Mar 23, 2021

Gov. Ralph Northam Virginia COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript March 23

Gov. Ralph Northam Virginia COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript March 23
RevBlogTranscriptsCOVID-19 Briefing & Press Conference TranscriptsGov. Ralph Northam Virginia COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript March 23

Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia held a press conference on March 23, 2021 to provide updates on COVID-19 restrictions and vaccine distribution. Read the full news briefing speech transcript here.

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Gov. Ralph Northam: (02:51)
Well, good afternoon, and thanks to all of you again for joining us today. Today, we have some updates on our vaccination numbers and on the next steps to slowly ease certain mitigation measures. First, I’m optimistic about our numbers here in Virginia. We’re eighth in the country in terms of doses used. Almost one in four Virginians have now received at least one dose of the vaccine. That’s more than two million Virginians. More than one million people are fully vaccinated. That number includes those who received the J&J vaccine, which is just one dose.

Gov. Ralph Northam: (03:36)
That’s what the first lady and I received. We were vaccinated a week ago, Monday, and we’re feeling great. It’s exciting that our country now has three safe and effective vaccines, and as you know, more may be coming. This morning I spoke with the nation’s governors and also with Dr. Fauci. We received three pieces of good news. Starting next week the federal government is increasing weekly allocations of the J&J vaccine by five times. That means Virginia can expect to see another 48,000 J&J doses next week, and that is good news.

Gov. Ralph Northam: (04:23)
The second piece of good news is about another potential new vaccine, this one made by AstraZeneca. Studies show it also is highly effective across all age groups. That’s encouraging, and this could be another tool in our country’s toolbox. The third piece of good news is that the federal government will be launching an extensive education campaign across our country. You’ll hear that the vaccines are safe and that they work, and you will hear it from people you trust, from community leaders, neighbors, doctors, ministers, and lots of other folks. This is also good news.

Gov. Ralph Northam: (05:10)
So let’s turn to where we are in Virginia. In Virginia, we’ve received more than 500,000 doses this week. We’re giving an average of around 50,000 doses a day. Remember, that was our goal, and on many days we’re doing more than 60,000, sometimes more than 70,000 doses. We feel good about where we are with vaccinations, and we’re continuing to ramp up our distribution. Last week mass vaccination clinics opened in Danville and at Virginia State University in Petersburg, and we’re opening one today in Prince William County. That clinic will be able to do up to 3,000 vaccinations per day by appointment, and it will run six days a week.

Gov. Ralph Northam: (06:02)
A number of local health departments, hospital systems, and others, have worked very hard over the past couple of months to ramp up these vaccination clinics. I want to thank everyone involved in these efforts, health departments, and hospital staff, nurses, doctors who give shots, the National Guard, all the volunteers through the Medical Reserve Corps, and everyone who helps make these clinics run so smoothly. If you’ve seen one of these mass clinics, you’ve probably been amazed at how well they’re run. People guiding you where to park, where to check in, where to go next. The clinics I’ve seen and heard about have been well-oiled machines, and that is all due to the hard work of thousands of people determined to help their fellow Virginians get vaccinated as quickly as possible. And as always, I am grateful for the frontline workers who are still treating people sick with COVID. Some of our localities have moved into Phase 1c, which includes additional essential workers. As more vaccine supply is coming to Virginia, we’re moving pretty quickly through our priority populations, and we expect it’s a matter of weeks before we can open it up to anyone who wants to be vaccinated. For the parts of Virginia with large populations of people who are at higher risk, we’re working hard to make sure they have enough doses to keep up with the demand. It’s important for everyone to have that opportunity to get vaccinated, because that is the only way we put this pandemic behind us.

Gov. Ralph Northam: (07:54)
We’re on track to meet President Biden’s goal of having vaccine available to every adult by May the 1st, and I’m confident that we will exceed it. When our country sets clear goals, we meet and exceed them. In fact, President Biden set a goal of 100 million shots in his first 100 days in office, and our country met that goal in 58 days. Their staff thanked governors and thanked states for working with them to meet that goal. Virginia has done our part, and you have done your part, and the results are real.

Gov. Ralph Northam: (08:37)
So here’s where we are. Our COVID case numbers have improved dramatically since our peak in January. Our seven-day average of cases is around 1,400 a day. So the message, there’s still a lot of virus out in our communities. That number has hit a plateau and we’re watching that very closely. But there is still a vast improvement over where we were just six weeks ago. Our percent positivity is around 5.6%, down from 17% in early January, and we’re seeing fewer hospitalizations, less ICU admissions, less need for ventilators for COVID than we’ve seen since last October. So all in all things are going well. We just need to keep getting people vaccinated.

Gov. Ralph Northam: (09:39)
Remember, it protects you, all three vaccines are excellent at preventing serious illness, hospitalization, or death, and it protects those around you. The virus survives by infecting new people. The more people that get vaccinated, the fewer people the virus is able to infect. We all want to get back to normal, and the way to do that is to get vaccinated as soon as you can. This combination, lower case counts and higher vaccinations, means that we can consider how to slowly and safely ease some of the mitigation measures we’ve had in place.

Gov. Ralph Northam: (10:24)
Over the past year, when we added mitigation measures, we focused on those in places where there was greater risk for spread. Now as we look to ease those measures, we’re focused on places where there is the least risk for spread such as outdoor venues. For example, last week we announced preliminary guidance for graduations and commencement ceremonies. It allows for more people at outdoor graduation events. Today, we’re adding to that guidance. Next week, starting on April 1st, we’ll make some-

Gov. Ralph Northam: (11:03)
Next week, starting on April 1st, we’ll make some limited and targeted changes to our forward Virginia guidelines. Starting on April 1st, social gatherings may have up to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors. Entertainment venues will be able to operate at 30% of capacity up to 500 people indoors. Outdoor venues can have up to 30%, but won’t have a numeric cap.

Gov. Ralph Northam: (11:34)
So for example, the Flying Squirrels Baseball Stadium here in Richmond seats about 9,500 people for a baseball game. The new rules will allow roughly 3,000 in an outdoor space with room for people to safely distance. And [inaudible 00:11:53], if you’re listening today, my arm has been iced down now for over a year. So if you need someone to throw out that first pitch, our phone lines are open. The number of spectators allowed for recreational sports will increase to 100 indoors and to 500 outdoors.

Gov. Ralph Northam: (12:15)
Recreational sporting events, indoors and outside will be limited to 30% of capacity. And as we said, last week, graduation events outdoors will be capped at 5,000 people or 30% of capacity. And events indoors may have up to 500 people or 30% of capacity. Whichever is less. Remember, if you are attending these events and I hope that you can, you need to wear a mask and follow other guidelines and safety protocols. To be very clear, we are not simply throwing the doors open. Or as Dr. Fauci said this morning, we don’t want to just flip a switch. These are measured changes. We still have a strict gathering limit, a universal mask mandate, and capacity restrictions, both indoors and outdoors.

Gov. Ralph Northam: (13:14)
We will continue to closely follow the data to see how these changes go. But it really depends on Virginians. If we continue to be careful wearing our mask in public, washing our hands, keeping our distance and getting vaccinated, I expect our case counts will keep going down. And that’s what we need to have happen. Vaccines are the light at the end of the tunnel, but only if we take them. And only if we make smart choices until most people are protected. We are all in this together and we need to keep doing the right thing to protect both ourselves and other people.

Gov. Ralph Northam: (13:57)
Before we turn to your questions, I want to address something else that is on I’m sure everyone’s mind. It’s been a year of this pandemic. And in that year, we’ve seen something very alarming, a rise in ugly, hateful, racist rhetoric, and too often violence directed at Asian people. I want to be clear, that is not acceptable anywhere in the country, and especially not here in Virginia. We have no room for hate here. Hate and bigotry have no place in our Commonwealth or in our country. We want Virginia to be a place where everyone, where everyone feels safe, where everyone can feel that they have a home and where everyone is welcome to live, work, and to make a life. So we condemn intolerance, hate, and racism in our Commonwealth, in all of their forms.

Gov. Ralph Northam: (15:06)
Last week, there were the tragic shootings of Asian owned businesses in Atlanta, Georgia, and yesterday, there was another mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado. We mourn with the families and loved ones of all the victims. These are yet more examples in a long and heartbreaking list of tragedies driven by men who had access to firearms. And I am proud that after the tragic mass shooting in Virginia Beach, the Commonwealth said enough is enough and we pass common sense gun safety legislation that will help protect the public. We need similar action at the federal level. Everyone deserves to feel safe when they’re at the grocery store, at the spa, in church, or on the playground. Thank you. And I’ll be glad to take your questions.

Kate: (16:07)
Yeah. I had a couple of questions. I was wondering if you could tell me, the state has seen a slight uptick in cases since about mid-March. And I guess I was wondering if you could sort of gauge how concerned you are about that and whether you have concerns that we might see a spring surge associated with more travel and activity. And sort of related to that, I’m wondering if Virginia has an estimate or any information on how many of our new cases now are variant cases?

Gov. Ralph Northam: (16:37)
Yeah. That’s a great question. All of those are good questions and I’m not sure about the last part, but there may be someone else that can answer how many of those are variants. But absolutely Kate, we are watching the data every day, as I’ve said before, and our cases came down nicely and have now plateaued.

Gov. Ralph Northam: (16:56)
What we are anticipating is that more people get vaccinated. And if we can continue to follow the guidelines, it’s so important to still to wear a mask and to keep our distance in and keep our hands washed, that those numbers will continue to trend down. But obviously, we’ve watched what’s happened in Europe. They haven’t been as successful as we have it at administering and distributing our vaccine. So I think we’re in a much better place than they are.

Gov. Ralph Northam: (17:26)
As I said earlier, one in four Virginians now have been vaccinated. So we’ll watch closely. It’s the springtime, we encourage people to be outdoors. We know that the virus is not transmitted as effectively outdoors. So we’ll see how it goes. And as I’ve said all along, all options are on the table and if we need to make adjustments, we will. But we feel that we’re headed in a good direction. And your second question.

Dr. Oliver: (17:55)
Yes. Thank you, governor. So Kate, the second question was whether or not we know how many of the new cases are the variant. So we have begun surveillance to take a look at cases as they come in to see how much of it are these variants. There’s a number of variants that we know are here in Virginia, so-called UK variant, the so-called South African variant. There’s also a couple variants from California that are here in the Commonwealth. When someone tests positive for COVID-19, there’s certain signals that would make you suspicious that it might be one of the variants. And when that happens, we’ve been doing some genomic analysis at the state lab, DCLS here in Richmond. And we are in the process of firming up contracts with a couple academic partners so that we can expand our capability to do that, so that we can really get a good feel for the prevalence of those variants. We’ve recorded somewhere around a couple of hundred-

Gov. Ralph Northam: (19:07)
… doing in Virginia, but he’s aware of what different states are doing, how they’re lifting these measures. And I think what we’re doing falls in line with what he’s saying.

Speaker 1: (19:20)
Drew Wilder, NBC4.

Drew Wilder: (19:23)
Thank you, governor, for taking the question. As you know, the elected leaders here in Northern Virginia sent you and Dr. [inaudible 00:19:31] team a letter at the end of last week, outlining 430,000 Virginians pre-registered, but sitting on the waitlist waiting to get an appointment scheduled. There’s just not enough vaccine. While at the same time, there are other areas in rural Virginia already rolling over to 1C. And our leaders here say that that’s due in large part to people in those areas turning down the vaccine. Is that what you’re finding? And if so, why are we still allocating vaccines based on population when the need specifically here in Northern Virginia is so much greater than it is in other parts of the Commonwealth?

Gov. Ralph Northam: (20:09)
It’s a great question. And I’m going to let Dr. [inaudible 00:20:12] address that. But as we emphasize every day, we have been flexible and also creative and we make modifications every day. And so, I I’m well aware of the question. I think Dr. [inaudible 00:20:24] will do a good job in answering that. Danny, thank you.

Dr. Avula: (20:29)
Thanks, Drew. The question to recap it is that why are we still allocating vaccine based on a population when there are clearly different patterns of desire and uptake and demand in different communities. And this is something we certainly have been monitoring since the beginning of January. We primarily started the allocation process based on a population and then made some tweaks here and there based on the number of people living in a community who are 65 and over, or with underlying conditions, or the concentration of black and Latino residents in different communities.

Dr. Avula: (21:07)
And so we are now getting to a phase of the vaccination rollout, where we are seeing demand start to wane. And I think that is happening more so in rural communities. We’ve seen uptake slowdown and those communities are starting to move from 1B to 1C.

Dr. Avula: (21:23)
And in response, we are and have been for the last couple of weeks, kind of shifting allocation to places that have more 1B demand. Our goal really is to make allocation decisions based on where the risk lies. And we’re always holding intention individual risks. So do you have an underlying condition? Is it age? Is it a health condition that puts you at high risk? But also collective community risk. And so trying to ensure that vaccine gets to the places where we can try to meet both of those as best we can. So there are communities where we’re seeing the demand in phase one slow down. And so that means-

Dr. Avula: (22:03)
… the demand in phase one slowed down. And so that means we’re going to push vaccine to other parts of the state so that we can all try to move forward into the general population around the same time.

Gov. Ralph Northam: (22:09)
That’s great. Thank you, [inaudible 00:22:12]

Henry: (22:14)
Governor, for bar owners, restaurant owners, gym owners, personal grooming owners who say, what gives? Why can’t we advance a little bit more [inaudible 00:22:27] what do you say to them as they’re still struggling?

Gov. Ralph Northam: (22:30)
Well, a couple of things, I would say, Henry. And thank you for the question. First of all, is that we know where some of the high risk venues or places of business are. And certainly one of the things you mentioned in your question was bars. And we know that when people congregate and it gets late and they let their guard down, and they may be coming from different areas, that this is where the vaccination, excuse me, the virus tends to be spread. And so any type of place of business like that, that’s high risk, we’re going to do it in a measured approach. And as soon as we can open or lift measures safely and responsibly, we will. The other thing I would say to that, Henry, is that I am well aware.

Gov. Ralph Northam: (23:24)
I’m a small business owner. I’m well aware of the effect that this pandemic has had on our small businesses, especially minority, women, veteran owned businesses. And we’ve received a substantial amount of support and we’ll continue to through the federal response and the American Rescue Plan. And so we had the, for example, the program to help our small businesses rebuild Virginia. We’re going to put more resources into that and do everything that we can to help these businesses get up and running. And so I would just say to all of these folks, I know it’s been difficult, be as patient as you can. Again, we want everybody that wants to be vaccinated to have that ability by the end of May. And so we’ve come a long way since over a year ago. We’ve still, though, have a month or two. And so just want everybody to be patient. We’ll get people back up and running as soon as we can. And that for these businesses that have been hurt, there will be financial aid. There has been, and they will continue to be as we move forward.

Speaker 2: (24:43)
Bruce Potter, InsideNoVa.

Bruce Potter: (24:47)
Thank you, governor. Good afternoon. I’m following up on Drew Wilder’s question. Because the regional commission’s letter from Northern Virginia also requested more flexibility in how to administer of vaccines in the region. And that was in part for equity reasons. And in addition, the [inaudible 00:25:05] of the National Coalition of Black Women wrote to your office, to Dr. Oliver’s office, a letter about 10 days ago with some specific suggestions about ways to increase the vaccination rate among minority populations. So I’m wondering if you’re willing to provide some additional flexibility and what specifically the state is doing to ensure equity in the vaccine distribution.

Dr. Avula: (25:33)
[inaudible 00:25:33]

Dr. Oliver: (25:38)
Thank you for that question. With respect to how are we addressing the equity issue, we have done a very good job here in the Commonwealth in addressing this issue. We have, as Dr. Avula mentioned earlier, looked at our vaccination sites from the point of view. One of the things we factored into that is the number and percentage of black, Latino, and other vulnerable populations in the area. We have brought on staff in our emergency support team that is doing outreach into these communities. We’ve put boots on the ground in all 35 of our health districts. And those teams are doing your basic sort of community organizing kind of work door to door, working with faith leaders, community based organizations, and their leaderships to bring out the people from these vulnerable populations to our vaccination sites.

Dr. Oliver: (26:47)
We’ve done that over the last week or two, for example, in Danville. The Prince William County community vaccination site that we opened up today will have the same sort of work happening in the community there with these teams going and helping to bring Latin X and African Americans to that site. And also to carry out the kind of work that the National Council of 100 Black Women talked about, which is reaching into the communities where they live, doing events at churches, community centers, and other things of that sort. We’re ramping up that work. I believe that you’ll see more of that also in the Tidewater area where we will be working along with FEMA in the site that’s being set up in Norfolk. And we will also spread out these teams throughout the city and elsewhere in the Tidewater area to help bring those most burdened by the COVID- 19 pandemic, the black and brown communities of our Commonwealth and getting those people in for vaccination. Dr. Avula can address the other question. Thank you, governor.

Dr. Avula: (28:14)
So one more quick thing I would add, even in the way that we are portioning out appointments for different clinics. For example, in the Prince William site that opened up today, as we scheduled out appointments, we recognized that certain communities are not going to go online and they’re not going to fill out information on a state database. And so we’ve found different ways working with community partners to just go to a church, for example, and say, “Hey, we’ve got 200 slots. Let’s fill them up.” And so we really are thinking through different ways to bring communities who aren’t going to use some of the standard call center or website pathways to make sure that we can open up access to everybody. On the question of flexibility, Bruce, there is built in flexibility to the way that communities are moving through the tiers, right? Everybody’s kind of moving through 1B at a different pace. When districts are ready, because they’re not filling out appointments in 1B they can progress to 1C. We’re just in the initial planning stages of what the 1C to 2 to transition looks like. But I do think the general sentiment that where you live would dictate your access to vaccine, particularly if you fall into the healthy population, that seems like something we want to avoid. And so we want to make sure that we are allocating vaccine accordingly, making sure that those who have the highest individual risk get access to that around the same time and that we’ll all march forward together in the coming weeks.

Speaker 3: (29:37)
Governor, [inaudible 00:29:38]

Gov. Ralph Northam: (29:38)
Well, thank you. I appreciate you asking [crosstalk 00:29:41]

Andre: (29:42)
Governor, as you know, there are still folks in the Commonwealth who say they will not take the vaccine, whether they are people of color or white folks, if you will. Any word to them who still doubt the science and say, this thing may not be as safe as it could be? And then on sidebar, could you talk just a little bit more about reaching the under served, the poor that has already been mentioned in terms of using these community centers? Because as Dr. Avula said, a lot of people are riding the buses and they don’t have transportation, they’re not going to make it to a CVS or a Walgreen, if you will.

Gov. Ralph Northam: (30:21)
Let me address the second part. And we had been, to Dr. Oliver and Dr. Avula’s point, reaching out and being flexible and thinking about things like how can we better help individuals that may not have access to the internet. We have the call center that has really been very successful. How can we help with transportation? How can we help with childcare if someone needs someone to take care of their kids? So we’ve really been looking at all of those things and doing everything that we can. Again, as I’ve upset all along, Andre, we want to do this as expeditiously as we can, but also we want to do it as equitably as we can. So that’s been a top priority is as we’ve moved through this. The first question is what about people that just say, I’m either not ready to take the vaccine or don’t intend to do it.

Gov. Ralph Northam: (31:12)
And we realize that, and I continue to encourage folks that these are safe, they’re effective. That we need, as a community, as a society, to get to about 70 to 75% of individuals receiving the vaccine to reach that herd immunity. A whole another challenge as we move into the fall will be how we address children receiving vaccines, because they need to be included to reach that herd immunity. And so that was one of the things that we talked about in our meeting this morning with other governors and the president’s staff, is it they realize that this has been and continues to be a challenge. And they’re going to, I think, have a PR blitz to really get out there and spread the word. And I think it’s up to all of us again. So it’s kind of all hands on deck to try to address that.

Andre: (32:14)
[inaudible 00:32:14] some folks are asking if these new guidelines that you just mentioned would include the wedding industry too.

Gov. Ralph Northam: (32:22)
Yes. Yes. So outdoors will be 100 individuals and indoors will be 50. And the other thing I would say, Andre, if we can continue to try to follow these guidelines as best we can, and we can get as many shots in arms as we can, we look at this every day. But certainly, in making adjustments to these measures, we’ll look at it on a monthly basis. So what we’re changing now will apply to April. And I’m hopeful just like everybody with spring and summertime coming. If the numbers in the communities will cooperate and continue to go down and vaccinations up, then we’ll be able-

Gov. Ralph Northam: (33:03)
… cooperate and continue to go down and vaccinations up, then we’ll be able to lift even more measures as we move forward.

Speaker 4: (33:08)
[inaudible 00:33:08].

Speaker 5: (33:11)
Hannah McComsey with ABC 13.

Hannah McComsey: (33:15)
Hi, Governor, we’ve had a lot of complaints in central Virginia from wedding venues, especially the outdoor ones, who are concerned that the restrictions are still on them, but not on large venues and entertainment spaces. Is there anything specifically that you’re going to do to loosen those restrictions specifically for outdoor venues? And then secondly, now that the CDC has ruled schools can have students three feet apart instead of six feet, is your administration taking any steps to make sure that students in Virginia get back to five days a week? And is that even feasible, do you think, with this new three foot rules?

Gov. Ralph Northam: (33:47)
Yes. The first part of your question is the wedding venues, and I think I’d just address that the outdoors will be increased to 100 individuals and indoors 50. As far as schools, and I’ll try to make this as brief as I can, we all agree that our children need to be back in the classroom. That’s where they learn best, that they have sacrificed as well as their families for this past year. I think the question specifically was looking at six feet versus three feet, and as you all know, the science, the data shows that we can do this safely with three feet if our children wear a mask. And I don’t know if any of you all have been to any of these schools, but it is amazing to see the measures that our schools have have taken. It’s amazing to see the children, even three and four year old children that are wearing masks that are keeping their distancing.

Gov. Ralph Northam: (34:46)
And I commend our children, first of all, but our families and especially our school staff, our teachers, our principals, superintendents, they have just done a wonderful job. So I’ve been pleased, and I think others have as well how we’ve moved forward. We continue to encourage our schools to move toward in-class learning. We also are encouraging our school districts to strongly consider adding extra days for those that need it this summer so that we can help our kids get caught up. And then, finally, the question was about five days a week. I’m an optimistic person, but I think if things continue to trend in the direction they are, and we can continue to get people vaccinated. And by the way, teachers, about 80% of our teachers have been vaccinated, which I think is just great. So our goal really is to have our children back into the classrooms by this fall, and I think we can do that safely. Yes, sir.

Speaker 4: (35:51)
[inaudible 00:35:51].

Speaker 6: (35:52)
Governor, a couple of questions about the parole board.

Gov. Ralph Northam: (35:54)

Speaker 6: (35:55)
What do you think yesterday’s message is for folks who watched the whistleblower get fired yesterday afternoon? For future people that want to report misconduct within the state, what do you think that message is now?

Gov. Ralph Northam: (36:06)
Yeah, I think we’ve talked about that significantly, and as I will say again, I support parole. I think it’s an important part of criminal justice reform. This should not and cannot become political. It is, and I will do everything that I can to keep politics out of it, because people deserve better. And finally, we are working on a budget amendment. We were working with the Attorney General, we’re working with the Legislature to have an independent agency come in and do a complete investigation and I think answer a lot of the questions that folks have. And so that’s the way we’ll move forward.

Speaker 6: (36:43)
Legislators have emails from the whistleblower that was provided basically an interaction between your former board chair and another employee saying we’ve released over 100 souls. We feel drunk with power. Do you think this board acted responsibly?

Gov. Ralph Northam: (37:03)
This is, again, the reason that we need an independent agency to come in and investigate and that’s what we plan to do. Mel, did you have a question?

Mel: (37:10)
Are you worried that by relaxing restrictions, Virginians will feel like the state is re-opening and will maybe be a little bit more lenient on their behaviors? Is that a concern you have? I also just had a question about vaccinating children. I know those trials are [crosstalk 00:37:27]

Gov. Ralph Northam: (37:26)
Can I answer your first question and then we’ll go to the second? Because that second one may be for someone else. The question was, do I worry? I worry, Mel, and I won’t be satisfied until this pandemic is in the rear view mirror. And so I look at the data along with our team every day. I think things are headed in a favorable direction. And one of the areas that I think is extremely favorable, that I may have touched on earlier is our hospitalization rate, the number of individuals that are in ICUs, the number of individuals requiring ventilators. And that is significantly down from where it was, and so I think if we can continue, again, we’re not flipping a switch, we’re not just opening the flood gate. We’re taking a measured approach. That’s what we’ll continue to do and we’ll continue to get vaccinations and vaccines in people’s arms and I think we’ll continue to trend favorably.

Gov. Ralph Northam: (38:24)
But do I worry? Absolutely, I worry. My goal every day is to keep Virginians safe and healthy, and that’s what I’ll continue to focus on. Now, your second question.

Mel: (38:34)
It was about vaccinating children. I know those trials are still undergoing, but I’m curious, when will the state start planning for that and when might we hear more about what those preparations [crosstalk 00:38:44].

Gov. Ralph Northam: (38:45)
Yeah, that’s a great question. The question was about vaccinations for our children, and there are ongoing trials. And I think the initial, again, assuming that these vaccinations will be safe or found to be safe and effective in children, the first age group will be 12 to 16 or 18, depending on which vaccination we’re talking about or which vaccine we’re talking about. And that should be early fall time, Mel. And then the other ongoing studies are incrementally looking at six to 12, three to six, a year to three, and then even two months and older. And so as we receive that data and are assured that these are safe and effective, then we will make those available to children.

Gov. Ralph Northam: (39:36)
One of the things that we’ve talked about, which I think will be helpful is to do a survey across Virginia with parents. And we can do that through our schools. The PTA has offered assistance in that area. But to say, if and when there is a safe and effective vaccine for children, do you plan on having your child take it? And I think that will be very helpful to let us know where people are and as a baseline, what we need to do to better message, to better educate people, and it’ll also help for planning, as far as how many, if 50%, 75% of children will receive a vaccine, how many do we need here in Virginia? And so that won’t only be helpful for Virginia, but I think for other States as well, because, again, to reach the herd immunity, whether it be in Virginia, or in this country, we need to move toward as close as we can to 70% to 75%.

Speaker 7: (40:42)
[inaudible 00:40:42].

Gov. Ralph Northam: (40:42)
I don’t know. We were talking about it, but hopefully in the next month or so, yeah.

Speaker 7: (40:48)
Thank you.

Gov. Ralph Northam: (40:48)
Cam, they’ve got you in the time out corner.

Cam: (40:51)
I’ve already gone today.

Gov. Ralph Northam: (40:53)
Pardon? I can’t even hear you.

Cam: (40:54)
I’m just deferring to John today.

Gov. Ralph Northam: (40:57)
We’re glad you’re here. And we’re glad all of you are here, and just hopefully continue to abide by these guidelines. And as I’ve said all along, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. We’re going to get there. So stay safe and healthy and Henry, any thoughts on when this next one will be?

Henry: (41:20)
You never listen to me.

Gov. Ralph Northam: (41:20)
Thank you. Stay safe. Take care.

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