Northam expresses concern over SW Virginia COVID-19 figures


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Governor Ralph Northam said Virginia is lucky that while case counts are trending upwards in some regions, the state is not seeing large increases of coronavirus cases. Statewide, Virginia has the nation’s 10th-lowest rate of COVID-19 spread.

“I am so proud of how Virginians have stepped up during this pandemic,” Northam said.

Northam highlighted Virginia’s different regions and said that many Virginia residents cross state lines and what happens in other regions affects the state.

“While our numbers look good overall, we have to consider the differences across regions of the state and we have to slide Virginia into the bigger national picture,” Northam said.

The governor said he is concerned about the percent positive tests in Southwest Virginia. It’s nearly eight percent — about double the rate of other regions.

“Our public health experts are clear, the spread in southwest is driven in part by small family gatherings,” Northam said.

Northam also warned that Ballad Health is seeing an increase in COVID-19 patients. Northam said the healthcare facility is being impacted by an influx in cases on the Tennessee-Virginia border.

According to our sister station WJHL, Ballad Health reported Tuesday it had 169 hospitalized COVID patients — an all-time high for the system. Of those, 33 were in intensive care and 15 were on ventilators, increases of five ICU patients and two ventilator patients from Monday.

Coronavirus cases in Virginia have been increasing this week by up to 1,000 or more cases daily. Currently, the state has 176,754 COVID-19 cases and 3,616 deaths. 16 new deaths were reported in the last period.

“We are all tired of not having social get togethers, not going to see sports or shows, not having the regular interactions that we count on in our lives, Northam said. “Most people are doing the right thing and they are tired of seeing other folks disregard the rules, health and safety of other people.”

With Halloween this weekend, Northam said that people should take precautions and make good choices.

“Some favorite Halloween activities are not cut out for social distancing,” Northam said. “Big crowds are a bad idea.”

Watch Gov. Northam’s news conference below.

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