Northam announces new vaccination hotline and loosens outdoor sporting event restrictions


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Gov. Ralph Northam announced a new vaccination hotline and loosened outdoor sporting event restrictions during his Wednesday afternoon COVID-19 update.

On Tuesday, the Virginia Department of Health launched a centralized system that allows residents to pre-register for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Northam said people who have already pre-registered through their local health district will not need to re-register, and they imported 1.6 million records over to the new system over the weekend.

However, he said if you preregistered and don’t see your name on the list don’t panic — they are still moving over records this week. He suggests people who don’t see themselves listed wait a few days and check back in.

Northam also gave more details on a new COVID-19 hotline that will help residents who are uncomfortable or unable to register online. He said the call center will be able to answer anyone’s questions about registration or help them register.

He the center will be staffed by 750 operators. People can speak with English or Spanish-speaking agents when they call, or use a call-back service available in more than 100 other languages. In addition, Northam said a TTY service will be available for people are deaf and hard of hearing.

Because of long call wait times, the governor asked people who can register online to do that, and leave the phone registration for those who do not have internet access or struggle with the online form.

You can reach the new call center at 1-877-VAX-IN-VA, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week.

The governor also highlighted that the number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are trending down. Because of this, he said they would be increasing the number of people who could attend outdoor sporting events to 250. Northam said they are also considering a percentage-based attendance plan for other outdoor events.

Northam was asked if other restrictions would be loosening coronavirus mitigation efforts at the end of February. The governor said while the number of COVID-19 cases are going down, they are still not out of the woods yet.

The governor said a little over 10% of the population is vaccinated, meaning they are safe against catching the virus, however, they can still spread the virus. He said until Virginia gets to herd immunity people will need to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines like wearing a face mask and socially distancing.

Northam followed up by saying there would be more discussion about restrictions later today and he wants Virginia to return to “normal” as soon as possible.

Watch the full news conference below:

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