Wednesday Update: State Working to Ease Load on Intensive Care Units, Requesting More PPE

Mar 25, 2020

There are now 391 cases of COVID-19 in Virginia. That's more than 100 new cases since Tuesday's update.

There have been 12 deaths from COVID-19 in Virginia. That includes a Virginian that succumbed to the virus while in North Carolina, according to the North Carolina Department of Health.  The man was in his 60's and was traveling through that state. He lived in Pittsylvania County -- according to the Pittsylvania-Danville Health District.

59 people are currently hospitalized with the virus. Fairfax and Arlington Counties have the highest number of reported cases.

Click here for more information from the Virginia Department of Health.

During a news briefing Wednesday, Governor Ralph Northam said the state is working to reduce the strain on intensive care units at Virginia hospitals. That includes potentially allowing medical students to help and reworking certain licensing requirements.

His administration is also working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The corps has the ability to build emergency bed capacity in locations identified by the state should they be needed. Northam said his team is currently looking into potential sites across Virginia and will announce them once they are choosen.

Virginia has sent another request for personal protective equipment to the federal stockpile. State parks will no longer allow guests to stay overnight beginning Friday morning.

Northam will also issue an executive order that suspends all elective surgeries. This will hopefully ensure health care providers fighting the virus have the PPE they need and maximize the number of available beds across the state.

Virginia Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne commented on emergency aid funding legislation currently working through Congress. The more than $2 trillion funding package includes money for state governments. He says Virginia will receive at least $1.5 billion, but hopefully much more.

Northam also admonished Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. for allowing students to return to the Lynchburg school this week.

UVA Health says it will begin sharing its COVID-19 test with other hospitals in the region.

In a statement, the health system says it will be able to perform about 50 tests a day for hospitals across Virginia on behalf of patients that meet testing guidelines.

Credit CDC

As of Tuesday evening, UVA Health has already provided tests to at least five hospitals in Virginia and one in North Carolina.

The test can return results in less than 24 hours. Other tests can take up to nine days to get results. Officials there hope to be able to conduct up to 500 tests per day within the next two weeks.

The VCU Health System in the Richmond area has also developed its own in-house COVID-19 test. Officials say it will greatly reduce the waiting time for results as well.

**Editor's Note: UVA Health is a financial supporter of RADIO IQ.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.