Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) on Wednesday announced that the state would begin reopening its economy after it was almost completely shut down over the coronavirus pandemic, saying hospitals, dentists, and veterinarians offices can soon resume non-emergency procedures.
“I want to assure Virginians that if we begin to see cases and hospitalizations rates rise again, we are all prepared to take swift and necessary action,” he proclaimed during a press conference, adding that the state’s testing capabilities have improved significantly.
— Ralph Northam (@GovernorVA) April 29, 2020
He also indicated that the state is no longer concerned about potential Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) shortages and hospital bed capacity.
Last Friday, Gov. Northam shared the “blueprint” to reopen Virginia, which outlines a phased approach to reviving the state embraced by several other regions.
On Wednesday, Northam confirmed Breitbart News’s determination that Virginia already meets at least three of the four metrics the governor said must be met for the state to move to a Phase One reopening, with the fourth being close to being achieved.
Northam said VA had met all four metrics for Phase One, which means some non-essential businesses reopen with strict safety restrictions, continued social distancing, continued teleworking, and recommended face coverings in public.
He told reporters:
There were certainly challenges as far as if and when we would have a surge. There were challenges initially with PPE. Challenges with the ability to test as needed. And so the answer to your question, they [the four metrics for reopening] have been met. … Hospitalizations and ICU [intensivre care unit] admissions and [the] need for ventilators … have remained essentially flat throughout this.
So, just to sum up, I think what Virginians have done and certainly, the hospitals and health care providers and dentists and veterinarians have all done, has allowed us to keep that curve flat and not get to a point where our capacity was overburdened.
The Old Dominion governor, however, indicated his coronavirus business task force is “still working” out the details of possibly reopening the economy regionally, beyond just allowing hospitals, dentists, and veterinarians offices to resume non-emergency procedures.
Non-emergency procedures can resume after the governor’s public health order expires tomorrow at midnight, Northam told reporters on Wednesday.
He stressed that there are state and federal government guidelines in place to ensure the safety of workers and maintain adequate PPE supplies.
Virginia is “allowing our hospitals and outpatient providers to resume non-emergency procedures, allowing our dentists to see non-emergency patients, and also allowing our veterinarians to see non-emergency pets and their patients,” Northam said.
I’m announcing that elective surgery and dental procedures can resume when the public order expires at midnight tomorrow night with guidelines in place to ensure safety for healthcare workers and patients and to maintain an adequate supply of PPE.
We know that dental issues can affect the rest of the body. So, it’s important that dental facilities are included in this.
Northam noted that veterinarians voluntarily stopped doing surgeries that required PPE so that they could donate those supplies to health officials on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic.
Late last week, the Virginia Health Department back-pedaled on its assertion that the first phase of reopening the state, which covers non-essential businesses, “will be a two-year affair,” claiming that Commissioner Norman Oliver misspoke.
As of Wednesday afternoon, there were over 14,900 confirmed coronavirus cases, 522 deaths, nearly 2,260 hospitalizations, and more than 85,300 people tested in Virginia.
The White House has issued guidelines for states to revive their economy, prompting several of them to take action.