Home Coronavirus Video, Live Blog: Gov. Ralph Northam’s 2 pm Press Conference – “latest...

Video, Live Blog: Gov. Ralph Northam’s 2 pm Press Conference – “latest updates on #COVID19 and the impacts of Tropical Storm #Isaias”

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Check it out at 2 pm today…

  • Gov. Northam says he has positive news to share.
  • First, discusses tropical storm, says there was one storm-related death in Lancaster County. Also flooding and property damage in Suffolk, Lancaster and Gloucester counties. State/local officials assessing damage to see if it meets threshold for federal assistance. Dominion says it was one of top 10 storms ever in terms of power outages. Thanks emergency responders. This is just the first storm in the hurricane season, encourage Virginians to be prepared with food, water, medications, masks. Also grateful to VA Nat. Guard.
  • Update on COVID-19. Case counts have been rising in recent weeks, particularly in Eastern region. Now at around 1,000 new cases per day. Now averaging around 15k-20k tests per day, anticipates increasing that number. Virginia at 7.2% positivity, steady for several weeks, and that’s a good thing. Eastern region cases had been increasing, now has leveled off somewhat. We can’t let up in our efforts to get the numbers down.
  • Primary ways of fighting the virus including testing and contact tracing. Today, launching COVIDWISE app, which can send alerts if you’ve been in close contact with someone who has tested positive. Virginia is the first state in the nation to use this technology. This app “DOES NOT track or store your personal information, it does not track you at all….It is voluntary…assigns random keys to positive cases…This can really help us catch new cases early…You are in control…all of this is your choice…but I hope Virginians across the state will use this….Noone is tracking you…It’s an exciting step forward.”
  • Yesterday, announced Virginia is one of 7 states to expand rapid antigen testing (15-20 minutes, rather than days or weeks). This is another way states are leading America’s response to COVID-19. People want to see action, and we’re delivering. This compact is a way to get faster testing. Looking to purchase 500,000 rapid antigen tests per state. There is significant demand to scale up production of these tests. Excited about the possibilities this could bring to Virginia. We’re in this for the long haul…need quick test results to better contain the virus and help us to relax restrictions safely.
  • Norfolk’s Shiloh Baptist Church Pastor Keith Jones speaks about dealing with COVID-19. Says COVID-19 has put a glaring spotlight on many things, including the need for good leadership, the need for people who sit on boards of caring agencies to actually know something about the communities they serve, about all kinds of disparities (including health care). Need to communicate with and serve underserved communities in effective ways. “Information always reduces anxiety.” Testing numbers have increased due to more/better collaboration, taking the tests to the people in places they trust.
  • Northam talks about the importance of Hampton Roads. The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us of the need to invest in Hampton Roads’ economy, including recommendations to strengthen the Hampton Roads healthcare ecosystem. That includes primary care physicians, many of whom have been hit hard by the pandemic. Virginia Center for Health Innovation has launched a taskforce to look at payment models for primary care physicians; “the last thing we need during a pandemic is for family physician practices to start closing.”
  • Last week, announced additional restrictions in Hampton Roads. These are continuing to be enforced; too soon to tell if they’re working. Northam’s told restaurant owners are following the rules, which is what we want…everyone working together and doing the right thing…not looking to punish people. Northam says he wants as much as anyone to get back to our normal lives, but the only way to do that is to do what works to slow the spread of the virus. If we do, we can get the #s down.
  • Question on the COVIDWISE app. If someone tests positive, the only way it gets in the system is if someone enters the information voluntarily. Lets others know they’ve been in close contact with someone who’s tested positive. Northam encourages everyone to download the app. Uses Bluetooth technology. No data is shared with Google or Apple. This app doesn’t know who or where you are and will never know that.
  • Question on western Virginia surge in cases, hospitalizations, deaths. Any additional steps being taken to try to contain community spread in western Virginia? Northam says we monitor that on a daily basis, hospital capacity is presently where we’d like it to be. Working with local health departments to encourage more testing, stepping up tracing capabilities.
  • Northam says the compact with other states is happening now because we’ve had enough, there’s been a total disconnect with the White House – messaging and support. Governors have been asked to fight a biological war without supply. Despite no leadership and no guidance from the White House, we’re “where we are today.” We know that this pandemic is here for at least months, so one thing we can do is work together with other states. Message is that we’re serious about this.
  • Question about parole board actions, heavily (if not all) redacted report. Brian Moran says he’s working with the lawyers to see if we cannot release much of the information, certainly the allegations and the Parole Board’s response. The Parole Board is adamant that they followed their policies and procedures. This is a work in progress. Chief of Staff Clark Mercer adds that news came in just before press conference, the report will be released to General Assembly leadership. Would like more people to be able to read it. Northam says he supports the parole board and doesn’t intend to make any changes.
  • How would Virginia deploy rapid tests? PCR tests are “gold standard.” Antigen tests are getting better and better; they have particular utility for long-term care facilities for routine testing of staff and residents. Will try to use them as strategically as possible. We’ll learn along with the other states about how best to deploy them, along with other testing assets.
  • Northam encourages everyone to use the app, including state employees, students at colleges, etc. It’s a great tool we have in our toolbox. The app looks at distance and Bluetooth signal strength, not “where and who.” Northam says he’s excited about COVIDWISE, also excited about the compact with other states for rapid testing, hopeful that other states will join in and give us even more power.
  • Northam urges people to come together and help each other. Says 22% of Virginians are food insecure right now, up from 9% prior to COVID-19.