WATCH: Northam suspending elective surgeries and VDH announces 3 new deaths

Coronavirus

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Gov. Ralph Northam said he will sign an executive order for hospitals to suspend elective surgeries.

The governor said this measure will save personal protective equipment (PPE), like masks and gloves, hospital beds and respirators for people who need them.

“In addition to our hospital staff we have also have law enforcement, we have firefighters, we have first responders, all of whom need PPE — that is why the need for PPE is so great,” he said.

“As I said yesterday we have put in our second request for PPE to the national stockpile. We are working with companies to donate PPE that they have available and working to source more from private vendors.”

A representative from the Virginia Department of Health said three more deaths related to the virus were reported today. There are now 12 deaths from the virus in the state and 391 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Virginia.

Northam said the state will continue to see the number of cases will continue to rise over the next few months. Because of this, he said hospitals will need to be all hands on deck.

“We are exploring ways to make it easier for qualified medical professionals to help out,” he said. “This includes reworking our licensing procedures and considering the use of medical students. We will also be making better use of our Virginia Medical Reserve Corps.”

The VMDC is a group of medical professionals that stand by to serve in medical emergencies. Northam said it has 8,000 deployable volunteers and more than 1,500 volunteered just in the past month. Training is done online and they are looking for more volunteers who are 18 years and older.

Find out more information on the VMDC and apply to volunteer here.

“The cooperation I have seen across the commonwealth has literally just been tremendous and to all of you who have stepped up to the plate and pitched in I say thank you,” Northam said.

Northam said he and his team talked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who said they can build emergency hospital bed capacity at sites the state identifies for them.

“We are looking to access several potential locations in regions across Virginia should the need arise,” he said.

The governor also addressed Liberty University’s president, Jerry Falwell Jr. Northam said even though he heard the university is welcoming back students to campus, but he said the state’s message is still for people to stay home. He asked Falwell to reconsider his decision to let students back on campus.

Northam also asked anyone traveling back to the state from New York to self-quarantine for 14 days.

State officials said they are working to move to cashless tolls and suggest drivers buy an E-ZPass. They are also working on app for drivers to use, and are having toll workers wear gloves.

Northam also said Virginia State Parks would only be open for day use. This means people can’t camp overnight.

WATCH: Full press conference with Gov. Northam, state health officials

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