Governor Northam’s COVID-19 Briefing – 3/30/2020

TOPLINE UPDATES

  • The Governor has issued Executive Order 55, directing Virginias to stay at home unless necessary, with some exceptions, until June 10, 2020 (unless amended or rescinded): https://www.governor.virginia.gov/media/governorvirginiagov/executive-actions/EO-55-Temporary-Stay-at-Home-Order-Due-to-Novel-Coronavirus-(COVID-19).pdf
    • Stay home unless absolutely necessary.
    • Exceptions include travel for food, supplies, work, medical care or to get fresh air or exercise.
    • Private camp grounds are closed or restricted.
    • Beaches are closed except for exercise or fishing.
    • Gathering of 10 or more people are prohibited.
    • All institutions of higher learning must cease in-person instruction.
    • State agencies are instructed to prioritize assisting the homeless and avoiding evictions.
  • Don’t go out if you don’t need to; uur future depends on our behavior now.
  • Social distancing and frequent hand washing are best tools to combat corona virus.
  • Virginians are volunteering and stepping up in various ways.
  • 16K people have volunteered for the Medical Reserve Corps since last Wednesday.
    • If interested in helping, please visit vamrc.org.
  • More people need to hear this basic message: stay home.
  • Healthcare professionals are working hard every day and we need to protect them.
  • Beaches and other recreational areas were packed this weekend—this is “selfish” behavior that puts yourself and others at risk.
  • Visitors from hot spots should self-quarantine for 14 days.
  • Almost half of new cases in Virginia have been under the age of 50; no is age group is immune.
  • Port of Virginia remains open for shipments of critical supplies, including PPE.
  • Governor is working closely with MD, DC and NC.
  • Governor consulted with the mayors of Hampton Roads before issuing this new order.

COVID-19 CASES AND STATISTICS

  • 1020 confirmed cases, 136 hospitalizations, 25 deaths, 12k tested.
  • Tracking of recovery and release depends on the capacity of local health departments.
    • CDC has specific guidelines for isolation and release.

HEALTHCARE SYSTEM AND HOSPITAL BEDS

  • We need to slow the potential surge of cases going to hospitals.
  • Virginia has 18.5K hospital beds, 2K ICU beds.
  • The state is looking at different case models and projections; will share more information soon.
  • All the models have in common is Virginia will experience a surge in hospitalizations.
  • Army Corps of Engineers has been actively assessing sites for field hospitals and temporary sites, and will be submitting them to the Governor’s office within the next few days.
  • Hospitals are preparing for temporary bed capacity:
    • VCU is using a dormitory (originally built as a hospital) for a COVID-19 facility for those that don’t need to be in the ICU but need to be hospitalized.
    • Mary Washington University health system set up a field hospital on their campus.
    • Southwest VA has identified Lonesome Pine Hospital in Wise County for treatment and quarantine of COVID-19 patients.

FEDERAL ACTION AND ECONOMIC AID

  • Last week Virginia applied for Title 32 status for the national guard which was approved, meaning the federal government will pay for national guard activity related to COVID-19.
  • Virginia also applied for federal national disaster status in order to get more federal relief.
  • Virginia obtained USDA approval for disaster household feeding program, foodbank network emergency assistance for more people, 200K Virginians.
  • Call 2-1-1 for social services.
  • Domestic violence services state hotline is 1-800-838-8238.

ENFORCEMENT OF EXECUTIVE ORDERS AND WORKPLACE EXPECTATIONS

  • Previous EOs still apply to businesses and people.
  • The state is not looking to put people in jail but compliance is expected.
    • Criminal enforcement – Class 1 misdemeanor for gatherings of more than 10.
  • Many people were not complying with recommended guidelines and are putting themselves and others at risk. Before it was a suggestion; now it’s an order.
  • Tourists and hotels must comply with Virginia orders and guidelines.
  • OSHA standards are forthcoming, and the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry is expected to accept them.
    • If you feel that your employer is not complying, talk to your supervisor or file a complaint with the state.

OTHER TOPICS

  • State Board of Elections and Secretary of Administration are working to issue guidance on the local May elections within the next few days.
  • Local governing bodies with questions about FOIA and open meeting laws should direct them to the Attorney General, who has issued guidance on this topic.
  • Individual colleges are making decisions regarding refunds of tuition or fees.
    • Federal funding may help allow Virginia to assist with these refunds.
  • Golf courses can remain open; clubhouses are closed.
  • Virginia Parole Board continues to expedite review for early release for vulnerable inmates.
    • Early release in Virginia is limited to geriatric release and those sentenced before 1976.
    • Parole Board has withdrawn warrants for technical violations.
    • Parole Board has expedited release for those already in the process of granted release.
    • Inmates need a home health plan before being released into the community.
  • Department of Corrections has locked down state corrections facilities to prevent introduction of disease.