Gov. Ralph Northam said Friday he anticipates starting Phase 1 on reopening Virginia on May 15, but cautioned the process will be gradual and many restrictions will remain in place for at least several more weeks.
“In many ways, it will look like what we’ve been doing,” he said.
Northam said based the decision on health metrics such as the number of positive cases, personal protective equipment shortages in hospitals, bed capacity in hospitals, the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and the number of those on ventilators.
Northam said at a Friday news conference the planned reopening will be slow, cautious and deliberate.
The main indicator of entering Phase 1 is the downward trend of positive tests for two weeks, he noted.
Northam compared Phase 1 to dimming the lights as opposed to flipping a switch and cautioned residents, especially seniors and those with underlying heath conditions, to be careful since there is still no cure for the virus.
“The reality is the virus is still in our community and we need to continue our vigilance,” the governor said.
There are 22,432 positive cases of the coronavirus and 812 deaths as of Friday, according to the Virginia Department of Health’s website. The African American population has 3,831 cases and 182 deaths while the Latino population has 5,857 cases and 52 deaths.