Governor Northam provides COVID-19, Tropical Storm Isaias update

Virginia News

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is holding a press conference on Wednesday at 2 p.m. to discuss the commonwealth’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and tropical storm Isaias

Isaias brought damage across Eastern and Central Virginia on Tuesday, especially in the Tidewater region, where several tornadoes touched down.

Virginia’s COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations have also been mostly on the rise, though case numbers are still relatively low compared to other states.

On Wednesday, Virginia became the first state to launch a new app created by Apple and Google that helps notify people of potential exposure. Apple and Google say the app doesn’t use location-tracking technology such as GPS or collect personal information that can be used to identify someone. “Your device will share anonymous tokens via Bluetooth with other COVIDWISE users,” the app says. “If another user you’ve been nearby tests positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day period, your app will notify you.”

Highlights from the press conference:

  • Gov. Northam announced there was 1 tropical storm Isaias-related death in Virginia, in Lancaster County. However, Lancaster County Chief Deputy Bill Webb said he believes the man died of a medical emergency. A medical examiner will determine the manner of death.
  • Northam says trends in new cases and percent of positive tests in Hampton Roads is “encouraging.” Cases are down slightly, with percent of positive tests down, but still hovering just above 10%. The state as a whole is just above 7%.
  • A new COVID-19 app created by Apple and Google was launched today, with Virginia being the first state to use the new technology. Northam emphasized the app will not track users. “It doesn’t track you at all, it doesn’t rely on GPS data or your personal information and while we want everyone to download it, it is voluntary.”
  • Northam says he’s excited about a new multi-state compact for rapid antigen testing, which will allow for results in about 15-20 minutes, instead of days. “Quick tests will allow us to contain the virus and allow us to loosen our restrictions safely.”
  • Norfolk health officials went door knocking and made phone calls to more than 600 people in minority communities recently to encourage people to take advantage of free testing, but only a handful of people showed up, Northam says. Trust in medical care was pointed out as a major issue, so local faith leaders and others put together a video to encourage others to get tested. Officials believe the video helped in part to get more than 1,000 people to get tested.

Watch the news conference below:

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