- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said Wednesday he expects the state will receive about 70,000 of the first round of coronavirus vaccine doses manufactured by Pfizer as early as mid-December if the Food and Drug Administration grants emergency approval.

The second vaccine doses should be administered about three weeks apart, and those shipments are expected to be delivered “in time for those 70,000 people to receive them,” Mr. Northam said at a coronavirus press briefing in Richmond.

Health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities will be the first people in the state to receive a vaccine, he said.

“We’re setting our priority groups because we expect that most people will want to get vaccinated, and there will be a lot of demand — that is how we eradicate this virus and how we get back to normal, and that is if everyone gets vaccinated,” Mr. Northam said.

Asked how many people make up the first two priority groups, state Director of Epidemiology Dr. Lilian Peake said “we estimate the two groups together are about 500,000 people.”

With regard to when Virginia’s general population will begin to receive vaccinations, Daniel Carey, the commonwealth’s secretary of health and human service, said “it’ll be a ways before we get to the general public.”

The state has more than 8.5 million total residents, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

“When our turn comes, my family and I will have no hesitancy about getting vaccinated, and I strongly encourage every Virginian to get the vaccine, that is our only path to getting back to that near-normal which we often speak about,” said Mr. Northam.

Asked about the possibility of implementing new coronavirus restrictions, the governor said “nothing is off the table” and later added data show recent cases are primarily linked to large gatherings and houses of worship.

The Democratic governor most recently tightened restrictions in mid-November, including reduced capacity limits for gatherings. He also expanded the indoor mask mandate to children over age 5, and mandated that restaurants and bars can not sell alcohol after 10 p.m., and must close by midnight.

During Wednesday’s briefing, the governor announced an additional $15 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds will go to group homes for people living with disabilities.

State health officials reported 1,472 people are currently hospitalized with the virus as of Wednesday, the highest number since the pandemic began.

Moreover, 2,417 new cases brings the total to 242,480, and 20 additional deaths raises the total to 4,113. The seven-day average daily case positivity rate is 8.3%, which exceeds the 5% benchmark set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Cases also have been on the rise in the District and Maryland, where similar virus restrictions on gatherings and businesses have also recently been implemented.

On Tuesday, Maryland Gov. Hogan, a Republican, said the state needs about 2,000 health workers to help with a surge in virus hospitalizations.

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