Apr 20, 2020
Ralph Northam Virginia COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript April 20
Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia held a press conference on April 20 on coronavirus. He said, “this is not the time to play politics” and announced a work group to increase testing. Read the full transcript of his briefing updates.
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Governor Ralph Northam: (00:00)
As you may remember when we started this process a few weeks ago, results were not coming back for some times seven to nine days. It will address the factors that limit our testing such as getting testing supplies like swabs, specimen collection supplies and containers to safely transport viral specimens. These are all critical components because testing isn’t just about the test itself. Labs might be able to run tests, but until doctors have enough swabs to do the test and we have enough supplies to safely transport the test, we cannot meet the need for testing.
Governor Ralph Northam: (00:45)
We’re also encouraging clinicians to get their symptomatic patients tested as supplies allow. Early on, the lack of testing meant that doctors relied on what we call a clinical diagnosis, a diagnosis without a test for patients who didn’t need to be hospitalized. Today, Dr. Oliver will send a clinicians letter encouraging doctors to test those patients so we have a more accurate picture of positive tests.
Governor Ralph Northam: (01:16)
Earlier today I was on a call with the White House and other governors to hear about the Centers for Disease Control’s plans to assist states with testing. The CDC will be sending teams to each state to focus on vulnerable populations. They’re also allowing state labs to act as the FDA to approve tests and are working to help get more swabs while also allowing states more flexibility in the testing components we use. This additional support will be very helpful.
Governor Ralph Northam: (01:50)
The big question on people’s minds these days is, “When can we ease restrictions and allow businesses to operate as they used to?” The White House guidance, the CDC guidance is that to consider a phase one of easing restrictions, states must have 14 days in which case numbers decline. I want our businesses to be able to be open again and people to get back to work, but we have to do it in a safe manner and testing is the key to those next steps. I’ll ask Dr. Remley to say a few words about the testing work group. Dr. Remley, thank you and welcome.
Dr. Karen Remley: (02:35)
Thank you, Governor and Secretary and everybody from the Department of Health leadership. It’s such an honor to be able to be working with them again. As someone who’s worked as a doctor, a public health official and the chief medical director of our health plan here, I have seen public health from a lot of different angles. I fully understand the importance of everyone working together and the challenges of keeping all of our public and private health agencies working in concert.
Dr. Karen Remley: (03:04)
I also know that everybody is very eager to reopen the country as the Governor said and particularly here in Virginia. As a physician, I know that depends upon our testing and coordination. That’s true around the country. That’s true here across the state. We’re moving into a new phase as the Governor said. Our job with this working group will be to help ensure that everyone knows how they fit in the coordinated statewide testing plan and what the other groups are doing. By everyone I mean the universities, the private labs, the state lab, the public health system, the health systems and equally as important, the doctors and nurses and healthcare providers who care for everyone at their bedside, in their offices, what their roles are.
Dr. Karen Remley: (03:50)
We’ll also work with the CDC, which is promising additional staffing to the states along with additional flexibility in obtaining supplies and tests. We think by really now that we have an opportunity to take a breath and coordinate these efforts, we will be able to ensure that people who need to get tested because of their health conditions, as the Governor stated, and the priorities get tested first, but that we can also open up to more communities, more people to get the testing going so we can move our country and our state forward.
Dr. Karen Remley: (04:22)
We’ll be able to better manage supplies of critical test components like swabs, reagents and secure containers. We have a lot of work to do. I’m excited about taking on this opportunity to help the people in the Commonwealth of Virginia. I’m honored to be working with the leadership.
Governor Ralph Northam: (04:42)
Thank you so much. Thank you, Dr. Remley. We have based all of our decisions thus far on science and data. I understand the need for the public to see more of the data that we’re using. That’s why starting today the Department of Health will expand the data it shares with you, the public. On a daily basis, the Virginia Department of Health will share numbers of cases, hospitalizations and fatalities by locality. It will also share the number of cases, hospitalizations and fatalities at the health district level with demographic information such as age and, or race. Ensuring that the public gets this type of information is a critical part of VDH’s job as the public health department. I will now ask Virginia Health Commissioner, Dr. Norm Oliver, to provide a health data update and explain the data reporting. Then we’ll hear from Dr. Laurie Forlano to provide an update on long-term care facilities. Before I ask Dr. Oliver to come forward, we put out an executive order last week regarding clinicians from other states regarding nurse practitioners, et cetera. One of the things that we failed to put in that executive order was to allow PAs, physician assistants, to be part of that medical team. I’ve had a lot of questions about that. Nurse practitioners and PAs play a very important role in Virginia. We want both of those to be included as we move forward. That was an oversight on our part, but we want to make sure that our PAs and our nurse practitioners feel that they’re valued and we appreciate all their work.
Governor Ralph Northam: (06:27)
Dr. Oliver: (06:29)
Thank you, Governor. Good afternoon. This morning our VDH website was updated with the numbers of cases and deaths. The total number of cases now stands at 8,990 cases. That’s 453 more cases than in the last 24-hour period. Obviously, since Friday represents a significant increase with a couple of other days of new cases. Total number of deaths now stand at 300 and new deaths in the last 24-hour period is at 23.
Dr. Oliver: (07:18)
As the Governor mentioned, Dr. Forlano will talk some more about the long-term care facilities, which still represent the majority of the outbreaks across the Commonwealth. We have 139 outbreaks and 77 of those are in long-term care facilities for about 55% of the outbreaks. They represent among the cases about 10% of the cases across the Commonwealth, but about 26% of the deaths.
Dr. Oliver: (07:52)
We have been tracking as best we can the race ethnic breakdown on both cases and deaths. African-American cases number about 28% of the cases for those cases for which we have race and ethnicity data. For those deaths for which we have race and ethnicity data, they number 34%. I mentioned previously that we have been improving the race and ethnicity data that we receive on both cases and deaths. We’re missing only about a third of that data in terms of cases. We’re now down to only about 3% missing in our death data because as death certificates come in, we get more defined data there.
Dr. Oliver: (08:45)
I just want to underscore what the Governor said about our decision to release more granular data. We understand the fear and anxiety that many people have around this pandemic and giving high-quality, accurate data in a timely fashion will help address this additional public health need that we have in facing this pandemic. Thank you.
Governor Ralph Northam: (09:11)
Thank you, Dr.
Dr. Laurie Forlano: (09:15)
Hi, good afternoon. I have a brief update about our Long-Term Care Facility Task Force. As Dr. Oliver, I believe he already spoke to the outbreak numbers. 139 outbreaks in total across all settings have been reported as of today. 77 of those or about 55% of them are in the long-term care setting. There’s been a lot of activity over the weekend in working to shore up our processes and procedures for supporting expanded testing in these facilities. I’m happy to report that we’ve already received requests and we’re working through deploying those resources and support to these facilities.
Dr. Laurie Forlano: (09:54)
We’re also working to think through how we can best support these facilities, particularly the ones who haven’t experienced an outbreak yet in assessing their infection control practices. It’s always good to refresh your practices around infection control and how to control disease transmission. We’ll be working with CDC to hopefully offer some virtual assessments or tele-assessments on infection control to some facilities. Those facilities that are in the early days of experiencing an outbreak, we hope to deploy staff from the health department to those facilities as resources allow to do onsite infection control assessments. It’s a service we provide pretty routinely on a regular basis. We hope to continue that. That’s all I have today. Thanks.
Governor Ralph Northam: (10:43)
Thank you, Dr. Forlano. We’ll be glad to take questions.
Audience Member #1: (10:49)
For Dr. Forlano, on Friday Dr. Regula mentioned he’s recommending to anyone that can add who has family members in those long-term care facilities to take them out just because of the danger posed to them. Is that something that you all are recommending statewide?
Dr. Laurie Forlano: (11:06)
Thanks. The question is, “Are we making a recommendation regarding families bringing loved ones home from facilities that are experiencing outbreaks?”
Audience Member #1: (11:14)
Dr. Laurie Forlano: (11:14)
Is that right? I think I’ve fielded this question before. I think if and when that’s possible for a family, certainly that is an option. I think it’s important to acknowledge that not every family is in that position to be able to do that. But, we hope to maybe put out some guidance around how best to make that decision to make sure you are prepared to care for someone if you do bring them home because we want to assure safety of an individual no matter where they are. Thanks.
Audience Member #2: (11:49)
First question will be from Caroline Eaker with ABC 13.
Caroline Eaker: (11:55)
Governor Northam, if more people are getting tested therefore there’s going to be more positive tests, is it going to be harder to reach that 14 days of the downward trends that we’re looking for?
Governor Ralph Northam: (12:06)
The question is, “If more people are being tested, will we have an increase in numbers and will it be difficult to follow the trends?” Certainly the number of positives will be in relationship to the number that we’re testing. We follow that ratio as we’re moving forward. Other things that we follow as far as easing restrictions are the number of hospitalizations from COVID-19, specifically the number that are in our ICUs and the number that are on ventilators.
Governor Ralph Northam: (12:39)
All of these things are part of the trends that we follow as we move forward. But I will tell you that while the numbers have slowed down a bit over the weekend, we still had close to 500 new cases each day, which was an increase of around 6%. A couple of days last week we had a 7% and 8%. Hopefully these numbers are trending …
Governor Ralph Northam: (13:03)
… so hopefully these numbers are trending down, but we certainly haven’t reached our peak, and as we have talked about during a number of these press conferences, there are different models. The one model that we have been following, as far as the peak, it still predicts the latter part of this week, so while we’re not looking forward to a peak or a surge, we hope that we’re reaching that part during this pandemic and that after that the numbers will start to come down and we can ease these restrictions and get back to our normal lives, but again, we want to do that responsibly and safely, and just to reiterate again, the CDC guidelines that have come from the White House that we received on Thursday, they just outline that we need to see 14 days of decrease in numbers before we can ease those restrictions. We haven’t gotten there yet, so be patient, and as I’ve always told you all, what we’re doing, the guidelines of the social distancing, staying six feet apart, staying at home unless you have essential business or work, these things are working, so thank you all for complying.
Speaker 1: (14:17)
Hi. Yeah, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced yesterday new nursing home transparency efforts. I think they are going to require nursing homes to notify family members, and I think broader communities about outbreaks, and then it also says that it’ll boost reporting requirements between nursing homes and states. Are you mulling through that guidance and what can we expect as far as nursing home transparency?
Governor Ralph Northam: (14:45)
Yes. Thank you, [Inaudible 00:14:49].
Speaker 2: (14:49)
Hi. That question is around recently released CMS guidelines on nursing homes, so I’ll admit I haven’t made it all the way through that guidance yet. Regarding family notification, there are existing requirements already from our Office of Licensure and Certification, NCMS to notify both the individual that has COVID and/or their representative, so that’s already in place and it’s already what I’d describe as a strong recommendation from public health that that happen, and we’re working together with facilities to help them figure out how best to communicate that information. There’s different practices around the state, but we hope to shore that up. Thanks.
Speaker 1: (15:24)
[inaudible 00:15:29]. The next one is Matt [inaudible 00:15:29] with [inaudible 00:15:34].
Speaker 3: (15:33)
Hi. The latest flu report from the State Health Department shows the flu season in the state coming to a real abrupt end after causing about 1500 deaths in the state, so what I’m wondering, to what extent, if any, does the end of flu season free up resources in the hospitals for treating COVID patients?
Governor Ralph Northam: (15:56)
Do you want to address that?
Speaker 4: (16:01)
So as I understand the question, it’s whether or not the end of the flu season will free up resources in the hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients? The number of patients … Is that correct?
Speaker 3: (16:19)
Speaker 4: (16:19)
Okay. Thank you. The number of patients who are in the hospital today I think for COVID-19 is somewhere around 1500, something like that.
Speaker 3: (16:30)
Speaker 4: (16:32)
1300. Our hospitals tell us that they have been able to expand their capacity to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic to such an extent that they have upwards of 6000 beds available. They’ve been able to manage the COVID-19 patients in the context of all the other issues they have to deal with including flu. I think that the end of the flu season won’t have a dramatic impact on their ability to continue to take care of COVID-19 patients.
Speaker 1: (17:05)
Governor, can you talk about, as you spin up this task force on testing, can you talk about the number of tests that are available or the number of tests per capita of the population and how you expect that to change going forward?
Governor Ralph Northam: (17:20)
Do you want to address that?
Speaker 2: (17:22)
Governor Ralph Northam: (17:25)
Greg, I don’t have the numbers. We can try to get those for you. Dan, do you have any?
Daniel Carey: (17:30)
Maybe on the … We can get those. Thank you, Governor. The question being what about our testing capacity per capita? Again, the focus in Virginia really has been in those CDC priority one, folks in the hospital and folks, healthcare providers with fevers, and as Dr. [inaudible 00:17:50] has indicated, the second big group, part of priority two has been those that are in congregate care settings, those in longterm care and similar types of settings. So what we’re moving towards, and I think you can see that between two and three thousand tests are resulted back pretty much on a daily basis, and we do realize that there are opportunities to use the full capacity. The challenge of the … The great thing about the state lab was that the turnaround time was fast. Once it became, Dr. [Tony’s 00:18:26] team did a great job, had it located right here in Richmond, and with couriers throughout the state. The volume of that, you’ve heard is being increased, but it’s no where near in the thousands range.
Daniel Carey: (18:39)
As health systems create an increased capacity, that generally became a relatively short turnaround. The commercial labs, which are incredibly important partners here in Virginia, have the largest capacity, it’s that turnaround time, but they’ve lowered that, so now that their turnaround time is lower, we’re giving direction to clinicians to expand into that priority two and later priority three, and that’s a lot of what Dr. [Renley 00:19:08] and Dr. [Peak 00:00:19:10], along with the commercial labs, the university labs, and UVA and VCU leadership have been working on. So the biggest challenge is how, now that we’ve got increased capacity, one of the reasons early on in Virginia that more clinicians weren’t ordering the test was because they didn’t, it was a nine day turnaround or a seven day turnaround, and also still challenges with PPE, so that’s one of those coordination things that we’ve, it’s better, but to get to the thousands more that we need, we need that added coordination, and that’s where Dr. Renley and Dr. Peak, together with the VHHA group that’s been looking at this, along with VDH and all those participants that we mentioned is so very important.
Daniel Carey: (19:55)
So our goal is, that group is looking at what the appropriate goal is based on the different mission that we will have in the weeks and months ahead as we come to that post peak world and we still need to do that public health. So, I hope I’ve added clarity to your question.
If I could follow up, why not do this before? Why just now to form this coordinated approach?
Daniel Carey: (20:18)
Well, I think that what we’ve realized is that now that we have increased capacity, we’re not using it as fully as we should, and partly that’s because of still PPE shortage in the providers offices in creating more opportunity for people in that category two and three to get tested. So there was always a constraint, and now that those constraints are being relieved, we still see today, I won’t tell you what vendor we were talking to about swabs, to get hundreds of thousands of swabs that meet the criteria, so there’s still a viral transport, media shortage, et cetera. So there were, now that some of those earlier constraints are less restrictive, we then need to make sure that we’re using the full capacity, and how to use that, Dr. Renley, and Dr. Peak and the team will have that added degree of coordination now that those other constraints aren’t present.
Dr. Carey, are you saying that the state hasn’t yet set a goal for how many tests per day we want to complete? Is that something that you’re working through?
Daniel Carey: (21:22)
Well, I think that’s exactly right. To say 7,000 or 9,000 or 12,000 a day without exactly the rationale of how that serves … Total number of tests is not the same thing as deploying a test that meets both clinical criteria, it’s adding value to the individual patient or adding value to our full understanding of how this outbreak is behaving, so I think we need to make sure as we expand capacity, we also want to make sure we’re using it wisely so it adds to our understanding and planning and the impact as we, as the governor in the weeks and months ahead works to open up our economy in a safe and effective way.
Governor Ralph Northam: (22:04)
Just to follow up too on that, Mel, and I think those are great questions, a couple of things I would say. As we move forward and ease these restrictions we need to look at screening, we need to look at testing, tracking, and then isolation as needed, and one of the things that Dr. Renley and our team will be working on is how do we do that tracking? We’re going to do that through the Virginia Department of Health, but that’s going to take workforce to do that, and so Dr. Renley has actually been working with our Volunteer Corp [inaudible 00:22:38] some of those actually come on the payroll through the Virginia Department of Health as we do that tracking, because we’ve got to look for hotspots as we more forward.
Governor Ralph Northam: (22:48)
Another, a large part of Dr. Renley’s responsibilities and what we are talking about when we coordinate all this, it’s going to take resources, financial resources, and we have resources available through the relief fund from CARES, and so her input in doing this is going to be very helpful to our Secretary of Finance, Aubrey Layne, as we move forward. So it’s really, we’ve been working on a lot of these things, Mel, as this has evolved, and now this new group that we’re putting together is just a way of coordinating a lot of what we’ve been doing in the past.
Speaker 1: (23:25)
[inaudible 00:23:28]. The next question is from Greg [inaudible 00:10:31].
Governor, you had mentioned the support that you’ve received from the CDC and the federal government here today regarding testing. Are there more resources that the federal government and the CDC could be providing to Virginia to help with the testing and getting more folks tested?
Governor Ralph Northam: (23:51)
The question is the resources, and I was in discussion earlier today with the other governors from across the country as well as Vice President Pence, and this is team effort and I appreciate them making that effort, and so the combination of PPE and testing and the supplies, so any help that we can get from the national level and guidance not only to obtain those resources, but also how to disperse those to the different states is going to be very helpful as we move forward.
Speaker 1: (24:28)
Speaker 5: (24:31)
Thank you, Governor. Two questions, if I may. Hospitals across the state are now moving COVID-19 patients to other facilities for follow up care. In central Virginia, Centra is moving some patients to the Guggenheimer facility. Some citizens who already have loved ones there are concerned, even though they have a separate entrance and the caregivers are designated to help those COVID-19 patients only, but some citizens are very concerned.
Speaker 5: (25:00)
Then on a sidebar, concerning the conferences that you’re having with Washington, are you able to help the Vice President or talk to the President about some of the mixed messaging that comes out and that you have to say “That stuff can’t be further from the truth?” How does that phone conference work?
Governor Ralph Northam: (25:22)
The two questions here, I think your first question about when a patient is ready to be, for example discharged from one hospital and then they’re put into another facility, I don’t know of the specifics of that, but one of the discussions that we have had when we address bed capacity in Virginia and at our different hospitals, and our hospitals have been very cooperative so that if they need more capacity at their hospital and another hospital in a neighboring area, or another county or whatever could take some of those patients. That’s the plan that we’ve moved forward with, because for example, there may be a hot spot in one area …
Governor Ralph Northam: (26:03)
Because, for example, there may be a hot spot in one area of Virginia and not in another. So they’ve been very cooperative, and as far as the protocol, and to ease the families, they will, if they need to be put in isolation, they will be put in isolation, and the PPE that’s required for the caregivers will be there. So I would reassure Virginians that that process is safe.
Governor Ralph Northam: (26:25)
As far as your question about our conversations with the Vice President and other governors, today’s conversation was strictly focused on the supply chain of tests and equipment. Not a lot was talked about, mixed messages. But in other opportunities, I think we’ve been able to make that point. But that wasn’t what the focus of discussion was today.
Speaker 6: (26:59)
The next question is from [inaudible 00:27:00] with WGKS.
Speaker 7: (27:01)
Hi, governor. First, I wanted to ask, if I can ask a two part question. For the antibody testing, where does that stand, and are there any private lab here in the area that is doing the antibody testing research?
Governor Ralph Northam: (27:32)
Maybe one question at a time. So the question is about the antibody testing and is anybody locally working on that specific test.
Speaker 8: (27:43)
So with respect to your question, we have been awaiting a federal multi-laboratory validation of many of the commercial tests that are on the market. FDA, NIH, CDC have looked into a lot of those tests, and so with respect to the commercial tests that are currently available, there is a need to have additional validation for those tests. What I can say with respect to the development of antibody and antigen tests for the Commonwealth, there are several universities, there are several private laboratories that are in the process of either developing their own tests or have already begun verification. But I am not aware of anybody that’s doing wide scale testing at this point, but it is coming soon.
Speaker 7: (28:38)
To follow up on that, can you list a couple of the labs that are developing the tests?
Speaker 8: (28:51)
So the question was, can I list some of the labs that are developing the tests. While we have not done a statewide survey to look at everyone, I do know that I have been in communications with folks from [Apariometrics 00:29:05] that are looking into doing a test. Granger Diagnostics has also reached out to the state indicating that they are interested and are bringing up their own tests. So those are just a couple examples of folks that are in the process of bringing up tests.
Speaker 7: (29:25)
Okay, thank you. For the governor, I know you had mentioned about easing the restrictions. My question is with the non-essential businesses allowed to open May 8th and the stay at home order in place for June 10th, how are you going to have people adhere to that stay at home order for June if some of the businesses like salons are able to open before June?
Governor Ralph Northam: (29:57)
That’s something that we’re planning every day. The question was with the stay at home order through June the 10th and the businesses through May the 8th. As I said, just last week we extended that for two weeks. We will see how this goes on a day to day basis and make any adjustments necessary. But I would just remind all Virginians as we move forward, as we make announcements to ease the restrictions, we will do that as clearly and as concisely as we can to prevent any confusion. So we will do as best we can as we move forward with that.
Speaker 9: (30:37)
Yeah, [inaudible 00:30:40]. They believe that every state has the testing capacity at this point to move forward to phase one. But as we stand here today, you guys are still trying to create a target for test per day. So I mean, do you feel confident where you stand [inaudible 00:30:54] Virginia does have the capacity needed. If not, what’s the [inaudible 00:31:01].
Governor Ralph Northam: (31:02)
Yes. The answer, or excuse me, the question is, do we have the capacity to test as we stand here today? Yes, and the answer is no we don’t. But we’re improving that every day, and I think part of your question, where are the limitations. The limitations still are with the reagents, those parts of the testing that we have to say whether it’s positive or negative. Then specifically the swabs. I think if you talk to anybody, whether it be the UVA system, or a pathologist at another healthcare system. That has been the real challenge over the past couple weeks, is we just don’t have the availability of swabs. That was the conversation that we had with the Vice President today, and I think they understand that, and they’re working on not only manufacturing more of those swabs but also in dispersing and directing those to the States that need them the most.
Speaker 9: (32:06)
So I know the President said over the weekend that he would use the Defense Production Act, but he didn’t say when. Do you have an update on when that’s actually coming?
Governor Ralph Northam: (32:14)
No, but part of the increased production of the swabs will be through that program.
Speaker 9: (32:21)
So you are expecting that to be a reality to help Virginia?
Governor Ralph Northam: (32:21)
Speaker 6: (32:21)
Got time for one more on the phone, and that’s [inaudible 00:32:27].
Speaker 10: (32:23)
Speaker 11: (32:33)
Thank you, governor. We know that the food supply chain is vital, but there are reports from across the country about food processing plants that have contributed to huge outbreaks. Here in Virginia, there are a number of facilities that employ large numbers of people and rumors among employees and their family members are causing a lot of fear with no information on the source of cases from VDH. A lot of times no information coming from the companies themselves. What can be done to improve the flow of information and protect employees in these plants?
Speaker 12: (33:07)
The question is how will the state protect workers in meat processing, meat packing industry here in Virginia? The questioner quite correctly pointed out that these facilities around the country have been sites of outbreaks of COVID- 19 in many states around the nation. There have been outbreaks in the couple of facilities here in Virginia. As we have done with longterm care facilities, our local health departments have worked very closely with plant managers, the occupational health people in the plants, providing them with PPE, doing case identification, talking to them and working with them on finding ways to contain any spread of the disease, providing suggestions around that. We will continue to do that. So I think that we are staying on top of this, and we’ll make sure that those workers will be as safe as we can possibly make them.
The Republican Party of Virginia today doubled down on President Trump’s comments about liberate Virginia. I wonder if you have any reaction to that?
Governor Ralph Northam: (34:35)
The question is President Trump’s comments on liberate Virginia. As part of the call that I was just on, Greg, with our Vice President, he reiterated a message coming from our president of one team, one mission. His guidelines, which were from the CDC on Thursday, put out the criteria for easing these restrictions, one of which was to have 14 days of a downward trend of our cases. So we’re getting some mixed messages from the White House. On one hand, we had these criteria that we agree with, and we are doing everything that we can to abide by. Two days later we hear tweets or see tweets that say to liberate Virginia.
Governor Ralph Northam: (35:42)
What this has done, Greg, it has, I guess, entitled folks to have protests, not only in Virginia but in other states. I would remind Virginians to remember one team, one mission. I am just as anxious as anybody else out there to ease these restrictions. I, by the way, believe in our First Amendment rights. But I really don’t need people protesting to encourage me to open up our economy any sooner than we can do safely and responsibly. I have a front row seat to some of the protests out here. When I looked out at the end of last week, at the protest that was here in Richmond, I saw groups of children on blankets that were not only six feet apart, they were probably closer than six inches apart. I saw a lot of adults, when I say a lot of adults, maybe 50 individuals out there, I don’t remember seeing any of them that were protesting that had mask on.
Governor Ralph Northam: (37:03)
So when we get back to one team, one mission that we’re all trying to get through this together to really put the health crisis behind us, and then get our economy back up and running. These individuals that are out protesting, that are not following the guidelines of social distancing, and wearing facial protection are literally putting themselves at risk. They’re putting all of us at risk, and I guess most importantly what bothers me, and I’ve been in the trenches in hospitals and a lot of us standing beside me have. They’re putting our healthcare providers at risk, and their families. So whether it’s Republican, Democrat, this is not the time to play politics, Greg. This is the time for all of us as a nation and certainly as a Commonwealth of Virginia to work together and be part of the solution.
Governor, if I could just quickly follow up on the 14 day decline. I know the Associated Press is showing that there has been a decline for three days regarding the number of cases in Virginia. Has that started the clock or is there not enough testing that you’re even starting that 14 day clock? Can you help clarify that?
Governor Ralph Northam: (38:16)
Well, I think statistics can sometimes be confusing to individuals, but we are looking for that peak. If you follow the curve, and perhaps we should maybe bring a curve for the public to see. But each day we have more cases than we have had as the baseline. So that that curve is still going up. As I said a little bit earlier, a couple of days ago, we saw 7 to 8% rise over the weekend, 5 to 6. So, yes, maybe as it’s getting closer to the peak, it’s starting to flatten a little bit, but it hasn’t made that plateau, and started to come down. So that’s really what we’re looking forward to seeing. It’s just, again, as soon as we see that, we’ll take further action.
Gov. Ralph Northam: (39:03)
We see that we’ll take further action.
Speaker 13: (39:04)
[inaudible 00:39:04] protestors are coming back Wednesday. Are you aware of that and what will happen to them? They’re scheduled to return Wednesday.
Gov. Ralph Northam: (39:12)
Yeah. The question is the protesters will be coming back Wednesday and I think I’ve made it clear how I feel about that. I certainly support the First Amendment, but I would just encourage all Virginians to right now to be part of the team to try to do everything that we can to get this health crisis behind us and get our economy back up and running and get people back to work.
Gov. Ralph Northam: (39:34)
And speaking of Wednesday, I’m going to close here. On Wednesday our legislators come back to town. The house of delegates will be meeting just outside of the Capitol in an open air tent. Our senators will be meeting in the science museum and they will be addressing the amendments that we have put forth on the 1,291 pieces of legislation. They will also be addressing the amendments to the budget. Again, the unallotment process as we kind of hit the pause button and put things on hold.
Gov. Ralph Northam: (40:09)
But I do want to take this opportunity to thank all of our legislators for taking time out of their busy schedules and being back in Virginia to take care of the Commonwealth’s business. They do a wonderful job representing the constituents across Virginia. And as far as future press conferences, rather than have a press conference while they’re doing their work, we’ll probably have that on Thursday. But I would just say, stay tuned, we’ll get that word out as far as the day and the time.
Gov. Ralph Northam: (40:41)
But again, thanks to all of you for listening today and we’re going to get through this. I going to remind you one more time that Virginia came into this COVID-19 as probably the strongest state, the strongest Commonwealth in this country of ours. And when we leave COVID-19 we’re going to be the strongest Commonwealth as well. So thank you all so much.