Governor Ralph Northam presented Forward Virginia, a blueprint that will help guide the Commonwealth in easing public health restrictions. The blueprint includes a phased approach, grounded in the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. It also includes specific goals for containing the spread of the virus through increased testing, personal protective equipment and supplies, and medical capacity.
Virginia is rigorously examining a wide range of public health data. The governor emphasized that key indicators must be realized before the first phase of reopening can begin.
Forward Virginia metrics
- Continued downward trend in the percentage of positive tests over a 14-day period
- Continued downward trend in hospitalizations over a 14-day period
- Sufficient hospital beds and intensive care capacity
- Increasing and sustainable supply of personal protective equipment (PPE)
Testing and tracing: To ensure the continued safety of Virginians, the Commonwealth aims to test at least 10,000 individuals per day. The expanded testing plan includes hiring contact tracers, who will support local health departments in identifying individuals who may be exposed to COVID-19, and then helping those identified to self-isolate.
Hospital capacity and staff: Hospitalizations and ICU admissions are largely stable across Virginia, even as case counts continue to rise. To ensure continued capacity as Virginia moves toward Phase One of easing restrictions, Governor Northam extended the ban on elective surgeries through May 1, 2020, and is allowing physicians’ assistants and nurse practitioners with two or more years of clinical experience to practice without a collaborative agreement.
The Virginia Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) continues to recruit and deploy medical and non-medical volunteers to bolster the work of local health departments, hospitals, and healthcare providers. The MRC currently has more than 16,500 trained volunteers – more than halfway to Virginia’s goal of 30,000.
Personal protective equipment: Personal protective equipment (PPE) is critical to ramping up testing, ensuring the safety of healthcare staff, and expanding the medical workforce. Virginia’s PPE pipeline is improving, and hospitals are managing their supplies efficiently. 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.
Virginia has ordered 17.4 million N95 masks, 8.3 million surgical masks, 17.1 million gloves, 1.7 million gowns, and 1 million face shields. This includes a contract signed jointly with Maryland and the District of Columbia for 5 million N95 masks.
Governor Northam announced that a second shipment from Northfield Medical Manufacturing is scheduled to arrive imminently and will be promptly distributed. The latest shipment includes 3 million nitrile exam gloves, 100,000 N95 masks, 500,000 3-ply procedure masks, and 40,000 isolation gowns.
Phase One: Easing restrictions
Phase 1 will begin no sooner than two weeks from now, and only if the criteria for beginning this phase have been met. This phase will include:
- Opening of some business, but with strict safety requirements
- Continued social distancing
- Continued teleworking
- Recommended use of face coverings in public
Any easing of restrictions will be informed by public health experts, members of the Governor’s COVID-19 Business Task Force, state and local officials, and other stakeholders.
April 27, 2020: Governor Northam Unveils "Forward Virginia," a Blueprint for Easing Health Restrictions.