RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – In a virtual COVID-19 briefing Wednesday, Richmond City officials said virus cases continue to rise in Virginia’s Capital.

Dr. Melissa Viray with the Richmond City Health District said cases are higher than ever.

“We now have the highest daily case rate we’ve seen in the pandemic to date, with an average of 73 new cases per day, over the past week,” said Dr. Viray.

She added that percent positivity, hospitalizations and ventilator use are also on the rise. There have been 7,315 positive cases to date and 83 deaths in the city.

When asked if he would consider increased COVID-19 restrictions, Mayor Stoney said the data “may call for a serious review” of the current restrictions.

“Whether that is done at a sate-wide level or by region, I do believe that that decision is necessary,” Stoney said.

Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Ralph Northam announced he will be implementing new coronavirus restrictions.

Dr. Viray added that the city will wait to see which restrictions Gov. Northam puts in place before taking any further action.

“I want to give that a little bit of time and then, depending on what they elect, then speak further with Mayor Stoney about if anything further would be necessary at that point,” Dr. Viray said.

Dr. Viray and Mayor Stoney point to the recent Thanksgiving holiday as one of the drivers of the surge in cases. They urge residents to stay home for the upcoming December holidays, such as Hanukkah and Christmas.

“This is a risk for us to go from to bad to even worse, which would mean more illness in our community, increased burden on our hospitals,” Dr. Viray said.

She said if you must travel, you are encouraged to self-quarantine for 14 days and to get tested for COVID-19 before leaving. When you return home from traveling, they urge you to self-quarantine for 14 more days and get tested again.

The long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine could offer some hope. Pending FDA approval, the Pfizer vaccine may start rolling out in just a few days. However, Mayor Stoney said there is still a long way to go.
“No matter how much we want the world to be back to normal because of news of the vaccine, it simply isn’t that way right now,” the mayor said.

In Virginia, healthcare workers and long-term care facility residents and staff are first in line for the vaccine. The state is estimated to receive about 480,000 vaccines throughout December, according to Dr. Viray.

It is unclear how many of those vaccines Richmond will receive, but Viray estimates it could take months to see a significant impact.
“If I were to crystal ball it, I would say it’s going to be closer to the spring and summer, when we have a larger proportion of our population vaccinated, that we’ll really expect to see sharp decrements,” Viray explained.

You can watch the full press conference below here: