Virginia officials call for ‘national leadership’ in efforts to secure medical equipment


RICHMOND, Va. (WJHL) – Virginia officials called for guidance from the federal government during a COVID-19 briefing conference on Tuesday.

Dr. Daniel Carey, Secretary of Health and Human Resources, said that while the state is looking at all avenues to supply needed N-95 masks and other personal protective equipment for healthcare workers, he’d like to see more guidance from national leadership in procuring those items.

He said the state is expecting a shipment of 1 million surgical masks and 500,000 N-95 masks that are expected within the next 10 days. That’s in addition to other avenues the state is exploring to supply healthcare workers across the state with PPE.

While the state continues following every lead for that equipment, Carey called for the federal government to take the initiative in utilizing the country’s industry toward making more PPE.

“We really need national leadership to contribute to the excellent efforts that we’re doing in Virginia,” he said.

Gov. Ralph Northam stressed that the state is making decisions based on science and data. He refuted comments made by President Donald Trump earlier in the day that suggested intentions to “reopen the country” by Easter.

“While it would be nice to say that this will behind us in two weeks, that’s not really what the data tells us,” Northam said. “The data tells us that this will be with us for at least two to three months and perhaps even longer.”

SEE ALSO: Virginia Department of Education ensuring the high school class of 2020 will graduate amid closures

Northam reiterated the business mandates outlined in the executive order that goes into effect at midnight and lasts for 30 days. Per those orders:

  • All recreational and entertainment businesses and services are explicitly set forth in the order and must close.
  • Personal care services that can’t comply with social distancing like barbershops, spas and massage parlors must close, Northam said.
  • Restaurants, breweries, wineries and other businesses providing food or drink services must close dine-in services and can only remain open through takeout or delivery services.
  • Non-essential, brick-and-mortar stores must maintain 10 or fewer patrons in their establishments at a time. The 10-person limit does not include personnel. Businesses that cannot meet that requirement must close.

He said he and his team are looking for “creative solutions” in the coming weeks for businesses that are currently closed by the mandates. Comparing the pandemic to a biological war, Northam urged Virginians to stay home unless necessary.

Other officials reported an additional death in the state from yesterday’s report. Officials said the patient was a hospitalized man in his 70s with underlying health conditions. The latest death is reported from Virginia Beach, she added.

Northam asserted that his administration is focused on the health crisis before addressing economic recovery.

“This will be our new normal for a while,” he said. “As I’ve said, months not weeks, and we need to understand that. But it won’t be forever, we will get through this.”

Northam announced at the end of the conference that his administration will give updates on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays beginning tomorrow.

You can watch the full news conference on our WJHL Facebook page below.

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