HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY/WRIC) – President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden kicked off the Memorial Day weekend with a visit to Hampton Roads.
The Bidens traveled to Alexandria and Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Hampton on Friday.
The visit to JBLE came Friday afternoon. Before this appearance, Biden met with Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam at a rock climbing business in Alexandria to “celebrate the significant progress” the state has made in the fight against COVID-19.
The Bidens met with airmen and soldiers during their visit to the base in Hampton. Northam also joined them for that visit.
“We are privileged to host President Biden and the First Lady to talk to them about what makes the JBLE community unique,” said Col. Clint Ross, JBLE installation commander. “We provide mission-ready expeditionary airmen and soldiers in support of joint and combined operations worldwide. It’s an honor to showcase our people and some of our mission capabilities to the president, first-hand.”
The base was still open during the Bidens’ visit for normal operations, but base personnel and commuters were warned to expect delays.
Congresswoman Elaine Luria and her husband, who are both U.S. Navy veterans, also joined the Bidens at JBLE.
“As we kick off Memorial Day, I’m looking forward to meeting with service members and their families alongside our Commander in Chief and the First Lady,” said Congresswoman Luria. “I’m so proud to represent the men and women in uniform at Joint Base Langley-Eustis. I will continue to work every day to ensure our warfighters have the proper equipment, training, and funding they need to succeed in their missions to defend this nation, and that all who have served are treated with the dignity and respect they’ve earned.”
Celebrating milestone in fighting COVID-19
Northam was joined by the president Friday morning at a rock climbing business in Alexandria where the two talked about the state’s progress during the pandemic.
During the last 129 days, Virginia has experienced a continued decline of COVID-19 cases and increased vaccination rates.
“Today we mark a tremendous milestone in our fight against COVID-19,” Northam said.
In the last seven days, the current COVID-19 case rate is 32 cases per 100,000 population. This is down 13% from last week.
Overnight, Gov. Northam lifted all social distancing and capacity limits in the Commonwealth. The decision to do away with these COVID-19 restrictions comes two weeks earlier than originally planned. These eased restrictions do not impact the current mask mandate.
“For the first time since March 2020, there are no limits or capacity or distancing in Virginia’s restaurants, businesses, offices, or other venues,” Northam explained. “We are closer to a normal life than we have been in the last 14 months.”
Northam said the proof of Virginia’s progress is in its vaccination rates. The state is almost six months into the vaccine rollout and more than half of the state’s adult population have been fully vaccinated.
Virginia is on track to meeting Biden’s goal of having 70% of adults vaccinated with at least one dose by July 4.
“We can see in real time that the more people get vaccinated, the fewer people get COVID,” Northam said. “It is very simple math.”
Northam thanked President Biden for his leadership and support with the resources Virginia needs.
“As a doctor, it also makes a big difference when leadership respects science and follows its lead,” Northam said.
President Biden urged Virginians and Americans to continue getting vaccinated. He called Gov. Northam one of the best governors in the country for fighting COVID-19 head-on.
“Governors like Governor Northam have been instrumental partners,” Biden said.
Biden said that America’s progress during the pandemic has come down to vaccinations and support for governors and those working at the local level.
“Americans of every party and every race came together to roll up their sleeves,” Biden said.
The Biden Administration has supported vaccinations in Virginia by providing over $247 million in federal funding for community vaccination sites. The government is also funding over 360 National Guard members supporting the state’s COVID-19 response.
The Biden administration is also delivering vaccine doses directly to 11 Community Health Centers in the state.
“We still have five weeks left to meet our goal and I know we can do it,” Biden said.
After the visit to Virginia, the Bidens planned to head to Wilmington, Delaware, where they will stay for the weekend.
This was the Bidens’ second visit to the Hampton Roads region this month.
They made stops in Yorktown and Portsmouth during that visit.