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Medical Capacity for Coronavirus Increasing, Says Governor

In today's briefing, Gov. Ralph Northam addressed medical capacity, equipment needs, and Liberty University, which announced a controversial reopening.

Northam said daily numbers alone don't present a complete picture of the coronavirus pandemic in Virginia. Increases in COVID-19 cases represent both testing improvements and community spread.

"We have seen an increase in covid cases along with additional deaths," Northam said. "It emphasizes how we are just at the beginning of this, we are not at the middle."

"We're not talking weeks," Northam said, estimating a timeline measured in months. With infections expected to increase, his administration is seeking to increase medical capacity quickly.

A single patient may have 10 caregivers in a 24-hour period. Northam estimated that adds up to 240 units of personal protective equipment in a single day - in a hospital with 40 patients, a daily total might top 10,000.

Northam highlighted steps they've taken, from asking providers to reschedule elective procedures to purchasing more equipment, but said the Federal Government would need to step in. "Price have jumped," he said, as states compete to purchase from a limited pool of supplies.

Asked about Liberty University by reporters, Northam was blunt: "Stay home unless you have to leave for essential reasons." Although he doesn't have the authority to close the university, he said he'd "suggest that [Liberty President Jerry] Falwell look to the actions of the leaders of Virginia's flagship universities for how to set a strong example in this health crisis, and please reconsider his message that invites and encourages students to return to campus."

VPM is live streaming the governor's coronavirus briefings. His next briefing will take place Friday, March 27, at 2 p.m. You can see all our coronavirus news at vpm.org/coronavirus.