See below for video and highlights:
- Yesterday, approval of public assistance portion of Virginia’s request for federal major disaster designation – will provide additional federal funding for equipment and supplies, shelter for homeless Virginians, etc.
- In Northern VA, Dulles Expo Center is the site where construction can proceed the fastest for an alternative care facility. Can accommodate 510 non-acute beds. Will move forward with Hampton Roads Convention Center (580 non-acute beds) and Richmond Convention Center (758 non-acute beds). Next steps are to complete contracts, then move to design and construction. Should be ready in about six weeks. These facilities are to free up capacity in existing hospital system.
- The economic slowdown is affecting thousands of Virginians. 114,104 people applied for unemployment this past week – this is a “very large number” that will unfortunately “seem small” by next week. This is overwhelming the unemployment system, so have upgraded website, call center staffing, etc. More people becoming eligible for Medicaid. We have now hit 400,000, “but it is nothing to celebrate.” However, “we are all grateful that Virginia *did* expand eligibility.”
- On the budget, we’re now facing a recession. This will have major impacts on the state budget, both the current one and the new one beginning July 1. Significantly less revenue than even our most pessimistic forecasts. Also need to invest in hospital space, aid to support Virginians who need it the most, PPE, etc. Federal funding will help, but not fully fix the problem. So yesterday, he directed state agencies to take steps to reduce spending, eliminate discretionary spending, prepare for budget cuts, reexamine funding that was planned for new initiatives, etc. Virginia had a strong economy and was in good condition before this pandemic. “When this pandemic is finished, we will again be strong.
- From reporter Max Smith: “Northam: Additional positive tests at [Canterbury] Nursing home that included many with no symptoms emphasizes importance of staying home to prevent the spread of #Covid_19“
- We’re in the early stages of this situation. The actions we take now will shape what happens in the next weeks and months. We can get through this, but most all work together.
- Some people are still gathering in groups in parks, in direct violation of our stay-at-home order. This puts a tremendous burden on law enforcement. Virginians *must* practice social distancing and treat our natural areas with respect. Does not want to have to close public lands because of “a few irresponsible people.”
- Widespread community transmission in Virginia. 2,012 confirmed cases, up >500 since Wednesday. 46 deaths, up 5 in the last 24 hours. Areas with the widest spread of disease are around Richmond, also Tidewater/Peninsula region and Northern Virginia.
- Entering very busy period for faith communities – Easter, Passover, Ramadan, etc. – and normally faith communities would celebrate these together, but these are not normal times. Instead, should use alternative means of worshipping – virtual, drive in, etc. “It’s hard on all of us.” Northam’s pastor says this is NOT the time to become angry or frustrated, this is about saving lives. “We will not break…our faith will be our stimulus package long after the $1,200 is spent…No doubt, these are dark days…on the other storm, there are rainbows of hope on the horizon…”
- Question on rent: Chief of Staff Clark Mercer says we will help up to 1,500 homeless Virginians find shelter, put word out to private sector and in last 24 hours we have over 500 hotels with over 37,000 rooms available who are willing to assist the Commonwealth. On rent, noone will be evicted during this crisis. Also, efforts through lenders and banks to make sure folks have a roof over their heads during this crisis.
- On wearing masks, Gov. Northam says no law enforcement will be bothering anybody because they have a covering on their face. Still asking for more PPE for first responders, health care providers. If you have a scarf or other means of covering your face, Northam wouldn’t discourage anybody from doing so. It would protect them and also others around them.
- From reporter Max Smith: “Va Health Sec Carey: We are committed to finding every piece of PPE possible – scouring everywhere “We are always planning for that next surge” For field hospitals – have to make sure have staff, supplies, systems ‘Supplies remain an issue’ but committed to move forward…Sec Carey says when supply does come through, wants to be sure there are no issues with staffing and systems that further delay field hospitals…Sec Carey says state has asked for 350 ventilators from national stockpile and tried to order 350 ventilators from private sector, haven’t gotten it. Hospitals also trying to get them Northam says innovation like valves for multiple patients still in process”
- Also, looking at innovate ways to use the ventilators we have.
- Stepping back from ExxonMobil site for alternative care facility and moving ahead with Dulles Expo Center. Also, first and foremost, looking to surge existing health system’s capacity.
- Question about Virginia’s modeling of the Coronavirus crisis. Northam says he’s all about data, it’s not a perfect science by any means; looking at other countries, states, cities. Our best estimate is that the surge will be in the month of May. These curves are not “classified,” are available on different websites.
- From reporter Max Smith: Dr. Oliver outlines the various models out there – CHIME model on hospital bed use, Univ of Washington model with rosier picture, a London model, a Defense Threat Reduction Agency model being adjusted now to Virginia specific data “Models are models” “a best guess.” “Northam: If you don’t stay at home, if you don’t practice social distancing, if you don’t wash your hands frequently, assume you’re going to get it. ‘We’re pleading with Virginians” to follow our guidelines to cut risk of being infected and flatten curve.'”
— Ralph Northam (@GovernorVA) April 3, 2020