Facebook Live 5/4- Answers

Where we are with testing: We need to have the capacity to test everyone who needs to be tested, which includes everyone who has symptoms or who has been exposed.

We also need the workforce to be able to do contact tracing. We’ll be working on that this week.

When the VDH switched over to their new data dashboard HERE, they included a bunch of tests that had not been previously recorded. They are also now counting differently, now they are counting positive tests. I believe this is not as reliable of a number. We have made requests to have a conversation about the data with those who are involved in the decision making. Particularly, what data benchmarks are we going to follow to determine that we are having fewer people come back positive; this is either percent positive, or some other reliable variable.

There have been some partnerships established with private labs. I hope that will become much more robust so private labs can process more tests so we can get this done faster. We’ll be having that conversation today too.

Question 1:

I have heard that several small restaurants are opening up. How will that be dealt with? Is that considered illegal?


Until Executive Order 53 is no longer in place, it can be a misdemeanor to have a restaurant open at all. That expires May 7th, and we’ll soon find out if the Governor is going to allow small restaurants to open up, or if he is going to extend that order. If restaurants do open up, it will be small, likely no more than 10 people, and with appropriate spacing. There are going to be some accommodations needed to do that. I know many places are preparing to use best practices to open back up.

Question 2:

If a person has a diagnosis of hypertension, but it is completely controlled and in a normal range, does that still count as a risk factor for getting a bad case of the virus?


The way we look at this in medicine is we add up your risks, there is a cumulative comorbidity that is looked at. If you are over 75 and you have hypertension, that is a risk factor. If you have obesity, diabetes, and you’re over 75, you could potentially get much more sick if you get COVID. You could have a conversation with your doctor about that to run through all the variables. Hypertension in a vacuum is not a full summation of risk.

Question 3:

Will there be a dashboard that will give us a status for how to reach phase 1?


I am asking; I thought that was what they were working on. We’ve had conversations about this with the administration. I had believed that’s what they were doing, and I was surprised when I saw the new dashboard that included other goals.

Question 4:

I have a 16 year old who should be getting her license. She can work, but she needs her license to get there, how will Virginia address this? Answer:

The DMV is now compliant with the Governor’s recommendation for social distancing, but behind the wheel training is offered by the private sector, and it is conceivable that you could find a private instructor to do behind the wheel training. You can either get it at school, or you can get it through a private company.

Question 5:

I believe I've had the virus and would like to be tested for antibodies. I have called several places locally, and I cannot locate a place that does that testing. Hopefully if I have antibodies I can donate blood through the Red Cross to possibly help someone.

Answer: BetterMed is doing antibody testing, you can call them. I have been working with them to make access to testing easier. BetterMed here in Henrico has a few locations. However, that is not the test you need to be eligible to donate convalescent plasma. What you need to have is having had a positive test, and then a negative test after a recovery period. You can find a link to that information on my website.

Question 6:

I’m confused by the VDH changing things up and now counting all positive tests, not positive people.


I agree, one person can have had three positive tests, which makes the overall numbers less reliable. The best explanation I can give is that for state to state counting the total number is most helpful, but it doesn’t necessarily help Virginia get to phase 1, and it doesn’t really give us perspective for what the patterns are. We need a reliance number for the incidence of illness.

Question 7:

Where can I see the numbers that track the downward slope?


I’ll let you know, I calculate the numbers every time. I look at percent positive. I know the Governor had that in his plan to enter Phase 1. If that is the metric used, then that information needs to be readily available.

Question 8:

When will we be able to get pet or baby sitters into our homes? I can’t get to work and appointments without a sitter?


Based on the rules in place now, you can have a sitter. You just have to develop the appropriate practices to lessen the chance of spreading the virus between families. What we do at the hospital is that people wear masks. Make sure no one has a fever, no symptoms of illness, or hasn’t been in contact with someone who is sick.

Question 9:

Is there any relief for retired folks who are living off their retirement investment income which has now plummeted.


To my knowledge it is not something that has been addressed in the issues that are looking at financial rescue measures. I do know that nearly everyone is eligible to get a check from the federal government in varying amounts that will hopefully tide you over. I am optimistic that we will be back to work quickly and we’ll soon see economic gains. This was an economic downturn that we chose, so as soon as we get things moving again, things will rev up.

We put in a question to Secretary Megan Healy at the state level, so we’ll get back to you on that as soon as we can.

Question 10:

Can part time workers who can’t get out now because of sitters get unemployment benefits?


This question is also going to Secretary Healy. They’ve expanded unemployment access vastly. My first thought is if you can’t work for any reason, you can probably get unemployment benefits. I will tell you that there are child care services that are open, we have that on our website. This is a centralized site where you can go and see which child care places are open HERE.

Question 11:

People keep looking to the government to solve their financial problems, as a fiscal conservative, what is your response, and how are you balancing compassion with fiscal responsibility.


I am anxious about how much government intervention there is here. These are decisions that are outside of my realm, but I have seen very good economists that are absolutely convinced that getting stimulus money at this time and preserving jobs are key to making sure that we’re ready to rev that engine of the economy as we go forward. As we’ve said before, this is tipping more towards a political argument now. We all chose to make a commitment to do what was indicated by the federal government to stay home, and we’ve had a dramatic improvement in the proposed number of deaths. This is the moment in time when we must be very disciplined in returning the decision making power to individuals to make decisions for themselves. The government needs to step back, and that is how we get back to our constitutional freedoms.

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