The first phase of reopening the state of Virginia “will be a two year affair,” State Health Commissioner Norman Oliver said on Friday.
Gov. Ralph Northam (D) shared the “blueprint” to reopen Virginia on Friday, dubbed the “Forward Virginia Blueprint,” which outlines a phased approach to reopening the state — an approach embraced by a number of other states.
“We cannot and will not lift restrictions the way you turn on a light switch,” Northam (D) said. “We will do it responsibly and deliberately, and it has to be grounded in data.”
Phase One involves the reopening of certain businesses deemed “nonessential,” requiring them to comply with stringent safety guidelines. It would also continue to encourage face coverings in public, teleworking, and continued social distancing.
State Health Commissioner Norman Oliver claimed the first phase could span two years.
Per the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
How long that phase will last is unclear, but State Health Commissioner Norman Oliver said he expected it to be in effect until “medical countermeasures” like a treatment or vaccine are rolled out broadly.
“I, personally, think Phase One will be a two year affair,” Oliver said. “There are a lot of people working on this, and I hope they prove me wrong, but I don’t see it happening in less than two years.”
However, the Virginia Health Department attempted to clarify Oliver’s comments. A spokeswoman for the department told WRVA, “Dr. Oliver intended to say that the Commonwealth will likely be dealing with COVID-19 in some form until a vaccine is produced, not that Phase One itself would take two years.”
Northam said the state will use federal guidelines to gauge when it can safely enter the first phase of recovery, which requires a 14-day decline in positive cases and hospitalizations, a sustainable supply of personal protective equipment for hospitals, enough hospital beds, and sufficient intensive care capacity.
“We will get back to work by greatly increasing our testing, then tracing the contacts of people who test positive and isolating these individuals, not everyone in Virginia,” Northam said. “That is the key to moving forward.”
Frustrated Virginia residents flocked to the state’s capital on Thursday to demand the reopening of the state.
“Just like the serpent deceived Eve in the garden, I believe that Northam has a great deal of Virginians deceived — that he’s doing a good job and that he truly has their best interest at heart,” James Delong, one of the protesters in attendance, told Breitbart News.
“I don’t believe that at all. I believe he’s a tyrant. I believe President Trump said it best, you know, when he said ‘Liberate Virginia.’ Without liberty, we have nothing,” he added.