RICHMOND, Va. (WJHL) – Gov. Ralph Northam is ordering healthcare providers to postpone elective procedures across the state in his latest executive order.
Northam announced details of the latest executive order in a press conference on Wednesday. The order follows similar steps from other states in efforts to conserve medical supplies to treat COVID-19 patients.
The order also mandates that all state parks will be day-use only. Beginning Friday, all state-owned campgrounds, cabins and bathhouses will close across the Commonwealth to comply with the order.
Northam echoed a plea from yesterday’s conference for the federal government to step up in the search for medical equipment across the country.
Because every state is competing for equipment, Northam said it has led to spiked prices from private suppliers.
“Allowing the free market to determine availability and pricing is not the way we should be dealing with this national crisis at this time,” he said.
To open the door for more medical professionals to aid in a potential surge of hospitalizations due to COVID-19, Northam said his administration is “reworking licensing procedures” and considering the use of medical students.
That will include the use of the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps, a force of more than 8,000 volunteers that are deployable to assist in public health emergencies.
Healthcare professionals who wish to volunteer with the VMRC can train online at vamrc.org. Northam said professionals older than 18, both currently and previously licensed, and medical students can apply to serve.
Northam’s administration is in contact with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which he said is an organization that can be used to build emergency hospital bed capacity sites. The administration is assessing “several potential locations” for those sites in the Commonwealth.
Once those sites have been determined, Northam said he will announce them.
In addition, Northam said his administration is working to secure more federal support for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.
He referenced the Families First Coronavirus Response Act recently passed by Congress, which he said will increase the benefits families will receive from the program for the next two months.
The benefits will kick in tonight, he said.
“I hope that when families can get more food in one trip, they will be able to make fewer trips to the grocery store,” he said.
Northam’s next press conference will be Friday at 2 p.m.
You can watch the entire news conference on our WJHL Facebook page below.
For more coverage on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, click here.