Apr 6, 2020
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam COVID-19 Briefing Transcript April 6
Governor Northam asked all Virginians to wear masks while out in public in a coronavirus press briefing on April 6. Read the full transcript here.
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Ralph Northam: (00:01)
First, I want to thank everyone who’s doing the right thing and staying home. Virginia is a leader in fighting this pandemic. Thankfully this weekend we did not see the crowds that our beaches and our state parks like we saw a week ago and for that I say thank you. Science tells us that social distancing is the best way to fight COVID-19, that’s why it is important to stay home. I know that it is difficult, but we will get through this together.
Ralph Northam: (00:35)
I’ll remind you that social distancing is for everyone. We’re still seeing that nearly half of all cases are among people under the age of 50. It’s also important to remember that people can transmit this virus even if they don’t have symptoms. That’s one reason why the CDC, the Center for Disease Control, has now issued guidelines for people to wear cloth face coverings when they go out such as to the grocery store.
Ralph Northam: (01:08)
Face coverings can help reduce the spread of COVID-19. If a person is wearing a face covering, it is less likely that droplets from a sneeze or from talking will spread out into the air. If you’re wearing a face covering, it can offer some level of protection against those droplets. It also makes you more aware of accidentally touching your face. You don’t need a medical-grade mask to do this. In fact, you can make your own. The internet has many patterns and instructions for how to do so, even if you can’t sew. You can even use rubber bands and a bandana. I would advise everyone to wear a face covering when you’re out. No one should assume that if they wear a face covering, they are safe and can go about their business as normal. Unless you’re wearing a medical-level mask, you will not have medical-level protection. That’s why social distancing continues to be so important.
Ralph Northam: (02:16)
I thought I might bring you my face mask. This particular mask was designed and made by our Department of Corrections. It is comfortable. When applying it, you just want to put it over your face covering both your nose and your mouth. It has a rubber band to go behind your head. I would also remind you to at night, or depending on what your shift is during the day, but to once a day at least to wash it with soap and water, or to put it in the washing machine and then dryer. I also want to reassure Virginians that if you are wearing this face covering for the purpose of protecting yourself medically, nobody in Virginia will give you any problems. Nobody will write any citations.
Ralph Northam: (03:07)
Now let’s move on to some news from our state lab. Our Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services is starting to use genetic technology to help our public health officials better understand COVID-19. DCLS is doing this work alongside the CDC and international public health and university partners. They are building a library of genetic information from the positive tests DCLS gets as well as those from private labs, health systems and university systems in Virginia. One insight they have already learned, it appears that the virus was introduced in Virginia in multiple communities rather than spreading from one single source. I’m proud that DCLS is one of the first public health labs in the nation to do this very sophisticated work. This will help our public health officials understand the virus, how it spreads and how it may change and that will help give us more tools to fight it.
Ralph Northam: (04:16)
On Friday, I announced that we have chosen three sites for alternative care facilities, the Dulles Expo Center, the Hampton Roads Convention Center, and the Richmond Convention Center. We are finalizing those contracts, and work to build out those facilities will begin this week.
Ralph Northam: (04:38)
I have spoken frequently about the severe shortage of personal protective equipment for our frontline medical professionals. This shortage is both in Virginia and nationwide. We have been working with every angle to buy more PPE. I’m thrilled that we have executed a $27 million contract with Northfield, a Virginia-based logistics company, to provide PPE. We expect the first shipment of PPE from Asia to arrive a week from today.
Ralph Northam: (05:13)
We have also signed a contract with Estes Trucking to handle logistics and distribution. We have begun shipping 56,000 MREs, that stands for meals ready to eat, to food banks. This can supply our food banks for the next six weeks.
Ralph Northam: (05:33)
We have also received and shipped out hand sanitizer. Our health department has shipped one million old H191 masks and supplies to be reconditioned and distributed by the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association. VDH has also shipped the third round of supplies to hospitals from the strategic national stockpile.
Ralph Northam: (05:57)
Let’s move on to a note just a bit on testing. Virginia like other states has not been able to get the volume of testing materials that we need to do widespread testing. Sentara Healthcare has announced that it is starting to do in-house testing which should allow for faster processing times for test at hospitals in the Sentara network. This is a positive step. We continue to work as fast as we can on testing that will have a 15 to 30 minute turnaround, and I thank all that have been part of this goal.
Ralph Northam: (06:35)
I issued our stay-at-home order a week ago. I believe Virginians are taking this seriously and I, on behalf of the Commonwealth, thank all of you. Now we need to keep up the good work. Social distancing and frequent hand washing are our most powerful weapon in this battle, but we must continue to use it for it to work. In the weeks to come, we cannot relax our vigilance against this virus. The more everyone stays home, the safer we all will be.
Ralph Northam: (07:10)
Finally, I want to note that this is National Public Health Week. The COVID-19 outbreak has shown us how vital the work of our department of health, our local health districts and all of our public health workers is. From VDH Commissioner, Dr. Norm Oliver, through our state epidemiology department and to the local health workers tracking each case of COVID in their communities, our public health people have been working non-stop on behalf of Virginia. I want to thank them all. Their work is appreciated now and all year around. Our entire health community is working to make sure Virginians get the services they need, whether it’s our public health system, our front line medical staff or the community-based providers who are trying to figure out how to continue supporting our aging or disabled populations. We are grateful to all of them.
Ralph Northam: (08:08)
Now I’ll ask Dr. Oliver to give us a health update and then we’ll be glad to take your questions.
Ralph Northam: (08:14)
Dr. Oliver, thank you.
Dr. Norm Oliver: (08:16)
Thank you, Governor.
Dr. Norm Oliver: (08:19)
The Virginia Department of Health website was updated this morning at 9:00 AM with the following figures: Our total number of cases now has reached 2,878, that is 241 new cases in the last 24-hour reporting period. The total deaths now stands at 54, and that’s three new deaths in the last 24-hour period. Thank you.
Ralph Northam: (08:51)
Thank you. We’ll be glad to take your questions.
Speaker 1: (08:58)
Let’s start with the phone. Everyone on the phone needs to mute themselves, please. We’re hearing feedback.
Speaker 2: (09:00)
Do you need the part where the website was updated?
Speaker 1: (09:08)
Okay. The first question is from Tim Barber with ABC Seven
Tim Barber: (09:12)
Hi, Governor. I was just curious, right now the Virginia website is not releasing recovery numbers and as that peak is starting to flatten out in some parts of the country would you look into putting recovery numbers on the websites so we could see how this gets better? Then, obviously, also that that doesn’t mean necessarily that we need to stop social distancing so, but at least we could maybe see those numbers start to come down?
Dr. Norm Oliver: (09:45)
If I understood the question it was, why is it that we are not posting recovery numbers on the VDH site?
Dr. Norm Oliver: (09:57)
That data actually is not collected for us and reported to us in order for us to then be able to display it on the site. We get positive cases and we know when those positive cases are either discharged or in the unfortunate circumstance of their passing away, we know that as well. We aren’t able to track the other folks with COVID 19 also.
Dr. Norm Oliver: (10:27)
Also, the other thing you should realize here is that those numbers in and of themselves are probably, not probably, almost definitely an underestimate of the actual spread of the disease in the community. We have been talking for some time now about the fact that we have widespread transmission of the disease. There are many people who have COVID-19 who are walking around in our community and this is the reason why social distancing is so important. We don’t track those numbers either because we don’t have widespread testing.
Speaker 3: (11:00)
Just to clarify for that point, so are the number of-
Speaker 4: (11:03)
… hospitalizations on the website, is that current or is that cumulative? Like will that number go down as people are discharged? And then my further question afterwards is, I know last week we talked about expectations of this arriving in May, the Washington State IHME website’s now showing the peak April 20th. I know you’re working with UVA to develop one. Can you speak as to where that one stands in what you all are seeing and predicting at this point?
Dr. Norm Oliver: (11:31)
The hospitalization numbers that we have on the VDH site comes from the Virginia health information that organization and represents discharge information that comes as part of hospital claims. That number lags behind the number that you would get if you were to ask that same question of the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association, which actually tracks the current census in the hospitals and I would encourage you to talk with them about that. And that number will change obviously every day since this goes up and down. The models are changing all the time, because the data on which those models are based changes from day to day. Yes, the University of Washington model has changed a good deal since the last week or so. We are currently working with our partners at UVA and expect to have a new report from them this week on that and we can share that.
Ralph Northam: (12:41)
I might, if it’s okay Elena, just to follow up a little bit on the modeling and what Dr. Oliver said, how they change. And he also reminded us on Friday that this is not a perfect science. I just spent about an hour and a half with our Vice President and all of the governors across this country and we talked about that very issue of modeling. We also talked about PPE and a national supply chain that I think will be very helpful as we proceed. And also the testing which we again are working to get toward a 15 to 30 minute turn around, but we’re not there yet. But the message, the reason I brought this point up, the message from our Vice President, the message from Washington is to continue what we’re doing, to continue the guidelines, the social distancing, the frequent hand washing. Because that’s what science tells us works and if we can continue to do that, I think that we will all, as a country, be able to defeat this pandemic.
Speaker 5: (13:51)
The next question’s from Daniella Cheslow with WAMU.
Daniella Cheslow: (13:54)
Hi, it’s good to be with you. I wanted to know about PPE, if you could explain a little more about the $27 million contract with the Virginia company? And also for all of the representatives and officials up on the dais, why are none of you wearing masks if this is the recommendation? Thank you.
Ralph Northam: (14:12)
Let me address the second question and then I’m going to have Secretary Moran… We all have masks and when we exit the building that’s when we wear a mask. But when we’re inside, in our offices, we don’t keep them on. But I appreciate the question and I appreciate you putting the message out there that all Virginians, when you’re out and about, we would encourage you strongly to use a mask, a face cover. Secretary Moran.
Secretary Moran: (14:43)
Thank you governor. The question is with respect to the purchase of personal protective equipment. As the governor has reported on numerous occasions, we’re woefully short. Numerous requests have been made of our Strategic National Stockpile and we’ve received a mere fraction of what was requested. So like other states, we have had to go to the market to find suppliers. And the help of many, particularly Secretary Layne and others, we’ve been able to identify what we believe to be a very reliable supply chain. And so a substantial purchase has been made, we expect that to be delivered by the weekend and distributed quickly thereafter. It will come in a number of receipts and we will get the N95 masks that are in such great demand in our hospitals and nursing homes and first responder communities, as well as gloves and gowns and the other personal protective equipment that has been mentioned that is so vitally needed on the front lines. Thank you.
Speaker 6: (15:52)
Following up on the PPE issue as well, is that a one time order or will that be consistent? And I was also wondering about Abbott rapid testing and whether the state has made efforts to secure that platform.
Ralph Northam: (16:06)
I’ll let doctor… I mean, excuse me, it was a promotion. Secretary Moran handle the PPE and then I’ll have Dr. Tony come up and talk about the testing.
Secretary Moran: (16:16)
On the PPE, with respect to if that’s a one time purchase, no. We see that as the first of what will be many. Clearly the need even outweighs what that purchase would be. I mean we’re anticipating a tremendous need for N95s and our hospitals. In fact, it was probably over a week ago that the governor went through what one individual, one patient requires in the ICU with respect to the PPE needs. So having heard that, I think that was a stark example of just how much PPE we need. So the purchase has been made, we made it with alacrity, but we’re going to need additional supplies.
Dr. Tony: (17:04)
Thank you governor. I’ve just addressed the issue with the Abbott rapid turnaround. Again, there’s an installed base in Virginia, in many urgent care centers and other care sites. The issue is the cartridges or the test kits that go with the analyzer. So we did get information that we are getting a handful of those, in the 10 to 20 range, but not yet. The number of test kits it takes to test adequately. That does have a less than 15 minute and sometimes less than 10 minute turnaround, which is fantastic. But we need the ability to do that at volume. So it’s good that that trickle is starting, but we need that to be a real torrent.
Speaker 5: (17:50)
The next question’s from Alan Rodriguez Espinoza with VPM.
Alan Rodriguez Espinoza: (17:56)
Hey, thank you. There’s some new data coming out of Washington University that shows that the projected peak date for coronavirus cases in Virginia has moved up from May 20th to April 20th. So my question is, are you keeping an eye out on these numbers and what are some adjustments that you’re making to be more immediately prepared for what could be an earlier peak date than predicted?
Ralph Northam: (18:19)
The question is the data that is coming out on one particular model that that shifts our surge to April the 20th and I think we’ve made the point a couple of times. There are various models they change literally every day, depending on the data that has put into them. And so we haven’t made any adjustments by what we’re seeing. We will certainly continue to follow the trends and if and when we need to make adjustments in our guidelines we will certainly do that. But for right now, as I just reinforced, that’s coming from the national level and also from us, continue to do what you’re doing. The stay-at-home is working. The social distancing, the frequent hand washing, all of these things are effective. So keep doing the great work.
Speaker 6: (19:10)
Will Virginia be sending any ventilator to New York as Oregon has done? And are you all considering entering into the consortium as Governor Newsom has suggested, so states aren’t competing with one another for PPE?
Ralph Northam: (19:21)
That’s a great question. The question is, are we sending supplies to New York or even other hotspots? We were very proud just a week ago for the USS Comfort, which is docked in Norfolk to go to New York and help out. And we are working with the other governors, we are working with our leadership in Washington to file our inventory, not only in Virginia but in all other states. But we also have a responsibility to prepare and we have prepared for the worst, as I’ve always said, we hope for the best. So the PPE, the ventilators, our bed space, we are ramping all that up for a surge that we expect in a few weeks.
Speaker 5: (20:12)
Tracy Agnew with the Suffolk News-Herald.
Tracy Agnew: (20:17)
Thank you. Governor, I’m sure you’ve seen the Politico article over the weekend that used models from Columbia University to pinpoint hotspots across the South and localities like Suffolk and Isle of Wight County were mentioned in that. So I was wondering if there are any plans to continue looking at additional sites for increased hospital bed capacity across the state, particularly in South Hampton Roads and some of the more rural areas to the west.
Ralph Northam: (20:43)
The question is, are we looking at other sites and as far as our surge capacity, our alternative sites. And we are looking at them, we’re monitoring the data that is coming in from across the state. As of today, working with FEMA and working with the Corps of Engineers, we have identified the three sites, the one in Northern Virginia, one in Richmond and one in Hampton roads. And so as quickly as we can, we’re going to get those three sites up and running.
Governor, Maryland’s governor issued an order requiring all nursing home staff to wear PPE and to segregate infected patients. Are you interested in something similar to that? And then can you kind of give us a bigger picture of how you guys are dealing with the outbreaks at the longterm care facilities?
Ralph Northam: (21:27)
Yes. I’m going to let a Dr. Oliver talk about the nursing homes and the requirements in the nursing homes. But I did want to comment, I’m not sure why they didn’t call on you first, Henry, because in here you’re the only one that I see has face covering equipment, so I’m proud of you. Dr. Oliver.
Dr. Norm Oliver: (21:50)
So the question as I understand it is, are we taking any special kinds of precautions or procedures, interventions with respect to long term care facilities? The Virginia Department of Health has…
Dr. Norm Oliver: (22:03)
… 35 districts across the commonwealth, about 129 local health departments and those local divisions of the health department are working very closely with the long term care facilities in their area. The idea is to, as soon as we find a case in one of these facilities, we’ve done very extensive contact investigation and then worked with the administration of that long term care facility to isolate the case and begin to ensure that none of the contacts are actually infected, and protect the rest of the facility from that. I think that what we’ve seen in Washington state and unfortunately here in the Richmond area and in Henricho, for example, is that if you don’t get on that soon enough, you get a very wide … It’s a population in which this infection can spread quite quickly, so I would say that what we’re doing is we’ve stepped up our vigilance and surveillance in these facilities and worked more closely with them. And as the governor announced, we’ve also been very good about getting out PPE to these facilities as well.
Speaker 9: (23:25)
The next question is from David McGee with the Bristol Herald Courier.
David McGee: (23:29)
Yes. Thank you governor. A number of outdoor recreation venues here in Southwest Virginia, the creeper trail, spearhead trails have closed in recent days apparently in response to people not following the social distancing guidelines. We don’t have a lot of cases in Southwest Virginia, but what’s your message to folks who may think that maybe this doesn’t apply to them just because we haven’t seen a surge in cases in our area?
Ralph Northam: (23:55)
The question is as far as recreational facilities, like the creeper trail, the spearhead trails out in the southwest, and why do we continue to be worried about the southwest? This virus has … It knows no borders, whether they be counties, states, even countries, as you all have seen. And so I assume what happened, which is unfortunate, people weren’t abiding by our guidelines, just as I warned about last week. And so the decision was made to protect everybody’s health that these facilities were closed. So that’s … I suspect that’s what happened.
Speaker 8: (24:39)
Going back to nursing homes, I’m wondering two things. I’m wondering if the state will be willing to release the numbers of outbreaks that you’ve had at them, and also in talking to the health director for Henricho, Dr. Vullo, has been doing a lot of interviews about the Canterbury situation. He said two things there that they thought were really important was that they think they should … Nursing home should end the practice of sharing staff so that people aren’t pulling a shift in one facility and then going to work at another. And he also said that even though testing has been in short supply, when they finally tested everybody in that facility, their eyes were really open to how many asymptomatic cases they had, and that led them to segregate those folks. Are any of those things possibilities?
Dr. Norm Oliver: (25:42)
Could you repeat the very first question?
Ralph Northam: (25:44)
Could you release the numbers of outbreaks you’ve had it at nursing homes or longterm care facilities?
Dr. Norm Oliver: (25:52)
I don’t have that figure for you right now, but we could certainly take a look at that and I think be able to share that with you. The points that Dr. Vullo raised I think are really very well taken and part of what we’re doing and when I mentioned that we were intensifying our efforts around longterm care facilities, one of the things that we’re trying to do is just those sorts of things. So if there’s a case, doing more expansive testing within that facility to get a better idea of what the actual prevalence of the disease is in that facility. The nursing home workers are a very dedicated lot. People who know anything about longterm care facilities will know that they are not paid very well.
Dr. Norm Oliver: (26:44)
I don’t think it’s so much a practice of the nursing home administrators, it’s the need of these workers to have more than one job and they tend to work in multiple facilities. Part of what we do in our investigations, for, example around this would be to … As part of the contact investigation would be to trace that, when workers go to another facility and the other thing we’ve done is we’ve, in that situation, let the other nursing homes know about those indexed cases so that workers who are coming from there, they know that that might be a possible means of transmission and can increase their surveillance as well.
Speaker 9: (27:33)
The next question will be from Neil Harvey with The Roanoke Times.
Neil Harvey: (27:38)
Good afternoon governor. Thank you. Can you address the question of why despite the stay at home order, the state is allowing construction projects to continue and specifically why there hasn’t been a more restrictive approach that might allow only emergency construction projects that support essential infrastructure?
Ralph Northam: (28:00)
The question is why are construction projects across Virginia to in to include buildings, and I suspect you’re asking about road construction, why are they allowed to continue. And what we have done is made it perfectly clear that these businesses, whether they be road construction or a building construction, are to adhere to the rules, 10 or less, to use the social distancing six feet apart and on to the best of my understanding of, we haven’t heard of any problems with that. So those were the guidelines that we initiated when we put out to our executive order, and those will be continued … We will continue to follow them.
Speaker 10: (28:47)
Yeah. As far as the … There’s a big number of cases in hospitals, according to the VAJJ, where the results are still pending. You mentioned you’re working towards this 15 to 30 minute turnaround in testing time, but I know in the past you’ve talked about how private labs are looking at more like five to seven days. So can you speak to, is that still the case and in terms of the lag on the private lab ends and how is that impacting hospital capacity, and how that will affect it down the line?
Ralph Northam: (29:19)
Speaker 11: (29:22)
Thank you governor. I’ll start. The question really is about as we look at testing and not having a widespread rapid turnaround testing, that a number of patients are in hospitals that have testing results pending. Okay. Two things. One is is that’s where the in house hospital labs that are becoming increasingly available at UVA at Sentara, the governor mentioned Sentara, here at VCU and also the state lab. That that is one of the priorities, that folks who are in the hospital and have a lab pending. Now there are still thousands of labs sent each day to the commercial labs, because it’s still important to know whether they have … They’re positive or not. And those commercial labs are committed to getting those turnaround times quicker.
Speaker 11: (30:14)
It still is very helpful to know right away. So we’ve had folks in a hospital with a lab pending, but they send a sample to the state lab or to UVA and they get it back in a day or a day and a half and they’re able to turn down the amount of personal protective equipment they’re using on that patient. They have a viral syndrome, it’s just not influenza and it’s not COVID-19. So it’s important to have that testing cause you get the results. But it’s critically important for folks who are in the hospital to know if they have it, and especially if they don’t have it because they can decrease the contact precautions and all the PPE that the governor described last week.
Speaker 10: (30:59)
Fair to say that there are the private labs still experiencing that five to seven day period. Has that shortened? I’m sorry if I missed it.
Speaker 11: (31:06)
I don’t believe it has shortened. I’ll ask Dr. Tony, are there any additional elements that you’d like to share?
Dr. Tony: (31:17)
What I can say is that they are continuing to work through their backlog and we have heard that there have been some reduction in their turnaround times, but what we’ve also seen in the commonwealth is there have been a number of smaller private commercial laboratories that have stood up testing and are now offering testing for the commonwealth. So there is a desire to coordinate testing and divert some of the hospital work to some of these new laboratories that now have a capacity and can share some of the testing burden. I think, with respect to your second question about the testing that has a 15 to 30 minute turn around time, as Secretary Kerry mentioned, while these are not in place in Virginia, even when they do come in place, what we are struggling with is that the reagents and the cassettes that are needed to run these systems are not widely available. So even if hospitals get the instrumentation, the ability to scale up and run large numbers will still be a barrier to being able to use them widely for that quick point of care test, testing results.
Speaker 9: (32:39)
[inaudible 00:32:39] with WPTF radio.
Speaker 12: (32:41)
Yes. Thank you, governor. We now have 19 prison inmates and nine staff with confirmed cases of coven. Secretary Moran has stressed that by law only a small number of about 30,000 convicts can be paroled, but you as governor have broad powers to pardon inmates. Some are seriously ill or disabled, there are others who’ve been wrongfully convicted or-
Speaker 13: (33:03)
… scheduled for release within the next year, and then, there are Fishback prisoners, or people who committed crimes as juveniles who will be eligible for parole on July 1st. My questions, could you issue an executive order to have that last group considered sooner? Have you assigned additional staff to review pardon requests, and how many people have you pardoned since COVID hit?
Ralph Northam: (33:28)
I appreciate the questions. I’m going to let Secretary Moran handle some of it, but I just want to say that we have protocol that we work through with parole, and my folks are working around the clock. A number of individuals had been released and we’ll continue to work around the clock, but we have to follow our protocol, and as far as an executive order, I don’t plan on releasing an executive order, but Secretary Moran, do you want to come in anymore on [crosstalk 00:34:02] how you all are doing things?
Secretary Moran: (34:06)
Question with respect to parole eligibility for one, and actually parole eligible are not 30,000. We’re responsible for 30,000 inmates, but actual geriatric parole, and pre 1995 when parole was abolished, it’s actually only about 2300, it’s 2351, and of those, as you know from our last week’s, one of the press conferences, the parole board has been working overtime to review those cases in light of the COVID-19 crisis and 95 were released just in the month of March, and that was a significant increase, 153% from the previous month.
Secretary Moran: (34:51)
The challenge now is of the geriatric, and the pre ’95, 90 to 95% are incarcerated for violent offenses, so that is why early on in this crisis the governor provided strong recommendations with respect to addressing the jail population by using a variety of opportunities with summonses, and early release, and alternatives to incarceration like electronic monitoring. Two other factors in that is we have been contacted by some advocate groups. We had a really good call on Friday with advocates, and family members, and by statute we can release inmates 30 days prior to the official release date, that actually is already embedded in their release dates, so we have been doing that all along.
Secretary Moran: (35:50)
Fourth, and finally, with respect to the governor’s clemency powers, many in this room all remember the Howell vs McAuliffe case. Laura, you must remember that case. When the governor wanted to give a blanket restoration of rights for 200,000 felons in he was sued in the Supreme Court, how he could not do that, and you can only apply the clemency powers on an individualized basis. We’re taking a look at that, but as we have said all along that’s a cumbersome, lengthy process, and obviously this requires some speed, so we are looking at that, but at this time, again, we have to comply with recent case law and individualizing each one of those cases.
Ralph Northam: (36:46)
Thank you Brian.
Speaker 16: (36:48)
Just to follow up on that point, for those who may be incarcerated and have long term sentences, is there any special provision? Do you guys have any plans to help kind of stop the spread there for those who are the who are going to be in there for a long period of time?
Secretary Moran: (37:06)
Question being with those who are incarcerated, and likely will continue to be incarcerated because of their sentence. DOC has been taking extraordinary measures as I’ve mentioned. They’re trying to create space, so we can provide individualized care, space, quarantine, isolation for those prisoners and we’re doing everything we can with respect to the face guards, face masks that they’ve been making, and the shields, everyone has them, two bars of soap per week. We’re diligently abiding by CDC guidelines, so that we can stop the spread in what is a confined space. We’re doing our very best, but we share the concern that this could be a dangerous situation. That’s why we’re adopting all of these measures, so I appreciate the question.
Speaker 17: (38:01)
Okay, [inaudible 00:38:01] one more on the phone, and then…
Speaker 14: (38:05)
The last question will be from Max Thornberry with the Northern Virginia Daily.
Max Thornberry: (38:11)
Hi governor. We have a list of essential businesses, and a list of businesses that have been forced to close. There are some nonessential businesses that are still open. There’s a lot of concern about how many people are caught in that non-essential but allowed to go to work. What’s it going to take in terms of numbers or figures for those nonessential businesses that haven’t already been ordered to shut down to shut down?
Ralph Northam: (38:34)
The question is of non-essential businesses and are they going to be shut down? And we have made it clear that bricks and mortar, nonessential businesses, as long as they’re able to maintain the 10, or less rural, and to provide good cleansing of surfaces, that they’re allowed to stay open. Again, if there are reports out there of people that are not complying, I would appreciate hearing of that, but we’ve made it clear that if a business cannot comply with the guidelines that we have set forward, then they must close and it’s straight forward, and that’s the policy that we outlined in the executive order, and that’s what we’re going to stand by now.
Speaker 15: (39:16)
To that answer, you have told people not to only go outside for essential reasons, for needs not wants, but if a business is not essential, what is the purpose of potentially going to there?
Ralph Northam: (39:34)
Well, I think, the question is why would someone go to a… Your question, to a non essential business for example? I mean, someone may want to go pick up a book while they’re staying at home, and if they go to a grocery store, get their supplies, or pharmacy and they’re at, and they want to go by, and pick up a book or whatever, that will help them get through these difficult times. If that business is able to comply with those guidelines, we have allowed those businesses to remain open.
Speaker 14: (40:01)
Ralph Northam: (40:05)
Thank you all for being here again. I encourage all Virginians, if you have essential reasons to go outside of your house to please use the mask, and there are websites where you can link up to, to give you directions on how to make those masks and please continue to, and as difficult it is to maintain these guidelines, the social distancing, the frequent washing of your hands, and again, we will all as a Commonwealth get through this together, so thank you all.