Gov. Northam: PPE shortage, lack of testing to blame for outbreaks at long-term care facilities

Gov. Northam: PPE shortage, lack of testing to blame for outbreaks at long-term care facilities

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and state health officials say a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing capacity restraints are factors in outbreaks at long-term care facilities in the state including Canterbury Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in Henrico County.

“But the challenges that we’re having in our nursing homes speaks to a couple of things - how contagious this virus is when it gets into a confined space like that.”

Currently, the death toll at Canterbury stands at 33 and 90 residents have tested positive. Virginia Health Commissioner Dr. Norm Oliver also said the state is increasing surveillance of outbreaks at long-term care facilities.

“We’ve broadened our test criteria so that we can test more people and the nursing homes and other long term care facilities as more test become available, we will increase our testing in those areas,” said Dr. Oliver.

During a COVID-19 briefing Wednesday, Northam also announced the state is currently distributing personal protective equipment to hospitals and first responders in the state. The governor says 1.5 million gloves and 430,000 N-95 masks are on the way.

Northam is also recommending the state’s elections set for May be postponed until the general election in November. Under his executive power, he’s already pushed back the June primary. But, that needs approval by the Virginia General Assembly when they meet later this month.

“Postponing these elections is the best way to protect democracy without endangering the public health or violating the stay at home order,” said Northam.

Northam said he’s already spoken to the speaker of the house and leaders inside both political parties here in the state.

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