It’s been around a month since Gov. Ralph Northam’s last briefing on the COVID-19 situation in Virginia. During that time, the pandemic’s been raging out of control in the Commonwealth, with the vaccine rollout going excruciatingly slowly. I don’t know about you, but I would have liked to have heard some information from our governor over the past few weeks as to what on earth is going on. Anyway…hopefully today’s press conference will be informative; see below for video and highlights.
- Northam says we’re relieved to put 2020 behind us, “begin the new year with optimism…we can finally see a path forward…two vaccinations now available…these vaccines are literally our path forward. They are good, they are safe; I will take them, my family will take them and I would encourage all of you to take them as well.”
- Northam: Our country is in a very, very serious place right now. The virus is worse now than it’s ever been. The UVA model shows that cases could keep rising until Valentine’s Day or even later. New strains of the virus are out there that are much more contagious. So we have more hard work ahead for several weeks and months.
- For months now, we have had just a few tools in our toolbox – masks, social distancing, etc. Now, 22 days ago, we got the most powerful tool – vaccines. This is the most extensive vaccination campaign in modern history. “This is complex stuff,” involving highly complex advanced manufacturing, moving supplies around the world and storing at super-cold temperatures. Healthcare providers are “worn out” – they are our heroes.
- 8.5 million people in Virginia need 2 shots each, which means 17 million shots to give. We’re receiving around 110k doses a week – or about 14k doses a day. The short-term goal is 25k doses a day. Use it or lose it – empty your freezers and get shots in arms. Nobody wants to see any supplies unused. Don’t save anything – you’re going to get more. If you’re not using what you received, you must be getting too much, so in next shipment, we’ll allocate more doses to other places that need it. These numbers are going to be public. “Virginians, you deserve this transparency.” This should be “seamless in just a few days.”
- There’s still a clear prioritization for who should get shots first: healthcare providers, people who live in long-term care facilities…then essential workers (e.g., firefighters, police officers, hazmat workers, grocery store workers, food processers, bus drivers, transit workers, corrections, mail carriers, and the largest group = teachers.).
- Opening schools is crucial, so teachers are very high on the list of essential workers.
- This is all a lot of work and we’ve got to step up our game at a time when everyone’s exhausted.
- Appoints Danny Avula to lead Virginia’s vaccination program. “He will be our field general.”