RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam held a news briefing Monday to break down COVID-19 data from the state.
Northam said he doesn’t know what else to say to people who are choosing not to get vaccinated. According to data, COVID-19 hospitalizations of unvaccinated adults cost over $5 billion. The governor said this all could be solved if people would get the free vaccine.
On top of the cost, Northam said unvaccinated people are filling up hospitals. Case numbers in the state have gone down in the past few days and although hospitalizations are stabilizing, they remain high and hospital staff is exhausted.
“The people who have followed the guidelines, who have made the effort to protect other people and themselves who have gotten vaccinated — their patience is wearing thin,” Northam said.
Northam said that it’s selfish not to get the vaccine and soon those who stick to their decision will start to see charges for COVID-19 treatment.
“To those who chose not to get the vaccine, I want to give you two facts. One, these vaccines are incredibly safe and effective. … Two, by choosing not to get vaccinated you are absolutely hurting other people,” Northam said.
On Monday, Sept. 27, the state reported an increase of 1,997 new cases. More than 80% of Virginia adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Sixty percent of people in Virginia including children are fully vaccinated.
In regards to booster shots, Northam said those decisions are made at the federal level.
Currently, the FDA has only recommended that people who received the Pfizer vaccine get a booster. People who are 65 or older, immunocompromised, and frontline workers should get a booster shot if their dosage was more than six months ago.
For parents who are eager to get their children vaccinated, Northam said it will take a couple more weeks — hopefully by the end of October, early November. When the time comes, Virginia will be ready. Northam said they have been preparing for this.
The governor invited three superintendents to speak during the briefing about how they are keeping children safe. Richmond Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras along with Arlington Schools Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán and Roanoke Schools Superintendent Verletta White spoke about what mitigation strategies are working for their districts.
Superintendent Kamras said that Richmond Schools has had 200 positive COVID-19 cases among students and staff since classes started. However, Kamras claims that over 98% of the cases didn’t occur in school.
Kamras said that school is the safest place for kids because mitigation strategies are working.
The superintendent said that they have a number of students and staff quarantined which is disruptive to learning. Kamras said that one way to limit transmission is vaccination, which is why the staff vaccine mandate is in place.
In terms of planning for a COVID-19 vaccine for children, Kamras said they have plans to have the vaccine available at schools to make it as easy as possible.