Northam Optimistic about COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout, Encourages Caution over Holidays

| November 19, 2020 | 0 Comments | News

Dr. Norm Oliver talks about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout at Gov. Ralph Northam’s Nov. 18 press conference.

Governor Northam said Wednesday that there is good news regarding the COVID-19 virus. He expects Virginia to begin rolling out COVID-19 vaccines by mid-December. He said it is a “light at the end of the tunnel,” but with new cases on the rise, Virginia must continue to take extra precautions.

New COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Virginia is the reason he set forth stricter guidelines for social gatherings, Friday. New restrictions limit gatherings to 25 people and stop businesses from selling alcoholic drinks after 10 p.m.

However, relative to other states, Virginia is in a good position. It is 4th from the bottom in rising transition rates, and in the best position of all densely populated and coastal states. Deaths and hospitalizations are also “surging” across the United States, said Northam.

But Virginia’s increase is still concerning. Virginia saw 2,071 new case Tuesday and 25 more deaths. Until most people are vaccinated, Northam asks that Virginians continue to social distance, follow guidelines and wear masks. People should be careful when traveling and celebrating the holidays.

However, Northam is hopeful about the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, both of which have success rates of almost 95%. Dr. Norm Oliver, Virginia State Health Commissioner, said that Virginia would first roll out COVID-19 vaccines to healthcare workers and first responders. In the new year, Virginia would go forward and then provide vaccines to people in the high-risk category. Oliver said Virginia is prepared to quickly disperse the vaccinations in the first few months of the new year.

Northam expressed confidence in the vaccines. He said testing on 30,000 is “significant.” As other companies safely release their vaccines, Virginia will be able to ramp up distribution to its residents and essential workers.

Northam said taking the “let the chips fall where they may,” mentality is “despicable,” and reminds people of the time when COVID-19 meant mobile morgues. He wants people to protect healthcare workers who are “very tired, very fatigued,” and respiratory illness season has not even begun. He recommended people get their flu shots.

Northam said he decided on gathering of only 25 people according to the data. He said it is safest to not gather at all, but the larger the gathering the more it is risky. He reminded people that while we like to celebrate Thanksgiving gatherings could put family and friends at risk and everyone should consider that.

He said he is not closing down restaurants at this juncture. They are already working under-capacity and most are complying, but Virginia will be “stepping up,” its enforcement of its guidelines.

Northam said he will continue to let the localities make the decisions regarding openings of schools. He has provided schools with a CDC dashboard to help inform their decisions.

Northam is not planning to institute any travel bans or rules about quarantining rules. He said he is following what has worked for Virginia in the past but won’t rule anything out either.

At the press conference, announced that he has Dr. Janice Underwood to be chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer for Virginia. She and her team will be looking at how COVID-19 is affecting different ethnic groups, with the goal of making improvement. Her team will also address equity issues of all kinds. She said she would like to create a coalition among states.

Northam said he is confident that with a new administration and with congress working together that more CARES funds will be offered.

On his proposal to legalize marijuana, Northam said he will be also looking at ways to expunge records of people with marijuana violations and restore their rights.

© 2020, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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