RICHMOND, VA — Virginia will not enter phase 3 of its coronavirus reopening plan on Friday, Gov. Ralph Northam said Tuesday at a news conference in Richmond. The governor noted, however, that the rate of positive coronavirus cases and the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 continue to decline in the state.
Northam said he plans to release more specifics about what phase 3 of the reopening plan will look like at his news conference on Thursday.
“Our numbers continue to look favorable. Our total case numbers have been trending downward,” the governor said. “The number of hospital beds occupied by COVID patients is trending down, as is the number of patients hospitalized with a positive or pending COVID test.”
The percent of tests that are positive has dropped to 7.4 percent as of June 12. “I want to have more time to see how the numbers look before we make changes, especially as we see surges in other parts of our country,” Northam said in explaining why the state will not be entering phase 3 on Friday.
On Tuesday, 445 additional coronavirus cases, 55 hospitalizations and 18 deaths were reported by the Virginia Department of Health. The latest cumulative totals are 55,331 cases, 5,643 hospitalizations and 1,570 deaths.
As of Tuesday, the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association reported 904 hospitalized patients with confirmed or pending COVID-19 results. A week ago, the association reported there were 1,169 hospitalized patients with confirmed or pending coronavirus test results.
The health department has started to include more detailed race and ethnicity data for reported coronavirus cases, according to a news release. Before Monday, race was identified as white, black or African American, or other. Ethnicity data was identified as Hispanic or Latino or Not Hispanic or Latino.
At the news conference, Northam said that going forward, the state will be providing a greater demographic breakdown of cases by ethnicity. “This will help give our health department a better picture of how the virus is affecting our communities,” he said.
Northam said his administration is also focusing on helping the state recover from the coronavirus. “We know that the economic impacts of this pandemic affect everyone,” he said.
On Tuesday, the state announced a grant program to help visual artists during the coronavirus. The program, the Virginia Artist Relief Fellowship Program, will be managed by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
Forty visual artists in the state will be selected to each receive a $5,000 grant. To be eligible, applicants must live and work in Virginia, be 21 years of age or older, and derive a significant part of their income from their artwork, including sales and lectures.
Applications must be received online by July 10. Recipients will be notified of grant awards on July 24. The application can be found on the museum’s website.
Patch editor Emily Leayman assisted in the reporting of this story.
This article originally appeared on the Ashburn Patch