Home Coronavirus Video, Live Blog: Gov. Northam Press Conference at 1 pm

Video, Live Blog: Gov. Northam Press Conference at 1 pm

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See below for video and highlights from Gov. Northam’s 1 pm press conference today, in which he’ll presumably discuss COVID-19 response, the Lee statue case, racism at VMI, the upcoming election, etc.

  • Gov. Northam says Virginia is one of “just a handful of states” not showing increases in COVID-19 cases. “We’re lucky…we’re not seeing large increases.” But…Virginia is a diverse state, and in rural areas, a small increase in cases can have a very large impact. So while the #s look pretty good overall, have to consider regional differences and consider that Virginia fits into the larger, national situation…Virginia is not an island.
  • The Eastern region of Virginia saw a spike in the summer, now the case #s are down and $ positivity is around 4.1% which is “very good.” NoVA had high #s early in the pandemic, now around 4.7% positivity and cases pretty low but starting to tick up a bit. In Central Virginia, case counts have been relatively steady, % positivity around 5%. In NW Virginia, cases relatively steady, % positivity at 4%. In SW Virginia, # of cases steadily increasing, % positivity just under 8% and rising…twice the rate of the rest of the Commonwealth and “that, quite frankly, is troubling.” Strongly urges everyone in SW Virginia to wear face protections, step up precautions in general.
  • Says nobody wants to reimpose restrictions, as is happening in other countries, but “this virus remains a very real threat.” Says we’re all tired of COVID restrictions, but “most people are doing the right thing and they are tired of seeing other folks disregard the rules and disregard the health and safety of other people, so we’re taking action,” with “high-profile enforcement.” Also testing; thanks National Guard for its help. Received shipment of 26,000 rapid antigen tests, expect more to arrive soon.
  • Reminds everyone to take precautions and make good choices on Halloween. This virus spreads easily through the air. The guidelines do truly help reduce the spread if everyone follows them. We don’t want Virginia case counts to look like other states. Virginians have been doing a great job overall, but we need to keep it up. We want to reopen, but to do safely and responsibly…
  • We’re working on both the health crisis and the economic crisis simultaneously. In August, launched Rebuild Virginia. Today, we are dramatically expanding the program, adding more money and making more businesses and nonprofits eligible. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. Using CARES Act dollars to help Virginians. $116 million for colleges and universities, $65.8 million to support child care access, $220 million for K-12 to support COVID response, $30 million to fast-track local broadband projects, $22 million for vaccination planning, etc.
  • The business of government keeps going; just signed legislation to significantly advance policing and criminal justice reform. See here for more on that.  Says he’s committed to keeping people from being evicted and from having their utilities cut off. Will have more to say about that soon. Thanks every Virginia for responding to the US Census. Virginia had highest response in the mid-Atlantic. This matters…more federal dollars for Virginia.
  • On VMI, Gov. Northam says reports have been troubling. Launching an investigation into the school’s culture and policies. Wants to make sure VMI’s culture reflects our 21st-century values.
  • Northam says Richmond took an important step into the 21st century yesterday when a judge ruled in favor of our effort to remove one of the largest Confederate monuments in the South. These monuments were put up for “literally all the wrong reasons,” and today they belong in museums, not the public square.
  • AG Mark Herring – “Yesterday’s win is so important for Virginia and for our future as an inclusive, open and welcoming community.” The judge agreed that the statue was erected against a backdrop of white supremacy to show who was in control and what the order of society was going to be. This decision puts Virginia one step closer to finally taking down this divisive symbol, which has been up “entirely too long” and does not represent who we’ve become as Virginians. This effort is part of dismantling systemic racism and the false/poisonous narrative that there’s a hierarchy of races. Why would this still stand in the community and why should a parent have to explain this to their children? These statues should never have existed in the first place. Today, we are a new, diverse Virginia…this symbol of racism and white supremacy must be removed once and for all.
  • We are less than a week from Election Day. Last day to vote early, in-person is this Saturday. We’re now at >2 million early votes so far, about 33% of registered voters. Can also vote on Election Day as usual next Tuesday from 6 am to 7 pm at your usual polling place. If you’re voting by mail, it has to be mailed by Election Day and received by noon on November 6. Better to drop it off at this point. Results are not required on election night. Election officials don’t call elections. Certification of election results happen in the weeks after the election. State Board will certify election in Virginia on 11/16. So this is more of an election WEEK than an election night, and this is nothing to be alarmed about…
  • Cutoff time of 11 pm to stop processing absentee ballots on election night. Counting will resume on Wednesday, 11/4. Results on election night have always been unofficial. So be patient waiting on results…
  • Northam knows it’s been a long 8 months, but we need to keep doing what we’ve been doing. Be smart…wear a mask, social distance, etc. This pandemic will end, but not in the next few weeks or even months, and it could be a hard winter for people.
  • Northam says he loves VMI, it means the world to him, but these allegations we’ve heard about are “very concerning…very troubling,” and we need an independent body to do a complete investigation.
  • On potential for violence on/after Election Day, Northam says we have prepared, that “massive numbers” have already voted safely, that every vote that’s cast will be counted. Reassures people that polling places will be safe and your vote will be counted.
  • Also on VMI, Gov. Northam is asked about social media app “Jodel,” and racist comments on there. Northam says he hopes/expects Board of Visitors is aware of this situation, because obviously this cannot continue at VMI…this is why we’re bringing in a third party to completely look at VMI’s culture. This shouldn’t be us vs. them at VMI, it should be all of us working together to make sure VMI is open, welcoming, promotes diversity. Expects VMI to cooperate and that actions are taken to change the culture.
  • On potential COVID-19 restrictions in SW Virginia, says we’ll make adjustments as needed, are monitoring the situation closely, but one size doesn’t fit all for different parts of Virginia.
  • Question about voters not wearing masks in polling places. Gov. Northam says he encourages people to follow guidelines, that civil fines are not law yet.