Governor Still Anticipates Friday Phase One

WRVA News
May 11, 2020 - 3:23 pm
Governor Ralph Northam Briefing

Governor's Office

Richmond, VA _  Virginia Governor Ralph Northam says he still anticipates a Phase One reopening for Friday in the Commonwealth, but says he will make the final determination ahead of Wednesday's briefing.  The exception to the Phase One reopening will be Northern Virginia, after five counties asked to be allowed to maintain tougher restrictions.

Northern Virginia has been a hotspot for positive Covid-19 cases.  Governor's Chief of Staff Clark Mercer says the five jurisdictions that sent the Governor a letter requesting more time under the tougher restrictions include Fairfax County, Prince William County, Loudoun County, Arlington, and Alexandria, and says that a number of cities and towns within those jurisdictions that sent follow-up letters.  He says those five jurisdictions accounted for 719 new positive tests in Virginia Sunday while the rest of Virginia accounted for just 270 cases.  There has been no determination of how long Northern Virginia might take to enter Phase One.

Janice Underwood, the Governor's Chief Diversity Officer, says coronavirus is still disproportionately impacting people of color.  She says in order to mitigate the impact, they have made 20,000 masks and 20,000 bottles of hand sanitizer to distribute in the city of Richmond, with a goal of expanding that distribution to other underserved communities across the state. 

Governor Northam says the state is developing a plan to work with certain retailers across the Commonwealth to offer drive through and walk up testing, and that he will announce details of that plan during Wednesday's briefing.  As to why numbers from John Hopkins place Virginia at the bottom of all of the states in testing, Dr. Karen Remley, who is heading up the testing initiative, says that is because Virginia is strategically testing to ensure communities know where the hotspots are in their areas, and specifically targeting underserved areas.  Remley says that allows the state to make better, more informed, decisions about how to tackle the outbreak.  She adds, however, that testing is continuously increasing.

Governor Northam also announced that DMV offices will remain closed through at least this week, although he says online services will remain available.