Home Coronavirus Video: At Press Conference, VA Gov. Ralph Northam *Rips* Trump For Calling...

Video: At Press Conference, VA Gov. Ralph Northam *Rips* Trump For Calling Veterans “Losers” and “Suckers”; Says “It Just Turns My Stomach”

Northam: "I have trouble respecting a leader that refers to my fellow veterans in that manner."

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See below for video and highlights from today’s 2 pm press briefing by Gov. Ralph Northam, on COVID-19 and whatever else he talks about. Also note, this briefing will be broadcast live in Spanish on the Virginia Department of Emergency Management Facebook page.

  • Roughly 1,000 new COVID-19 cases per day. 6.8% positivity, has been decreasing for 12 days, which is good news. Looks like restrictions in Hampton Roads area “worked quite well,” positivity down to 6.2%…overall “we are very pleased with the region’s progress,” and last week lifted additional restrictions there.
  • Keeping an eye on SW Virginia, which is seeing more new cases per day on average, even more than Northern Virginia, which is home to a lot more people living closer together. This is concerning. % positivity in SW Virginia is 8.1%, has been decreasing in recent days but is highest in state, with central region not far behind. The concern in SW Virginia is also that we don’t have the hospital capacity to deal with the pandemic.
  • Need to keep doing the things we know work – social distancing, face masks, etc. Despite what we’re seeing on the national level on a daily basis, he appreciates all Virginians being responsible and being part of the solution. Recommends downloading COVIDWatch…more than 1/2 million people have downloaded the app so far. This tool has great potential to help curb the spread of this virus.
  • There are more people unemployed, who need assistance with rent, food, utility bills, etc. Has asked SCC to extend moratorium on utility disconnections from tomorrow, when it was set to expire, through 10/5. Budget he sent to General Assembly includes moratorium on utility disconnections, repayment plan structure, etc.
  • $42 million for additional PPE distribution. On testing, VA National Guard continuing to hold testing events, also distributing food; they are a critical part of Virginia’s pandemic response. More news soon about eligibility for the small business grant program.
  • Upcoming elections: this will be unprecedented, given combo of presidential election and pandemic. Expect a high # of absentee ballots. So far, 790k requests for absentee ballots by mail…will start going out this Friday. Already higher than four years ago. Anyone can vote absentee with no reason. Complete your absentee ballot, sign it, mail it back or take it to the registrar’s office, or use a drop-off location at registrar’s offices, all satellite voting locations and at polling places on election day – “it’s just that easy.” All absentee ballots will have pre-paid postage. Have taken extra steps to ensure security of absentee ballots. Bar code allows you to track your ballot. If you want to vote in person, can do so starting this Friday at your registrar’s office through October 31. Or you can vote on election day from 6 am to 7 pm. Will ensure social distancing, sanitization, PPE.  Can pre-process absentee ballots as they come in, so don’t have to wait until election night to start that process. Still, everyone should be prepared to wait a few days to know the results of the presidential election. It’s better to get an accurate count than a fast one. Your vote is safe and it WILL count. Elections security is a top priority.  The people serving as elections officers are our friends and are committed to free and fair elections.
  • US Census still ongoing – everyone should respond. Response rates are high in some regions, low in other ones. Virginia loses $2,000/year for every person  who isn’t counted.
  • Gov. Northam highlights problem of veterans suicide and the need for awareness of this problem. Call 1-800-273-8255 if you or someone you know needs help.
  • Gov. Northam reminds everyone to get a flu shot.
  • Virginia should be fairly quick compared to other states in reporting results on election night. “We should have the results fairly quickly.”
  • Why might COVID #s be high in SW Virginia? Northam says some “lack of compliance” with regulations, people need to “do the right thing” to keep #s down.
  • Northam: we want to be the best in everything, including COVID stats, so it bothers him when he sees Virginia’s % positivity higher than in neighboring states. The “behavior is the challenge.” Despite what’s going on in Washington, if we can do what we know works – wear facial protection, social distance, etc – “that’s not too much to ask,” and that behavior will put this pandemic behind us, and that’s what we need to continue to emphasize to Virginians and to Americans.
  • On Trump downplaying the risks of COVID, Northam says he’s always said we’re fighting a “biological war,” that the first case was on March 7, “half a year ago,” and states have fought this war “without the supplies that we need.” Says governors have really taken a responsible leadership position, been upfront with citizens. Unfortunately, it’s become politicized, just look at a couple rallies that have taken place with the president in the last couple days, with people close together, minimal facial protection, “and it just goes against the science and the grain of what we’re trying to do as Americans and…as states.” It’s “frustrating” and “regrettable” that’s happening. When we have a president who ignores the science, then goes against what even his consultants are telling him to do is just defeating the purpose and it’s very frustrating.”
  • Northam also says, as a veteran and a doctor who cared for a lot of wounded soldiers, they are heroes, and “when we have the leader of our country referring to people like me and other men and women who have worn the uniform and some who have ultimately paid the sacrifice of death to refer to them as ‘losers’ and ‘suckers’, it just turns my stomach….As an American, as a Virginian, I have trouble looking up to a leader, I have trouble respecting a leader that refers to my fellow veterans in that manner.” “This is why we have elections”; encourages everyone to vote and to make their voice heard.