Virginia will allow non-emergency doctor visits to resume Friday after an emergency public health order expires, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced Wednesday.
Northam signed an executive order temporarily suspending elective surgeries in late March, saying it was a necessary step to free up personal protective equipment (PPE) and hospital space for the treatment of coronavirus patients. The order is set to expire at midnight Thursday, and Northam said that state PPE supplies have stabilized while hospitalizations have flattened, making an extension of the order unnecessary.
“Our efforts to slow the spread of this virus are showing success. Our hospitals are not seeing a surge of patients,” Northam said.
The data indicate Virginia is on track to begin a broader reopening May 8, Northam said, but the order remains subject to extension based on case data.
“We’re looking at trends and I think that’s important for everyone to understand,” Northam said. “Our numbers haven’t flattened out yet.”
The expiration of the order will also allow non-emergency dental procedures to resume under safety guidelines issued by the Virginia Dental Association.
The guidelines include requiring patients to wear masks during visits, in-office coronavirus screenings, priority given to those who need immediate care, reduced use of air and water and dentists wearing protective equipment. Appointment times may also be flexible to allow for thorough cleaning between appointments.
“It’s important for all Virginians to know that if you need care, don’t hesitate to receive care to improve your health outcome,” said Michael McDermott, board chairman for the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, according to a Richmond ABC affiliate.
During the briefing, Northam also said the state will soon begin reporting daily data for the virus by ZIP code in coming days, adding that the state received notice Tuesday that the Federal Emergency Management Association will provide an additional 200,000 testing swabs.