Monday: Deaths from COVID-19 Reach 300 in Virginia; State Forms Testing Work Group
At least 300 people in Virginia have died from complications related to COVID-19, according to data updated Monday morning by the Virginia Department of Health.
The state's total number of cases is closing in on 9,000. Monday's number of reported new cases was 453. New cases have decreased slightly each day since Friday's high of 602.
1,500 people have been hospitalized in Virginia because of the illness. More than 56,000 tests have been conducted.
State announces COVID-19 testing work group
In an afternoon news briefing, Governor Ralph Northam announced the formation of a COVID-19 testing work group. The group will be made up of state health officials, as well as representatives from private and community health care providers.
Northam said the group's goal will be increase testing capcity and timeliness. The state's Secretary of Health said Virginia is currently seeing about 2,000 to 3,000 test results returned each day. Thousands more will be needed, and the working group will determine exactly how much more capacity is needed and how best to utilitize the increased capacity.
Northam said testing is key to relaxing restrictions on groups and businesses. He said Virginia still has not reached the peak of infection yet and models indicate that may happen later this week. The first step in the White House/Centers for Disease Control guidelines is a downward trend of new cases for 14 days. Northam said increased testing will result in more total cases, but a ratio of new cases to the number of tests conducted will be considered in that data.
The governor also announced the health department will begin providing data about cases, fatalities and hospitalizations on a locality level.
More testing in state prisons
The Virginia Department of Corrections announced plans Monday to step up testing inside the state's prisons. The Virginia Department of Health is sending staff into correctional centers Monday to assist with additional testing.
Corrections officials say hundreds of additional tests kits have been ordered from the University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University and the state lab. Officials say they'll now be able to start testing asymptomatic inmates to get a better idea of the prevelance of the disease in facilities.
The Department of Corrections said 434 inmates had been tested, as of Monday morning. 116 have active COVID-19 infections, along with 50 staff members.