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Back From Quarantine, Northam Has Strong Words for Trump

screenshot of video
Screenshot from briefing.

Gov. Ralph Northam left quarantine and returned to his office Tuesday, the same day the FBI said he had been considered as an abduction target by a self-professed militia group charged with plotting to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. 

At a COVID-19 briefing, the governor said he and his wife have been cleared to leave isolation and return to work following their positive coronavirus test results. 

He also said that none of the 65 people who were asked to quarantine after coming in close contact with himself or his wife tested positive for the virus. Northam said this was a testament to his administration's commitment to mask wearing and praised the efforts of the Richmond City Health Department in contact tracing.

He contrasted his and his administration’s approach to the pandemic with that of the president.

Northam described President Trump's attitude towards COVID-19 as cavalier and specifically criticized his behavior at and following the September 26 Rose Garden event. 

“The guidelines that we’re following in Virginia, they work,” he said. “When we don’t follow those guidelines, we have outbreaks like you saw in Washington.”

Northam’s criticism of the president’s behavior was not limited to COVID-19. He also said the president’s rhetoric towards public officials was dangerous, specifically pointing to an April tweet from Trump that said, “Liberate Virginia!” Trump made a similar tweet about Michigan.

“People find meaning in those words,” he said. “And thus these things happen, and that’s regrettable.” 

Northam also gave an update on the state’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, saying that Virginia’s numbers have been doing “pretty well.” He said that the state’s positivity percentage rate continues to decline and is now below 5%. 

He praised Virginians for continuing to make good decisions while other states have seen their case numbers begin to increase. However, he tempered this praise by warning now was not the time for complacency, urging citizens to stick to social distancing and other guidelines as the temperatures drop and the days shorten.

“It’s going to feel hard to keep doing the right things,” he said. “But I know that we can stay strong and get through this winter continuing to make the right choices.”

Connor Scribner is a former VPM News assistant editor.
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