RICHMOND (June 9, 2020 6:03 pm)—Governor Ralph Northam today gave his Tuesday update on the state’s response to COVID-19.

• The data for both the City of Richmond and Northern Virginia region has continued to trend downward as they have entered Phase One. 

Both areas will enter Phase Two as of this Friday, June 12. 

• Tuesday, June 16, 2020 is the last day to request an absentee ballot for the June 23 elections. 

FORWARD VIRGINIA PLAN: Phase Two – Began Friday, June 5 

• “We are working toward a new normal.” 

• Governor Northam thanks Virginians for continuing to do their part through social distancing and wearing of face coverings, and reminds us that, as we move forward, we need to continue to follow these practices. 

HOSPITALS, PPE AND TESTING 

• Percent positivity is approximately 10% statewide and continuing to trend downward. 

• Hospitalization rates continue to trend downward, with a sharp decrease in the last week. 

• The VDH is aiming to have 15 contact tracers for every 100,000 people, a goal of 1,200 total. o There are currently 872 contact tracers working currently. 

COVID-19 CASES, STATISTICS AND MODELING 

• Total cases: 51,738 

• Total deaths: 1,496 

PUBLIC SCHOOLS 

All Virginia schools (public and private) will be permitted to enter Phase 2 on Friday, June 12, pending the submission and approval of re-opening plans. 

• Virginia schools closed on March 23 for the remainder of the academic year, making it one of the first states to take this step. 

• “All Virginia schools will open for students next year, but the school experience will look very different.” 

• Re-opening of schools will have a phased approach. 

• This is not a mandate for schools to open for summer school but gives each school division the flexibility to plan how to best serve their area in the coming months. 

• Each phase will allow maximum flexibility to each individual school and apply to both public and private schools. o Some schools may be more limited in their ability to safely provide in-person instruction and are encouraged to work with the DOE and VDH to develop a plan. 

• Before entering Phase Two or Phase Three, each school must submit a plan for how they will implement the VDH and CDC guidelines for re-opening. 

o The Virginia Council for Private Education will approve the required plans for private schools. 

o All plans for both public and private schools will be received and reviewed by the Department of Education, who will work closely with private schools. 

Phase One: most instruction is still remote.

o Some exceptions may be made for children with disabilities and children of essential workers. 

Phase Two: schools may offer in person instruction for pre-school – third grade and English language learners.

o Can also provide in-person instruction for students with disabilities. 

o Most schools may enter this phase as of today. 

o School-based summer camps are permitted with restrictions. 

o Large group gatherings are limited to 50 people or less, in accordance with the statewide re-opening plan. 

Phase Three: schools may offer in-person instruction to all students, with social distancing measures in place.

o Classrooms will be expected to have six feet between all desks and workstations. 

o Restrictions on mixing groups of students will mean smaller classes and less movement between classrooms. 

o Staggered use or no use of communal areas such as gyms and cafeterias. 

o Remote learning and telework options should be offered for high risk students and staff members. 

o Daily health screenings will be required for both staff and students. 

o Use of face coverings by staff when physical distancing cannot be maintained. 

o Students, particularly those who are older, are encouraged to wear face coverings whenever possible. 

• The DOE has published a re-opening guide, Recover, Rebuild, and Restart, that will be distributed to each school division, as well as being available online. 

YOUTH SPORTS 

Will be permitted to start this Friday, June 12. 

• “Common sense guidelines” avoiding intentional contact and limiting incidental contact. 

• Spectators should be limited to parents and guardians whenever possible. 

• Social distancing during sports should be kept at 10 feet.

o This is to mitigate the spread of breath particles during exercise. 

OTHER TOPICS 

• Governor Northam met with leaders of Virginia’s Police Chief’s Association to discuss the best way to move forward to build trust in police, particularly in communities of color.

o “This is an opportunity for serious reform.” 

• Chief Justice Lemons approved a 21-day moratorium on evictions in Virginia, with the goal of preventing anyone from losing housing until the administration’s Rent Relief plan is finalized. 

Next briefing: Thursday, June 11 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 https://www.facebook.com/GovernorVA/. To access the Governor’s official news releases, visit https://www.governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/news-releases/

Prepared by Commonwealth Strategy Group for the Virginia Press Association.

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