RICHMOND, Va. - Gov. Northam gave more directive on the state's first phase of reopening on Friday as many business owners were anxious to hear what was to happen next.
The 2 p.m. meeting detailed the first phase of Virginia's gradual approach to safely allow restricted operations for businesses and limited gatherings. Northam stated Thursday that Virginia will implement all changes in phases and continue to be guided by data and science.
Northam said, "This virus is still here, it has not gone away and it will not go away until we have a vaccination." He added, "All our efforts have slowed its spread but have not cured the disease."
Based on data, he said he anticipates and hopes that Virginia can enter phase one on May 15. Northam added that it will still be safer at home and we should continue to practice social distancing and wearing face coverings.
"Everything you have done has truly made a difference we flattened the curve and our hospitals have not been overwhelmed," he said.
Friday marks two months since Virginia identified its first positive case of coronavirus.
Northam stated in a Facebook post on Thursday that Virginia is working to ramp up testing and contact tracing capabilities. The post stated that "we know that being able to quickly identify individuals infected with #COVID19 and their close contacts means we can better track and contain this virus."
The Virginia National Guard continues to be a critical partner, providing additional manpower and logistical expertise as Virginia works to scale up testing.
The federal government is helping Virginia pay for this assistance under Title 32 status. Virginia will have this status through the end of May, but Northam says it is clear that it will continue to need this help. Northam asked the Trump administration to extend this authorization on Wednesday.
Northam also said earlier this week that some parts of the state may keep coronavirus-related restrictions in place longer than the rest of the state.
The governor said on Wednesday that areas of the state hard hit by the virus, like northern Virginia and the Eastern Shore, may extend bans on certain business openings and public gatherings that are expected to expire May 15. This is also the order that restricts certain businesses and bans gatherings of more than 10 people.
He added that he’s been in regular contact with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser about how and when to reopen areas in and around the nation’s capital.