Virginia Ends Pandemic Restrictions

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By Carol Vaughn —

President Joe Biden and Gov. Ralph Northam spoke Friday, May 28, at Sportrock Climbing Center, a rock climbing gym in Alexandria, Virginia, to celebrate the lifting of coronavirus pandemic restrictions in Virginia.
“Today we mark a tremendous milestone in our fight against COVID-19. As of 12:01 this morning, for the first time since March 2020, there are no limits on capacity or distancing in Virginia’s restaurants, businesses, offices, or other venues. That’s something we can all be proud of,” Northam said, adding, “We are closer to a more normal life than we have been in the past 14 months, and…that feels really good … As governor, I can tell you that having a partner in the White House makes a huge, huge difference — setting clear goals, as he has done, and supporting us with the resources we need to meet those goals. And as a doctor, I know it also makes a big difference when leadership respects science, and follows its lead.”
Northam previously had said restrictions in Virginia would end June 15 if case numbers kept their downward trend. He later moved up the date to Friday, citing strong vaccination numbers and dramatically lowered case counts.
Additionally, Northam last month said fully vaccinated people could stop wearing face coverings indoors in most situations, following new guidance from the Centers for Desease and Control and Prevention — not to include places like health care facilities, public transportation, and schools.
The state of emergency in Virginia remains in place through June 30, allowing Northam to impose restrictions if warranted.
Biden thanked Northam for his efforts during the pandemic, saying, “You’re one of the best governors in the country in taking this on, and you did it from the beginning.”
Biden noted the United States went from 184,000 cases per day when he took office to fewer than 22,000 per day now. Additionally, deaths from COVID-19 have dropped by more than 85%, he said.
In Virginia, the numbers went from 43,000 cases per week when Biden took office to fewer than 2,800 in the past week, a 93% decline, Biden said, attributing the progress to planning and execution of “a vaccination effort at a scale and speed never before seen here or anywhere in the world.”
In Virginia, that included $247 million in federal funding for community vaccination sites; more than 360 federally funded National Guard members supporting the state’s responose; getting doses to community health care centers and 1,000 pharmacies; and opening a mass vaccination site in Norfolk, initially run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U. S. Navy in partnership with Virginia.
Biden said more than 165 million Americans, 51% of the adult population, have gotten at least one shot of COVID-19 vaccine.
In Virginia, 54% of adults are fully vaccinated, putting Virginia 14th among the states for vaccination rate, according to Northam.
Six weeks ago, Virginia on average had more than 1,600 new cases per day of COVID-19. Now the average is fewer than 400, Northam said, noting, “This is a direct result of people getting vaccinated.”
“As more Americans get vaccinated, the days grow brighter and brighter. But let me be clear: We’re not done yet. We have to reach those who are not vaccinated and make it as easy as possible for them to get protected,” Biden said, noting he set a goal of having 70% of adult Americans vaccinated with at least one shot by July 4.
“Today, just over a month to go, we’re at 62%. Ten states have already reached the 70% milestone. Virginia is at 66; it’s moving closer every day,” he said.
Biden urged anyone who still needs to be vaccinated to visit the website, vaccines.gov, or text the ZIP Code to 438829 to find the nearest vaccination sites.
“To hit 70% and keep sprinting through the finish line is what we’re all about.If we succeed, we can celebrate our independence from the virus together on the Fourth of July as we celebrate our independence as a nation,” Biden said.
“We can see in real time that the more people get vaccinated, the fewer people get COVID; it is very simple math,” Northam said.

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