Virginia’s governor says the Trump administration made the wrong decision to change its guidance on who should get tested for COVID-19. Anyone who needs a test should get a test, Gov. Ralph Northam said Tuesday.
The federal government recently classified teachers as “critical infrastructure workers” so they could work without needing COVID-19 tests.
“This means they could be expected to continue working even if they've been exposed to COVID-19, and that's the wrong thing to do,” Northam said at a news conference.
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Virginia continues to encourage testing, the governor said. Tests are widely available statewide but fewer people are showing up, he said.
A month ago, Virginia became the first state in the country to use a coronavirus app created by Apple and Google. Nearly half a million Virginians have downloaded the Covidwise app, Northam said. The app alerts you if you’ve come into close proximity with someone who tested positive. Northam encouraged people to download the app.
COVID-19 is “moderately contained” in Virginia, the governor said.
“Now is the time to double down on what we know is working so we can set ourselves up for success this fall,” he said.
The governor implemented tighter restrictions on the Hampton Roads region in late July, citing an increase in new cases of COVID-19, hospitalizations and positive tests. Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer recently asked the governor to loosen them ahead of the holiday weekend, The Virginian-Pilot reported.
But Northam said Tuesday that the Memorial Day and July Fourth holidays led to surges in cases. He said eastern Virginia could come in line with the rest of the state soon after Labor Day if there's evidence people are following the guidelines.
“I understand from a business perspective the importance of Labor Day, but we have come too far to go back," he said.
Northam said Virginia's positivity rate hovering around 7% shows the state is doing fairly well in containing the virus.
“Large gatherings are still not a good idea,” he said, urging people to socialize outdoors, wear face coverings and stay at least 6 feet from others. He also recommended Virginians make plans to get the flu shot.
The governor also announced he was extending by 60 days the validity of driver's licenses, learner's permits and ID cards set to expire in August, September and October, giving people more time to renew them.