Gov. Northam: with non-essential businesses closed, focus shifts to the medical fight against COVID-19

ov. Northam: with non-essential business closed, focus shifts to the medical fight against COVID-19

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -The number of coronavirus cases in Virginia soared within the last 24 hours. The total of Virginians tested positive for the virus is 391, which is up 101 cases since Tuesday.

An additional five deaths raise the fatality count to 12.

The closure of most non-essential businesses in Virginia now allows the commonwealth to shift its focus to the medical fight against this virus.

A spike in COVID-19 cases and nearly a doubling of deaths has Virginia health officials worried about what’s to come. “We are seeing an increase because of both increased testing and increased cases,” Virginia State Epidemiologist Dr. Lilian Peake, said.

During his latest state briefing Wednesday, Governor Ralph Northam drew on his personal experience as a doctor to tell healthcare providers the commonwealth's focus is making sure they're prepared and equipped.

“We need to do everything we can to protect them and keep healthy. We also need all hands on deck for our staff of our medical facilities,” Northam stated.

The state is reworking licensing procedures for providers and considering putting medical students to work.

The governor is also calling on people to join the 8,000 volunteers in the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps, who could be deployed to respond to this health emergency. The commonwealth is also looking at locations for the Army Corps of Engineers to build makeshift hospitals if needed.

“We anticipate over-burdening the capacity of our current healthcare system. We see that coming. We want to prepare for that,” Northam said.

They’re also preparing for the economic fallout. State Secretary of Finance Aubrey Lane says the federal stimulus deal would allow Virginians who are put out of work by the pandemic to collect an additional $600 a week for up to four months.

"I’m very encouraged by the comprehensive nature of this stimulus. That will certainly help us mitigate the reduction in revenues we’re expecting because of the slowdown and in some cases stoppage of business in our commonwealth,” Lane said.

This was the Governor’s last daily press conference. He and his task force plan to update us every other day - Monday, Wednesday, and Friday - unless they need to get out immediate, urgent information.

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