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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 August 5: 94,251 total; 1,151 total in Appalachian Highlands
Cases in counties of the Appalachian Highlands region:
- Buchanan Co. – 73
- City of Bristol – 66
- Grayson Co. – 144
- Lee Co. – 101
- City of Norton – 14
- Russell Co. – 73
- Scott Co. – 62
- Smyth Co. – 123
- Tazewell Co. – 102
- Washington Co. – 184
- Wise Co. – 102
- Wythe Co. – 107
VHHA is the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association.
WEEK of August 03–07
- To help lead the way in the fight against COVID-19 the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is pleased to announce that COVIDWISE, Virginia’s official COVID-19 exposure notification app, will launch today, Aug. 5. Virginia will be the first state to deploy an exposure notification app in the United States using the Apple/Google Bluetooth Low Energy framework. Find additional materials about COVIDWISE here.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has announced that a legislative special session of the General Assembly will commence on Aug. 18. The focus of this session will be on downward revisions to the Commonwealth’s budget in light of the impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic on state revenues and the economy at large, and on criminal justice and police reform.
- The latest episode of VHHA’s Patients Come First podcast series features an interview with Dr. Daniel Lewis, the Chief Medical Officer at Ballad Health’s Greeneville Community Hospital in Tennessee. The conversation with Dr. Lewis covers the harrowing ordeal he experienced this spring when he went from clinician to patient after contracting a severe case of COVID-19 that required a monthlong hospital stay. Listen to the episode here and hear previous episodes here.
More Virginia headlines
Earlier Virginia updates
WEEK of JULY 27–31
- Virginia lawmakers this year took bold action to reform the health care system by passing a new law that protects patients and families from receiving unexpected medical bills after they have already paid their fair share of health insurance costs. Bipartisan legislation carried by Senator Barbara Favola of Arlington County (SB 172) and House of Delegates’ Appropriations Committee Chairman Luke Torian of Prince William County (HB 1251) prohibits balance billing for out-of-network emergency services and certain non-emergency services (such as anesthesiology, radiology, surgery, pathology, hospitalist, and laboratory care) at in-network facilities.
Governor Northam recently announced that a legislative special session of the General Assembly will commence on Aug. 18. The focus of this session will be on downward revisions to the Commonwealth’s budget in light of the impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic on state revenues and the economy at large, and on criminal justice and police reform.
- In Virginia, 87,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 and over 2,000 people have died. Virginia has avoided a large spike in cases that many other states have experienced. In fact, cases are largely stable in 4 out of the 5 regions. But, Governor Northam noted there is a concerning rise in cases in Hampton Roads. As of today, the percent positivity is 7.3 percent statewide, down from 7.7 percent last week. The percent positivity in Hampton Roads is 10.8 percent. If the Hampton Roads and Peninsula region is removed from the state’s data, the state’s positivity rate is 6.0 percent.
- New Tools: Governor Northam reviewed some the “new tools” that his administration has implemented as a result of COVID-19. He discussed the Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program as well as Rebuild VA, which Governor Northam announced yesterday to help small businesses. Governor Northam also noted that Virginia is implementing the country’s first emergency workplace safety standards for COVID-19. He said these tools are about mitigation and recovery.
- Governor Northam announced that his administration will distribute the second half of the CARES Act funding (almost $645 million) to localities this week. The Governor said this money will help localities provide rent assistance, food security, PPE, and tools to help educate our children.
- A few week ago, nursing homes accounted for one-third of Virginia’s cases, but now just 1 percent of individuals tested are positive in nursing homes. Dr. Forlano said base-line testing has occurred in almost all long-term care facilities. She noted there are issues with turn-around times with testing. She also noted that the National Guard was brought in to do the base-line testing, but they are not doing the serial testing.
- Test turn-around time is now close to a week. Governor Northam noted that there are challenges with reagents and supplies, but the state lab turn-around is about 48-72 hours. Governor Northam said that many of the commercial labs are experiencing a backlog in tests as demand for tests has increased not only in Virginia, but in other states as well. Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dan Carey said the administration has weekly communications with the testing community, including private labs.
WEEK of JUly 20–24
- The Virginia Department of Labor and Industry’s (DOLI) Safety and Health Codes Board has developed an emergency regulation at the behest of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam that creates additional COVID-19 workplace safety requirements for employers. The regulations, which will take immediate effect upon publication in a general circulation newspaper (likely during the week of July 27), can be viewed online here. In related news, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce is hosting a July 28 webinar (10-11 a.m.) for a discussion on the regulations and their impact on Virginia businesses. Register for that webinar here.
The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association (VHHA) has added intensive care unit (ICU) bed availability and utilization data to the online Virginia Hospital COVID-19 Data Dashboard to help inform the public, government officials, and media members about coronavirus hospitalization trends and related information.
- To help limit COVID-19 community spread of the virus and promote mask wearing in public, social distancing, and regular hand washing, VHHA has launched a digital campaign to encourage widespread use of face coverings by giving away a limited number of blue cloth masks bearing the slogan “I (Heart) Virginia Hospitals.”
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced significant changes to the process by which hospitals submit daily data on bed capacity, utilization, personal protective equipment (PPE), and in-house laboratory testing data. The updated reporting guidance can be viewed online here.
- The latest analysis from the American Hospital Association (AHA), as prepared by Kaufman, Hall & Associates, LLC, highlights the dire impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the financial health of hospitals and health systems. Without further federal government support, the analysis projects hospital margins could sink to negative seven percent in the second half of 2020, with half of all hospitals operating in the red.
WEEK of June 29 – July 03, 2020
- 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.
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.
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.