Northam eases COVID-19 restrictions in Hampton Roads
Health metrics have improved significantly over past six weeks, governor says
After more than six weeks, Gov. Ralph Northam eased COVID-19 restrictions in Hampton Roads localities Thursday, citing “significantly improved” health metrics. The region will join the rest of the state in Phase Three of the “Forward Virginia” plan, effective immediately.
On July 31, the governor placed a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people, required that restaurants close by midnight, stop all sales of alcohol after 10 p.m.,and reduce indoor dining to no more than 50% capacity. Impacted localities included Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Hampton, Williamsburg, Newport News, Poquoson, James City County and York County.
“Hampton Roads residents, businesses and health officials have worked together to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” Northam said Thursday in a statement. “New cases have dropped by more than half, hospitalizations have declined, and percent positivity has fallen below the statewide average. But we cannot let our guard down — we all must continue practicing social distancing, wearing facial coverings and following all public health guidelines. If we want to keep moving forward, we must stay vigilant and do the things that we know will keep our communities safe.”
As of Wednesday, the percent positivity rate for PCR tests in the Eastern region was 6.7% and has decreased for the past 12 days, and the number of new cases has decreased for the past 46 days, according to Virginia Department of Health statistics. Fewer people have been hospitalized, and intensive care unit cases also have declined over the past three weeks, and the current rate of emergency room admissions is steadily decreasing.
According to VDH’s COVID-19 dashboard, which was last updated this morning, the positivity rates in the region’s health districts are as follows:
- Chesapeake: 7.2%
- Hampton: 6.0%
- Norfolk: 6.7%
- Peninsula (Newport News, Poquoson, Williamsburg, James City County and York County): 6.3%
- Portsmouth: 9.3%
- Virginia Beach: 5.6%
- Western Tidewater (Isle of Wight and Southampton counties, cities of Franklin and Suffolk): 10.8%
The governor declined to roll back restrictions for the Labor Day holiday weekend, despite a request from Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer, noting that surges in COVID-19 cases occurred after Memorial Day and July 4th weekends. He put the restrictions in place after positivity rates soared above 10% in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake and Western Tidewater in July.