Home Coronavirus Live Video, Highlights: Gov. Ralph Northam’s Friday (5/22) Virginia COVID-19 Briefing

Live Video, Highlights: Gov. Ralph Northam’s Friday (5/22) Virginia COVID-19 Briefing

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See below for live video and highlights from Gov. Ralph Northam’s 2 pm press briefing on the COVID-19 situation in Virginia.

  • Testing data – yesterday, we got 6,543 new PCR tests and 1,438 serology tests. The % positive continues to trend downwards…now about 15% statewide. The number of tests continue to trend upwards. “Both of these are good things.”
  • We need to keep doing social distancing, face coverings, hand washing, etc. This will all be part of the “new normal.” Will have more to say about face coverings next week.
  • When will NoVA, Richmond, Accomack are going to move into Phase 1, and rest of state into Phase 2? Will have more information next week. But the “floor” that’s been established will not change.
  • New COVIDcheck website at vdh.virginia.gov/covidcheck…check your symptoms, find a test, get answers. VDH in the process of hiring the tracing workforce we need, and we keep expanding testing capabilities…along with National Guard, private contractors, pharmacies, clinics, doctor’s offices. 4,377 tests in Woodbridge, Manassas and Leesburg. Next week, plans for 44 community testing events…17,500 tests.
  • Yesterday, Virginia National Guard helped with flooding in southwest Virginia to rescue 116 people, four dogs, “and yes, two birds.” Very grateful for the service of the National Guard.
  • USDA approved pilot project to allow SNAP recipients to order groceries online and to have them delivered. Will launch Friday, May 29. Available through Amazon and WalMart; others may be accepted into the program by contacting the USDA. Thanks Sens. Warner and Kaine for their working in making this pilot project happen.
  • Unemployment report – had been at 2.8% prior to COVID-19; for April, it rose to 10.6%. So far, 720k people have filed for unemployment. Opening up a new call center with 315 new employees to handle unemployment requests.
  • Graduation season – pandemic has turned those celebrations upside down. VPM has worked to create a virtual graduation ceremony – “Virginia Graduates Together” will air next Friday online and on public TV stations. Members of the class of 2020 can send videos, messages, etc. to vpm.org/grad by Sunday. Wil be some special guests as well.
  • Wishes Muslims a blessed and joyous Eid.
  • Hard to believe we’re already at Memorial Day. Recognizes all members of the military who have given their lives defending the nation. Asks everyone to recognize their sacrifice. Virginia War Memorial will hold a virtual ceremony Monday morning.
  • Also, state flags will be flown at half mast to honor people who have died from COVID-19.
  • Be smart and safe this weekend. Don’t crowd, maintain social distancing, wear masks in public.
  • Dr. Norm Oliver – 35,950 cases of COVID-19 (+813 in last 24 hours); 1,136 deaths (+37). 22% of cases and 24% of deaths are African American; 47% of cases and 10% of deaths are Latinx.
  • Question about Mayor Levar Stoney’s request for a mask mandate. Gov. Northam says he applauds the mayor, that facial protection is one of the ways to stop transmission of the virus. Will make an announcement on Tuesday. This is partly an equity issue, need everyone to have access to masks. The mask is intended to protect other people.
  • Question about unemployment benefits and the trust fund. Megan Healy – going to continue to waive work search requirements, will continue to waive until we open up work force centers. On the unemployment insurance trust fund; about 80% of employers pay into this…governor has asked the Congressional delegation for approval to backfill the trust fund.
  • Question about places of worship. Northam – in a time like this, when so many are struggling, faith is more important than ever, and we want people to be able to practice their religion and do it safely. Now, places of worship can have 50% capacity, must continue to practice social distancing, hygiene, etc. Has talked to a lot of faith leaders, and a lot of churches are continuing to do drive-up services…
  • Question on how the statistics are trending. Northam – In most parts of Virginia, % positivity continues to trend. Closely watching northern Virginia, Eastern Shore, Richmond. Also look at other metrics – supply of PPE, hospital capacity, etc. Will have more to say next week about areas that haven’t moved into Phase 1 yet. Northam says we are following the trends regarding deaths and other metrics; it’s always concerning when the # of deaths goes up.
  • Question about travel on Memorial Day. Reminder that Richmond, Northern Virginia, Accomack still under stay-at-home order, encouraged to abide by those guidelines.
  • Question about different parts of Virginia being in different stages of reopening. Northam – there’s a “floor” in place that we will maintain, up to individual localities if they want to raise the ceiling.
  • Question – will Accomack, Richmond, NOVA be on a different scedule than the rest of the state. Northam – yes.
  • Northam encourages children as well as adults to wear masks when out in public, as children can transmit the virus.
  • Important to celebrate those who survive COVID-19, “triumph over this disease.”
  • Question about people who have received positive antibody tests. Dr. Forlano – still learning about the role of antibody testing, important to work with healthcare providers. Dr. Oliver – we don’t know if having antibodies means you can’t get COVID-19 again, there’s “conflicting evidence on that.” “I’d still be obsessive about washing my hands, covering my face when I’m in public and I can’t be socially distanced…acting as though I could still get COVID-19.”
  • Question for Sec. Moran about triple-digit speeds on the highways. Police will be on the roads. “Please slow down.” Triple-digit speeds are very dangerous. “Please observe the speed limit, be safe.”
  • Northam reminds by reminding everyone what Memorial Day means. If you see an active duty member or a veteran, thank them for their service. Working on the face mask policy this weekend. Homework this weekend is to have a safe and peaceful weekend, make plans for you and your family to have facial protection, whether you purchase it or make it yourself. People have gotten very creative with their facial protection.