Click HERE to watch the full video from today's Facebook Live.
Thank you everyone who watched and submitted questions. I look forward to talking with you all again on Friday(3/27) at 12:30! Don't forget to send your questions ahead of time to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is a list of the answers provided on the Facebook Live today.
Medical related questions:
Question 1: What do you do if you think you have COVID-19?
Answer: If you have symptoms now -- which would be a cough, a fever, you think you've been exposed, or are concerned -- call your doctor. Do not go in. Most things are handled over the phone or through Telemedicine. Only if you look like you are becoming more ill and might need hospitalization are you likely to get tested. The other testing we have is being reserved for health care workers so we make sure they don't expose anyone they’re providing care for. We only test for things when it will change how we take care of you. So for now the people who will be tested are people who are symptomatic and look like they are very ill and need ongoing care and we need to decide what that care will be, or a health care worker we may need to isolate.
Question 2: Can the virus be transmitted through the mail or through packages? IE mail and food packages.
Answer: Yes. This virus can live on packages. Best practices that are being shared are: open the box outside of your home, take out the contents of the box, leave the box outside your door, bring the contents inside and spray down with Lysol, then wash whatever you used to open the box and your hands.
Question 3: Seems there should be a push to test massively ( as Virginia has not been hit that heavily - yet) to "get ahead" of the virus, by identifying all people currently infected, including the mildly symptomatic and asymptomatic, quarantine them, and trace contacts. Hopefully the "social distancing and business closures slows the spread enough this can be done. Otherwise, are we accepting gradual spread until we reach "herd immunity"? I hope not. What do our epidemiologists think regarding this?
Answer: Not everyone will be tested. This is much more like the common cold with the exception that people who do get sick and who are at risk are getting extraordinarily ill. What we are trying to do is to conserve resources and decrease transmission to those that will become terribly ill so that the resources we do have in the health care community can be used to make sure these individuals safely recover. 98% of people who have this will recover.
Question 4: If a person contracts the coronavirus, will they have immunity for further infections of the virus?
Answer: Yes. Once you develop immunity to COVID-19 then you are going to likely be protected from that virus going forward. You have long-lasting antibodies that confer lifelong protection period now the COVID-19, this specific virus, has not been mutating like the flu where we need a new vaccine each year. As they have been observing it in the lab thus far it has been quite stable so as we develop immunity that means you should be protected in the future and even more importantly if we can develop a vaccine it will help confer herd immunity.
Education Related Questions:
Question 1: Why were we the second state to close schools when states far more affected than us have not yet done so?
Answer: The answer I've received from the state government is that they happened to be on call with the Department of Education as they were strategizing and organizing. There was an enormous push from the federal government that schools should be closed for the rest of the year. A follow-up to that is that we will need to figure out how we make sure kids achieve grade level accomplishments when we don't have a very organized tele education system in place yet. We are working on that. Also, locally there are a lot of websites you can go to (Hanover, Henrico, and central VA COVID-19 links go here) on any of these you can hear everything our Superintendent of schools is doing to make sure your kids get what they need.
Question 2: What is the Governor doing for people who are classified ESSENTIAL PERSONAL and have no childcare?
Answer: We just got that answer please find information HERE including contact information and a list of child care providers.
People have also been wondering about essential vs. non-essential. Please look HERE for more information.
Special Session Questions:
Question 1: Is the Governor’s office calling a special session to address budgetary shortfalls?
Answer: This is challenging. The Constitution significantly limits what the Governor can do in an emergency like this. I believe the Governor is looking to stay within his constitutional bounds, but also do as much as possible to help Virginia. Calling a special session would expose a lot of people to undue risk of exposure. On the call with the Federal Government today, they asked for 15 days of slowdown. That is 15 days of social distancing and making sure you stay in your homes to decrease how many get this virus. Today is day 10 of those 15, and we will re-evaluate as we get closer today 15 as to whether we do this for longer or not. This slowdown is essential so we can decrease the transmission. Special session conversations will happen after that.
That being said, I know my caucus has sent letters and we have all talked to the Governor about making sure that spending that was allocated in the budget during this session and spending attributed say by hiring new people or new programs, all have a freeze put on them. We won't get that legislation back until we get to reconvene in mid April. So there's time to put stopgaps on those things to make sure we prepare for decreased revenues the state will have after this slowdown.
Question 2: Is there any chance that the GA will come into special session and take up the issue to make an exception due to the current circumstances so that we can conduct essential business without risking the health of our members?
Answer: See above.
Question 1: If I rely on alimony for income and my ex-husband is laid off during this time, am I legally still entitled to receive my check?
Answer: Don’t have that answer yet. We want you to know we put these questions into the state and they are so busy trying to meet your needs that they are telling us to expect 5-9 days to get answers. We will work on that.
Question 2: Are you satisfied with the Governor's efforts regarding supplying PPE to the medical community, and helping to get testing capacity in place?
Answer: Yes. Everyone is doing everything they can to make sure we have adequate resources. The demand is high now and the supply is just gearing up we're going to have to create it. That's why we were asking you to stay home if you think you are sick. We don't need to use PPE to test people who don't need any further treatment besides the test period we need to conserve that PPE. We are finding ways to recycle masks by re sterilizing them. Lots of efforts are being made to make sure we have adequate PPE. It's a concern for everyone and right now.
Question 3: Is the task force considering the balance with the economic disaster occurring?
Answer: I know the federal government and the Governor are looking at that but right now we balance the federal disaster economically by making sure we protect people from being exposed. We can't really provide the services needed and right now the health care issues are the preeminent issue. We will get past these 15 days and figure out what we need to do to re-evaluate then.
Question 4: How can I volunteer to assist those in need?
Answer: Let me tell you your localities are banding together to find ways to help. Henrico has a hotline as does greater Richmond and Hanover, about testing or exposure and you’re not sure where to call HERE. Faith based organizations and other organizations are networking to connect with that hotline so that people can call and reach out to the volunteers in that area to make sure that that person that needs a grocery delivery or needs assistance can actually get the assistance because the man power needed will be in place through volunteers. You can sign up at ForRichmond.org if you go to their COVID-19 tab and sign up. They will build you into that network so you can help people who are having to stay home get the help they need.
Question 5: When/will the Commonwealth implement more restrictions for ALL commonwealth residents?
Answer: I don't think so. I think that what we are seeing nationally and in Virginia is that we have an extraordinary self regulated response to what has been asked of us. To stay home and make sure we don't expose other people and take these precautions. I think that Americans are uniquely capable of self regulation and self accountability. As far as adult behavior is concerned, I think that it is the balance between the economy and where we are health wise. We are expecting people to use good judgment but support local businesses by say ordering out for food.
Question 6: Should we leave our shoes outside?
Answer: Best practices that have been shared for home environment care is to clean all surfaces including doorknobs frequently. When you come home, especially if you are still going to work like me, take off your shoes and leave them at the door. Take off your clothes, do a quick shower and get clean. basically leave it at the door any chance you have so you do not expose your family via contact. Let me be clear about this virus, it isn't just floating in the air it is what we call “droplet spread.” That means that it has to be attached to moisture like a bodily fluid and land on you. So when somebody coughs or sneezes, or if they cough and sneeze and then touch a surface, it can live in that droplet. We are not sure how long, but it’s longer than we thought. That’s why we are encouraging such frequent cleaning. So it's not that walking in the air that will expose you but it's droplet spread.
Question 7: Homemade masks, do they work?
Answer: We just don’t know if they work or not. Again, there's a couple of different things to talk about here when we talk about masks. There are masks that deal with airborne viruses. If you are in a healthcare setting, if you are around someone who is coughing or someone who is on a ventilator, you need these special masks called N95. Those masks are for very specific contact with someone who is known to be tested positive. The regular masks that we wear are to decrease the amount of exposure we have from droplet spread so, I would say we just don’t know about homemade masks and we don’t really have a comment on that yet because they haven’t been tested.