See below for video and highlights from Gov. Ralph Northam’s COVID-19 press conference today – the first such press conference in months.
- “We have worked throughout this pandemic to keep people safe.” As a doctor, he has intubated people, watched people struggle for breath and take their last breath, and as governor, he will do everything he can to prevent that from happening to you.
- Overall, things are still looking relatively good regarding COVID-19. “We’ve had, overall, a very good summer…we reached President Biden’s goal of getting 70% of adults with at least their first shot, and we did it two weeks early in mid-June…and the end of this virus seemed to be within reach.”
- “The vaccines are still working.” “But unfortunately, we are now on a different trajectory; the arrival of the Delta variant, combined with the number of people who are not vaccinated, is driving our case count back up…Fortunately, Virginia’s doing better than most other states.”
- Cases have been going back up, but “are nowhere near the number of cases that we saw last winter, and I am confident that we will not go back to that point. But cases are rising again, and so are hospitalizations…because the Delta variant is significantly more contagious than previous strains…comes with a higher viral load…the only way we can beat this virus is vaccination.”
- “And it breaks my heart as your governor and as a doctor to see people getting sick, getting hospitalized and unfortunately dying of a disease that is now preventable for most people, a disease they could get vaccinated against. Almost 73% of Virginia adults have had at least one dose…that puts us ahead of many other states, especially in the south. But we want more people fully vaccinated, because again, vaccines work…Our data show that since January, 99% of COVID cases have been in people who are not fully vaccinated…Nearly every single person who has died from COVID has been unvaccinated.”
- “Today, I’m taking an important step to protect state employees. We have around 120,000 people who are employed by the state of Virginia...Today, I am announcing that we will require all state employees to be vaccinated, and show proof of that vaccination by September 1. Anyone who chooses not to be vaccinated will have to get a COVID test every week and show proof of a negative result.”
- For people who are hesitant to get vaccinated, Gov. Northam says “the time for waiting is over, millions of people around the world have been vaccinated and we are fine…So please, protect yourselves and the people around you – get vaccinated.”
- “We can call vaccination a personal choice, but our choices affect other people.”
- Legislation passed earlier this year – “by a strong, bipartisan vote” said that schools will offer in-person instruction this fall 5 days a week AND will follow CDC mitigation strategies, including wearing masks. “I expect school divisions to follow it,” and if they choose NOT to follow it, “they should have a frank discussion with their legal counsel.”