• Public Health Order 2 expires on April 31, meaning that non-emergent medical procedures, including dental and veterinary, can resume on May 1.
• Governor Northam signed Executive Order 60 on April 28, which reinforces existing liability protections for Virginia healthcare workers. The full text of the order is available HERE.
NON-EMERGENT PROCEDURES AND TESTING
• The temporary hold on non-emergent, scheduled procedures has allowed Virginia to build adequate capacity to combat the possible surge of COVID-19 patients that the state faced weeks ago.
o Social distancing measures have helped to flatten this curve, and hospital capacity has not been overwhelmed or even fully met.
• Hospitals, physician practices, dental and veterinary practices will work with VDH and the Governor’s office to continue to implement best practices to combat the virus, while still meeting the overall healthcare needs of Virginians.
o Should we experience an increase in case numbers following this step, the medical community remain prepared to take whatever steps are necessary to keep lowering case numbers.
• FEMA is sending Virginia an additional 200,000 testing swabs, which will contribute to efforts to increase testing capability to 10,000 tests per day.
• Dentists will be following detailed interim guidelines from the CDC, the Virginia Dental Association, and the Virginia Department of Health as they re-open on May 1.
• Many offices will be resuming all normal procedures on May 1.
• Offices have new protocols to mitigate the risk of spreading the virus: o Masks for visits
o Screening specifically for COVID-19
o Adjusting appointment times to allow for adequate social distancing and cleaning procedures between patients
o Minimizing or completely eliminating patients in the waiting rooms of dental offices
o Minimizing use of air and water in procedures to minimize aerosols
• Most dental offices will be giving priority to those who exhibit the need for urgent or emergent care.
• Special consideration and treatment will be given to patients at higher risk of contracting COVID-19.
COVID-19 CASES, STATISTICS AND MODELING
• Total cases: 14,961
o 622 new cases in the last 24-hour reporting period.
o 27% of cases are in African Americans
• Total deaths: 522 o 30 new deaths in the last 24-hour reporting period.
o 26% of deaths are in African Americans.
• There have been 206 outbreaks (2 or more cases in an individual site) in Virginia
o 116 of these have been in long-term care facilities, accounting for 1,407 of the total cases and 111 of the total deaths in Virginia.
LIFTING OF RESTRICTIONS AND RE-OPENING
• While Virginia’s numbers have not yet flattened to where they need to be for Phase 1 of re-opening, we have started to meet some of the requirements.
• Hospital bed capacity and PPE supply are both currently sufficient for Phase 1.
o Virginia hospitals currently have over 5,000 available beds.
• Governor Northam clarified that the requirement of a 14-day downward trend in cases will be focused on the overall trend in cases, and not solely determined by daily positive case numbers.
MEAT AND POULTRY PROCESSING FACILITIES
• President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to require meat processing facilities to remain open, in order to ensure stability in the food supply chain.
• Governor Northam, along with the Governors of both Maryland and Delaware, reached out to President Trump to request federal assistance in coordinating an approach to the rising numbers of positive cases in Virginia’s meat processing plants.
• A team from the CDC arrived in Virginia on Monday to assess our plants to ensure that they are operating within the CDC’s new health and safety guidelines.
• Governor Northam stressed that the declaration of workers in meat and poultry processing plants as essential makes their health and safety even more of a priority.
• Virginia is joining several other states in helping students with Commercial Federal Family Education Loan Program loans, and others who are not included in the Federal CARES Act.
o Lenders will provide a minimum 90-day forbearance and will waive late payment fees.
o This is expected to provide relief to an additional 200,000 Virginians.
Next briefing: Friday, May 1 at 2:00PM.
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.