RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced Wednesday that on Friday he will provide detailed guidance on the restrictions and guidelines he will issue for phase one of reopening the commonwealth.
“We continue to work with businesses and workers to ensure that there is confidence in the next steps when we take them,” said Northam at his Wednesday press conference.
Monday, Northam announced he would extend Executive Order 53 by another week until the night of May 14. That is the executive order that closed many businesses and banned gatherings of 10 or more people.
Northam said that he hopes to be able to allow phase one of the reopening process to begin on May 15.
He said this would happen if the health data continued to trend in a positive direction. This includes an adequate supply of personal protective equipment, sufficient hospital capacity, and a 14-day decline in the percentage of positive cases.
Phase one would allow businesses like salons, restaurants, and gyms to reopen, but with restrictions.
Much of Wednesday’s news conference covered steps of gearing up for the reopening, including increasing testing and contact tracing.
Officials said in the last few days they’ve been testing around 6500 per day and getting to the 10,000 per day goal set by the Governor is “attainable very soon.
Another important aspect of reopening will be contact tracing, so officials can isolate any new cases and their contacts as they arise. Officials say they plan to hire around 1,000 people to help with the effort.
On Wednesday, Northam said some localities could maintain or implement additional restrictions if warranted.
“If local governments based on the situation in their own localities feel that they need to maintain additional restrictions on gatherings or business operations, we will allow that and we will work with the localities. So we are talking to localities including in Northern Virginia to discuss those issues,” said Northam.
"You know, we’re still a week and a half away from the 15th, but as we get closer if they have concerns and want to raise that floor, if you will, for another week, two, whatever they think is necessary we’ll work with them on that."
As of Wednesday afternoon, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is reporting a technical error that has resulted in updated information being unavailable for reporting. VDH is working to resolve the error.
In terms of the impact of COVID-19 cases on Virginia’s hospitals, the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA) reported Wednesday that 1594 patients are currently hospitalized. This is an increase of 98 from Tuesday.
- 2734 people have been treated and discharged from hospital. This is an increase of 117 from Tuesday.
- 4761 beds are available in the state. This is an increase of 35 from Tuesday.
- 21% of ventilators in the state are in use. This is an increase of 1% from Tuesday.
New #COVID19/#coronavirus numbers from the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association— Cam Thompson (@CamThompsonCBS6) May 6, 2020
Patients: 1594 (+98)
Discharged: 2734 (+117)
Bed Availability: 4761 (+35)
Ventilator Use: 21% (+1%)
No hospitals reporting PPE/other 72-hour resupply issue (unchanged).@CBS6 pic.twitter.com/SFdMncScdG
VHHA also reported no hospitals are “experiencing difficulty in obtaining or replenishing PPE [personal protective equipment] in the next 72 hours”, and no hospital are “experiencing difficulty in obtaining or replenishing other medical supplies in the next 72 hours”.
For a further breakdown of the current COVID-19 numbers in Virginia, click here.
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.