Virginia’s Governor says no mask mandates or restrictions as Omicron variant spreads

Published: Dec. 21, 2021 at 2:46 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 21, 2021 at 11:12 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - COVID-19 cases are climbing again in Virginia. The Virginia Department of Health reported almost 4,500 new cases overnight, an alarming number for Virginia Governor Ralph Northam.

“That is a lot of people - 39 additional deaths. Every one of those deaths is a tragedy; a family that’s losing someone, one of their loved ones,” said Governor Ralph Northam, (D) Virginia.

Even though it’s feeling a little like early 2020 right now, with the omicron variant spreading at a rapid pace, the Northam administration says there are no plans to mandate masks or implement restrictions.

“I think most importantly we’ve always followed the science, and we’ve always followed the CDC guidelines, and that’s really what we will continue to do,” said Northam.

Northam says the increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases shows just how powerful the omicron variant can and will spread.

Almost the entire state is under a high level of COVID-19 transmission. At the state’s case peak, we averaged between 5,500 and 6,000 new cases per day in mid-January.

“This virus has shown no indication that it’s ready to go away and what’s next after the omicron. We need to prepare for that, whether it be with PPE, testing or perhaps a different vaccine,” said Northam.

Northam’s time at the helm of the commonwealth is limited. For now, he says getting vaccinated, staying boosted, and wearing a mask indoors are all ways to keep safe. They are priorities he hopes the incoming governor will also have.

“There will always be a learning curve, I think, for the next administration, but we’ve done everything we can to give them what we’ve worked on, the progress we make, and hopefully that will continue in the upcoming years,” said Northam.

Northam says his cabinet secretaries and agency heads have had “great conversations” with the incoming administration.

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