Northam discusses vaccine in Va., extends COVID-19 restrictions through end of Feb.

Gov. Northam held a press briefing on COVID-19 in Virginia Wednesday, Jan. 27.
Updated: Jan. 27, 2021 at 3:05 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WVIR) - Governor Ralph Northam provided an update on matters related to the coronavirus vaccine in the commonwealth Wednesday afternoon.

“People can get shots only if we have shots to give,” Northam said.

In a press conference, Northam says more than 520,000 vaccination shots have been given thus far in the commonwealth, and that Virginia is currently averaging more than 26,000 vaccination shots per day. He says the goal was 25,000 and to eventually up to 50,000 and more.

“We have met that initial goal and in fact are exceeding it. Our average is over 26,000 shots a day and that’s good news,” Northam said.

The governor says speeding up doses in long-term health facilities, with help from CVS and Walgreens, is part of the plan to move up to 50,000 doses a day. Northam says the goal for the country and Virginia is everyone being able to get the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the summer.

Gov. Northam says he knows people are out of patience, and everyone is tired of the pandemic. He says things are bumpy with vaccinating due in part to uncertainty and supply issues.

Northam says he has spoken with the White House twice. He said the White House says states will see a 16% increase in doses. He said federal health officials have said the states will received a 16% increase in vaccine doses with guarantees lasting at least a month to enable long-term planning by each state.

Gov. Northam says pharmacies are doing important work to vaccinate Virginians. He says hospitals should be done using first round of doses on their healthcare employees. Now he’s telling hospitals and health departments that are withholding second doses to get them into arms as first doses, relying on the federal government to increase supply access later.

Northam says they will get 40,000 more COVID-19 vaccines to people by Sunday.

The governor said all health districts should split vaccine shipments with half going to those over 65 and the rest for frontline essential worker as well as shelters and jails.

“Half of available doses should go for people age 65 and older. The other half should be used for front line essential workers and people who are at increased risk of severe illness as the CDC identifies,” Northam said.

Northam says shots are now being allocated based on population, allowing regular Virginians to get vaccinated. He asks everyone to not “jump the line,” since frontline workers and elderly still need to get their shots.

Northam says the Virginia Department of Health is making changes in the vaccine dashboard, to provide more information and more clarity. Gov. Northam says he is backing legislation that would make it a requirement to collect race and ethnicity data to make sure all Virginians are equally able to get vaccinated.

Northam says he will issue executive order to extend coronavirus-related restrictions to last through the end of February. They had been set to expire this week.

  • Modified Stay at Home Order: All individuals in Virginia must remain at their place of residence between the hours of 12:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. Exceptions include obtaining food and goods, traveling to and from work, and seeking medical attention.
  • Universal mask requirement: All Virginians aged five and over are required to wear face coverings in indoor settings shared with others and when outdoors within six feet of another person. This order expands the current statewide mask mandate, which has been in place since May 29, and requires all individuals aged five and over to wear face coverings in indoor and outdoor public settings outside of their own household. These changes are consistent with new CDC guidelines, released December 4, which recommend universal wearing of face coverings.
  • Reduction in social gatherings: All social gatherings must be limited to 10 individuals, down from the current cap of 25 people. Social gatherings include, but are not limited to, parties, celebrations, or other social events, regardless of whether they occur indoors or outdoors. This does not apply to religious services, employment settings, or educational settings. Restaurants and retail stores are already governed by strict social distancing requirements, and are not included in this limit.
  • Continued limits on dining establishments: Virginia restaurants are currently governed by strict social distancing and sanitization requirements, which remain in place. The on-site sale, consumption, and possession of alcohol remains prohibited after 10:00 p.m. in any restaurant, dining establishment, food court, brewery, microbrewery, distillery, winery, or tasting room. All restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms must close by midnight.
  • Teleworking: Employees that can telework are strongly encouraged to do so.

Northam took a moment to again thank the National Guard with assisting with vaccinations, as well as those still deployed in Washington, D.C.

Northam then took questions from reporters.

  • When asked if federal funds for COVID-19 can be diverted to help fight crime, Northam said the money from Washington is already directed to certain agencies.
  • When asked when teachers may go back to school, Gov. Northam says vaccinating teachers is a priority, however, he says it is up to localities.
  • When asked about the new variant of COVID and if changes the guidance, official says the current vaccines work against it and will look to CDC for any changes.

Virginia Department of Health Daily Coronavirus Statistics:

The Virginia Department of Health reports there is now a total of 488,553 COVID-19 cases in the commonwealth as of Wednesday, January 27. The number of newly reported cases since yesterday is 5,227.

Virginia’s death total from the virus is at 6,228, 54 more than yesterday.

The total number of people tested is 6,323,165, an increase of 51,415 since yesterday. Current 7-day positivity rate for total testing encounters is 11.8%. The 7-day positivity rate for PCR testing only is 12.3%.

The total number of hospitalizations is 20,986, 126 more than yesterday.

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