I want to follow up on a few things, we received data from the Virginia Department of Health:
Deaths are now at 300. We are not at the peak yet for Virginia, the peak is targeted to be a week from today. The University of Washington health data moved the date from the 27th. The peak is much lower than anticipated, what we are doing is working!
Looking at Virginia Healthcare Hospital Association (VHHA) data, the number of people estimated to be in the hospital now is estimated to be about 1,300, about 828 are COVID positive, and the other 468 are waiting for tests to come back.
We have adequate supply chains to make sure our hospitals are stacked and staffed.
Two important pieces of data not included in the analysis of who is at risk:
Is there an age factor that causes significant risk?
What about those with chronic disease?
Neither of these questions have been applied to the analysis of the curve, and both are important factors to consider.
Nearly all of the deaths are from those 65+ and older, and those 55 and younger are at less of a risk.
What does all this mean?
What this means is that we took extraordinary precautions when this began in February and March, and that has been ratcheted up to the stay at home order for the state. We do not have a shelter in place order, that is different. Our recommendation is that you stay home if you can, don’t gather in groups larger than 10, and practice social distancing to make sure you decrease the rate of transmission.
Ads were seen online for COVID antibody testing saying that testing was available locally, are these tests accurate and who should be taking them?
To my knowledge, there is a lot of controversy about the tests. I have not seen any antibody tests that are out and have been properly vetted and approved. I can’t comment on reliability. There is not a strategy now to implement antibody testing.
Is there a plan to use recently unemployed workers to help with tasks such as contacting people who have been in contact with others who have tested positive?
Not that I know of. I know that a lot of counties are using furloughed employees to earn back hours at places like food banks. But if I hear anything else about this, I’ll let you know.
Is it true that those with a clinical diagnosis for COVID, not those tested but diagnosed through symptoms, are now going to be counted in Virginia’s case numbers?
I have not seen that. There's no way we could count that because it is too uncertain. We know that people who have gotten tested were those who were symptomatic, or healthcare workers. Of those tested, those positive tests only came back at around 20%. Testing is not a perfect science. We don’t have denominators we can rely on. We may never know every single person who had COVID.
The Governor stated there weren't enough swabs for everyone who needs to be tested, what is being done about that?
I know that swabs are being newly produced. There is a plan to return to work from the federal government, and that includes the state being able to test everyone who needs to be tested. This includes those who are symptomatic, and those who have been exposed. Before the state can make a plan to return to work, there needs to be capacity to do tests.
If more tests are needed for the state to be allowed to enter phase 1, what is being done to have drive through or similar testing centers?
Testing is going to be based on symptoms, not on testing everyone. There are many public and private centers for testing, but you need to have symptoms. We need to be on the downstroke of the curve, we need to go 14 days with a decline in the number of new cases. The UVA data shows that we will move down to a lower number, a manageable number, but this will probably persist through the summer. The key is that we have the supply chain to take care of everyone who needs it.
My husband and I have been self-isolating since March, would it be safe to have a visit with our grandchildren in the park?
Answer: That depends on your age, and whether or not you will be masked and washing your hands, but we will talk about this more soon. Social distancing does not mean that you can’t be around anyone else, it means that you must take precautions.
What about independent contractors? Answer:
Independent contractors have not been able to get into unemployment. The state has recently gotten some funding, but they haven't been able to to figure out how to distribute it or get it out to individuals. Safe practices are encouraged, but independent contractors are allowed to enter your home if done so properly. If you’re an independent contractor, you should go on the state unemployment website and apply. The state is working to get unemployment benefits, and the state is working hard to get that to you.
If you fall and have to go to the ER, is it safe to go?
Yes. With the ER, they have sequestered those who could possibly be positive, but the ER is able to care for other things. All critical services are being provided for.
Do you know where, or if, the Governor’s revised budget is available?
Yes it is, and it is posted on my website for everyone to see. A list of the Governor's Amendments can be found HERE