Governor Northam responds to critics over testing numbers, delayed reopening plans

Governor Northam responds to critics over testing numbers and delayed reopening plans

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - With some businesses closed and others open in and around the Richmond-area, Governor Ralph Northam is taking on his critics who say his administration’s response to COVID-19 is inconsistent.

"If there's confusion hopefully that will be kept to a minimum," said Northam.

"It changes from day to day and that's got to stop," said Delegate Todd Gilbert, House GOP Leader. "We need some clear direction about where we are headed and leadership."

During a Friday briefing, Northam also had to explain how he made another change to the way testing is being reported in the state, but not why it was that way in the first place. There are two types of tests: antibody and PCR.

The state had been lumping both into overall testing numbers. But antibody testing isn’t accurate for COVID-19 and made up about 9% of reported tests or about 15,000 tests total.

"I became aware of that on Monday. I took issue with the way it was being reported. I went to the VDH and said I think these need to be dis-aggregated. That was done. I take ownership of that and that's what leaders do," said Northam.

Delegate Gilbert worries what the mixed messages will do to the average Virginian trying to rebuild.

"They are confused by these regional plans. They are confused by these individual localities. They don't know where it leaves them, where it leaves their health, their business, their prospects for a job and so we need direction and clarity and consistency from the governor," said Gilbert.

Meanwhile, the state lost about $1 billion in the first quarter. That was expected. But the state’s finance secretary cautioned it will take time to reassess the economy and revenue forecasts.

“Now we’ll see how the economy is going to respond as we open up. So between now and the end of June, we’ll have 45-60 days to see how that goes," said Aubrey Layne, Secretary of Finance.

Memorial Day is right around the corner and plenty are wondering about beaches in the state. Northam said he’s been in talks with beach communities including Virginia Beach. They are working on a plan through the weekend and expect an announcement on Monday.

REWATCH the governor’s briefing here:

Gov. Northam gives update as most of Virginia begins gradual reopening

Copyright 2020 WWBT. All rights reserved.