Gov. Ralph Northam has announced that most of Virginia will continue moving toward reopening when it enters Phase Two of the governor’s plan on Friday.

Much of Northam’s news conference Tuesday featured black leaders shedding light and offering their perspective on the protests rolling across the country. Following months of social isolation, Americans have taken to streets in protest of the killing of George Floyd, a Minnesota man, by a police officer last week.

Peaceful protests in Minnesota quickly turned violent and riots with looters have marred the faces of dozens of peaceful protests stretching from California to New York.

Last week, Northam announced a state of emergency for the city of Richmond, which saw a wave of protests.

Protesters appear to have forgotten the warnings of health officials that the COVID-19 pandemic is still a problem. Videos and pictures of protesters around the country show men and women wearing masks but, in shows of solidarity, apparently not concerning themselves with social distancing.

Northam said he urged protesters to wear face coverings and keep their physical distance between one another. It is unclear what effect these protests will have on the positive progress in fighting back COVID-19 will have on states.

Phase Two of Northam’s plan will allow many businesses to open up their doors to patrons again, offering some relief for businesses that have been operating on shoestring budgets and may or may not have had the opportunity to benefit from federal programs that quickly ran out of money.

Restaurants will be allowed to welcome diners indoors again on Friday, Northam said, though the capacity will be limited to 50%. Gyms and indoor recreational facilities can open at 30% capacity and some outdoor entertainment — zoos, gardens, museums — also will be allowed to return to operations.

Northam said Virginians are still safer at home and although gatherings of 50 people will be permitted beginning on Friday he suggested people still work from home and do their best to avoid large gatherings.

Virginia will be moving into Phase Two due to improving metrics across the board. On Tuesday, the Virginia Department of Health reported it has recorded 46,239 cases, 4,770 hospitalizations and 1,407 deaths since the pandemic began. Total figures include 2,170 probable cases, 32 probable hospitalizations and 107 probable deaths.

The VDH reported a sharp drop in the number of tests returned Monday (3,249) but reported it has returned results on 238,889 COVID-19 detection tests and the seven-day average positivity rate is 11.5%. Northam said that when Virginia’s Northern region is excluded — Northern Virginia and the city of Richmond will remain in Phase One until next week — the state’s positivity rate is 10%.

The Lord Fairfax Health District reported it has recorded 1,456 cases, 123 hospitalizations and 54 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. Total figures include 165 probable cases, one probable hospitalization and four probable deaths.

The district reported it has conducted 10,766 detection tests — ranking No. 8 of the 35 districts — and has a seven-day average positivity rate of 14.4%.

The Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren County Regional Jail reported it had 23 confirmed COVID-19 cases Monday. New results Monday evening were the first round of returns from last week’s point prevalence survey conducted at RSW by the VDH and National Guard.

According to the jail, the initial results showed that there are 22 active positive cases in inmates and 13 other inmates tested negative. The results also showed one staff member tested positive for COVID-19 and 24 tested negative.

The point prevalence survey swept the jail, testing all of the inmates and staff who had not been tested in the last 24 hours, meaning hundreds of tests are still pending at the state lab in Richmond.

Local cases

• Shenandoah County reported it has had 465 cases, 25 hospitalizations and 22 deaths.

• Frederick County reported it has had 371 cases, 23 hospitalizations and four deaths.

• Page County reported it has had 230 cases, 26 hospitalizations and 24 deaths.

• Winchester City reported it has had 196 cases, 12 hospitalizations and two deaths.

• Warren County reported it has had 166 cases, 14 hospitalizations and two deaths.

• Clarke County reported it has had 28 cases, three hospitalizations and no deaths.

Phase Two guidelines

Visit for more information on Phase Two

– Contact Max Thornberry at