Virginia Governor Ralph Northam speaks in Richmond Monday, May 11, 2020.

Summary of Va. Gov. Northam’s COVID-19 Press Conference – May 11, 2020


• The Governor is allowing Northern Virginia (NOVA) localities to delay the expected Phase 1 easing of restrictions on May 15.

o NOVA localities sent a formal letter to the Governor requesting a delay of Phase 1 in their region. 

o NOVA has a higher share of positive cases and hospitalizations than the rest of the state. 

o This slower place is indefinite pending COVID-19 outcomes in the region. 

• COVID-19 statistical trends in Virginia continue to decline or remain stable.

o The rest of the state appears ready to enter Phase 1 on May 15. 

• The requirements in the phases are floors, not ceilings. Some regions can move slower but not faster than rest of the state. 

• The Northam Administration is focusing on at-risk, vulnerable populations and communities of color, which are disproportionately affected by COVID-19. 

• The VDH Commissioner issued a Public Health Certification that prevents the City of Petersburg from further shutting off water service and orders them to restore water service to occupied dwellings. 

• The Governor is extending DMV’s closure for at least another week.

o Online services remain open. 

• On Wednesday, the Governor will make a major announcement regarding testing partnerships with retail establishments across Virginia. 

• The Governor is also expected to announce a decision regarding the start of Phase 1 on May 15, which he anticipates occurring. 


• 9,801 tests done yesterday; will be reflected on VDH website in the next couple of days. 

• Confirmed positive cases – generally increasing. 

• People tested per day – generally increasing. 

• Positive tests per people tested – generally decreasing. 

• Hospitals reporting shortages of PPE – generally decreasing.

o Virginia maintains a warehouse of PPE; stock is stable. 

• Hospital bed capacity – stable, below surge capacity.

o Administration is monitoring elective procedures. 

• Hospitalizations for COVID-19 – stable.

o ICU beds – stable 

o Ventilators – adequate 


Five NOVA jurisdictions, and cities and towns within those jurisdictions, sent letters to the Governor requesting that they be allowed to proceed at a slower pace for easing restrictions— Fairfax County, Prince William County, Alexandria, Arlington, and Loudon. 

• NOVA has higher density and a greater share of positive cases, and shares a special relationship with Maryland and DC. 

• NOVA consistently has a greater share of positive cases. These five jurisdictions experienced 719 new cases yesterday, vs. 270 in other regions. This represents 73% of new cases vs. 27% in the rest of the state. 

• The entire state is seeing the positivity rate decline, but NOVA has a 25% vs. 10% positivity rate. There is a similar difference for hospitalizations. 

• NOVA officials are expected to join the press briefing on Wednesday. 

• The Governor discourages residents from traveling to different parts of the state. 


• Janice Underwood, Chief Diversity Officer, a Cabinet level position, staffs the state’s Health Equity Taskforce and VDH Health Equity Working Group. 

• The task force is focusing on supporting communities of color and vulnerable populations, as well as SWAM businesses. 

• The working group is comprised of state agencies, private human service agencies, and faith and community leaders. 

• The task force provides access to training, PPE, and multilingual education materials, and is identifying higher-risk groups and neighborhoods with mapping technology. 

• The task force is providing 20,000 masks and bottles of hand sanitizer to the City of Richmond as part of a pilot program, to be expanded to other communities in Virginia. 

• The task force is partnering with other localities and communities across the state. 


• Tomorrow, May 12 is the deadline for requesting an absentee ballot. 

• The Governor encourages voters to vote absentee (by mail) as the safest way to vote.

o Voters can check Reason 2A (disability or illness) on the absentee ballot. 

• The Administration is also working to ensure in-person voting is safe. 


• 25,070 cases, 989 new cases in the last 24-hour reporting period 

• 850 deaths, 11 new in the last reporting period 

• 167,758 total tests, 9,801 new in the last reporting period 

• African Americans represent 24% of cases, 4,119 total 

• Latino community represents 40% of cases or 6,894 total. This spike is a result of the outbreaks in the state’s poultry plants. 

• The number of cases in the poultry plants are trending down, and testing in the surrounding communities (Harrisonburg and the Eastern Shore) has increased. 


• Testing is key. 

• Many localities and regions, and at-risk neighborhoods, are holding testing events. 

• Regarding reports that Virginia ranks near the bottom of the nation for testing, the numbers depend on cumulative vs. targeted testing and trends appropriate for Virginia. 

State comparisons should be consistent and fair, taking into account which tests are being used and included in statistics so that comparisons are “apples to apples.” 

• Virginia is making significant progress toward its testing goal of 10,000 per day.

o Focusing on vulnerable and uninsured populations 

• Test kits and capacity are no longer an issue, shifting toward implementation of targeted testing. 

• Where point prevalence testing surveys are occurring can be made available by industry/facility. 

• Contact tracing capacity is another important metric.

o Federal CARES Act funding to be used for contact tracing. 

o The state is close to executing contracts for contact tracing with third party vendors. 

• Contact tracing workforce – the state had 200 tracers before COVID-19, now has 600. The goal is to have 1000 tracers, or 15 tracers per 100,000 people, and 200 public health supervisors. The state is making progress on ramping up over the next 4-6 weeks. 


• The Virginia Employment Commission, which administers unemployment insurance, is relatively short-staffed but is increasing capacity with call centers and headquarters personnel, as well as online capability. 

• The Parole Board has put the early release of Vincent Martin on hold pending an independent investigation of the Board’s process. 

• The Parole Board has reviewed 3 times as many cases as it normally would. 

• The state and localities must adhere to federal guidelines on special pay or expense for workers directly associated with the COVID-19 response. 

• Most workers are covered under Virginia’s workers’ compensation system. 

• The General Assembly would need to change state law to provide special coverage for certain workers affected by COVID-19 under the workers’ compensation laws. 

• There are complaints and adjudication processes for workers who do not feel safe or comfortable going back to the workplace, resuming their job, or going off unemployment. 

Next briefing: Wednesday, May 13 at 2:00PM. 

NOTE: This is an informal and timely summary of the Governor’s live press briefing. To access recordings of the briefings, visit To access the Governor’s official news releases, visit 

Prepared by Commonwealth Strategy Group for the Virginia Press Association.

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