RICHMOND, VA — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam was cleared to hold in-person meetings Monday after spending 18 days in isolation due to a positive test for the coronavirus that caused minor symptoms in the governor. Both Northam and his wife — Pamela Northam — tested positive for the coronavirus on Sept. 25, a day after a worker in the governor’s mansion received a positive test after showing symptoms.
The local health department in Richmond performed contact tracing of 65 people who had come into close contact with Northam over a period of 48 hours prior to his positive test, all of whom were instructed to quarantine. None of the 65 people, many of whom were staff members, showed any symptoms for the coronavirus or tested positive during their quarantine period, and all of them are back to work, the governor said Tuesday at a news conference in Richmond.
Northam said the lack of spread among his staff demonstrates the effectiveness of wearing masks while on the job. “I truly believe that it is a testament to wearing these masks,” he said.
“My press secretary and official photographer and security detail traveled with me for several hours at a time the week that Pam and I were diagnosed,” Northam explained. “And we wear our masks in the car or on the plane, and thankfully none of them got sick. I would remind every Virginian, masks are scientifically proven to reduce the spread of this disease, plain and simple.”
Northam compared the lack of spread of the coronavirus among his staff to what happened at the White House Rose Garden ceremony where President Donald Trump introduced Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court. Many people who attended the event, including Trump, have since tested positive for the coronavirus.
“A gathering where people cavalierly sat together, stood together, hugged each other … no masks, no social distancing, and look at the number of people who tested positive,” the governor said. “We talk about science. It doesn’t get any clearer than that.”
“The guidelines that we are following in Virginia, they work,” Northam emphasized. “And when we don’t follow those guidelines, we have outbreaks like you saw in Washington.”
Northam said that both he and his wife are no longer experiencing any symptoms of the coronavirus. But the governor stressed that he understands their experience with the disease was mild compared to the thousands of Virginians who have been hospitalized and died from COVID-19.
Virginia Coronavirus Data
On Tuesday, 1,235 new coronavirus cases were reported in Virginia, bringing the cumulative total to 160,805 cases. The positive average of PCR tests is at 4.5 percent statewide.
According to the Virginia Department of Health, there have been 3,372 deaths and 11,598 hospitalizations among COVID-19 patients in Virginia. Tuesday’s total reflected 11 new deaths across the state.
On a regional basis, the eastern and northwest regions reported a positive average of PCR tests at 4.0 percent as of Oct. 9. Other regional averages include 4.1 percent in the northern region, 4.4 percent in the central region and 6.4 percent in the southwest region. Statewide, 2,292,562 PCR tests have been completed, a 20,720 increase from Monday. To find testing locations and testing events, visit the VDH website.
Tuesday’s 1,235 new cases include 371 in the southwest region, 294 in the northern region, 258 in the central region, 182 in the eastern region, and 130 in the northwest region.
As of Tuesday, the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations stands at 999 statewide. That includes 98 patients on ventilators and 200 in the intensive care units, according to the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association.
Ventilator use among all Virginia hospital patients is at 22 percent of capacity, while ICU occupancy stands at 78 percent. That’s 11 percent higher than the 2019 average for ICU occupancy in Virginia. No hospitals are reporting difficulty obtaining personal protective equipment or other medical supplies in the next 72 hours.
According to the association, 18,657 COVID-19 patients have been discharged from hospitals to date.
Here are the latest coronavirus data updates for our coverage area between Monday and Tuesday:
Alexandria: 4,045 cases, 323 hospitalizations, 73 deaths; increase of 13 cases
Arlington County: 4,228 cases, 513 hospitalizations, 152 deaths; increase of 19 cases and two hospitalizations
Fairfax County: 22,185 cases, 2,197 hospitalizations, 599 deaths; increase of 96 cases and two hospitalizations
Fairfax City: 144 cases, 13 hospitalizations, eight deaths; no changes
Falls Church: 75 cases, 13 hospitalizations, seven deaths; increase of one case
Loudoun County: 7,303 cases, 451 hospitalizations, 128 deaths; increase of 44 cases and two hospitalizations
Manassas: 1,998 cases, 132 hospitalizations, 25 deaths; increase of five cases, two hospitalizations and one death
Manassas Park: 627 cases, 56 hospitalizations, eight deaths; increase of one case
Prince William County: 13,281 cases, 951 hospitalizations, 216 deaths; increase of 115 cases, seven hospitalizations and three deaths
Fredericksburg: 568 cases, 50 hospitalizations, five deaths; increase of one case
Spotsylvania County: 2,278 cases, 140 hospitalizations, 46 deaths; increase of five cases
Stafford County: 2,174 cases, 166 hospitalizations, 19 deaths; increase of 12 cases and one hospitalization
This article originally appeared on the Fairfax City Patch