Home Coronavirus Video: Gov. Northam Says “I’ve had COVID and I’ve had the vaccine,...

Video: Gov. Northam Says “I’ve had COVID and I’ve had the vaccine, and between the two, it’s an easy choice – I’ll take the vaccine any day”

Northam notes, "I had COVID myself last October and seven months later, I still can't smell or taste anything."

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See below for video and highlights from today’s COVID-19 briefing by Gov. Ralph Northam.

  • “We are in a much better place now” than a year ago. “We have good news to share with all of you today about our COVID numbers, our vaccination rates and what we expect going forward….First we’re seeing a welcome drop in our daily count of new COVID cases; for the past two weeks, we’ve had fewer than 1,000 new cases per day.” The positivity rate is now at 4.4%. Seven-day average now lower than it has been since last October.  “That’s a big deal after a hard year, and we should all celebrate that.”
  • “We’re now seeing the lowest number of people hospitalized with a positive COVID test since last October.”
  • “Across the state, so there’s still virus out there. There’s still people in the hospital. And even more painful a number is how many people have died. Every death is tragic, but this is a hopeful sign as well. We’ve seen a dramatic drop in COVID deaths in recent weeks.”
  • “These are all very positive signs. We’ve been following the data and watching the numbers for more than a year. This has informed every single decision that we collectively have made. And today the data give us a very clear message. The vaccines are working. Let me say that again. The vaccines are working. They’re helping reduce the spread of this disease. Fewer people are getting sick. Fewer people are going into the hospital and fewer people are dying. More people are now spending time together. More people are hugging the people that they love. More people are getting to do things that they enjoy once again. Vaccines make all of this possible. That’s why so many Virginians are choosing to get a shot.”
  • “Here’s where we are overall. Almost 46% of Virginians have had at least one shot of a COVID vaccine, and one in three are fully vaccinated. As you can see vaccination rates still very by locality. But we’re doing well overall…Three fourths of our school personnel have had at least the first dose….Right now, everyone ate 16 and above is eligible for a shot. So when you look at the numbers this way, Virginia has even better news; among everyone who is eligible to get a shot right now, almost 60% of people have received at least the first shot. That is just great news, and I want to commend Virginians on being part of the solution. These are all great numbers. I’m grateful to everyone who has gotten their vaccine already.”
  • “So many health workers, doctors, nurses and first responders have given their time over these many months at vaccination clinics, and we are especially grateful to you. Everything has changed over the past year.”
  • “Let’s all remember where we’ve been. First, as the year began, we focused on people who were most at risk of getting COVID. People who live in our nursing homes. Then, as supply increased, we opened eligibility to older people and those with underlying health conditions. Last February, it became clear that we finally had a partner at the federal level. After a tough year, that’s when i finally started sleeping through the night. A few weeks ago. Every adult in Virginia became eligible. And recently, the FDA allowed 16 and 17 year olds to get the Pfizer vaccine. So far, we have vaccinated almost 63,000 young people between the ages of 16 and 17. So this is all very good news.”
  • “We expect the federal government to approve the Pfizer vaccine for children age 12 and over very soon, perhaps it’s early as next week. You don’t have to be a pediatrician to know that that’s good news. Parents are eager for their children to be able to get this shot. Preliminary results from a VCU survey tell us that a large majority of parents 66% plan to get their adolescents vaccinated; 63% will vaccinate their younger children when it’s available. This is great news for getting back to normal. And we’re ready for it. Our Virginia Department of Health has been planning for the best way to get adult adolescence vaccinated. We’re working with school divisions and superintendents to encourage everyone everyone to get a shot.”
  • “Everyone is making plans for the future and how to reopen as safely as possible. I’m confident they will all make the right decisions in the best interest of their community. The bottom line is that we want everyone who can get vaccinated to get vaccinated.  I got a shot. My family got a shot. Everyone who worked in this building got a shot. I hope everyone in this room today got a shot. And I’m seeing pretty good eye contact from everyone so that is encouraging. And getting your COVID vaccine has never been easier. Vaccines are now widely and easily available in Virginia, they’re in grocery stores and doctor’s offices in pharmacies, the places where you used to get in your health care. And of course, they will continue to be available at your local health department and in hospitals across Virginia.”
  • “Next week, we will launch new mobile vaccine units together with local health departments. These will focus on underserved areas. You’re starting to see other steps forward as well. All of our community vaccination clinics are now welcoming walk ins. So are many of the pharmacies in Virginia. You can just walk in and get your shot. You don’t need to register and you don’t need an appointment. You just go. And this is again good news. It’s what we all envisioned when we heard a vaccine was finally ready. A vaccine that is easy for everyone to get.” (go to vaccinate.virginia.gov or call your doctor)
  • “All of these are positive developments. They are huge steps forward. We still have a lot of work ahead to meet President Biden’s new goal of 70% of American adults getting at least a first shot by the fourth of July. But make no mistake, I feel confident that Virginia can do our part to reach that goal and we will. Now, like most other states, we’re seeing a change in demand for vaccine. That yellow line is our average daily shots. We know there are variety of reasons why someone who is eligible hasn’t been vaccinated yet. Some people may not know that they’re eligible. I want to be clear – the only eligibility requirement now is that you’re 16 or older and soon that will probably be 12 are older. And it doesn’t matter if you are a frontline worker or have a medical condition. Everyone 16 and up is eligible. Others may not realize that they don’t have long wait list for appointments anymore. Now getting vaccinated is easy. And free. You don’t have to pre register… And some people haven’t made it a priority yet or are uncertain about a new vaccine for a new disease. If you have questions about vaccines, we’ll  be glad to answer them…While these vaccines may be new, they are built on years worth of testing, research and experience…The bottom line is when you get vaccinated, you protect yourself. You protect your family and everyone around you.”
  • “Over the past 14 months, we’ve learned a lot about COVID. And one thing is that it is an unpredictable disease. It can put anyone in the hospital, including young people. It can cause long-lasting, debilitating side effects. As you all know, I had COVID myself last October and seven months later, I still can’t smell or taste anything. Many long-lasting side effects are much worse…Remember this, COVID can make you truly sick for months. The variants that are now circulating raised the risk of getting sick. So please protect yourself from going through that and protect the people around you, too. I’ve had COVID and I’ve had the vaccine. And between the two, it’s an easy choice – I’ll take the vaccine any day. Getting vaccinated also comes with another important benefit. It is the only way that we as a community as a commonwealth, get back to normal. Vaccinated people can safely doom or things they can socialize in small groups without mask or social distancing, for example. They don’t have to get COVID tests before they travel. Last week, we updated our mask guidance to align with new CDC guidance that vaccinated people don’t need to wear mask outside unless they’re in a crowd. Starting May the 15th next weekend, we’re planning to relax a few more measures. This means 100 people at a social gathering indoors and 250 people outdoors, 50% capacity for indoor entertainment venues up to 1,000 people and 50% capacity outdoors with no cap. Restaurants will be able to return to selling alcohol after midnight and dining rooms can stay open later.”
  • “This is possible because everyone has been working so hard and so many people have been getting shots. We need to keep doing that. If our COVID numbers keep trending down and our vaccination numbers keep going up, we plan to lift our mitigation measures, capacity restrictions and social distancing requirements on June the 15th. Will continue to evaluate our mask guidance. But this is good news, and it’s thanks to the millions of Virginians who have done the right thing for so long. And i say thank you. We still have work to do. We’re not at the finish line yet. And we still need to take the precautions that we all know work. We’re approaching a time when we can think differently about how we interact, especially people who are vaccinated.”
  • “This is teacher appreciation week. I would not be standing here today if it were not was not for the excellent teachers I had when I came through school. And this year has taught us all much greater appreciation for everything our teachers do to help our children. It’s been a difficult year for teachers, students and everyone else. This is also resilience week in Virginia. Resilience is about how we respond to adversity or tragedy or trauma. If you don’t know what resilience looks like, know this – you have lived it over the past year. This year has required a lot of resilience out of everyone, especially our children. Resilience it is like a muscle, it grows stronger the more you use it. We’ve all built up that muscle over the past year. Today is also national nurses day. As the son of a nurse and having worked with many nurses during my career, I have seen firsthand the sacrifices and commitment nurses make, We have leaned heavily on our nurses for the past 14 months, and on behalf of the commonwealth, I want to say a heartfelt thank you. Words alone cannot express how much we owe to our nurses, and to all of our health care workers. So we thank you for all that you do. Happy nurses day.”
  • Chief of Staff Clark Mercer: “The governor mentioned vaccinations and what gets to open up if you get vaccinated. We have seen at the professional sports level or college level what happens if there’s breakouts on teams and students, athletes need to quarantine. If you’re fully vaccinated, you don’t need to quarantine. You don’t miss a week of sports, you don’t miss the big game on the weekend. So if you’re a student athlete getting ready to play fall sports, winter sports, spring sports get fully vaccinated. That’s not only going to be a benefit to you, but certainly to your team.”
  • “Lastly, a question was asked about the mask mandates. The governor’s executive authority/emergency declaration expires on June 30th. And like the governor said, he will revisit in a future press conference how we talk about masks…even voluntarily wearing a mask in Virginia, you have to have a state of emergency in effect to do so. There’s law on the books that does not allow you even voluntarily to wear a mask in public, so there’s some issues we have to work through between now and the end of June.”
  •  “The question is about vaccine hesitancy, and as we’ve said before, our goal really is we’d love to get everybody that can vaccinated, but we certainly want to get to 70%-75% of the population. That’s where herd immunity occurs, and that’s frankly where we can put COVID-19 definitely and permanently in the in the rear view mirror. We won’t have to worry about the variants that are out there…to get more shots in arms, we’re trying to be as creative with as we can…”
  • On endorsing Terry McAuliffe for governor, Northam said “I worked with Terry, obviously for four years, I was his lieutenant governor. We’re gonna be coming out of COVID. It will be very important to continue a lot of the things that we’ve been working on, and we want someone that can really hit the ground running on day one. And so that’s why I chose to endorse him…I’ve endorsed Hala Ayala for lieutenant governor, Jay Jones for attorney general.”
  • “We’ve been fighting to biological war for the last 14 months. And this is not so much about ourselves, but it’s about Virginia, it’s about this country. And the way to win that war is to get vaccinated. It is just that simple. And so I would ask everybody to, you know, to…think of the bigger picture…what’s in the best interest of Virginia. And I think that if we can all do that, we’ll really put this behind us and be able to move on to near-normal lives and get our businesses back up and running, get our children safely back in school.”
  • Rita Davis: “The governor will consider whether or not if, under the CDC guidance and…the advice from the Virginia Department of Health, even folks who want to voluntarily wear a mask will need to do so legally, which may mean that the [emergency] declaration might have to be extended or re issued, so it will apply after June 30th. “
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