Northam encourages extending voter registration deadline, says ‘will not work under a cloud of intimidation’ after alleged kidnapping plot

Coronavirus

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam held his first in-person coronavirus briefing since announcing over two weeks ago he’d tested positive for the coronavirus himself.

In the briefing, Northam said he was isolation for 18 days after the positive result back on Sept. 25, and that he and his wife Pam had mild symptoms. The governor’s symptoms popped up 8 days after his positive test result and included losing his sense of smell, a known symptom of COVID-19.

“When that test comes back positive, it is frightening,” said Northam. “This is a dangerous virus. It is very contagious and it is very stubborn. It’s too easy to think ‘oh this will never happen to me,’ but it can. For me and Pam, it did and that’s why it’s disheartening to see people being cavalier about it.”

Northam was released for in-person events based on updated Centers for Disease Control guidelines that recommend a quarantine of 10 days after symptoms start. The CDC had previously recommended two consecutive negative tests. Northam developed those mild symptoms the weekend of October 2, but the CDC says loss of taste and smell can last for weeks or months, and shouldn’t delay the end of isolation.

65 people identified as being exposed to the Northams all ended up testing negative for the coronavirus, Northam said.

“So I would remind every Virginian, masks are scientifically proven to reduce the spread of this disease plain and simple so please wear them,” said Northam.

On the public health front, Virginia’s coronavirus case numbers are rising, but the governor said Virginia was still doing quite well compared to other states, pointing to the commonwealth’s test positivity rate under 5%. Virginia’s recent uptick in cases and hospitalizations is part of a surge in cases across the country. Virginia is one of 18 states where cases are still considered low per capita, per the New York Times’ coronavirus tracker, but rising.

Northam also urged caution as we head into the winter months.

“More people closer together indoors,” Northam said. “It’s going to feel hard to keep doing the right things, but I know that we can stay strong and get through this winter continuing to make the right choices.”

Northam also talked about issues Tuesday with the state voter registration website after a fiber optic cable used for state agencies’ websites was “inadvertently” cut, and says state officials are looking at all options to extend the Tuesday (October 13) deadline. Though he says he personally can’t make a change due to state code, but if the courts decide to change the date he would encourage it.

The governor also addressed the other major news of the day. An FBI agent testified Tuesday that suspects in the alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also talked about abducting Northam. Northam said he “will not work under a cloud of intimidation.”

“Fortunately, in regards to today’s developments, there is no imminent danger to me or my family and I am continuing my work for the Commonwealth as I would any other day,” Northam said. “I will not work under a cloud of intimidation. That’s not who I am. I was elected to serve the Commonwealth of Virginia and that’s what I plan to do.”

Northam’s office says the governor wasn’t in any imminent danger, and condemned President Trump, saying he “regularly encourages violence,” including with his “LIBERATE VIRGINIA” tweet in April.

“The rhetoric coming out of this White House has serious and potentially deadly consequences. It must stop,” said Northam spokesperson Alena Yarmosky.

Among other topics, Northam also announced he signed legislation Tuesday that would make Juneteenth a permanent state holiday.

WAVY’s Marielena Balouris will have more on today’s press conference coming up this evening on WAVY News 10.


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