Home COVID-19 Live Video, Highlights: Gov. Ralph Northam’s Friday (4/10) Virginia COVID-19 Briefing

Live Video, Highlights: Gov. Ralph Northam’s Friday (4/10) Virginia COVID-19 Briefing


See below for live video and highlights from Gov. Ralph Northam’s 2 pm press briefing on the COVID-19 situation in Virginia.

  • Concerns about the spread of the virus in nursing homes, such as at Canterbury. Our nursing homes and long-term care facilities need testing and PPE, and the staff are overworked. People who live in these facilities are vulnerable, can’t even see their loved ones. We have a special obligation to protect them – they are someone’s parent or loved one. Giving Deputy Commissioner for Public Health a greater role, leading a task force focused on making sure nursing homes and long-term care facilities have the resources they need, strengthen infection control measures, get information out to the public, track data on cases in long-term care facilities, etc.
  • We are using more avenues to recruit additional medical volunteers. Hospital CEOs say they need PPE and more staff to support medical professionals. 13,000 now signed up to volunteer. Will work with colleges and medical school to reach out to students. Training available to learn basic medical skills, learn how to use ventilators, etc. Encouraging nurses, nurse practitioners, nursing students to apply. Need non-medicail professionals’ help as well. If you want to volunteer, please visit vamrc.org
  • Concerned about people in Dept. of Corrections. Proposing to give authority to release offenders who have 1 year or less in their sentences. They must have demonstrated good behavior and not pose a threat to public safety. The General Assembly will vote on this on April 22. Between now and then, DoC will do the work of planning for how these individuals will safely be released.
  • This health crisis has led to an economic crisis. Our strategy is clear – fix the health crisis first, then the economic crisis. 1000s of Virginia workers now out of a job. Last week, we had 147,369 initial unemployment claims. We’ve now had 306,143 unemployment claims in past three weeks. More than $57 million in payments and 191,000 payments last week alone. Additional $600 week, unemployment assistance to those who didn’t previously qualify (e.g., gig workers), etc. Putting every resource we can into processing unemployment claims. We know that people are dependent on this financial support and are committed to making sure every claim is processed.
  • Working through the 1,291 bills passed by the 2020 Virginia General Assembly. Deadline midnight tomorrow night, “and I will meet that deadline.” Signed landmark gun safety legislation and Women’s Reproductive Health Protection Act.
  • Yesterday VCU announced it had come up with way to clean N-95 masks, using UV radiation to decontaminate and clean masks so they can be reused. This could be a “game changer.”
  • Social distancing seemst to be working, but it won’t continue to work if we stop doing it. Isn’t it time to ease the restrictions? That is “absolutely the wrong thing to do right now.” It would be like if someone came in with a new diagnosis of cancer, discussed the treatment plan, patient starts taking the medicine for 3-4 weeks and there’s some improvement, so they think it’s time to stop taking the medicine. That’s exactly the wrong thing to do, as the cancer will return and sometimes be even worse. We see hope, promise, but it is NOT the time to back off from our guidelines or let our guard down. We need to stay home and stay safe.
  • Dr. Fulano: Need to offer nursing homes more help. These are among the most vulnerable to the virus due to their age, medical conditions they might have. Also, social distancing difficult to achieve in these facilities. Health care workers in those facilities often work in multiple facilities, are currently doing their work under incredibly challenging circumstances. Committed to making sure these facilities get the funding and supplies they need. Task force committed to ensuring that facilities and the public have the most up-to-date information available. 45 outbreaks in long-term care facilities out of 82 total outbreaks in Virginia – about 55%. In addition, as of today, 525 reported case – around 10% of all cases – and 32 deaths – about 25% – in those facilities.
  • Brian Moran: Gov. Northam’s proposal regarding Dept. of Corrections would take effect immediately, would apply to nearly 2,000 inmates with less than 1 year left in sentences.
  • On April 22, the House of Delegates will meet outdoors underneath a tent. The Senate will be meeting in the Science Museum in Richmond. So they are taking into account the seriousness of this virus, are making arrangements to promote social distancing and stay safe.
  • Gov. Northam says we haven’t had the issue in Virginia of FEMA taking equipment from Virginia hospitals.
  • On immigrant detention facility in Farmville, Brian Moran said the state does not have jurisdiction over those facilities. When Virginia gets reports, shares them with the Congressional delegation.
  • Has law enforcement needed to get involved to enforce guidelines across Virginia? Gov. Northam says there have been some reminders to break up gatherings, individuals have cooperate, doesn’t know of any citations written.
  • Dept. of Juvenile Justice/Bon Air question – Moran says approximately 205 residents, have done widespread testing and are following VDH’s guidance. It was built for a capacity of over 500 kids, so able to isolate them and use quarantine methods pursuant to CDC guidelines, working to ensure health and safety of residents.
  • Question about “showing hope.” Gov. Northam said there’d nobody more than him who wants to get back to our normal lives, but we also have to deal with reality. Need to back up “aspirational leadership” with science. Says he’s looking at the data, including people in nursing homes who are at risk. Looking at ICU admissions, people on a ventilator. While he’d like to be aspirational and provide people hope – because once you take someone’s hope away, you’ve taken away their will to live – you also need to tell the truth. This is a biological war we’re fighting, we need to use the science and data and take this seriously. “My job as governor is to keep Virginians safe.”
  • Virginia near bottom in per-capita testing, what can we do to improve that? Brought in McKinsey Consulting group. What can we do better? How can Virginia be the leader in testing? We don’t know the answers but are aggressively seeking them.
  • Question about mental health facilities and COVID-19.  What sort of guidance is being offered? Gov. Northam says we are essentially using the same guidelines that we’re using in nursing homes. There’s really not a good option other than where they are.
  • Will Gov. Northam consider making the wearing of masks mandatory?  He says there are now ways to make facial protection, including a bandana with rubber bans, so we now encourage people to wear this facial protection. Haven’t made it mandatory to date. Commends Virginians for doing the right thing. As long as we can continue to work together, we’ll continue with our present guidelines.
  • Why aren’t deaths reported by locality? They’re reported by region, also rearranging dashboard to report deaths by health district.
  • Asked about casino bill, Gov. Northam says he hasn’t signed anything yet but “stay tuned.”
  • In daily discussions on alternative care facilities.
  • Gov. Northam says we watch the data every day. There are a number of models he follows. Will bring in data specialists with the models on Monday, so we can all see what they see.
  • We’re going to get through this together. What we’re doing is working.  Working on plans on how to jumpstart the economy, get Virginians back to work as quickly as possible, “how we can land that plane…successfully.”


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