1,157,924 people have been tested for the coronavirus, an increase of 20,509 since Monday. The total hospitalizations is 7,686, 39 more than yesterday.