Gov. Northam to expand educational resources during COVID-19 outbreak, encourages Virginians to continue social distancing

Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY/WRIC) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and health officials briefed the public Monday on the state’s coronavirus response. There are currently 5,747 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Virginia and 149 deaths from the virus.

Highlights from Northam’s press conference:

Monday’s severe weather

Northam started by talking about the weather system that’s impacting Virginia on Monday. He says more than 166,000 people lost power due to the storms, and high winds and tornado risk were expected throughout the day. More on that here.

Northam: UVA model shows social distancing is working

On models of the coronavirus, which predict how many people will get sick and how hospitals can handle the crisis, Northam says a model from the University of Virginia shows social distancing is working, and Virginia hospitals have enough capacity to handle the surge in cases.

However, he says that’s only if Virginians continue to follow guidelines. If not, the commonwealth’s peak will be higher and come sooner.

“We’re going to need to keep living this way for the near future … the key is for us to keep doing what we’re doing,” Northam said. As far a possible date to end his stay at home orders, Northam says his team is taking things one day at a time and “As soon as we can…. get people back to their lives, I will do that.”

Gov. Northam

Online education expanded

While he said closing down K-12 schools was a necessary decision, Northam said he realizes it has been hard and has exposed inequities between students.

To address this the governor said they would be expanding Virtual Virginia, an existing online educational platform. Northam said they will give every public school teacher in the state access to the website.

In addition to web resources, Northam said the state would also expand the kind of resources it has available for students, such as creating virtual classrooms that can be loaded onto devices that don’t have internet, and broadcasting lessons on several TV channels.

Related: Virginia’s ‘VA TV Classroom’ teacher-led instruction begins Monday

Non-essential businesses

Gov. Northam said he plans to extend the order closing non-essential businesses and services (including barbershops and salons), but did not set a new date Monday. The order was originally scheduled to be lifted on April 23. He plans to announce the extended date during Wednesday afternoon’s news briefing.

State COVID-19 health data

Virginia State Health Commissioner Norm Oliver repeated COVID-19 information released earlier in the day from the Virginia Department of Health, and shared demographic data also provided by VDH. You can read the updated data here.

Delay on “gray” machine ban to fund COVID-19 relief fund

Northam fields a question on games of skill, or “gray” machines, which the Va. General Assembly voted earlier this year to ban. He wants to delay the ban for a year, and tax the machines to pay for a COVID-19 relief fund. WAVY’s Brett Hall has that story.

Hospital capacity capacity and personal protective equipment (PPE)

Northam says that while bed capacity in the commonwealth is adequate at the moment, Virginia still has an urgent need for personal protective equipment, ventilators and testing. Northam says Virginia doesn’t have enough PPE, and “no one does,” and he is not pleased with the way President Donald Trump is handling the situation. “We’re fighting a biological war without the supplies we need.”


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