Gov. Northam provides update on COVID-19 vaccinations in Virginia

Gov. Northam provides update on COVID-19 vaccinations in Virginia
Governor Northam holding a press briefing. (Source: VPM)

RICHMOND, Va. (WVIR) - Governor Ralph Northam provided an update on getting Virginians vaccinated for the coronavirus during a press briefing Thursday, January 14.

The governor started Thursday’s briefing by saying Virginia has distributed 100% of COVID-19 vaccine doses it has received and only a handful of states have given more coronavirus vaccines than the Commonwealth.

Northam pointed out the Virginia’s population is roughly 8.5 million, “so we have a lot of work ahead of us when it comes to vaccinating against the virus. We are working to get to the most vulnerable first.” Teachers in almost a dozen health districts across Virginia are now getting the vaccine as part of group 1B, although that has yet to happen in the Blue Ridge Health District. Many in that group, which also includes essential workers, skew toward minorities who are wary of getting the vaccine.

The Deputy Mayor for DC’s Health and Human Services was part of one of the vaccine trials and already received his first shot. “Are the risks zero? No” Wayne Turnage said. “But the risks are clearly outweighed by the vaccine’s benefits so please get vaccinated. It will literally save your life.’

The Commonwealth is currently administering 15,000 to 17,000 vaccines per day, but Dr. Danny Avula, Virginia’s new COVID vaccine coordinator, says Virginia needs to get to 50,000 vaccinations per day in order to achieve herd immunity. He says mass vaccination efforts will likely take place 6-7 days per week. The hope is to get the National Guard and other contractors involved in vaccinations. More information on these efforts is expected to come out next week.

Also during Thursday’s press briefing:

  • Gov. Northam is urging everyone to get the vaccine when it becomes available.
  • When asked if there will be more COVID-19 restrictions, Northam said options are on the table but for the most part Virginia is stable.
  • New guidelines are now out from the Virginia Department of Education regarding a return to in-person learning. “Our schools are safe,” the governor said. “It’s the communities that we worry about.” You can read the entire set of guidelines at https://www.doe.virginia.gov/support/health_medical/office/phase-guidance.shtml. “Every school division will have to decide what works best for it” Northam said. " I know all of Virginia shares in the goal of getting kids back to school”
  • Northam also mentioned the recent violence in Washington D.C., and the threat of violence in Virginia: “Violence has no place here or in Washington,” he said. Northam adds that if you’re planning to commit “ill intent” then turn around and go home.
  • Gov. Northam says they’re treating intelligence reports of potential violence around the capitol this weekend and through Inauguration Day seriously. A state of emergency has already been declared for Richmond ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden in D.C. The Virginia National Guard will be on standby in Richmond, and other security measures are in place and already established in Capitol Square.

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