Va. coronavirus cases to surge between late April and late May, Northam says
State is eyeing sites for temporary hospitals in Fairfax, Hampton and Richmond.
Virginia is making preparations to establish temporary overflow medical facilities, with the expectation that coronavirus cases in the commonwealth will surge between late April and late May, Gov. Ralph Northam said during a news briefing Wednesday.
“For now, we are at the beginning of this virus, and that is why it is so important for Virginians to stay home,” Northam said. “If we can stay home, we don’t give the virus the chance to infect the next person; we slow it down.”
The state government is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to locate temporary hospital sites for patient overflow. These include the former ExxonMobile campus in Fairfax County across from Inova Fairfax Hospital; the Hampton Roads Convention Center in Hampton; and a site in Richmond. The additional treatment sites would be staffed by personnel from the various health providers in Virginia, as well as volunteers from the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps and elsewhere, state Secretary of Health and Human Resources Daniel Carey said. The governor plans to provide more information on this plan during Friday’s coronavirus news briefing.
Northam also said that the state has received its third shipment from the Strategic National Stockpile of personal protective equipment for medical workers. “But we need more,” the governor noted, a common refrain heard from governors and health care workers around the nation. Virginia is continuing to pursue all avenues for sourcing the equipment, he said.
University of Virginia School of Data Science researchers who created a pandemic modeling system for the federal Defense Threat Reduction Agency have also been working with the state government to produce a Virginia-specific model that will present the most accurate projection for what we can expect in the commonwealth, State Health Commissioner Dr. M. Norman Oliver said during the briefing. Those projections will be presented after it’s fully operational, possibly within a few days, he said.
Addressing the upcoming May local government elections and June congressional primaries, Northam said that his administration is “continuing to work through the best options for how to hold elections” during the pandemic. However, he encouraged Virginians to consider voting by mail. “Elections are vitally important and we will ensure they are held,” the governor said. The Republican Party of Virginia had brought up concerns in recent days that Northam’s stay-at-home order is in effect until June 10, a day after the GOP June 9 U.S. Senate primary elections.
Talking about the confusion around exceptions to his stay-at-home at order, Northam said, “It means, ‘Stay at home.’ Don’t go out if you don’t need to. Don’t go out because you’re bored. Go out when you need to and not when you want to.”