Virginia's COVID-19 State of Emergency expires Wednesday night

Posted at 2:14 PM, Jun 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-30 16:58:35-04

NORFOLK, Va. - The State of Emergency from the COVID-19 pandemic will expire Wednesday evening after it'd been in place since March 2020.

"COVID-19 is no longer an immediate emergency in our Commonwealth. Therefore, Governor Northam will not extend Virginia’s State of Emergency when it expires this evening," said Alena Yarmosky, a spokesperson for Northam, in an email to News 3.

Northam had already lifted all restrictions on businesses, but this is a sign things are getting more back to normal.

"Right now, we're doing very, very well and Virginia cases are down over 90% from the peak. Our percentage of positive tests is the best it's been since last spring," said Dr. Edward Oldfield, an infectious disease expert at Eastern Virginia Medical School.

Right now, more than 70% of adults in Virginia have gotten at least one dose of a vaccine, which exceeded President Biden's goal of reaching that milestone by July 4.

"I never thought we would have vaccines as good as Moderna and Pfizer and certainly not that quickly, so I think that's really what saved us - these vaccines coming out," said Oldfield.

Still, with the Delta variant of the virus spreading, health experts are worried unvaccinated people will be at risk.

"That is going to be a real problem for people who are not vaccinated, and that's what we're seeing around the country," said Oldfield. "My message is: If you haven't gotten vaccinated, get out there and get vaccinated."

The end of the State of Emergency has also led to questions surrounding the future of mask wearing in Virginia. The CDC continues to say vaccinated people don't need to wear masks in most situations, but unvaccinated people should wear them.

In Virginia, state law prevents people from wearing masks to conceal their identities, but the governor's spokesperson says people can still wear them for health reasons.

"To be clear, Virginians are allowed to wear masks for health reasons — even after the State of Emergency expires — and no law prohibits it," said Yarmoksy. "We have been in touch with law enforcement to reaffirm that no one should be penalized for wearing masks for health reasons, and law enforcement strongly agrees."

The General Assembly could decide to further clarify the mask wearing law during their special session in August.

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