Virginia Uses Genetic Technology to Combat COVID-19

Governor News Release:

“This genetic fingerprint gives us tremendous insight into this novel virus, helping us understand where Virginia cases originated and how they are being transmitted in our communities,” said DCLS Director Dr. Denise Toney. “Providing this information in real-time is unbelievably valuable for public health officials as they determine how to reduce the impact of COVID-19 in our communities.”

“We are still in the early stages of this outbreak, but we must ensure that Virginia is ready when the surge of acute cases hits our healthcare system,”

Story at Virginia Mercury:

The facilities — the Dulles Expo Center in Northern Virginia and the Richmond and Hampton Roads convention centers — will be able to provide beds for 1,107 acute patients or 1,848 non-acute patients, Northam said Friday.

“Sentara Healthcare is now processing COVID-19 tests at a newly-created laboratory in Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.”

View update at Sentara.com:

The project involved the purchase and delivery of an Abbott m2000 RealTime testing instrument, related equipment and supplies, creation of a dedicated COVID-19 testing lab in a former laboratory conference room and train staff to use it in less than two weeks. 

“Sentara is fortunate to have the resources to respond to this crisis and begin our own testing within a few weeks,” says Tabetha Sundin, Ph.D., scientific director of the Sentara Molecular Laboratory. “Waiting for test results can be nerve-wracking for our patients. We are doing all we can to speed up results and provide answers.”

“Scientific models of how the coronavirus pandemic will unfold in Virginia vary wildly, but there is one thing they all agree on: The more people take social distancing seriously, the smaller the number of those who will get sick and die.”

Pilotonline.com:

“We don’t want to have the numbers we have in Virginia, but we do,” said Daniel Carey, Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resource at a Monday press conference. “And we can help use that real data to land on a model that we feel comfortable predicting and planning on.”

State officials are using a model created by University of Virginia researchers with the Defense Reduction Agency to plan for the state’s healthcare needs. They want to release it soon, when they feel they have enough data, said Dr. Norman Oliver, Virginia’s Health Commissioner.

Governor Northam Issues Statewide Stay at Home Order

Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of Governor Ralph S. Northam
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE · March 30, 2020
Office of the Governor
Governor Northam Issues Statewide
Stay at Home Order
RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today issued a statewide Stay at Home order to protect the health and safety of Virginians and mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. The executive order takes effect immediately and will remain in place until June 10, 2020, unless amended or rescinded by a further executive order.
The order directs all Virginians to stay home except in extremely limited circumstances. Individuals may leave their residence for allowable travel, including to seek medical attention, work, care for family or household members, obtain goods and services like groceries, prescriptions, and others as outlined in Executive Order Fifty-Three, and engage in outdoor activity with strict social distancing requirements.
The executive order also directs all Virginia institutions of higher education to stop in-person classes and instruction. Private campgrounds must close for short-term stays, and beaches will be closed statewide except for fishing and exercise.
“We are in a public health crisis, and we need everyone to take this seriously and act responsibly,” said Governor Northam. “Our message to Virginians is clear: stay home. We know this virus spreads primarily through human-to-human contact, and that’s why it’s so important that people follow this order and practice social distancing. I’m deeply grateful to everyone for their cooperation during this unprecedented and difficult time.”
The full text of Executive Order Fifty-Five can be found here.
Last week, Governor Northam issued Executive Order Fifty-Three closing certain non-essential businesses, prohibiting public gatherings of more than 10 people, and directing all K-12 schools to remain closed for the rest of the academic year. A Frequently Asked Questions guide about Executive Order Fifty-Three can be found here.
For the latest information about the COVID-19 outbreak, visit virginia.gov/coronavirusor CDC.gov/coronavirus.

Everyone Must Do Their Part: Mayor Urges Compliance to Stop the Spread of COVID-19

Businesses in violation of Governor Northam’s Executive Order may be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor, which in punishable by up to 12 months in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, or both.

However, if you must go out, it doesn’t matter whether you are walking along the boardwalk, standing in line for food at a restaurant or shopping inside a home improvement store. Do not congregate in groups and keep six feet away from other people. It is as simple–and as important–as that if we are going to contain the outbreak.