RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said Richmond, northern Virginia and Accomack County will join the rest of the Commonwealth in Phase One of reopening this Friday.
As a result, Northam said during his 2 p.m. news conference Thursday that the earliest the rest of the state could enter Phase Two would be Friday, June 5.
"We will all remain in Phase One for a minimum of another week so that we can continue to collect more health data," Northam said. "But our trends are encouraging. We're testing more people and the percent of positive test continues to trend downward."
Northam said the localities that asked to remain in Phase Zero were not a factor in holding off on the rest of the state transitioning to Phase Two.
"The reason why we are waiting another week is because of the incubation period of this, we want to be very careful and deliberate as we move forward," Northam explained. "And we just don't have the data yet to move into Phase Two. And we'll continue to follow that I've had discussions with our epidemiologists... and as soon as we feel comfortable that the trends are moving in a positive direction, then we will make the announcement as to when we can go into Phase Two."
Northam also said testing capacity continues to increase.
"Our testing is a combination of public testing events and tests that you can get at your doctor's office, medical clinic or at pharmacies that are offering tests," Northam said.
The news conference comes a day before Northam’s Executive Order requiring facial masks or coverings in certain public situations goes into effect. Since the order was announced, critics have raised concerns over its enforcement.
Friday will also mark two weeks since most of Virginia began Phase One of the reopening process. Northam had said each phase was expected to last between two to four weeks, but indicated at his Tuesday news conference that it was too early to decide if they were ready to move into Phase Two.
“We've only been in Phase One for a little bit over a week. The incubation period of this virus is lengthy enough that we really just don't have the data. We don't have the trends that we're comfortable with both from our health commissioner and their epidemiologist, as well as just my watching the numbers in Virginia,” Northam said Tuesday. “Everybody in Virginia will be in Phase One, at least through this Friday.”
Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.
d when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.
Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid contact with sick people.Avoid non-essential travel.