No Virginia, There Won’t Be a Lockdown. Now Wear Your Mask.

Virginia's governor comes out in support of abolishing the death penalty, legalizing marijuana, restoring felons voting rights.

By Julia Raimondi

December 2, 2020

In a Wednesday press conference, Gov. Northam doesn’t change restrictions but asks people to take more precautions.

RICHMOND-No, Virginia won’t go through a lockdown this week. Speaking in a Wednesday press conference, Gov. Ralph Northam said he’s not increasing restrictions, but will increase enforcement of the current rules. 

That includes cracking down on mask requirements and stopping alcohol service after 10 p.m. However, Northam cautioned that could change in coming weeks, if COVID-19 cases rise. 

“People are getting together, often indoors, in places where they feel safe and let their guards down,” Northam said. “If you don’t wear a mask and you don’t social distance and you think your right to ignore public health advice trumps your neighbor’s right to not get infected by you, these cases will just continue to go up. It’s just selfish.”

Notably, Northam did not address the resolutions appearing in Southwest Virginian counties that call for a disregard to statewide restrictions. One of these resolutions passed in Campbell County Dec. 1, marking the area as a “first amendment sanctuary.” 

Hospitals across the state have enough ventilators and beds to currently handle an increase in cases, but there are concerns about staff availability in regions like southwest Virginia. Northam said that it did not matter how many beds were available if there wasn’t enough staff to treat patients. To avoid hospitals from becoming overwhelmed, Northam continued to urge residents to follow guidelines. 

This is also the fastest way for businesses and schools to reopen to their normal capacity, Northam added. 

“Wear a mask and social distance now and get a vaccine when the time comes,” Northam said.

Virginia Groups Don’t Trust the Vaccine

Northam also noted there may be distrust in the vaccine from groups across the state. That includes people of color and those that already distrust government restrictions and testing. To help earn their trust, Northam reached out to community and faith leaders to have them lead by example. 

“Trust is a big part of this,” Northam said. “I hope that once people see our leaders such as myself and my family and the rest of Virginians taking the vaccine and doing well [they’ll take it].”

A vaccine rollout in Virginia could be ready as early as mid-December. 

Two vaccine companies, Pfizer and Moderna, are currently waiting FDA approval to distribute their two-dose vaccines. Pfizer is ahead in the process, with a hearing set for Dec. 10. After approval, Pfizer will send an initial shipment of 70,000 vaccines to Virginia hospitals, Northam said. Those in phase one will receive vaccines first, which includes healthcare workers, essential workers, adults with high health risks and adults over the age of 65. 

There are approximately 640,000+ Virginia residents that qualify for phase one vaccine distribution, and Northam said they will determine by the end of the week who will receive the first 70,000 doses. As more vaccines arrive they will continue to distribute to those in the first phase, then move on to those lower on the priority list.

Julia Raimondi is a freelance reporter for Dogwood. You can reach her at [email protected].

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