All eyes on Monday as Northam touts positive developments with COVID-19 response

Virginia covid-19

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The number of COVID-19 patients in Virginia hospitals is down nearly 100 over the past two days. Which is good news for lots of reasons, including when the Commonwealth will be able to take the first baby steps toward getting back to some sense of normal.

“We’ve said from the beginning that our goal was to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed. We have done that,” Gov. Ralph Northam said Friday, pointing toward an announcement coming early next week on when Virginia will be able to move into a phased reopening of his now seven-week lockdown.

Yay.

The governor pointed at his Friday afternoon presser to significant recent advances in testing capacity, the availability of personal protective equipment and the diminishing number of new cases and hospitalizations as positive steps that can allow Virginia to begin moving forward.

Northam and his team will apparently be working through the weekend on the blueprint for reopening Virginia.

He mentioned that a couple of times in the presser, so it would probably be nice if you could take a moment and applaud, thanks.

One big step in the right direction has already been taken, as the governor earlier this week lifted his order banning hospitals from performing elective surgeries, the idea behind that move being to free up capacity for what seven weeks ago was expected to be a surge of COVID patients.

That surge never materialized, but the hit on the healthcare system, which derives the bulk of its operating revenues from fees for services, has been devastating.

Earlier this week, UVA Health announced a set of dramatic budget cuts and furloughs, citing a projected $85 million operating budget deficit from the first month of the Northam lockdown.

Meanwhile, data from the Virginia Department of Health updated quietly on Friday might throw the whole lockdown strategy into question.

The COVID-19 data dashboard on the VDH website now reports that 311 of the state’s 581 confirmed COVID-19 deaths to date were reported in nursing homes.

Maybe, just maybe, a strategy that would have focused on protecting those most vulnerable, instead of one that has resulted in just shy of 500,000 people filing unemployment claims over the past seven weeks, would have been more prudent.

Water under the bridge

We wait ‘til Monday to learn more.

Story by Chris Graham


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