- The Washington Times
Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Gov. Ralph Northam addressed frustrations over Virginia’s vaccine rollout Wednesday and announced a new system to improve data transparency from the state.

Mr. Northam said during a press conference that the issue is rooted in the lack of supply from the federal government. He explained that the Trump administration told states to increase vaccine eligibility, despite not having enough doses to allocate.

“People can only get shots if there are shots to give,” the Democratic governor said. “I feel the frustration out there We are doing everything that we can to save lives and at the end of the day, as the governor of Virginia, I’m responsible.”

After a meeting with President Biden and other governors across the country, Mr. Northam said the administration committed to a 16% increase in vaccines that will help officials plan for a month rather than on a weekly basis.

Virginia is set to receive its first increased allocation this week.

To address concerns about doses going unused, Mr. Northam said he is giving the green light for hospital systems to redistribute second-dose reserves as first doses. This should lead to an additional 40,000 doses administered this week, he said.

As of Wednesday, more than 26,000 doses are being administered each day, with a total of 602,983 total doses administered.

On Tuesday, data showed that 1,156,500 doses had been distributed but only 569,040 had been administered.

Mr. Northam announced Wednesday the launch of a new database for the Virginia Department of Health that displays the total number of doses administered and the number of people either given their first dose or are fully vaccinated. Additionally, it shows where those people and the vaccines are located.

He also said the state is working on a single system for the public to go to for information on when they can sign up for a vaccine, but did not say when it would be ready.

“We’ve been working on it and we’re very close to having it,” he said. “To date, what we’ve been doing is people have been registering and calling through the local health departments and we realize that needs to be improved.”

According to the Health Department, there have been 488,553 total cases and 6,228 total deaths. The past average is 4,709 new cases per day.

One of those cases is Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, who announced Wednesday that he has tested positive for the virus. His diagnosis has forced the mayor to postpone indefinitely the annual State of the City address.

“Definitely not feeling 100%, but I’m managing my symptoms from home,” Mr. Stoney tweeted. “This should serve as a reminder to everyone that the pandemic is still very real. We can’t let our guard down.”

Mr. Northam said he also is extending the current COVID-19 health restrictions until the end of February.

• Gabriella Muñoz can be reached at gmunoz@washingtontimes.com.

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