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Northam offers blueprint for easing public health restrictions

27 April 2020 Covid19 Luray/Page County Shenandoah County Front Royal/Warren County Winchester Frederick County Clarke County News

Gov. Northam presented the Forward Virginia blueprint, which will help guide the state on when to safely begin easing public health restrictions. Phase one of easing restrictions will begin no sooner than two weeks from now to allow for a 14-day downward trend in confirmed COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

The Forward Virginia blueprint includes the following priorities:

  • Testing and tracing
    • The goal is for the state to test at least 10,000 individuals per day. An expanded testing plan includes hiring contact tracers who will support the local health departments.
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE)
    • PPE is critical in ramping up testing, ensuring the safety of heath care staff and expanding the medical workforce. Virginia’s PPE pipeline is improving and hospitals are successfully managing their supplies. The governor cautioned that safely easing restrictions will require an ongoing stable PPE supply chain across all sectors of healthcare, and ensuring that the supply is regularly replenished.
  • Hospital capacity and staff
    • Hospitalizations and ICU admissions are largely stable across Virginia, even as case counts continue to rise. The Virginia Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) continues to recruit and deploy medical and non-medical volunteers bolster the work of local health departments, hospitals and health care providers. Virginia must have enough hospital beds and intensive care capacity to move forward.

Phase one of easing restrictions will include continued social distancing, teleworking, limits on travel and public gatherings and recommended use of face coverings. The state is developing two sets of guidance: one with broad based recommendations for all businesses, and another with industry specific recommendations for public-facing businesses like restaurants and non-essential retail. The guidance will be provided to businesses in early May.

The Forward Virginia blueprint presentation can be viewed here. 

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