Home Coronavirus Live Video, Highlights: Gov. Ralph Northam’s Wednesday (4/15) Virginia COVID-19 Briefing

Live Video, Highlights: Gov. Ralph Northam’s Wednesday (4/15) Virginia COVID-19 Briefing

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

  • Everything starts with data. Social distancing is working, as we saw in the model UVA released on Monday, and in other national models. The actions we’ve taken as a state are having an effect. Still seeing new cases and, unfortunately, too many deaths. But most were cases contracted weeks ago.
  • “So when people say it’s time to stop what we’re doing and get back to normal, they’re wrong.” “If we let off the brakes…we’ll see another spike in cases that could overwhelm our hospitals.” “That’s why, today, I’m extending Executive Order 53 (restrictions on restaurants, recreational, entertainment, gatherings, non-essential retail, K-12 schools) for two more weeks.” It was set to expire next week, now set to expire May 8. Will monitor health data to determine what needs to happen after that. Stay-at-home order remains in effect through June 10.
  • Want to move forward in a coordinated way with DC and MD. We all want what’s best for our people.
  • This has been a difficult time. People want to go out, see their friends and families, work, regain control of their lives as they once knew them. A lot of people are working overtime taking care of patients, stocking grocery shelves, etc. “I hear you – we’re all in this together.” “These sacrifices that you have made have been necesssary and they are helping – they are slowing the spread…giving us time to plan and prepare.” We’ll have to figure out how to build “a new normal.” Things will not go back to how they were. Probably will involve social distancing, teleworking, avoiding large gatherings, etc. We will figure out how to continue taking steps to protect ourselves and also the most vulnerable – the elderly, those with underlying health conditions. There is NOT a switch we can flip. The way forward will be deliberate, but we WILL move forward…together. The business community will be part of the conversation – they have been so helpful. Consumers need to feel safe returning to businesses.
  • This is a great state in which to do business, and new laws make this even a better place to work. Our economy was “on fire” before COVID-19. Revenues were 10% higher this March than last March.
  • Closure of K-12 schools impacts 1.2 million children. Many childcare centers have closed their doors. But childcare remains vital, especially for essential workers. $70 million from CARES Act will go to support essential workers with children under age 12. Flexible cash assistance to childcare centers, allow schools to act as childcare centers as needed, make additional funding available to centers that accept federal subsidy dollars. Northam says his wife, Pam, has dedicated the past two years to advocating for Virginia’s early childhood education.
  • First Lady Pam Northam: “Talented superhero educators.” Visit childcareva.com for more information on these new resources. Parents are a child’s first and most important teacher, also working to reassure children during this time. Thank you for the sacrifices you are making. If you need childcare because you have to work, please note that we are so grateful to you and invite you to visit VAChildCare.org or call 1-866-KidsTLC for an updated list of where you can get quality childcare in your area. We *will* get through this and lead the nation in early childhood education.
  • Gov. Northam – tomorrow the anniversary of the tragic mass shooting at VA Tech. Hsa ordered all flags to be lowered to half staff in memory of the victims.
  • Dr. Oliver – 6,500 cases (329 new cases in last 24-hour period), 195 deaths (+41). Why so many more deaths? Death surveillance “not done in real time,” involves “several steps.” In a pandemic, it takes time, and so there can be a lag in numbers and periodic jumps in numbers on the dashboard. Obligation to provide high-quality, accurate data in as timely a fashion as possible, but also need to vet that data. Still missing data on racial/ethnic categories – 1,158 cases among African-Americans, or 30% of the cases; also, 35% of the deaths.
  • Anything else the state could have done re: the Canterbury facility, which is possibly the worst in the country in terms of deaths from COVID-19. Gov. Northam says he thinks the state has done everything it can, that the response was “totally appropriate.” We continue to have challenges with PPE, are directing it to go to nursing homes. Also dealing with financial issues and with staffing issues. Training individuals through the volunteer corps. The challenge of testing is a big one too.
  • Dr. Carey – The number 30,000 volunteers takes into account the duration of this, but “we’d rather have more people registered and available” than too few people. Mentions his  his wife, who was furloughed from her research job and his now volunteering, as an example.
  • Gov. Northam has no intentions as of today to extend June 10th stay-at-home date, but this situation is fluid, we make decisions on a day-by-day basis. Difficult to say what will happen by June 10. He realizes that frustrating. A lot of our energy right now being focused on how to help the economy recover. It’s going to be a consumer- and business-driven economic recovery. We’re not just going to go back to normal one day. This is a novel virus, we don’t have a vaccination or treatment for it. Until then, it’s difficult to say we’re going to go back to a totally normal life. Moving forward, will continue wearing masks, social distancing, etc.
  • We are among the lowest in the country in terms of tests per population. We’re trying to understand that, optimize the capacity we have. Also in touch with provider community.
  • Is Gov. Northam reaching out to Republicans? Yes, “my door is open…I hear not from all Republicans but certainly a lot of them.” “I appreciate everybody’s input, I listen to that.”
  • On barber shops, Northam says people need to get their hair cut, but more importantly these are businesses that want/need to get back to work. Question is how to do it safely. As we move forward and plan, barber shops is at the top of his list, but we’re not there quite yet. There may be ways to do it safely by wearing masks, not having more than 10 people in the place of business, etc.
  • From reporter @amaxsmith – “Northam reiterates that Virginia tax filing deadline has been pushed back from May 1 to June 1, and General Assembly due to vote next week to waive interest for that month. Va feels it needs the cash by end of fiscal year Jun 30.”
  • Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran says a great deal has been done with regard to placing young people in criminal justice system in their communities. There are also kids who need the most intensive services – kids who have traumatized emotionally, physically or both. Working diligently to review every one of the 200 kids, determine if there’s a plan for success to send them back into the community. Will do what’s in kids’ best interests.
  • How much will Gov. Northam work with neighboring states to get back to normal? Says he has a really good relationship with Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, Mayor Bowser in DC and Gov. Roy Cooper in NC. In daily communication between staffs and/or governors. As we move forward, the more consistent we can be with neighboring states, the better.
  • From reporter Max Smith: “Health Sec Carey on testing result numbers potentially declining lately: Focused initial testing on people in hospitals for rapid tests to save PPE/get right care Now have more testing capacity, can expand to some others doctors think need to be tested.”
  • Dr. Oliver says VDH hasn’t released date of death information in part because of privacy concerns.
  • Deputy Health Commissioner: How much weight should be put into the number of cases being reported by VDH, given so many cases probably not being “confirmed?” Public health surveillance is not intended to count “every single solitary case.” With a viral illness, the goal is to establish a trend, an understanding of which populations are being impacted by the disease. We always aim to count as many as we can. “I have confidence in the data…the trend it’s illustrating…understanding the limitations.” The key is trends.
  • Gov. Northam reiterates that things will be different as we move forward to the “new normal.” Keep washing your hands, wearing facial protection, socially distancing, not gathering in large groups, etc.