Governor Northam says Virginia will soon unveil enlarged and upgraded systems to handle future COVID-19 vaccination registrations. It follows growing complaints about the way the program has been handled so far. Northam says the confusion and frustration many Virginians have felt about when and how they can sign up are understandable, and the state health department is a developing a statewide system to improve the process. Northam says vaccine deliveries from the federal government have been inconsistent to this point, but states have now been told to expect more doses – and just as importantly, a consistent supply of them. WFIR’s Evan Jones has more:
Northam’s promise of more COVID vaccines – and a better system to administer them – comes in the shadow of news reports ranking Virginia at or near the bottom of all states in several respects. They include doses per 100,000 residents and percentage of those doses actually administered. Several Virginia localities have complained to Northam about the state’s handling of the program.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Facing escalating criticism over the state’s rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam outlined a series of policy changes and initiatives Wednesday that he said would make the process smoother and more transparent.
While the latest federal data show Virginia has made improvements in getting more shots into arms, Northam acknowledged there’s still much work to be done.
“I feel the frustration out there. I also, as a medical provider, feel the urgency. We are doing everything that we can to save lives,” Northam said at a news conference in Richmond.
“That confusion is justified because the answer has not been clear,” Northam said. He did not provide a date when the system would become available but said it would be soon. Currently, the state directs people to call their local health department or visit its website for information.
The governor also announced that the state health department would be publishing additional data about vaccine distribution and usage on its online dashboard and seeking to fill in significant gaps in demographic information about who has received the doses so far.
Further, he said his administration had worked with hospital systems to shift inventory so that health providers can get 40,000 additional shots into arms by Sunday. Just over 600,000 shots have been administered in Virginia so far.
The latest available data from the CDC’s COVID data tracker shows Virginia’s inoculation rate compared to other states has improved. The state, which had generally been hovering in the bottom 10 in terms of doses administered per 100,000 people, had risen to the middle of the pack by Wednesday. Northam noted Virginia was ranked 26th and on par with most of its neighbors, though not on pace with West Virginia, which has been doing exceptionally well.
He said that while Virginia would begin to receive about 16% more doses starting with the orders it will place on Thursday, supply is not expected to immediately catch up with demand.
He said it’s imperative that Virginians keep following social distancing measures and also announced that he is extending for at least another 30 days a number of coronavirus-related restrictions, including a prohibition on public gatherings with more than 10 people and a curfew that requires most Virginians to stay at home between midnight and 5 a.m.