Northam COVID-19 briefing

Governor Ralph Northam’s November 18 COVID-19 briefing touched on restrictions that recently took effect, such as a 25-person limit on gatherings in the state, and on the importance of curbing case numbers that are rising across the nation.

Northam also acknowledged that both Pfizer and Moderna have announced vaccines that appear to be 95% effective in clinical trials, but also tempered excitement regarding the new vaccines, as they will take a significant amount of time and resources to distribute.

“It means a light at the end of the tunnel, and I think we can all agree that this has been a long tunnel,” Northam said.

Northam also said that case numbers are growing much slower in Virginia than in all but four other states. Despite that, he said positive cases and hospitalizations have increased across the state.

“We’re seeing a record number of daily cases recorded this week,” Northam said at the November 18 briefing.

Northam said Virginia’s positivity rate rose to 7%. It was recently as low as 5%.

“The most rapid and concerning spread remains in our Southwest region, but all of our regions are seeing increases,” Northam said.

Northam said Virginians should keep gatherings as small as possible, and seriously consider the safety of their Thanksgiving plans. He also pointed out that Zoom will not be enforcing time limits on any virtual meetings during the Thanksgiving holiday.

“I know that everyone is tired of this pandemic,” Northam said. “We have been doing this now for eight months and it is stressful, and it is exhausting on all of us. But you have done a great job, Virginia. We have some of the lowest rates in the nation, and that is because of each and every Virginian who wears a mask, who stays at home, who understands that this is about our responsibilities to one another.”

Northam also signed the budget that was recently passed by the general assembly.

Northam called the budget “progressive” and said it includes provisions to protect Virginians from evictions and utility shut offs.

Northam also said funding will continue for the Virginia National Guard’s assistance with pandemic response efforts in the state. Northam said additional Rebuild Virginia program funding will be distributed soon.

“We have both a health crisis and an economic crisis, and we are focused on both of them,” Northam said.

Northam also encouraged citizens to get flu shots to make sure hospitals are not overwhelmed with both COVID-19 and flu patients, and to donate blood if possible, as the American Red Cross has not been able to have many of the large blood drives that it normally would.

COVID-19 rules that recently went into effect include:

All public and private in-person gatherings have now been limited to 25 people, down from the previous cut-off of 250.

All Virginians over the age of five are now required to wear masks in indoor public spaces, including schools.

Violations of mask mandates, enhanced cleaning and social distancing guidelines issued by the state will be enforceable through the Virginia Department of Health.

The sale of alcohol for onsite consumption at bars, restaurants, breweries and other similar establishments is now prohibited after 10 p.m. All restaurants must close at midnight.