Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Governor Urges Pandemic Safety Over Holiday Weekend

Northam speaking at podium
Gov. Northam said restrictions on the Hampton Roads region would not be lifted until after Labor Day at the earliest. (Screenshot of VPM video)

At a press conference today, Gov. Ralph Northam gave an update on COVID-19 in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Coronavirus cases rose in early July, driven in large part by a spike in Hampton Roads. Northam noted that while the trend of new cases in Hampton Roads was improving, new infections were still above target levels.

Although he said restrictions for Eastern Virginia could ease soon, there will be no immediate changes to the restrictions implemented in July. With a holiday weekend approaching, he urged extra caution: “If we can avoid these same surges after Labor Day, we’ll have a running start going into the fall.”

Virginia’s COVIDWISE app, which tracks exposure to coronavirus through anonymous IDs and bluetooth, has been downloaded 460,000 times since it was rolled out a month ago.

Although testing has increased across the state, Northam said fewer residents were taking advantage of public test sites, which he warned could lead to new infections. He also criticized the Trump administration’s reclassification of teachers as “critical infrastructure workers,” which would require them to continue working even if they’re exposed to coronavirus. Northam said Virginia would not follow these new guidelines. Instead, the state will advise teachers to get tested after an exposure, and stay quarantined until they get their results.

Although Northam said online was the safest way to access government services, the departments of health and elections are working together to ensure that in-person voting can be done safely. Due to health concerns, many people who typically work the polls will not be able to this year: Northam said the Department of Elections is looking for new applicants.

Northam spoke briefly about the 2020 census, noting that approximately 80% of Virginians had responded, one of the highest rates in the nation. However, Northam said response rates were still too low to ensure Virginia would receive adequate funding from the federal government. Officials with the statewide Census effort gave speeches about the safety and importance of completing the Census. The prior deadline was October 21, but it was moved up to September 30 by the Trump administration.

Related Stories