WATCH: Governor Northam updates Virginians on coronavirus response


RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam held a press conference on Wednesday as Virginia reported 33 new deaths.

Highlights from Northam’s press conference below:

Contact tracers and PPE

Hospitals have enough supplies of personal protective equipment, Northam says. He said the state’s stockpile’s priorities go to state testing sites, and then local health departments. Northam says the state won’t reject PPE requests from health care providers, but they must exhaust private supply chains first.

He says that FEMA is working on shipping supplies to Virginia’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities, where more than half of Virginia’s COVID-19 deaths have happened. He says the facilities will receive two shipments, with a week’s worth of PPE in each.

$58 million from the federal CARES Act has also been allocated to help with the state’s contract tracing efforts. Virginia is hiring 200 case investigators who will work with the 1,000 contact tracers. For more on the positions, click here.

New health care work group formed

Northam announced he’s created a work group to reduce cost and improve the quality of health care for Virginians during the pandemic.

“The pandemic highlights just how important it is for everyone to have access to care.”

Absentee ballots way up for May local elections

Northam says more than 55,000 Virginians voted via absentee ballots for Tuesday’s local elections. In comparison, fewer than 1,700 voted via absentee in the May 2016 local elections.

He’s encouraging all Virginians to vote via absentee for the upcoming June primary elections. The deadline is 5 p.m. on June 16. In-person voting will still be available.

Testing access

Northam says he’s encouraging everyone to be tested, especially symptomatic people and those who live with a symptomatic person. He says testing is being provided at health providers across the state, and at free community testing events in disadvantaged and harder-hit areas. For more information, click here.

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