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Northam Asks Federal Government to Boost Medical Equipment Production

Man at podium next to ASL interpreter
Governor Northam at today's briefing. (Photo: Ben Paviour/VPM News)

*VPM intern Alan Rodriguez Espinoza reported this story

Governor Ralph Northam says the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the supply chain of personal protective equipment abroad, and the shortages are being felt in the commonwealth.

Northam told reporters that it’s up to the states to take on the production of personal protective equipment. He and other state governors are calling on the Trump administration to lend a hand. 

“We strongly encourage the president to use the Defense Production Act to ramp up production of PPE,” Northam said during a press briefing Friday. “There is no time to waste.”

Other Virginia lawmakers have made similar calls to use the Defense Production Act, which would make companies produce medical gear. This includes Attorney General Mark Herring, Representative Abigail Spanberger and Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner. 

Governor Ralph Northam -- as well as leaders in Washington D.C. and Maryland -- are also asking President Donald Trump to set up a federal testing site for the Washington metropolitan area.

“We are home to the majority of federal workers -- more than 360,000 accross our three jurisdictions -- and many of them work in critical agencies that must continue to operate,” Northam said.

The governor said the region needs special accommodations to test government workers in real time. He told reporters turnaround time for testing can take up to a week for private, out-of-state facilities to release test results. 

While he says state laboratories are working to decrease turnaround times to one to two days, Northam says a federal site would make testing for coronavirus more efficient.