Northam | Coronavirus

Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and State Health Commissioner Norman Oliver issued a public health emergency order to reduce the spread of the new coronavirus, or COVID-19, on March 17.

(AP) — Gov. Ralph Northam said Tuesday that COVID-19 is “moderately contained” in Virginia, but he’s not ready to make any changes to existing restrictions on gatherings or businesses before Labor Day.

“Now is the time to double down on what we know is working so we can set ourselves up for success this fall,” Northam said at a news conference in Richmond.

Northam 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 percent 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 (2 meters) apart 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.

As of Wednesday, Loudoun County had seen 118 deaths related to COVID-19, 389 hospitalizations and 6,053 confirmed cases. One week earlier the county’s marks were at 117 deaths, 370 hospitalizations and 5,787 cases.

Loudoun’s most recent rolling average of percent positivity in local testing was 6.8 percent.

The Times-Mirror contributed to this AP report.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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