About 65 staff members who had close contact with the Northams were told to self-isolate for two weeks. Northam said none tested positive, which he called “a testament” to the value of wearing masks.
He noted that masks protected several staff members who could not physically distance from him before he tested positive, including a press secretary, photographer and security detail who traveled in an SUV and airplane with Northam.
He contrasted that with the largely mask-free Rose Garden ceremony last month that Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, has called a superspreader event. Trump, first lady Melania Trump and several others subsequently tested positive for the virus.
“No masks, no social distancing — and look at the number of people that tested positive,” Northam said Tuesday, referring to the White House event. “We talk about science, it doesn’t get any clearer than that … I would remind every Virginian: Masks are scientifically proven to reduce the spread of this disease, plain and simple.”
Northam, a former Army doctor and pediatrician, said he and his wife’s symptoms were mild. He warned Virginians not to let down their guard, particularly as cooler fall temperatures and shrinking daylight hours make outdoor socializing less appealing.
The governor said he is unlikely to ease pandemic-related restrictions in the near term. He acknowledged pressure to return to in-person education at public schools, but urged continued caution.
“Numbers are going up in a number of states across this country, so we’re not out of the woods,” he said. “We’re nowhere close to being out of the woods.”
The greater Washington region on Tuesday reported 1,763 additional coronavirus cases and 20 new deaths. Virginia added 1,235 cases and 11 deaths, Maryland added 482 cases and nine deaths, and the District added 46 cases and no deaths.
Virginia’s daily caseload was above its rolling seven-day average, lifting that number to 1,089 — the state’s highest daily average since Aug. 13. The seven-day average in Northern Virginia rose Tuesday to 264 cases, a four-month high in the region.
Daily caseloads Tuesday in Maryland and the District were below their rolling seven-day averages. It’s the third consecutive day that both jurisdictions reported new infections at or below their recent average amid an uptick that began earlier this month.
The recent caseload rise across the region has coincided with an outbreak at the White House, although local health officials have said it’s unclear whether there’s a connection.
Dana Hedgpeth contributed to this report.