Governor to address COVID-19 testing in Virginia

Posted at 10:39 AM, Apr 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-29 22:45:44-04

RICHMOND, Va. — Governor Ralph Northam will hold one of his tri-weekly news conferences at 2 p.m. Wednesday to update his administration’s latest efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. CBS 6 will carry the news conference live on-air and online.

Among the topic that may be discussed, Northam indicated at Monday’s news conference that Dr. Karen Remley will provide a “comprehensive” update on the state’s testing capacity. Remley, a former Virginia State Health Commissioner, was picked to co-lead the COVID-19 working group formed last week.

Northam said the working group would focus on expanding test sites and testing criteria, increasing testing volume and , and addressing the factors that limit testing.

A CBS 6 Problem Solvers Investigation on Tuesday found Virginia is tied for the second-lowest rate of testing in the country.

As of Wednesday morning, the Virginia Department of Health reported 14,961 people have been infected with the virus, an increase of 622 from Tuesday. A total of 85,307 people have been tested for the virus, an increase of 2,554 from Tuesday.

The percentage of positive tests (the number of new tests administered divided by the number of new positive test results) is 24.35%, a decrease of 6.89% from Tuesday.

Northam has said one of the metrics to begin the process of reopening Virginia is a 14-day decline in this metric. According to CBS 6’s tracking, this metric has been declining for one day.

Northam clarified at his Wednesday news conference how his administration is tracking that metric. Northam was asked if there needed to be a consistent 14-day decline in that percentage and if, for example, an increase on day 13 would cause the metric to reset.

Northam said his administration was following trends rather than a strict 14-day decline.

"Not to get into a lesson on statistics, but it's not quite as straightforward as the average person might think that 'Well, we're just going to follow the number of positive cases each day.' So, we're looking at all these trends, as you know, we're looking at different models and I think the answer to your question is that there's nothing set in stone, but we're really focusing on the trends," said Northam.

VDH also reported 522 people have died from COVID-19, an increase of 30 from Tuesday. 2,259 people have been hospitalized for the virus, an increase of 94 from Tuesday.

There have been 206 outbreaks of the virus, an increase of three from Tuesday.

Looking at data from the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA) and COVID-19’s impact on hospital resources, VHHA reported 1,566 patients are currently being treated, an increase of 58 from Tuesday. Meanwhile, 2,042 people have been discharged from the hospital, an increase of 128 from Tuesday.

VHHA reported there are 5,152 beds available in the state, a decrease of 25 from Tuesday. Additionally, 20% of ventilators in the state are in use, that number was the same on Tuesday.

VHHA reported there is only one hospital “experiencing difficulty in obtaining or replenishing PPE [personal protective equipment] in the next 72 hours”, a decrease of one from Tuesday.

It added that no hospitals are “experiencing difficulty in obtaining or replenishing other medical supplies in the next 72 hours”, a decrease of one from Tuesday.

For a further breakdown of the current COVID-19 numbers in Virginia click here.

Depend on CBS 6 News and for the most complete coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 Precautions

Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.

COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.

Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with sick people.Avoid non-essential travel.