I sent a letter to Governor Northam asking him to work on engaging Virginians on wearing masks, and not mandating it. Enforcement is with the Governor because there really isn’t an avenue for law enforcement to get involved. My point in the letter is clear: this is distracting us from reaching for our goals. Goal driven motivation is much more effective than punishment motivation. I’ve made the argument about why I think masks are important. If we can agree on mask wearing, we can focus on getting the economy back up and going. All of these mandates are only going to cause conflicts that aren’t going to help us achieve our goals.
How long is the mask mandate going to last?
We don’t know, that information wasn’t included in the mandate. We will ask that, but to me that will last only as long as we get science back about whether or not it is definitively helpful. The Virginia Department of Health has a lot of important work to do, that doesn’t include policing our mask wearing. Virginians rose to the challenge of staying home, and I believe we’ll do the same thing when it comes to wearing masks.
Can the VDH break out long term care and prison numbers from the community at large to see the impact of the virus?
I noticed that other states use some sophisticated dashboards that look at those high risk populations to see how they’re doing. VDH has worked hard to reboot their website a few times. I think they’d see the merits of tracking that data, but it’s a question of redoing their website, but I will send that question over to them. They did respond to a number of changes to the site.
We should be in Phase 2 today, is there anything we can do to push the Governor on this?
I agree, that is my goal. I assert that we’re in Phase 0.5, not even in Phase 1. Lots of businesses have reached out about not being able to go back to work in Phase 1. As long as businesses reach high standards of cleaning and other guidelines, there should be a way for these businesses to open up.
We don’t have clear guidelines from the Governor regarding the criteria for Phase 2, but we do have a newspaper article that references his press conference that states that the state isn’t ready to open up until at least next week. The federal government recommends no evidence of a rebound of Phase 1, and a downward trend of illnesses and deaths over a 14 day period. We’ve had that downward trend for more than 3 weeks. Based on those criteria, we are where we should be. We haven’t seen a rebound since we’ve opened. My letter to the Governor is an attempt for him to say that if we all agree to wear masks, we can move to enter Phase 2.