Northam open to naming nursing homes with outbreaks

Virginia News

Governor Ralph Northam said Friday that he’s open to disclosing the names of long-term care facilities with COVID-19 outbreaks. There’s been mounting pressure from senior advocates including AARP to release the names of nursing homes with outbreaks and deaths.

Northam and state health officials have said Virginia code prevents them from naming facilities with outbreaks. Earlier this week, 8News confirmed state Delegate Mark Sickles is working on a bill to change that. It would likely require a special session of the General Assembly.

The governor stressed there is a process with any bill. He said, “So what starts as one piece of legislation may look totally different by the time it gets through that vetting process and gets to my desk. And so, it’s difficult for me to say oh yeah that’s something that I would definitely sign if it gets to my desk, but I will say that I support transparency.”

Northam also cautioned there’s a reason for the code. He suspects it’s to protect a person’s privacy and wonders if there might be another way.

“I think if there are ways we can all work together, work with the Virginia Department of Health, work with our nursing homes and ask those questions,” Northam said. “How can we get more transparency? How can we let the public, how can we let loved ones know what’s going on within these nursing homes and long term care facilities would certainly support that.”

Yet, if there is a way to consider the intent of the code in Delegate Sickles bill, Northam said, “That’s the process, but if that bill, if that’s something we can work on during special session, I’m very open to that.”

Several states including North Carolina have reversed their positions and are now naming long term care facilities with coronavirus outbreaks.

For more coronavirus coverage, click here.

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