RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — As coronavirus cases in Virginia top 2,000, health officials warn community spread is increasing rapidly. Gov. Ralph Northam talked Friday about some new resources and recommendations to slow the virus down.
Even though intentionally concealing your face is illegal in Virginia, Northam is now encouraging people to wear cloth masks in public to stop COVID-19 from spreading. He said N95 mask should be reserved for healthcare workers.
“I’ve been in this business for over 30 years, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a pathogen that is as contagious as this is,” the governor said during his briefing Friday. “I would just assume that if you’re around other people that there is a good likelihood that someone is going to have the virus.”
Northam also announced that the Richmond Convention Center will be the state’s third alternative hospital. He said these sites will be used to free up space in the health care system.
“The next steps are to complete contracts, move into design and then to construction,” Northam explained. “Teams are moving fast and we expect these alternative care sites to be ready within six weeks.”
The commonwealth will have more funding to combat the coronavirus now that the federal government has granted Virginia’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration. This comes as Northam told state agencies to expect budget cuts.
“We can expect to have significantly less revenue than even our most pessimistic forecasts. Our response to this crisis requires us to make significant investments,” Northam said.
The governor said the state is putting aside $2.5 million to shelter about 1,500 homeless people during his stay-at-home order. In the last 24 hours, Northam’s office says more than 500 hotels have offered up rooms.
With the weather looking good this week, Northam warns he’ll be watching to make sure people are abiding by social distancing in state parks. The governor said he doesn’t want to have to put more restrictions on outdoor spaces because a few people aren’t following the rules.
WATCH: Full briefing from Gov. Northam, state health officials on COVID-19 response
Northam held a LIVE Q&A on Twitter yesterday where he answered questions from all over the state. You can read the entire Q&A thread here.