• 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.
• 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.
• 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.