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Virginia Not Moving Into Phase Three: New Efforts for Latinx Communities

Gov. Ralph Northam addresses coronavirus updates for Virginia.
Gov. Ralph Northam addresses coronavirus updates for Virginia. (Photo: Screenshot/VPM News)


Gov. Ralph Northam announced that Virginia will still not move forward into phase three this Friday. He made the announcement during a press briefing in Northern Virginia today. 

The governor first stated this during his Tuesday briefing, saying he wants to continue to monitor the data in the commonwealth to be sure that reopening will be safe. Today, Northam shared charts detailing what phase three will look like when it comes.

Venues like museums, zoos and other outdoor facilities will need to practice social distancing and are allowed up to fifty percent capacity, while gyms, fitness centers, recreational sports and swimming pools can allow seventy-five percent capacity. Barbershops and salons will also need to practice social distancing. The governor said childcare services can open, but overnight summer camps will remain closed.

Northam said he appreciated how Virginians are following face covering requirements. He said Virgina is continuing to see a downward trend in coronavirus cases, and he is keeping a close eye on other states that are seeing surges. While addressing the opening of more businesses in the commonwealth, the governor said residents should still take caution. 

“I want to emphasize to every Virginian: Just because something is allowed, doesn’t mean it’s required. If a business doesn’t feel comfortable opening, or can’t meet the requirements, it does not have to open.”

The governor faced backlash from members of the Republican party for waiting to continue into phase three. House GOP leader Todd Gilbert made a statement on Wednesday, saying the governor is “walking back” statements he previously made. 

“When Governor Northam laid out the criteria for reopening Virginia's economy, he said the process would be led by science, data, and testing. Yet after two additional weeks of falling case numbers and a continual drop in the percentage positive of tests, Governor Northam called an audible yesterday and said Phase 3 could not begin this week,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert said tens of thousands of Virginians have lost their jobs during the shutdown, and that the governor should continue with his previous procedures.

“If Governor Northam genuinely wants 'science, data, and testing' to drive our reopening, he should allow Phase 3 to proceed."

The governor mentioned the effects that COVID 19 have had on communities of color, specifically the Latino community. Northam said the community makes up 45.3% of coronavirus cases, and 35% of hospitalizations, despite only making up 10% of the population in the commonwealth. 

“Clearly the Latino communities are disproportionately affected by this virus,” Northam said.

The governor also said that Latinos in Virginia work jobs that put them at higher risk from the coronavirus. Other representatives of the Latino community spoke to address concerns about the impact the virus has had, including Dr. Sergio Rimola, a member of the Virginia Latino advisory board. 

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Jeff McKay spoke about efforts to reach members of the Latino community in the county, including operating more than 25 community testing sites. Interpreters provided the speeches in Spanish and sign language.

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