State officials remind all Virginians to practice strict social distancing as we move toward a new "normal."

In his COVID-19 briefing on Friday, May 22, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam opened by reporting that testing rates continue to rise, and positive cases across the state are trending slightly downward. The positive case rate is currently at about 15 percent.

Results from 6,543 PCR tests and 1,438 serology tests were reported yesterday as the state continues to ramp up testing capacity.

While statewide rates are trending downward, some regions are still nearing the peak out of the outbreak. The governor urged caution as the state moves toward reopening, with Virginia Beach public beaches set to reopen today, May 22, for Memorial Day weekend.

"We know there are simple steps we can take, and should, to help stop the spread of this virus," Northam says. "We know that they work, and we know that these guidelines will be part of our normal as we continue to move forward." 

Virginia Social Distancing COVID-19 Stop the Spread Infographic May 22 2020

A COVID-19 infographic on how to stop the spread of the virus in Virginia. (Courtesy of Virginia Office of the Governor)

  • How to stop the spread
    • Wash your hands (for a full 20 seconds, or about the length of the song Happy Birthday)
    • Stay six feet away from other people (about the distance of a horizontal twin-sized mattress, or two full-size shopping carts)
    • Wear a face mask or covering in public (covering your nose, the sides of your mouth, and your chin)
    • Check your symptoms (the state gave updates on a new symptom checking tool)
    • Stay at home if you can

As most of the state is now one week into Phase One reopening, he continued to stress the importance of face masks.

"We know that when most people wear masks, that goes a long way toward reducing the spread of the disease," Northam said. "As I have said before, wearing a mask could literally save someone else's life. That is becoming clearer every day as we move further into managing the virus long-term." 

He said he'd elaborate more in briefings next week and signaled he'd give updates on what guidelines will look like for entering Phase Two.

"But to be clear, the floor that we established will not change," he said. 

"I know everyone is wondering when Northern Virginia, Richmond, and Accomack County will move into Phase One, and when the rest of the state will move into Phase Two," he continued. "We are in frequent communication with officials in those localities and will have more information to share next week." 

Following Memorial Day on Monday, May 25, the state's tri-weekly COVID-19 briefings will shift to Tuesdays and Thursdays.

As of Friday, May 22, at 3 p.m., Virginia reports 34,950 positive cases of COVID-19, 4,145 hospitalizations, and 1,136 deaths in the state.