Governor Northam’s COVID-19 Briefing – 3/25/2020

TOPLINE UPDATES

  • Governor will sign an Executive Order directing medical providers not to perform elective procedures, in order to reduce risk and preserve beds and equipment
  • State parks will be day-use only; camp sites, etc. to close
  • Additional federal SNAP funds expected; increased federal benefits go into effect tonight
  • Working with Army Corps of Engineers to build more bed space if necessary; region includes NE states, including NY
    • Preparation is necessary to increase bed space; actively looking at sites around the state
  • We are at the beginning of this crisis, not middle; will take months, not weeks; numbers will rise
  • Governor thanks Virginians for complying with EO-53 and other recommended guidelines. Office has fielded thousands of questions
  • Liberty University’s decision to reopen and invite students to return to campus is a mixed message. Governor encourages everyone to stay at home; quotes 1 Corinthians
  • Liberty has duty to protect its entire community. Suggests president of Liberty University look at other universities as models and reconsider his decision
    • Governor does not have authority to force Liberty University to close
  • The press briefing room was flanked by signs stating, “Do your part, stay at home” | Virginia’s health is in your hands

HEALTHCARE SYSTEM CAPACITY AND RESPONSE

  • Governor offers perspective as a physician on the capacity of our healthcare system and emphasizes the need for containment. System is comprised of three main elements:
    • Staff
    • Equipment
    • Bed space
  • ICU setting involves various staff on the patient care team; 10 or more providers per patient
  • We need to protect and keep these highly trained providers healthy
  • Finding ways to recruit additional qualified medical staff, including easing licensing requirements, utilizing medical students, and deploying Virginia’s Medical Reserve Corp. MRC has 8K deployable volunteers; 15K more have signed up
  • PPE needs are very high
    • 240 PPE items per day, per patient; 10K per day, per hospital
    • Law enforcement, first responders, fire fighters also need PPE
    • Total need for PPE items in the millions
  • Second request for PPE submitted to national stockpile
  • Working to source more PPE from private vendors and donations
  • Working with Army Corps of Engineers on future bed space (see above)
  • Need a nationally led response; the free market alone is not suitable at this time

COVID-19 CASES AND STATISTICS

  • 101 new cases, total 391; 5 new deaths since last briefing
  • Spike in cases due to increased testing and community spread
  • Availability of testing – more from private labs than state labs. Private labs report results faster
  • Health system and universities are also launching labs with similar turnaround time as state lab
  • If able to diagnose cases that are NOT corona virus, lessens load on necessary PPE
  • No estimate at this time on what peak cases will be; working on a model

FEDERAL ACTION AND ECONOMIC AID

  • US Senate passed $2T relief package
    • Direct payments to individuals and families, aid to hospitals, aid to industries with restrictions/conditions
    • $150B for state and local government aid; 1.5B minimum per state; Virginia expected to receive much more than minimum
    • Other aid provisions; details to come as House of Representatives works on final passage
  • This is a health crisis and economic crisis. The way to fix the economic crisis is to first address the health crisis
  • Heed advice of medical authorities based on facts, not arbitrary deadlines

TRANSPORTATION AND TOLLS

  • 16 toll facilities in Virginia
    • State owns 4
    • 8 are completely electronic, working with remaining 8
    • 2 are VDOT owned and are moving to all electronic
    • Others trying to move to all electronic. 3 need to be more creative
    • All 16 accept EZ pass; the device is free and can be delivered or picked up at various locations
    • Urging non-cash payment methods at facilities and for motorists to have exact change
    • Toll facility staff using gloves and sanitizing
    • Making exchange of cash as sanitary as possible

OTHER TOPICS

  • Providing education and assistance to assisted living facilities
  • Guidelines for child care from Virginia Department of Social Services: https://www.dss.virginia.gov/cc/covid-19.html#guidance
  • Visitors from New York asked to quarantine for 14 days
  • Housing assistance in federal and state budgets
  • Administration does not have authority to mandate rent – will verify

Next briefing Friday, 3-27-2020 at 2:00PM.