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State COVID-19 News – Virginia


Virginia COVID-19 statistics

Data on recovered COVID-19 patients is not available for Virginia.

Virginia cases as of May 19: 32,908 total; 467 total in Appalachian Highlands

Cases in counties of the Appalachian Highlands region:

  • Buchanan Co. – 31
  • City of Bristol – 5
  • Grayson Co. – 84
  • Lee Co. – 11
  • City of Norton – 4
  • Russell Co. – 12
  • Scott Co. – 10
  • Smyth Co. – 36
  • Tazewell Co. – 15
  • Washington Co. – 64
  • Wise Co. – 28
  • Wythe Co. – 50

VHHA is the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association.

July. 01, 2020

Latest News

  • State preparedness - As Virginia hospitals continue to vigorously serve as frontline providers protecting community health during the COVID-19 global pandemic, a new national ranking lists the Commonwealth as one of the states best prepared to respond to public health emergencies when they arise. The Commonwealth of Virginia is tied for second among states in overall emergency preparedness rating in the recently released 2020 National Health Security Preparedness Index report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Colorado School of Public Health.
  • Reopening - Governor Northam has announced that the Commonwealth will enter phase three of reopening as of today, July 1. Phase three expands social gathering size limits from 50 people to 250 people. All businesses are advised to continue to follow physical distancing guidelines, to frequently clean and sanitize high contact surfaces, and to maintain enhanced workplace safety measures. Restaurants are required to maintain six feet of distance between tables. Fitness centers may operate indoor areas at 75 percent occupancy. Swimming pools will be allowed to reopen for free swim in addition to indoor and outdoor exercise and swim instruction. Overnight summer camps will remain closed during phase three. More information available here.
  • Medical treatment - Virginians who need medical treatment should contact their health care provider to schedule an appointment with the confidence that they can receive care in a safe environment. To help convey that message, VHHA and the Virginia Dental Association (VDA) have debuted a new public service announcement (PSA) on television stations across the Commonwealth encouraging Virginians to seek out needed care.
  • COVID-19 dashboard - VHHA has unveiled a new feature on its public facing Virginia Hospital COVID-19 Dashboard: hospitalization trend line data. The new dashboard feature can be accessed by clicking the “Hospitalization Trends” tab at the top of the dashboard. Users can view daily data by hovering and dragging their cursor across the trend line for each individual category. The trend line data covers a period beginning on March 26, 2020 that continues through the present day.

More Virginia headlines

Earlier Virginia updates

WEEK of Apr. 19–25, 2020

Va. Dept. of Education update

On Monday, April 20, Governor Northam made the following announcements in regards to Virginia’s COVID-19 response:

  • Testing – To ensure Virginia’s testing efforts are coordinated, Governor Northam announced creation of a testing workgroup to be led by Dr. Karen Remley and Dr. Lilian Peake. The workgroup will include representatives from long-term care facilities, emergency room physicians, free clinics, private labs, the Department of Health, the Department of Emergency Management and the VHHA.

This workgroup will focus on three things:

  • Expand test sites and testing criteria (Current criteria focuses on individuals who are hospitalized, individuals that have been exposed to known cases, emergency responders, and those in long-term care facilities or are about to enter long-term care facilities.)
  • Increase testing volume and timeliness to decrease backlog and keep up with demand
  • Address the factors that limit testing (i.e. not enough supplies, viral transport)

The state is also encouraging doctors that have symptomatic patients to test their patients as supply allows. Due to lack of testing, Gov. Northam noted that many doctors have been relying on a clinical diagnosis rather than a test. Today, Dr. Norman Oliver will send a clinician letter encouraging doctors to test those patients.

Additionally, the CDC will send teams to each state to focus on testing vulnerable populations. The CDC is also allowing state labs to approve new tests. The CDC is helping states obtain more swabs and allowing more flexibilities in the testing components that states use.

  • Data – Gov. Northam announced that the Department of Health will expand the data it shares with the public. It will share the number of cases, hospitalizations, and fatalities by locality. It will also shares this data and demographic data at the health district level.
     
  • Long-term care facilities represent the majority of the outbreaks in the Commonwealth (55%). Cases in long-term care facilities represent about 10% of the cases in the Commonwealth.

The long-term care facilities taskforce is working with facilities that have not yet experienced an outbreak on infection control. The taskforce will be working with the CDC on virtual assessments for infection control. The taskforce plans to deploy Virginia Department of Health employees to facilities that are in the early stages of an outbreak to do onsite infection control assessments.

Dr. Forlano, who leads the taskforce, said the taskforce plans to issue guidance on removing residents from long-term care facilities and how to best make that decision and ensure the safety of the resident.

WEEK of Apr. 12–18, 2020

Va. Dept. of Education update

Closing schools was a necessary step to protect public health, and it has had a profound impact on students, parents and teachers. The state is making additional resources available to teachers and students to help facilitate distance learning, including:

  • Expanding Virtual VA to allow every teacher to host virtual classes through June 30. For students without internet access, the content can be loaded onto devices and used offline.
  • Four VA public media stations have launched teacher led programing to help students in grades K through 10.
  • DOE issued a new guidance document to all educators/schools to help prevent the further widening of achievement gaps.

Gov. Northam extends business closures, ban on public gatherings of 10+ to May 8

Executive Order 53 is being extended for two more weeks. It will now expire on May 8. It was originally supposed to expire on April 23. Gov. Northam emphasized that the stay at home order is in effect until June 10.

He also emphasized that things will not go back to how they were before the pandemic, suggesting that the new normal will include covering your face, spending more time at home, teleworking, and avoiding large gatherings.

Gov. Northam said that the business community will be involved in the conversation to ease restrictions in Virginia. The governor noted that Virginia had a strong economy before the virus. For example, March general fund revenues were 10.8 percent higher than last year.

Existing executive order on entertainment, barber shops and gyms also extended

The executive order closing down entertainment establishments, theaters, gums, and salons is set to expire on April 23. The governor announced he will extend that deadline and will announce the new date on Wednesday, April 15. The governor believes the extension is critical to keeping people home and enforcing social distancing guidelines which are helping to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Childcare

Gov. Northam announced that $70 million from the CARES Act will go to support essential workers with children under the age of 12 and early childhood education. Specifically, the money will go towards:

  • Direct flexible cash assistance to the centers that have remained open
  • Preparing schools to serve as emergency childcare centers where needed
  • Eliminating copayments until June for families that are receiving federal childcare subsidy dollars
  • Making additional funding available to centers that accept federal subsidy dollars but have closed

Additional information for providers and parents can be found at childcareva.com.

Long-term care facilities

According to Gov. Northam, Virginia is doing everything it can at Canterbury Rehabilitation Center and other long-term care facilities. The governor noted that these facilities face challenges with PPE, testing and staffing. Northam also noted that adequate funding is a challenge but hopes his budget amendment to address this issue will be approved. Dr. Laurie Forlano, who is leading a long-term care taskforce, noted that the taskforce is developing a systems level approach to strategically respond to outbreaks.

VHHA urging Gov. Northam to affirm legal protections for health care providers

VHHA recently sent Governor Northam a joint letter from the health care community urging him to issue an executive order to clarify and affirm legal protections for health care providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. A copy of the letter can be viewed online here [Word document].

Statement asking General Assembly to reject amendment slashing Medicaid reimbursements for hospital emergency services

VHHA, the Virginia College of Emergency Physicians, and the Medical Society of Virginia issued a joint statement this week asking the Virginia General Assembly to reject a state budget amendment that would slash Medicaid reimbursements for hospital emergency services in some instances. Read the statement here.

COVID-19 federal funding opportunities for VHHA members

VHHA has posted information for hospital and health system members about COVID-19 federal funding opportunities and a summary of the recently approved federal CARES Act for hospital members. Access those documents online here and here.

Free Clif Bars to VHHA member hospital facilities

Clif Bar & Company has contacted the VHHA and offered to ship free Clif Bars to member hospital facilities for staff (three per staff member) to thank them for the work they are doing to fight COVID-19. Hospitals interested in this offer are asked to complete this short form by the close of business on April 17. VHHA will gather the requests and submit them to Clif Bar, which will make shipments directly to responding facilities. In order to complete the form, it is necessary to have a count of the number of staff members who work at a facility and to coordinate this offer through shipping and receiving staff (details about shipping pallet size are listed in the form). Please contact VHHA Senior Director of Population Health Polly Raible at (919) 815-1315 with any questions.

Annual National Healthcare Decisions Day

April 16 is the 12th Annual National Healthcare Decisions Day, which exists to inspire, educate and empower the public and providers about the importance of advance care planning. Although this issue has always been important, the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the need for advance care planning in the event of a health crisis. The goal is as simple as it is huge: to ensure that all adults name an agent, discuss their choices, and document the agent and choices in an advance directive. Free resources are available at nhdd.org and Virginia-specific resources are available here.

Operationalizing telehealth capabilities

The Mid-Atlantic Telehealth Resource Center (MATRC) has developed an online resource page to meet the urgent need of providers to operationalize telehealth capabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The page is updated daily and includes frequently asked questions, commonly requested resources, and other tools covering topics such as program implementation, policy, and reimbursement. Access it online here. The available resources include quick start training for tele-behavioral health providers.

Episcopal Church clergy resources for hospitals

The Episcopal Church is offering a call line and website resources for hospitals and health care providers to connect dying patients with a member of the clergy to pray with them. The phone number to call in these circumstances is (213) 423-3600. More information is available at DialAPriest.com.

WEEK of Apr. 5–11, 2020

Federal funding opportunities and CARES Act summary

VHHA has posted additional information for hospital and health system members about COVID-19 federal funding opportunities and a summary of the recently approved federal CARES Act for hospital members. Access those documents online here [PDF] and here [PDF].

HHS OIG survey on hospital experiences in responding to COVID-19

The Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has published the results of a recent survey it conducted on hospital experiences in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The key takeaway in the report is that “hospitals reported that their most significant challenges centered on testing and caring for patients with known or suspected COVID-19 and keeping staff safe. Hospitals also reported substantial challenges maintaining or expanding their facilities’ capacity to treat patients with COVID-19. Hospitals described specific challenges, mitigation strategies, and needs for assistance related to personal protective equipment (PPE), testing, staffing, supplies and durable equipment; maintaining or expanding facility capacity; and financial concerns.” Read the survey results here [PDF].

Patients Come First podcast interview with VHHA Emergency Preparedness Director

The latest episode of VHHA’s Patients Come First podcast features an interview with VHHA Emergency Preparedness Director Kelly Parker. During the conversation, Parker discusses her professional path to health care and emergency preparedness work, the Commonwealth’s response to COVID-19, and the critical role of Virginia hospitals and health systems in confronting this global pandemic. Listen here.

Surgeon General advises Americans to make face coverings

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams is advising Americans to make face coverings and wear them when they venture out in public for essential needs. People wearing a face covering or mask in public should still practice social distancing. A how-to instructional video about making a face covering out of a hand towel, handkerchief, or old t-shirt can be viewed here.

New online data dashboard

With the support of hospital members, VHHA has launched a new online data dashboard to provide up-to-date statistics on the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations across the Commonwealth, ventilator usage, current hospital bed availability, and metrics on the number of hospitals experiencing challenges obtaining or replenishing critical inventories of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other needed medical supplies. The publication of this dashboard, which is updated daily, provides a resource to the public, state and federal partners, and the media to share valuable, accurate data that offers insight into the work being done by Virginia hospitals and health systems, and the thousands of dedicated health care professionals they employ, who are combatting COVID-19. In addition to the new data dashboard, VHHA also maintains a COVID-19 webpage with resources, documents, video content, and more. That page is also a portal through which people with supplies to donate can find information on hospitals seeking supply donations. A full news release about the data dashboard can be accessed online here.

COVID-19 webinars

VHHA Foundation, the charitable, non-profit affiliate of the VHHA, is providing access to on demand COVID-19 webinars for VHHA members here. These webinars cover a range of topics including information for health care human resources professionals, telehealth, coding and reporting, and more. The Foundation is also providing VHHA members with access to two live webinars this week. On Wednesday, April 8, a “Preparing for FEMA Disaster Declaration Reimbursement” webinar will be held from 11 a.m.-noon EST. Register to join live or access the recording here. On Thursday, April 9 a webinar on “Accessing the $2 Trillion Recovery Fund for COVID-19” will be held from 2-3 p.m. EST. Register for that webinar (or to access the recording) here.

Stay at home executive order

Last week, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued a stay at home executive order, with certain exceptions, effective April 1. The order is expected to extend into June. This follows previous guidance from the Governor directing hospitals and other health care providers to postpone elective surgeries to help conserve PPE supplies. Read the full order here. The Governor has also ordered K-12 schools to remain closed for the duration of the school year, banned all gatherings with more than 10 people, and called for certain non-essential businesses to close through April 23. A full statement about that order can be viewed here.

PPE donations

VHHA is soliciting donations of PPE on behalf of its members and identifying vendors with available supplies and resources. Links for supply donations, and a submission form for potential vendors, are available through the VHHA COVID-19 Resources page here.

Stay at home executive order

Last week, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued a stay at home executive order, with certain exceptions, effective April 1. The order is expected to extend into June. This follows previous guidance from the Governor directing hospitals and other health care providers to postpone elective surgeries to help conserve PPE supplies. Read the full order here. The Governor has also ordered K-12 schools to remain closed for the duration of the school year, banned all gatherings with more than 10 people, and called for certain non-essential businesses to close through April 23. A full statement about that order can be viewed here.

WEEK of Mar. 29–Apr. 4, 2020

Virginia federal disaster declaration

Yesterday, the federal government approved Virginia’s federal disaster declaration, which will provide additional federal funding for equipment and supplies. Additionally, it will help provide shelter for 1,500 homeless Virginians. FEMA is providing funding for food, cleaning supplies, and medical transportation.

Unemployment and economic update

This week, over 114K people applied for unemployment benefits. Virginia has expanded server capacity and call centers to help meet the demand.

Governor Northam said the state is facing a recession, and it will have major impacts on the state budget. Governor Northam stated that “we can expect to have significantly less revenue than even our most pessimistic forecasts.” He noted that federal funding from the disaster declaration and the stimulus bills will help, but it won’t be enough. As a result, Governor Northam directed state agency heads to eliminate discretionary spending for the remainder of the fiscal year and to prepare for budget cuts in the next budget cycle. Governor Northam also directed budget experts to reexamine funding that was planned for new initiatives and avoid any new commitments.

Guidance for faith communities

Governor Northam said the state has developed additional guidance for faith communities, urging them to use alternative means of worship, such as virtual or drive-in gatherings.

Staff use of face masks, respirators from home

The Joint Commission has issued a statement offering support and guidance to health care organizations regarding staff use of standard face masks or respirators brought from home [PDF]. The Joint Commission has taken this position in recognition of several factors including hospitals’ need to conserve personal protective equipment (PPE) at a time when these resources are in short supply and the fact that Joint Commission standards don’t prohibit staff from using PPE brought from home. The Joint Commission also notes that homemade masks are an extreme measure that should only be used when standard PPE is unavailable.

AHA 100 Million Mask Challenge

The American Hospital Association (AHA) is leading a “100 Million Mask Challenge” that calls on manufacturers, the business community, and individuals across the nation to coordinate efforts – by facilitating new relationships with hospitals and health systems – to help rapidly produce needed PPE on a large scale to help protect frontline health care heroes. Learn more here.

VACEP project to provide intubation boxes to hospital emergency departments

The Virginia College of Emergency Physicians (VACEP) is working on an effort to provide intubation boxes to every hospital emergency department in the Commonwealth to help protect frontline health care providers treating COVID-19 patients. The goal of VACEP is to provide this equipment to hospitals within the next two weeks. Learn more here.

Virginia Medical Reserve Corps

The Virginia Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) is a force of dedicated volunteers who stand ready to support the community in the event of a public health emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Each of the 27 local MRC units is comprised of teams of medical and public health professionals who, along with interested community members, volunteer their skills, expertise, and time to support ongoing public health initiatives and assist during emergencies throughout the Commonwealth. The success of Virginia’s response to a large-scale public health event, such as a pandemic or bioterrorism attack, depends on how quickly and effectively MRC volunteers can be mobilized. To become a Virginia Medical Reserve Corps Volunteer, please submit an application to the Virginia Volunteer Health System.

Stay at home executive order

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued a stay at home executive order, with certain exceptions, effective April 1. The order is expected to extend to June 1. This follows previous guidance from the Governor directing hospitals and other health care providers to postpone elective surgeries to help conserve supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE). Read the full order here. The Governor has also ordered K-12 schools to remain closed for the duration of the school year, banned all gatherings with more than 10 people, and called for certain non-essential businesses to close through April 23. A full statement about that order can be viewed here.