NORFOLK, Va. - Wednesday, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam talked exclusively with News 3 reporter Zak Dahlheimer.
“Together, if we're all part of the solution, we can get through this,” Northam said.
The governor continues monitoring COVID-19 numbers in Hampton Roads and across the Commonwealth.
“We're watching the positivity rate very closely,” Northam told News 3. “Especially in Hampton Roads, the positivity rate is up over 12%. That is very, very concerning. I'm going to continue to monitor it. All options are on the table. We have stepped up enforcement. As you know, several restaurants have lost their licenses. But, we're taking this very seriously.”
According to health officials and the Office of the Governor, the statewide positivity rate was at 7.9% Wednesday.
“All of our options are on the table,” Northam answered when asked if he sees any further restrictions coming down the line. “Whether we'd need to offer more restrictions, whether we'd need to go back to limiting our restaurant capacities, our gathering capacities, all of these things are something that I think about.”
“I want to get to as near normal as we can, as quickly as we can, but we need to do it safely and responsibly,” Northam said.
On schools, Northam said all children will be educated. But education will look different across the state.
“We live in a very diverse commonwealth, and I know one size doesn't fit all,” he said. “Out in rural Virginia, over on the Eastern Shore where I’m from, out in the southwest, our class sizes are smaller. So, it allows us to keep our distancing, to wear facial protection, etc. In the urban areas, for example in Hampton Roads, in Norfolk, in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Newport News, it's difficult.”
Northam said he’s allowing local school districts to make the final decision.
Related: Norfolk School Board votes for full-time virtual learning for first quarter of 2020-21 school year
When it comes to testing, he's calling for more to be done in the Eastern District, and be able to trace.
“What I'm hearing from our tracers in Hampton Roads is a lot of these cases are coming from bars, restaurants and large gatherings,” Northam said.
News 3 also asked him about the state's mask mandate.
“It's not only to protect ourselves, but perhaps more importantly, to protect those that are around us,” he said. “I worry very much about our hospital capacity. I worry about our frontline workers. Whether they'd be in hospitals, in clinics, in nursing homes, in food processing plants, we need to protect these individuals. If I see the numbers continue to go up, if I see our hospital capacity get affected, more limited, then we're going to have to make other decisions to keep people safe in Virginia.
Northam told News 3 they’ll continue enforcing guidelines, and he has a message for Virginians.
“Wear a mask, keep their social distance, and wash their hands, and if they do, we'll be able to continue what we're doing now,” Northam said.