March 23 Press Conference Summary

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Catherine Smith, Advertising Manager & Social Media Director

As over 12.5 million viewers joined in from Facebook, YouTube and various news stations, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam made several decisions in order to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in Virginia. During the March 23 press conference, Northam addressed extended school closure and various other concerns.

He announced Virginia’s next step to reduce community spread. As of March 23, there have been 254 positive cases and 6 deaths out of 37,000 tests. As cases rise, he said, “We are in this for months, not weeks.”

Northam also discussed closures for Virginia schools and essential, recreational and non-essential businesses. With a goal to limit “place of gathering of people together,” Northam asked schools to remain closed through the academic year. This generated questions that Northam said each division will answer beginning tomorrow.

He said that guidance will be given to superintendents and referred to Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane who released four options to ensure completion of the course and earn credits needed:

  1. Implement distance/remote learning
  2. Extend next year’s school year
  3. Imbed missed instruction into next year’s curriculum if the year isn’t extended.
  4. Continue instruction during this time, and those who can’t be reached will be brought back to fill in the gaps virtually

However, each locality will have to make the choice best for their school division.

He also announced that, effective tomorrow at midnight, Code 53 will be put into action, putting restriction on public establishments. Restaurants remain open under carry out, delivery and curb-side pick-up restrictions. Recreational places such as parks and movies must close. Brick and mortar businesses and personal care facilities may remain open with social distancing, increased sanitary measures and 10 or less visitors, not including staff. Essential businesses like grocery stores, banks and pharmacies will remain open with precautions set in place to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

Northam assured the public that he, along with his team, are making these calls to protect Virginians. He understands hardships and difficulties will develop by changing the way of life. Northam says that, with thousands out of work and possible increases in fear, anxiety, depression, domestic violence and addiction, it is important that citizens care for each other.

Northam encourages people to stay at home but continue to live. He is working to prevent gatherings of people which police and law enforcement will head. Northam stated that the problem is constantly evolving, but he has various consultants who are making decisions everyday to meet guidelines.

Additional information can be found in Northam’s release: https://youtu.be/Fyukv-yiC4Q.