In response to the outbreak of COVID-19 (aka, “Coronavirus”) in Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam has now declared a state of emergency (see video, below; note that the governor’s live feed had no audio for the first few minutes, so I included WRIC’s live stream as well, but not sure if/when that will be available on demand – frustrating! OK, I just added video from WHJL, which actually has audio that works, what a concept!). Of course, there are strong reasons to do so, but it’s also important to keep in mind the many people who will be hurt as we head deeper into “lockdown” mode. That includes working people who depend on schools to provide their kids a place to go every day, and to eat lunch. It also includes people whose livelihoods depend on business staying open. So…point is, this is all a tradeoff, definitely not an easy decision to make, and certainly not without both positive and negative ramifications, both economic and in other ways.
UPDATE #3: See below the video for Gov. Northam’s press release on this.
UPDATE #2: Now that I have audio that actually works…Northam said:
- “The situation is fluid and is changing rapidly…We have long-standing plans in place to deal with pandemics. We have trained for them and we are ready for this.”
- “Today, we’re taking four actions. First, I am declaring a state of emergency…While Virginia has been thoroughly preparing for weeks…this declaration will give us increased flexibility to ease regulatory requirements and procurement rules…and insuring ongoing support for the most vulnerable Virginians.”
- “I am canceling all specially [?] scheduled state conference and large events for the next 30 days…I am encouraging localities and private organizers to similarly limit large events…”
- “I advise Virginians to avoid large gatherings for the time being.”
- “I am also prohibiting out-of-state work travel by state employees for the next 30 days.”
- “As of this afternoon, 15 people in Virginia have tested positive…We’re also aware of two Virginians…in Texas and tested positive there.”
- “Right now, we believe we have enough testing kits in Virginia, and we believe more will become available. It is clear, however, that the CDC supply chain [for testing kits] is in fact limited. So… we are looking at developing our own test kits. There are also private labs in Virginia authorized to run these tests…”
- “Quite frankly, we’re getting mixed messages from the federal government; we find that unacceptable.”
UPDATE: Northam says, “I am asking top economic officials to continue to assess how this will affect our economy and figure out ways to mitigate that. Our goal is for everyone to get back to work as quickly as possible but protecting public health is our top priority.“; “I advise Virginians to avoid large gatherings for the time being” and “It’s clear that the CDC supply chain is in fact limited. We are looking at developing our own test kits.” Also, “Virginia is cancelling state sponsored conferences, and banning work-related travel by state employees for 30 days.” “We have been working diligently on this for weeks,” but now “things have changed,” including this being declared a “pandemic.” Also, Northam notes that we’re “getting mixed message” from the federal government, and that’s “unacceptable.”