Gov. Northam defends decision to tighten COVID-19 restrictions statewide

Updated: Nov. 18, 2020 at 4:35 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Virginia’s governor is defending his decision to tighten COVID-19 restrictions statewide. While the commonwealth is doing better than most states with coronavirus cases, the numbers continue to trend in the wrong direction as we approach Thanksgiving.

On Friday morning, Governor Ralph Northam assembled his cabinet to review new data showing a rapid increase. That coupled with images he saw on the news made him change his mind.

“Seeing mobile morgues outside of hospitals because there’s no place to put the dead. We don’t need that to happen in Virginia,” said Northam.

Wednesday marked the first coronavirus briefing since the governor tightened restrictions, including a 25-person cap on indoor and outdoor gatherings and a 10 PM alcohol sale cutoff at restaurants. Northam said the Virginia Health Department stepped-up inspections at those places and to make sure they close by midnight, but local police are on the line for gathering issues.

“Those are difficult to enforce but I would just say if someone is not following the guidelines and law enforcement becomes aware of it, they may intervene,” said Northam.

Virginia Health Commissioner Dr. Norm Oliver said they’ve identified 14 sites for ultracold storage for the Pfizer vaccine and should have no issues with the Moderna vaccine.

A limited supply should arrive mid-December and would go to health care workers first. As we enter the new year that should be expanded to first responders and essential employees. Mass distribution would start after that as vaccine production ramps up.

“All of these things we are quite prepared for. We have a very detailed, granular plan for how to deal with this,” said Dr. Oliver.

The state has set aside about $22 million for the vaccine program. It’s estimated to cost 120-million. The governor hopeful a new administration in Washington, DC next year will help cover that deficit.

The full text of amended Executive Order Sixty-Three and Order of Public Health Emergency Five and sixth amended Executive Order Sixty-Seven and Order of Public Health Emergency Seven will be made available here.

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