We watch so you don’t have to
At his press conference today Governor Northam addressed two big issues.
The first issue is when will Northern Virginia, Richmond, and Accomac county be allowed to move into Phase One of reopening and when the rest of the state be permitted to move into Phase Two. Over the weekend the Governor will be meeting with representatives from all the Stage Zero counties and go over all of their COVID-19 data. Early next week he hopes to be able to announce when those areas will be able to advance to Stage One. At the same time Northam hopes to announce when the rest of the state will be allowed to move to Stage Two. He made it clear that the floor will not change and no area of the state will be permitted to move ahead to the next level of freedom (my word, not his) without his permission. The parts of the state that have not yet been allowed to move to Stage One will always be at least one stage behind the rest of the state. They can request to move ahead but Northam will make that decision. The Governor also made it clear that the people who live in Stage Zero areas remain under a stay at home order and should not be traveling this Memorial Day weekend.
The second big issue was face masks. Should they be required? The Mayor of Richmond, Levar Stoney, has asked the Governor to make masks mandatory in his city. Northam explained what we all know, masks do not protect the wearer but protect others from the wearer. The Governor is concerned about equity issues with masks because not all people in the state have face masks. That problem will be dealt with over the weekend. It sounds like everyone in Virginia will be required to wear a face mask when in public beginning on Tuesday. He told Virginians to buy or make a face mask prior to Tuesday. Children need to wear them too.
Currently 720,000 people in Virginia have applied for unemployment. The state’s unemployment rate went from 2.8% before COVID-19 to 10.6% today.
People on the SNAP program will be allowed to order groceries through 7 different retailers, including Amazon, Walmart and Safeway and the groceries will be delivered to them free.
Overall the Governor is happy with the trends in Virginia for COVID-19 cases, hospital capacity, PPEs, and the number of tests available.