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Northam to Virginians: Vaccinations For All Coming Soon

Man at podium and woman signing
Gov. Ralph Northam updates the commonwealth on Virginia's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Screenshot from briefing)

Gov. Ralph Northam said Tuesday that it is only a matter of weeks before COVID-19 vaccinations will be available to all Virginians.

He pointed to news of increasing vaccine supply to back up his claim, saying that on a call with governors, the federal government pledged to quintuple the number of Johnson & Johnson vaccines it ships. Northam said that would bring an additional 48,000 doses of the one-shot vaccine to Virginia.

Northam also noted the AstraZeneca vaccine is moving closer to emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration

“Studies show it also is highly effective across all age groups,” he said. “That’s encouraging, and this could be another tool in our country’s toolbox.”

According to Northam, one-in-four Virginians, or just over 2 million, have now been vaccinated against the coronavirus. As of Friday, the state is administering just under 50,000 vaccine doses each day.

The governor said increasing vaccination rates are not the only cause for optimism, however, citing a decline in active cases since the start of the year. Cases peaked in the state on Jan. 8, with nearly 6,000 people testing positive for the virus each day. Northam said the state has a seven-day average of about 1,400 cases per day.

“There’s still a lot of virus out in our communities. That number has hit a plateau, and we’re watching that very closely, but [it] is still a vast improvement over where we were just six weeks ago,” he said.

While that remains above transmission levels from last summer, the state has rolled back some of its restrictions in response to the falling numbers. Northam is expanding capacities for the following activities:

  • Recreational sports will be limited to 100 spectators indoor and 500 outdoors;
  • Social gatherings will be limited to 50 people indoors and 100 outdoors;
  • Graduations will be limited to 500 people indoors and 5,000 outdoors;
  • Entertainment venues will be limited to 500 people indoors and 30% capacity outdoors. 

All activities are also limited to 30% capacity, if that is less than the prescribed number. The changes will take effect on Thursday, April 1.

Despite the loosening restrictions, Northam said community spread remains high and asked Virginians to remain vigilant as the pandemic begins to wane.

“Vaccines are the light at the end of the tunnel but only if we take them and only if we make smart choices until most people are protected,” he said. “We are all in this together and we need to keep doing the right thing to protect both ourselves and other people.”

Over the course of the pandemic, more than 607,000 Virginians have tested positive for COVID-19, and over 10,000 have died as a result.

Connor Scribner is the assistant news editor at VPM News and also reports on the housing market and public housing.