Home Coronavirus Live Video: Gov. Ralph Northam Holds Press Conference on COVID-19, etc.

Live Video: Gov. Ralph Northam Holds Press Conference on COVID-19, etc. [UPDATE: Northam Announces Juneteenth as State Holiday]

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See below for video and highlights from Gov. Northam’s Tuesday 2 pm press briefing.

  • Running late…still no sign of Northam as of 2:08 pm…make that 2:13 pm.
  • OK, starting at 2:17 pm. Will talk about COVID numbers and “other matters,” plus “special guests.”
  • Northam says COVID-19 numbers “continue to look favorable.” But he wants to be clear, we will not be moving into Phase 3 this week. Will say more on Thursday about what Phase 3 would look like. But wants to see how the #s look, especially as we see surges in other states.
  • Going forward, will be greater demographic breakdown of cases by ethnicities – Latinx, Asian-American, African-American, Native-American.
  • Fighting virus on the health front AND on the economic recovery, which will be a multi-faceted approach. Grant program to help visual artists in the Commonwealth.
  • Encourages all Virginians to maintain social distancing, wear face coverings, wash hands frequently.
  • On continuing “unrest” and violence in Richmond, Northam says Richmond called in the state police for backup. Has seen some “troubling” video from Richmond and is committed to addressing “use-of-force protocols across the board.” It is important we hear the voices asking for and end to systemic injustice and racial violence, new look at how our systems work – or don’t work – for people of color, people with disabilities. Northam says his goal is equity for all Virginians. “I hear you and my administration hears you.” Yesterday, attended meeting of African-American history commission. Right now, that teaching is inadequate.
  • Announces that we will start to celebrate Juneteenth, the day in 1865 that the news of emancipation arrived in Texas, to commemorate another part of our history. It’s time we elevate this to something that’s celebrated by all of us, not just African Americans. By commemorating it, we push people to consider the significance of Juneteenth. This is everyone’s shared history. Will propose legislation to make Juneteenth a paid state holiday for state employees. This will formalize the observance. Virginia will become only the second state to do this. Hopes local governments will offer this to their employees as well. Commemoration will start this Friday with a paid day off for Executive branch state employees. Thanks community leaders here at the press conference today; this would not be happening without all of their hard work. We are changing what we honor in Virginia, including not celebrating Confederate generals. “Symbols do matter; if they didn’t, people wouldn’t be fighting so hard to keep Confederate flags and statues up…” This is a step towards the Virginia we want, to creating real change. Also need people to understand why policies need to change; we do that through education and through changing hearts.
  • Dr. Lee speaks. From reporter Cam Thompson – “Lee: We work best when we work together. This is the time for us to pull together. Learn who we have been, who we are, and who we can be.”
  • Rev. Kelvin Jones speaks on importance of faith as we continue the healing process, says Virginia and America have seen better days, is suffering from “horrific wound,” need “mutual understanding and respect that provides healing.” Somehow we must move beyond hate, racism, lack of love and possess a degree of empathy. To disagree does not have to mean death. Must recognize that a mindset of racism will not make Virginia nor America great; this cannot be what the Creator had in mind. Virginia will not heal until we become unified, that we can sit down and communicate, come to common ground that we need one another to survive, eradicate racism. None of us are an island, none of us can stand alone. We cannot continue the racism, cannot continute to destroy one another. You either have respect, common courtesy and humanity or you don’t. It’s “time to make some new history, Virginia.” “Let us show the world…” Shouldn’t have to jog in fear, pull up to a drive-through and sleep in fear, etc.
  • Northam says he spoke to Pharrell Williams. He said he wanted to join us. Virginia needs that kind of spiritual unity, as displayed by the “Something in the Water” festival. Williams says this is a very special moment, is grateful for Virginia leading the way. The paid holiday for Juneteenth is just the beginning. Finally, Virginia recognizes that Black Lives Matter. 401 years ago, “my ancestors arrived on ships…all of them enslaved…they sacrified their lives so I could stand here today and use my voice…this is what listening looks like…this is our chance in Virginia to lead by example…to truly embrace the importance of Juneteenth…this is about proper recognition…observation…celebration…to all stand in solidarity with [our] African-American brothers and sisters.” This year, Juneteenth will look like no other Juneteenth before. “Those are Americans in the streets, not just people who look like me.” Would like to see corporations that call Virginia their home lead the rest of the country, give people the paid day off so we can all stand in solidarity. Our country excels at celebrating Independence Day – not everyone was free on that day; Juneteenth deserves the same. “If you love us, it will be your day too.” We are seeing an entirely new generation of leaders emerging, and they’re potent. Working on project to propel brightest minds from HBCUs. The strong leaders coming out of those schools is what the world needs right now. Today’s announcement is as much about the new generation as about past generations. Staring down systemic racism with so much bravery, and it’s super inspiring. We are only moving in one direction now – forward, the future.
  • Gov. Northam recognizes AG Mark Herring, Speaker of the House Eileen Filler-Corn, Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, Senate Caucus Leader Mamie Locke, House Majority Leader Charniele Herring, Chair of the VA Legislative Black Caucus Del. Lamont Bagby, Sen. Louise Lucas…
  • Sen. Locke: Thanks Gov. Northam for recognizing Juneteenth, says it’s so important to African-American people to know that this sacred holiday has become important to those of us in Virginia. (From reporter Cam Thomson: “If anything has come out of the last three weeks, it’s that we are done with slow and inconsistent changes. The time has come for us to move forward with laws and policy changes that makes freedom and liberation a reality in this country.”) This is “one huge step forward.” Appreciates the support we have been given in Virginia. History has its place, but we don’t believe in *revisionist* history. African-American history is American history, and we need to tell that history with truth.
  • House Majority Leader Charniele Herring: Special honor to be here, “this day has special meaning for me.” Thanks Gov. Northam, says it’s more than appropriate to declare Juneteenth a state holiday. Our nation is at a crossroad, this is in our hands. The question is, will we be bold or let this opportune moment pass. It is time that we reassess the core compoments of our society and assure that it is fair, just and equitable for everybody.
  • Question on whether we’re doing too much (what a weird question). Northam correctly responds that we have so much more to do. We’re at a crossroads. Says he continues to listen and learn.
  • Question to Pharrell Williams about young people. Williams says he’s proud they’re grabbing the bull by the horn. Says it’s his moral, spiritual and genetic obligation to do everything he can, that this is “a long time coming,” the beginning of something much bigger and much greater.
  • Question on troubling videos in Richmond. Northam – state police was asked to come in and support the Richmond police. Wants to continue to review the videos, reach out and discuss with police, etc.
  • Says he’s pleased with what he’s seeing, that most people are complying with social distancing, handwashing, mask wearing, etc. We have to accept that this will be the “new normal” until we have vaccination or new treatment. We’re in a good place right now, but we’ve got to continue to follow guidelines.
  • Question on demonstrations, marches, etc. leading to spike in COVID-19 cases in next few weeks. Northam says it’s concerning, encourages people who choose to protest – which is their right – to please think about their families, others who are around them and follow our guidelines. Also, encourages people to get tested.
  • Northam says this is a “meaningful,” “historic” day for Virginia. Really want to take the turn at the intersection, stop the divisiveness, bring people together, make a Commonwealth of Virginia that is truly inclusive and welcoming no matter who you are, where you come from, etc.