Gov. Ralph Northam teased a possible June 15 date for mitigation measures and restrictions to be lifted during a Thursday morning press conference that brought “good news” of COVID-19 numbers trending downward.
The governor’s state of emergency expires on June 30, but he’s considering lifting it earlier.
However, counsel to the governor Rita Davis went on to explain Northam would have to consult with the Virginia Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before making a decision regarding the wearing of masks.
Being that wearing a mask in public is illegal in Virginia, she said it might have to be extended to allow individuals to wear a mask in public.
Northam’s announcement also came with news of 60% of eligible Virginians receiving at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and the Pfizer vaccine being expected to be available to those 12 and under by as early as next week.
“It’s up to Virginians the way we move forward,” said Northam.
He also reported on the state’s positivity rate, which currently stands at 4.4%.
This rate measures the positive results against the overall tests administered and is often used as a benchmark to determine community spread.
Northam also reported that there were less than 1,000 COVID-19 cases daily in the state. He also said the seven-day average of COVID-19 cases is back to a rate not seen since October.
“That’s a big deal after a hard year and something to celebrate,” said Northam.
He also reported that 847 Virginians are currently hospitalized, a lower number since the pandemic began in March of 2020.
“The data is very clear,” said Northam. “The vaccines are working.”
As of Thursday, 6,549,140 Virginians have been vaccinated with 46% of Virginians receiving at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
In Halifax County, 9,783 residents were full vaccinated by Thursday with 11,697 residents receiving at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Northam also said 80% of Virginians 65 and up who have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. He also reported that three-fourths of school personnel in Virginia have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
He also reminded Virginians that the only requirement for receiving the vaccine at this time is being at least 16 and older, and that soon may change as well.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children 12 to 15 years old, as early as next week.
The governor said he is working with school divisions and the Virginia Department of Health to make plans to have the vaccine available.
“We want everyone who can get vaccinated to get vaccinated,” said Northam, who also noted that he does not see the COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents becoming a state mandate.
In efforts to get individuals vaccinated, he reminded Virginians that the vaccine is available at various places such as grocery stores, doctors’ offices, pharmacies and large-scale vaccination clinics. He also said new mobile vaccine units are in the works to help reach underserved areas.
Individuals can find more information online at vaccinate.va.gov or by calling 1-877-VAX-IN-VA. People also can text their zip code to GetVax.
The governor also noted that the number of average daily shots is declining, and he wanted to let Virginians know that there are no more long wait lines, no pre-registration required and it’s free.
He noted that some individuals haven’t made getting the vaccine a priority yet and some are uneasy about taking a new vaccine.
As someone who’s had both COVID-19 and a COVID-19 vaccine, he said he would take the vaccine any day.
“Please protect yourself, and the people around you,” said Northam.