Northam gives COVID-19 outbreak update; first appearance since extremist’s kidnapping plot revealed

Coronavirus

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Gov. Ralph Northam gave an update on the coronavirus outbreak in Virginia on Tuesday.

This is the governor’s first press conference since it was revealed that the same group who conspired to kidnap Michigan’s Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also discussed kidnapping Northam.

Like Whitmer, Northam has faced criticism for shutting down businesses earlier this year to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

House Republican Leader Todd Gilbert, who has been critical of Gov. Northam’s approach to the coronavirus pandemic, issued a statement on Tuesday condemning the discussed kidnapping of Northam. 

“We’re glad to know that these idiots were picked up by law enforcement before they could hurt anyone,” Gilbert said.

Northam said he would not take questions or make any additional comments about the situation because it is still an ongoing investigation. However, the governor said he and the first lady are safe and in no immediate danger.

“I will not work under a cloud of intimidation … I was elected to serve the Commonwealth and that’s what I will do,” Northam said.

Today was also Northam’s first public appearance since testing positive for the coronavirus on Sept. 25. Northam and first lady Pamela, who also tested positive, have been cleared by health officials to come out of isolation.

Dr. Danny Avula, Director of the Richmond City and Henrico County Health Departments, said people who test positive for the virus are no longer contagious after 10 days.

While more than 60 members of Northam’s staff had to self-quarantine, the governor said none of them tested positive for COVID-19. Northam attributed this to their strict mask policy.

VDH reported 160,805 cases of the virus and 3,372 deaths from COVID-19 across the Commonwealth — that is 1,235 new cases and 11 new deaths from the virus in the last 24 hours.

Northam said the state’s percent positivity has been trending downwards and now sits below 5 percent. This is the second day in a row that VDH reported the 7-day average at 4.5 percent.

While the numbers are not increasing, Northam said people shouldn’t get complacent. He said, with the weather cooling down, people will not want to gather outside as much. However, the virus spreads more indoors.

“But I know we can stay strong and continue to get through this in the winter,” he said.

Northam also discussed how the state’s technology provider is managing outages triggered on Tuesday after a Verizon fiber cable was cut during a roadside utility project in Chester, Virginia. The accident caused various state agency websites to go down, including Virginia’s online voter registration, on the last day to complete the application.

Northam said he does not have the authority to extend the voter registration deadline under Virginia law. He said this action would likely have to come from the courts.

“I look forward to [the courts] assisting us and making sure we can extend the deadline,” he said.

Virginia Secretary of Administration Keyanna Conner said they hope to have a temporary solution in place by 4 p.m.

You can watch the full press conference below:

Coronavirus Updates

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