We watch so you don’t have to
In today’s Covid-19 press conference Governor Northam focused on the protests over the last week and the need for Black equity in Virginia.
First, the Governor talked about all he has done to help Black people in the commonwealth, the expansion of Medicaid by 420,000, criminal justice reform so that fewer Blacks are incarcerated, visits from nurses and doulas for new mothers in the Black community, voting made easier, no revocation of driver’s licenses because of court fines, and the decriminalization of marijuana. He has also appointed many, many, committees and commissions to help African Americans. Northam is forming a new committee to listen to African Americans and make recommendations for more laws to help and protect them. Several times he emphasized the importance of listening.
Northam’s speech was followed an hour of speeches by Black leaders and Pastors around the state. (No, EW Jackson was not among them.) The speeches were all about equity in Virginia for African Americans and the need for more help in that community.
Governor Northam said Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney was unable to attend the press conference because he had a prior commitment. Really? There was something more pressing than addressing the protests and riots in his city with hundreds of people arrested?
Northam said that the President met with the Governors and gave them a very divisive message. He found President Trump’s talk with them “very disappointing”. Of course he did. The Governor refused to send any of our National Guard troops to Washington for “a photo-op”. (Never let an opportunity pass to take a dig at President Trump.)
The Governor recommended that protesters practice social distancing and be tested for COVID-19.
Then Northam announced a break and informed everyone that he would return to address moving into Phase 2 of reopening Virginia.
Finally the Governor addressed COVID-19 restrictions for fewer than 15 minutes. “Most of the state will be allowed to move into Phase 2”, with the exception of Northern Virginia and Richmond. There’s not yet enough data from those areas. Accomack County has been at Phase 0 but their coronavirus outbreak is now under control and they will jump to Phase 2.
Last week NOVA leaders sent a letter to the Governor requesting to move their region to Phase 2 along with the rest of the state. Obviously he said no. Interestingly Northam acquiesced when NOVA leaders asked that the region remain at Phase 0 while the rest of the state moved ahead to Phase 1 but he won’t now honor their request to move to Stage 2. Wait, is Ralph being inconsistent?! Like that’s never happened before. The Governor is nothing if not inconsistent.
Details of Phase 2 will be available later today at the Governor’s website. He announced some aspects of this phase: gatherings of up to 50 people, restaurants can be open inside with 50% capacity, gyms can open inside with 30% capacity, museums and zoos can open with restrictions. Some team sports will be allowed but with restrictions. He still believes we are “safer at home” and masks will continue to be required indoors.
More to come on Thursday. Perhaps at that time, the Governor will address the reopening of schools.