TOPLINE UPDATES
• The Governor focused today on PPE & testing, meat processing plants, vaccinations, behavioral health, and economic/business recovery. See below for more information about each topic.
• The Governor encouraged parents to have their children vaccinated in order to protect their health and to avoid outbreaks of preventable diseases.
• The Governor emphasized that hospitals and doctor offices are safe. Do not delay contacting your healthcare provider if you need care.

PPE AND TESTING
Today Virginia is receiving 800,000 gloves and 300,000 surgical masks from Northfield.
• Virginia is also receiving 14,000 test swabs from FEMA, and has requested 200,000 more, as well as cloth masks for energy and construction workers.
• Virginia’s Department of Corrections has made 470,000 masks, many of which have been distributed to inmates, prison staff, law enforcement, and other state workers.
• Virginia was testing 2,000 people per day just a few days ago; now it is up to 4,000 per day with the eventual goal of 10,000 per day.
• VDH has been testing in public housing neighborhoods in Richmond as part of a pilot program with local health departments in vulnerable populations to also provide those residents with PPE and healthcare access information.
• Different areas of the state or specific sectors may need to be contained or focused on as testing data becomes more widespread.
• Not enough testing has been done anywhere in the state. More data is needed before the state can reopen businesses more fully.

MEAT PROCESSING PLANTS
• Virginia has 10 poultry processing facilities primarily in the Shenandoah Valley and Eastern Shore, which are key part of our food supply system. These facilities and workers are especially vulnerable.
• Recent data from the Eastern Shore region has shown increasing cases among workers in these facilities and areas, where medical resources could be overwhelmed if there’s a surge of cases.
• The Governors of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia wrote a letter to President Trump to request the federal government for assistance and coordination to support the poultry industry situation in this region.
• The CDC has committed to deploying teams in all three states; one is expected in Virginia today.
o The teams will consist of epidemiologists, contact tracers, and language interpreters.
o They will work with VDH and local health departments to assess the situation, help with wider scale testing, and determine best mitigation steps.
• Yesterday the CDC released new guidance for meat processing facilities.
• Governor Northam’s Administration is also following developments in smaller facilities in the Shenandoah Valley.
• Virginia has more than 120 federally-inspected meat processing facilities. VDH is working with them so that workers are screened and provided care if sick, while protections are put in place to protect other workers.

VACCINATIONS
Vaccination rates are decreasing during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is essential for parents to adhere to children’s vaccination schedule.
• Today is the start of National Infant Vaccination Week.
• Regular vaccination is necessary to avoid other disease outbreaks, such as measles.
• The Governor encourages parents to contact their pediatrician or family care provider.

BEHAVIORAL HEALTH
Virginia has received a $2M grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to address the behavioral health impacts of COVID-19.
• The grant will be administered through the state’s Community Services Boards and the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Administration and focus on:
o Outpatient services and telehealth
o Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder (OUD)
o Recovery services and recovery housing
o Partnerships with hospital systems
• The current crisis is leading to increased stress and anxiety, especially for children, teens, health workers, and those with mental health conditions or problems with substance use.
• Demand for behavioral health services is expected to increase, including support for behavioral health providers themselves.
• Providers can offer virtual health resources but not everyone has the necessary technology to utilize these services.

CASES AND STATISTICS
• 13,535 new cases, 565 new cases since last reporting period
• 458 deaths, 10 additional since last reporting period
• The VDH website’s dashboard shows additional information, including racial/demographic data.
• VDH is exploring ways to provide more data and better visualizations.
• A third of the cases and deaths are among African-Americans and Latinos.
• 119 outbreaks across the state, 113 in nursing homes where VDH continues to step up surveillance and mitigation.

ECONOMIC RECOVERY, ELECTIONS AND OTHER TOPICS
Growth & Opportunity Virginia (GOVA) will use $14.6M for a new economic resilience and recovery program through its regional bodies.
• The Commonwealth Transportation Board approved the allocation of $100M in federal public transportation funding through the CARES Act to offset revenue losses for local transit agencies and systems.

• A State Business Task Force has been created to advise on the phased approach to reopening businesses.
The Governor has moved the May 5 local elections to May 19.
• The Governor encourages Virginians to vote by absentee ballot if possible.
o The last day to request an absentee ballot is Tuesday, May 12, and the last day to return an absentee ballot is May 19.
• Medical Reserve Corps volunteers will help support elections safety, including PPE for poll workers.
• The Northam Administration is working with federal Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals and state veterans care facilities to ensure safety.
• The Northam Administration has been in communication with all neighboring states and jurisdictions, including Tennessee, Kentucky, and North Carolina.

Next briefing: Wednesday, April 29 at 2:00PM.

NOTE: This is an informal and timely summary of the Governor’s live press briefing. To access recordings of the briefings, visit https://www.facebook.com/GovernorVA/. To access the Governor’s official news releases, visit https://www.governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/news-releases/.

Prepared by Commonwealth Strategy Group for the Virginia Press Association.

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