Home Coronavirus Live Video, Highlights: Gov. Ralph Northam’s Thursday (5/28) Virginia COVID-19 Briefing

Live Video, Highlights: Gov. Ralph Northam’s Thursday (5/28) 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.

  • Starts on a “somber note’ – “sad milestone,” 100,000 Americans dead from COVID-19, including 1,338 Virginians. “These aren’t just numbers, they’re really people…our friends…neighbors…loved ones…That’s why we work every day to limit the spread of this virus,” why it’s so important that everyone act responsibly to minimize the chances of getting/spreading the virus.
  • Also, sad anniversary this weekend – 1 year since 12 people killed in Virginia Beach shooting. “12 precious lives were lost…mothers, fathers, wives, husbands…children.” “Grieving is not an event but a process.” Join with the VA Beach community, “which was forever changed by this tragic event.” The pandemic does not limit our ability to honor the memories of those who were lost. Moment of silence in their memory. Urges everyone to wear blue in their memory.
  • Tomorrow, all localities in Virginia will have entered Phase 1. Just because a business is allowed to open, doesn’t mean it *must* open. Starting tomorrow, everyone needs to wear a face covering in an indoor public space. Doesn’t have to be elaborate. We know, and the CDC agrees, that face coverings in public reduce virus transmission, “and it’s just the right thing to do,” just like not going in to a business without shoes or a shirt.
  • There are questions about enforcement. Counsel Rita Davis – enforcement mechanism in Executive Order 63 is “not a new process.” It is a standard statutory process by which all orders of public health emergencies are enforced – used in all five orders of public health emergency issued so far. It was not created specifically for Executive Order 63 and it is not new. Two avenues for enforcement: 1) civil process by which an injunction is obtained to enforce the public health order; 2) a warrant issued by a magistrate. Those are the procedures by which any enforcement will take place. But…only gross, egregious and repeated content in violation of the order should rise to the attention of the VA Dept. of Health. Encourages businesses to educate non-compliant patrons. It should not be the responsibility of VDH, law enforcement or business to ensure that you’re wearing a face covering. It’s a personal responsibility and the right thing to do to protect yourself and fellow Virginians.
  • We will remain in Phase 1 for a minimum of another week. “But our trends are encouraging.” Testing more people, % of positive tests continuing to trend down, continuing to add to testing capacity…39 CVS pharmacies will start to offer testing with self-swab kits and employee watching to make sure you do it properly. “I intend to get tested soon as well.” Updated PPE #s – 169k gloves sent out this week, 143k surgical masks, etc.
  • Beaches: VA Beach’s plan seemed to work very well. As of tomorrow, other public beaches in Virginia can open to recreational activities as well, with social distancing and restrictions simliar to VA Beach. “I expect everyone to follow the restrictions…”
  • NASCAR and other vehicle and horse racetracks will be allowed to run single-day events under strict guidelines starting tomorrow, including a race on June 10th in Martinsville. Will not be open to public.
  • This week, announced that Microsoft will create 1,500 new jobs in Reston. More jobs announcements, including in rural parts of the state, in coming days. We have a health crisis AND an economic crisis, so it’s very important to create jobs and support our economy. Additionally, the foundation for a new wind turbine was just installed off the coast of Virginia…first turbine in federal waters..important step in a carbon-free grid by 2050.
  • DMVs slowly reopening. Lots of demand for these services. Extending the time for Virginians to renew expired licenses and ID cards. Now have until August 31.
  • Federal government just agreed to extent Title 32 status for National Guard. The National Guard continues to do “amazing, amazing work.” Please thank them for their efforts.
  • To graduating seniors, you have all worked for years towards the goal of graduating…tomorrow evening, at 5 pm, “Virginia Graduates Together”…carried live on VPM, Blue Ridge PBS, WHRO, streaming FB and YouTube. “This is a happy time for our graduates,” congratulates every graduate and looks forward to doing great things.
  • Dr. Forlano – 41,401 cases (+1,152 new cases in last 24 hours); 1,338 deaths (+57).
  • Question – are we choosing between health and wealth. Northam – we are in the middle of a health AND economic crisis. Until we can get the health crisis under control, our economy is never going to recover completely. This recovery is consumer driven. Encourages businesses to keep that in mind. If consumers don’t feel comfortable, they’re not going to to into a business. We are all in this together. We don’t have to make choices between health and wealth. Thanks Virginians, says we have a long road ahead, need to put politics aside…
  • Question on UVA model that cases could surge this summer, and what would happen if they do surge.  Northam – If we get to the point where there are hotspots, we’ll make those adjustments. Held back NOVA, Accomack, Richmond. We are looking at the data. The models are important, but we will take this on a day-to-day basis. Earliest Phase 2 entry will be June 5th, a week from tomorrow.
  • Question on what a business should do if a business if faced with a customer who disagrees with the mask policy. Northam – the intent of this is to do the right thing, not to lock people up in jail. I would, in a very nice way, ask would you mind wearing a mask for the safety of everyone in this office?  In a medical office, if you’re not willing to wear a mask, he’d say we’re not willing to offer you services today. But don’t want confrontations to occur. Asks people to do the right thing.
  • Question on whether NoVA and Richmond had not asked for a delay of two weeks, would we be going into Phase 2 sooner? Northam – the answer is no, we don’t have the data yet to do that…
  • Question on concerns about numbers spiking as we reopen NoVA, Richmond, Accomack? Northam notes the improving metrics in those areas and “great leadership.”
  • Question on whether a county can request that they not enter into Phase 2? Northam – we’ll discuss that and make the decision. We are open to those discussions.
  • Question on evictions. Northam – These are difficult times for all of us, certainly for people threatened with not having a roof over their heads. Encourages landlords, tenants, etc. to realize we’re in difficult times, to come together and to work through this.
  • Another question on business owners refusing service to someone who won’t wear a mask. Again, business owners have the opportunity to have a discussion with someone who isn’t compliant. If the patron still refuses, then the business owner can ask the patron to return at a different time, wearing a mask.
  • Question on the number of deaths being high the past couple days. Dr. Forlano – death data is a lagging indicator, have to wait for death certificates. Too soon to attribut it to Phase 1 reopening.
  • Question on data showing 1,000+ new cases per day. Northam – a lot depends on how many we’re testing, and we’re now at around 10,000 new test resutls per day. But percent positivity tends to be trending down.
  • Question on exceptions that allow someone not to wear a mask. Northam – it comes down to their word that they have, for instance, COPD or asthma. On state of emergency, Northam says it allows us to do a lot of things, such as use National Guard, work with Medicaid and have telehealth compensated.
  • Question on Accomack County entering Phase 1. Northam – We’ve been in contact with their leaders, spent a lot of time and resources with the poultry plants, community testing. We feel comfortable moving into Phase 1 in Accomack. Their leaders do as well.
  • Question on masks being politicized. Northam – this is about  a health crisis, need to not politicize this.  Says he’ll lead as many people to the water as he can.
  • Northam – Remember over 1,000 people who’ve lost their lives, those who lost their lives in the VA Beach tragedy a year ago.  Questions he’ll address on Tuesday: 1) youth sports in the summer months; 2) when our children going to be able to go back to school safely – Sec. Education is leading great discussions, will have some more announcements on Tuesday, will do everything we can to make sure children can get back in classrooms safely and responsibly.