Governor briefs state on tropical storm, new app and rapid testing

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Governor Ralph Northam (D) gave a press conference today addressing tropical storm damage, rapid testing and a new contact tracing app.

Tropical Storm Damage

Before the governor dove into the COVID-19 updates he provided a quick update on the damage from Tropical Storm Isaias yesterday. Northam says that Dominion Energy called this one of the top 10 largest storms in terms of power outages.

There were 4 confirmed tornadoes yesterday and around 40 tornado warnings, according to Northam. There was notable property damage in Suffolk, Courtland, Lancaster and Gloucester. There was one storm related death in Lancaster County.

The governor warns that this is just the first hurricane season storm this year and to be ready for more power outages and possible evacuations.

Covid-19 Response

Virginia is introducing new ways to combat COVID-19 more quickly and effectively.

COVIDWISE is a new contact tracing app designed to help contain the spread of the coronavirus in the Commonwealth. Using Bluetooth technology the app is able to alert users if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Virginia is the first state to use this technology to combat the pandemic.

The governor and other officials emphasized that the app does not track or store any personal data and that usage is completely voluntary.

Virginia and six other states plan to each purchase 500,000 rapid antigen tests to help speed up testing results. The test results only take about 20 minutes instead of days or weeks like the polymerase chain reaction tests.

The governor hopes that quicker test results will help the state contain the virus and allow for an easing of restrictions. There is currently no information on how much the tests will cost and where they will be available.

Northam addressed the increasing COVID-19 cases in the Hampton Roads region and the efforts there to curtail them. The Norfolk Health Department had been experiencing difficulties with reaching their underserved communities and brought in community leaders to help promote testing. The governors hopes that these efforts can become a model for the rest of the state.

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