Northam: Changes in coronavirus restrictions expected next week

Coronavirus

MCCLEAN, Va. (WAVY/WFXR) — Gov. Ralph Northam didn’t announce any major changes to the Commonwealth’s coronavirus restrictions on Monday, but said more updates on restrictions are expected next week.

The governor says Virginians should continue to follow safety guidelines as more people get vaccinated in the meantime.

“This is no time for Virginia to let down our guard,” Northam said.

Virginia is still seeing relatively high COVID-19 metrics (1,500 new cases per day) and 1,000-plus current hospitalizations, though about 40% of the Virginia population now has at least one dose of the vaccine and most of the new cases have been in younger people. Virginia officials say they’re mostly focusing on the number of hospitalizations and deaths (now about 16 per day).

Vaccine eligibility expanded to everyone 16 and older in Virginia on Sunday, April 18, and Northam encourages everyone to get vaccinated to help Virginia reach herd immunity.

Northam believes anyone who wants a shot will be able to get one by at least the end of May. You can now sign up directly on the state’s vaccination page.

“Our message is simple, if you’re an adult you should get a shot. If you’re older you should get a shot. If you’re in your 20s or 30s, you can get COVID too — you should get a shot,” said Northam.

Virginia reported its first two cases of the more contagious Brazilian coronavirus variant last week, but officials say the current vaccines do provide protection against all variants. Only about 15% of cases right now are being sequenced to determine exact variants, per Vaccine Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula. He says Virginia is working to expand that number to better track the variants.

At the press conference, Avula spoke to the pause on J&J vaccines after rare cases of blood clots occurred six to 13 days after vaccination.

He says the Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices plans to meet Friday, April 23 to make a decision on how to move forward.

“In lieu of that, an additional 15,000 first doses of Moderna and Pfizer to come to a total of 220,000 first doses, coming into the state this week,” said Avula.

Northam did, however, announce some small changes for high school extracurriculars on Monday, April 19.

Theater productions can now have 100 people indoors and 500 outdoors, or 30% capacity, whichever is lower.

Cross country events also can now have 68 runners, up from 50.

Watch the full briefing below.

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