Governor Northam creates workgroup to increase state testing capability

Governor Northam creates workgroup to increase state testing capability

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) -Virginia’s former health commissioner will lead a new workgroup focusing specifically on COVID-19 testing in the state.

Governor Ralph Northam made the announcement Monday during a coronavirus briefing in Richmond. Northam said as of Monday, the state does not have the testing materials to even consider phase one of lifting restrictions.

But the state is slowly increasing testing capabilities. Northam said that’s in part thanks to private and university labs stepping up. The state lab will also increase testing capacity per day thanks to new equipment from Altria. Northam said the key to lifting restrictions is to make sure the state has the testing capacity.

“Testing isn’t just about the test itself. Labs might be able to run tests but until doctors have enough swabs to do the tests and we have enough supplies to safely transport the test, we cannot meet the need for testing,” said Northam.

The workgroup will make sure the state has enough testing capacity and supplies for the summer and fall. If you’re wondering why now, the governor said the state is triaging issues as they develop and now this is the latest hurdle.

The criteria for getting a test is changing too. Before it was for those in the hospital, they had contact with a known case, first responders and long-term care facility residents. Now, symptomatic people who are just at home can be tested instead of getting an unofficial diagnosis from their primary care doctor.

The state is expected to see its virus peak later this week.

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