Summary of Gov. Northam’s COVID-19 Briefing: May 20, 2020


• The Governor is convening a work group to continue identifying ways to reduce costs and improve access to quality health coverage in Virginia. 

• The Governor emphasized the opioid and substance abuse disorder, addiction, and overdose treatment and recovery resources available to Virginians through Medicaid, Community Services Boards, and the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, including telehealth services and virtual recovery groups. 

• Local elections were held successfully yesterday across the Commonwealth.

o Governor Northam commended the thousands of people who voted through mail-in absentee ballot and encouraged Virginians to do the same in the upcoming primary elections on June 23. 

• The Governor’s office is now broadcasting the briefings in Spanish through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. 

FORWARD VIRGINIA PLAN: Phase One – Began Friday, May 15 

• The counties that have delayed entering Phase 1 continue to be in Phase 0, while the rest of Virginia slowly re-opens successfully.

o When data in these Phase 0 areas supports a successful re-opening, they will be able to enter Phase 1. 

• Governor Northam and the VDH will continue to follow CDC guidelines and data trends to determine movement through the phases of re-opening.

o The CDC has stipulated a downward trend in percent-positivity, across a 14-day period, in order to move from one phase to the next. 


• The VDH is now able to report case numbers by zip code. 

• 9,782 PCR and 426 antibody tests were administered yesterday, totaling over 10,000 tests. 

• Percent-positivity is continuing to trend downward in Virginia. 

• Virginian’s can seek testing from their providers, local clinics, and community testing events.

o While those showing symptoms are a priority, community testing events are open to all, so long as there are tests available. 

• $58 million from the CARES Act has been directed to ramp up contact tracing to keep up with increased testing. 

• The Virginia Emergency Support Team (VEST) has been responsible for distributing Virginia’s PPE throughout the state.

o Health districts report need for PPE to the VDH, who helps the Emergency Support Team to determine where PPE should be distributed. 

Providers have been asked to exhaust their private supply chains before requesting state-provided PPE, but are always encouraged to reach out to the state for any help they may need. 

o So far, Virginia has distributed:

 793,675 N95 masks 

 1.3 million surgical masks 

 3 million gloves 

 285,031 gowns 

 427,425 face shields 

 24,359 containers of hand sanitizer 

• The Department of General Services has established a new rapid-review process for vendors selling COVID-19 PPE.

o The list of approved vendors is available at 

• Each skilled nursing facility in Virginia will receive a shipment of PPE from FEMA. 


• Total cases: 32,908

o 763 new in the last 24 hour reporting period. 

• Total deaths: 1,074

o 33 new in the last 24 hour reporting period. 

• 235,199 total tests (PCR and antibody) administered. 

• 5,082 cases (23%) in Virginia are in the African American community.

o This includes 226 deaths (24%). 

• 10,167 cases (46%) in Virginia are in the Latinx community.

o This includes 87 deaths (10%). 


• Local elections were held yesterday and “went smoothly” throughout the state. 

• Social distancing and sanitation measures were able to be successfully implemented at polling sites. 

• 55,000 people voted through absentee by mail ballots. 

• Primaries will be held on June 23.

o The Department of Elections has begun preparing to hold the elections safely.

 Poll workers will be provided PPE and sanitizing equipment, and all voters are encouraged to wear a face covering. 

o Deadline to request an absentee ballot is midnight on June 15. 

Next briefing: Friday, May 22 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 To access the Governor’s official news releases, visit 

Prepared by Commonwealth Strategy Group for the Virginia Press Association.

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