Gov. Northam says testing efforts are going well as Virginia hits 10,000 mark

Updated: May. 20, 2020 at 5:03 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - With testing hitting the 10,000 mark and the state's coronavirus percent positivity rate dropping, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam says testing efforts in the commonwealth are now going well.

"This is important for us especially as we move forward, now in phase one and hopefully going into phase two and phase three that we have adequate testing and that testing is available for everybody,” said Northam.

The Virginia Department of Health reported 9,782 PCR tests and 426 antibody tests in the latest reporting period.

Looking toward phase two, Northam said they would make a decision a few days prior to the earliest potential start, which is May 29, and release guidelines at that time. Phase one started for most of the state May 15.

“I understand we have been through very, very difficult times. Our lives have literally been turned upside down by COVID-19. I know a lot of you across the commonwealth have made sacrifices people have lost their jobs,” said Northam. “People right now are on edge. People are testy.”

The governor says they aren't looking at dates, rather they're focusing on data.

"I only wish that I knew how that last chapter would read and I don’t know that and we don’t know that and that’s why people need to be patient and continue to follow our guidelines,” said Northam.

Meanwhile, the governor said about 55,000 people voted absentee in Tuesday’s local elections. Compare that to May 2016 where fewer than 1,700 people voted absentee.

Looking toward June primaries, Northam said they are working to make sure polling locations are clean and workers have personal protective equipment.

“I encourage as many as Virginians as can to please vote absentee,” said Northam.

A new workgroup is convening to identify ways to reduce health care costs regardless of their insurance. The governor also vetoed a trio of General Assembly bills, he says, would have driven up health care costs for those who need it most.

Restaurant and Beverage Services

  • During Phase 1, businesses should continue to offer takeout and delivery options. If businesses choose to open to dine-in customers, they may only do so in outdoor spaces and must adhere to additional requirements including limiting occupancy to 50 percent. Read more.

Brick and Mortar Retail

  • Businesses must strictly adhere to the physical distancing guidelines (50 percent of the lowest occupancy), enhanced cleaning and disinfection practices, and enhanced workplace safety practices, including six feet of space between customers and employees. Read more.

Personal Care and Grooming Services

  • Services can be provided by-appointment-only and occupancy must be limited to 50 percent. Face coverings will also be required for employees and customers. Read more.

Fitness and Exercise Facilities

  • If businesses choose to offer fitness and exercise services, they may only do so in outdoor spaces and must adhere to additional requirements like social distancing. Read more.

Farmers Markets

  • During Phase 1, farmers’ markets should continue to offer order ahead and pickup options. If markets choose to open, they may only do so in outdoor spaces and they must adhere to additional requirements. Read more.

Campgrounds and Overnight Summer Camps

  • All lots available must be 20-feet apart and all common areas will remain closed. There will be no physical sharing of recreation equipment and visitors will be encouraged to wear face masks.
  • No gatherings will be permitted with more than 10 people and no day-passes or visitors will be allowed. Read more.

City of Richmond

  • Governor Ralph Northam has granted Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney’s request to delay “Phase One” of reopening the city. Stoney says he “cannot justify risking the health and safety of the residents of the great city of Richmond by moving forward" on Friday, May 15.
  • Richmond will now enter Phase One of reopening no earlier than midnight on Thursday, May 28.
  • This delay does not include the surrounding counties. Read more.

Northern Virginia

  • Northam said Tuesday he’s signed an executive order extending mandated closures and restrictions on businesses in northern Virginia, a heavily populated area where regional officials have said they’re not yet ready to reopen.
  • The region will delay Phase One of reopening until at least May 29. Read more.

Accomack County

  • The rural county on the Eastern Shore is opting out of beginning to reopen Friday as well.
  • Northam granted the county a delay until May 28. Read more.

Physical Distancing

  • Continue to social distance by staying six feet away from others
  • Provide clear communication and signage for physical distancing in areas where individuals may congregate, especially at entrances, in seating areas, and in check-out lines
  • Limit the occupancy of physical spaces to ensure that adequate physical distancing may be maintained.
  • Utilize face coverings when possible.
  • Read more.

Enhanced Cleaning and Disinfection

  • Practice routine cleaning and disinfection of high contact areas and hard surfaces, including check out stations and payment pads, store entrance push/pull pads, door knobs/handles, dining tables/chairs, light switches, handrails, restrooms, floors, and equipment.
  • Provide a place for employees and customers to wash hands with soap and water, or provide alcohol-based hand sanitizers containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • Read more.

Enhanced Workplace Safety

  • Encourage telework whenever possible.
  • Prior to a shift and on days employees are scheduled to work, employers should screen employees prior to starting work. Instruct employees who are sick to stay at home and not report to work.
  • When developing staff schedules, implement additional short breaks to increase the frequency with which staff can wash hands with soap and water.
  • Limit the number of employees in break rooms and stagger breaks to discourage gatherings.
  • Read more.

Previously, Governor Ralph Northam announced a three-phase plan to reopen the state’s economy.

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