Northam turns concerns to pediatric vaccines, meat-processing facilities

Local Coronavirus Coverage

RICHMOND, Va. (WJHL) – Gov. Ralph Northam turned his attention to a different set of troubling data at his first press conference of the week.

It looks like Virginians aren’t taking their children to get vaccinations, he said.

Northam said there has been a decline in immunizations the past few weeks, suggesting that parents aren’t taking their kids to the pediatrician for regular vaccinations.

He called on parents to keep in touch with their pediatricians to ensure children still receive their regularly-scheduled vaccinations.

“We don’t want to see an outbreak of a preventable disease such as measles on top of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he warned Monday.

Northam also addressed the outbreaks of COVID-19 at meat-processing facilities. Virginia has 10 facilities dotted along the Shenandoah Valley and east coast. Outbreaks at meat-processing facilities is mirrored across the nation, with the chairman for Tyson Foods warning that “The food supply is breaking,” due to outbreaks shuttering facilities.

Northam said he joined other governors to write a letter to President Donald Trump asking the federal government for a coordinated approach to managing the health and safety of those workers.

He said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has committed teams to be deployed in the states along the Delmarva Peninsula (Virginia, Deleware and Maryland).

The teams Northam said he expected to arrive on Monday consist of epidemiologists, contact tracers and language specialists to communicate with workers in those plants.

“We expect the CDC team to do an overall assessment of the situation and help with wider-scale testing to determine the actual scope of the problem,” he said. “That will allow us to take the most appropriate mitigation steps to contain the outbreak on Virginia’s eastern shore.”

The CDC has since released guidance for meat processing plants, he continued, as his administration has been in contact with the corporate leadership at the poultry processing plants.

In other news, Northam said efforts are continuing in the state’s goal to increase testing capacity to about 10,000 tests per day.

Northam said that state labs can process about 400 tests per day. In addition to testing that comes from private labs, the Virginia Department of Health reported about 4,000 more tests from yesterday.

He continued that he hopes to begin reopening elective procedures by the end of the week.

He left the briefing to attend a meeting with business leaders from across the Commonwealth to discuss the options for reopening the state’s economy, noting that it’s possible that reopening the economy may look different in different regions of the state.

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