Virginia’s COVID-19 case numbers hit a new milestone on Monday: just 336 reported cases, according to the Virginia Department of Health; the last time numbers dropped below 400 was in June and April of 2020. According to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, COVID-19 hospitalizations are low as well, with the seven-day moving average at 775 on Thursday; that number hasn’t been below 800 since late March 2020.
“Today, @VDHgov is reporting the lowest number of new #COVID19 cases in over a year at just 336. The data is giving us a very clear message—the vaccines are working,” Governor Ralph Northam tweeted Monday.
Since then, individual case numbers have ticked back up, hitting 579 on Thursday. Still, the overall trend is downwards. On Thursday, the seven-day moving average of case numbers was at 619, about where it was in early May 2020 and early July 2020.
On Wednesday, the Virginia Department of Health announced that starting Friday, adolescents aged 12-15 can also get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, previously only available to those 16 and older. Health officials said that even though most adolescents don’t get seriously ill from COVID-19, getting the vaccine will protect them from transmitting the disease. Additionally, it protects them from having to quarantine, missing school or sporting events, if they are around someone who has COVID-19.
“Getting this safe, effective vaccine means that these adolescents won’t have to miss school, sporting events or other activities if they are exposed to someone with COVID-19, taking another step toward getting their lives back to normal,” Virginia’s vaccine coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said in a press release.
As Virginia’s case numbers go down, Northam is opening the state back up. Northam has already announced that on Saturday, May 15, he will relax COVID-19 capacity restrictions. The new guidelines allow 100 people at indoor social events and 250 at outdoor gatherings, up from 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors. Indoor entertainment venues can have the lesser of 50 percent capacity or 1,000 people. Outdoor venues can operate at 50 percent capacity. Indoor sporting event capacity increases to the lesser of 250 spectators or 50 percent capacity; outdoor sporting events increases to 1,000 people or 50 percent capacity, whichever is less.
Additionally, restaurants will be allowed to have their dining rooms open between midnight and five a.m. Restaurants will also be allowed to sell alcohol after midnight, and bar seating will be open, as long as there is six feet of distance between parties at the bar.
On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance to say that people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can resume activities without wearing a mask or social distancing. However, that’s subject to local laws and business guidance. In Virginia, Northam’s mask mandate remains in place.
Two weeks ago, the CDC announced that fully-vaccinated people don’t need masks outdoors in most circumstances. Within a few days, Northam updated Virginia’s mask requirement to match that guidance.
In response to the new guidance Thursday, Northam tweeted, “Virginia will continue to follow @CDCgov guidelines as we have done throughout this pandemic. We are reviewing the new mask and distancing recommendations and will update our guidance accordingly. If you have not been vaccinated, visit http://vaccinate.virginia.gov and get your shot!”
– – –