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Governor Asks Medical Volunteers For Help As Coronavirus Cases Approach 400

Medical staff standing behind a desk preparing supplies
Personal protective equipment is key to halting the spread of coronavirus, but the state says supplies are low. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)

Governor Ralph Northam said Wednesday his administration is focused on ensuring the state’s medical system is prepared for expected increases in coronavirus cases.  As of Wednesday there were 392 confirmed cases and 12 deaths.

At his daily press conference, which will now be held every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 2 p.m., Northam called for help from medical volunteers. That includes healthcare professionals who are currently or previously licensed as well as medical students. He said the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps currently has more than 8,000 deployable volunteers, but they need more.

“We are just at the beginning of this,” Northam said.

The state has put in a second request to the national stockpile for personal protective equipment, or PPE, like masks and gloves for medical workers. It’s also reaching out to private companies, but Northam said vendor prices have jumped.

“Allowing the free market to determine the availability and pricing is not the way we should be dealing with this national crisis at this time,” he said.

Northam also signed an executive order requiring medical providers to postpone elective surgeries to preserve bed space and equipment.

On Tuesday, Virginia State Epidemiologist Lillian Peak said Virginia added another 101 cases overnight. Five more deaths were also reported, including three residents at Canterbury Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Henrico County.