WATCH: Gov. Northam says unvaccinated COVID-19 patients filling up hospitals

Coronavirus

UPDATE 1:06 p.m.: Gov. Ralph Northam announced during his Monday afternoon briefing that nearly all the people who are catching the coronavirus are unvaccinated.

Northam says these vaccines are safe and effective, based on a significant amount of research and testing.

In addition, these people who refuse to get the free coronavirus vaccine are filling up hospitals, preventing vaccinated people from receiving treatment and costing Virginia a total of $5 billion, the governor says.

“The people who have followed the guidelines, who have made the effort to protect other people and themselves who have gotten vaccinated, their patience is wearing thin,” Northam said.

Case numbers in the Commonwealth have gone down and hospitalizations have leveled off in the past few days, but amid the surging delta variant, the numbers still too high, there are issues with hospital and ICU bed capacities, and hospital staff members are exhausted, according to the governor.

Northam says that it’s selfish not to get the vaccine, adding that those who stick to their decision will soon start to see charges for COVID-19 treatment.

“I’ve had COVID before and a year later I still can’t smell or taste anything,” Northam said.

According to Northam, just over 80 percent of the adult population in Virginia has received at least one dose of the vaccine, while approximately 60 percent of Virginia’s entire population is fully vaccinated.

With regard to booster shots, Northam says those decisions are made at the federal level. Currently, the has only recommended that people who received the Pfizer vaccine get a booster. For those who are immunocompromised, 65 and older, frontline workers should get a booster shot if their dosage was six months ago.

You can watch Northam’s full briefing below:

The governor is also hopeful that kids under age 12 will become eligible for the vaccine in the coming weeks, hopefully by the end of October or early November.

For example, in Highland County and Patrick County, only 17 percent of eligible children are currently vaccinated against the virus, Northam says.

In order to learn more about how school divisions’ efforts to combat the coronavirus, Northam invited several superintendents — including Superintendent Verletta White of Roanoke City Public Schools — to speak at Monday’s briefing.

According to White, Roanoke City Public Schools and their community partners have come together to conduct strategic planning and remain in-the-know with the latest virus information.

School nurses, though, have recently been inundated, not just with coronavirus cases, but with other standard school illnesses and injuries. As a result, White extended gratitude to the district’s community health partners for protecting students’ physical and mental health.

White says district officials are doing everything they can — including social distancing, mask mandates, etc. — to keep students safe, but are looking forward to receiving another layer of protection upon the approval of the vaccine for younger children.

Northam shared a study revealing that schools without mask mandates are 3.5 times more likely to have an outbreak than schools with mask mandates.

“The science is clear, masks in schools help protect our children and vaccines protect our children too,” said Northam. “This is a good time to remind everyone, Virginia needs your help.”

The governor also says that health officials are making arrangements with school districts around the Commonwealth to hold testing and vaccination clinics at schools for the sake of easy access.

In addition, Dr. Danny Avula, the state’s vaccination coordinator, says there’s no immediate need for other large scale vaccination centers, but that could change once more people need booster doses or when vaccines become eligible for children under 12.


RICHMOND, Va. (WFXR) — On Monday afternoon, Gov. Ralph Northam plans to hold a news conference about Virginia’s coronavirus pandemic response and vaccination efforts.

You can watch this briefing live at 1 p.m. on-air at WFXR-TV, online here at WFXRtv.com, on the WFXR News Facebook page, and on the WFXR News app.

Monday’s news conference marks Northam’s first virus briefing since early August, at which time he announced a vaccine mandate for state employees and shifted mask guidance for PreK-12 schools.

This comes after the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reported 7,987 new COVID-19 cases, 230 new virus-related hospitalizations, and 81 new virus-related deaths around the Commonwealth between Friday, Sept. 24 and Monday, Sept. 27. Meanwhile, the test positivity rate is reported as 9.5 percent.

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