Northam to release May 15 Virginia reopening guidelines on Friday

Virginia covid-19
(© Ingo Menhard –

Gov. Ralph Northam will outline the process for phase one of the lifting of his eight-week COVID-19 state lockdown on Friday.

Things are still on track for Friday, May 15, Northam confirmed in his Wednesday presser, as he also hinted that localities seeing higher case and hospitalization counts might be a little slower to open than other parts of the state.

“If local governments based on the situation in their own localities feel that they need to maintain additional restrictions on gatherings or business operations, we will allow that, and we will work with the localities,” Northam said.

Northern Virginia, the Eastern Shore and the City of Harrisonburg are seeing continued high rates of cases and hospitalizations, though we know that the Harrisonburg numbers are skewed by a large outbreak at a long-term care facility.

We don’t have locality-specific information on how other local case and hospitalization numbers are skewed by long-term care outbreaks, though, which is troubling, since long-term care facilities have been the ground zero for COVID-19.

For whatever reason, public policy hasn’t prioritized coming up with specifics to try to mitigate the impact on vulnerable seniors, and Northam highlighted the latest bit of not much in terms of Virginia’s response to the long-term care COVID-19 issue Wednesday, touting a partnership with the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association to increase COVID testing availability in facilities.

That’s it – we’re increasing testing availability in long-term care facilities.

Yeah, that’ll move the needle.

It doesn’t hurt to remind you here that 57 percent of the deaths from COVID-19 in Virginia have come in long-term care facilities, with more than half the 713 deaths reported in the Commonwealth through Tuesday in the 80+ age group, according to the latest data from the Virginia Department of Health.

The disaster is in our long-term care facilities, and the answer is increase testing availability.

We’re eight weeks past time for a better strategy.

Story by Chris Graham

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