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Northam: No plans to mandate masks, implement restrictions

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Gov. Ralph Northam said Tuesday that there are no plans to mandate masks or implement restrictions as new COVID cases are reaching record highs in the Commonwealth.

“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,” Northam told WWBT-12 reporter Henry Graff.

The Virginia Department of Health reported 5,972 new COVID cases on Wednesday, the second most of any day dating back to the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.

The seven-day average of new cases has tripled since Nov. 28 as the Omicron variant has begun to drive community spread.

The number of Virginians in hospitals with COVID has more than doubled since the recent nadir of 740 on Nov. 8. The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association dashboard lists 1,550 people with COVID in hospitals statewide on Wednesday morning.

The high-water mark during the Delta wave was 2,211 back on Sept. 21.

The pandemic high was 3,201 during the winter wave on Jan. 13.

Northam remains in office through the transition to Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin, who will be sworn in on Saturday, Jan. 15.

Youngkin, on Monday, signaled that he is also ruling out mask mandates and other aggressive social measures from his administration.

“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,” Northam said.

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press