RICHMOND — Roughly three in four Virginians approve of Gov. Ralph Northam’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new Virginia Commonwealth University poll.
The poll, conducted by the Center for Public Policy at the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at VCU, showed that 76% of those surveyed said Northam, a doctor by trade, was handling the public health crisis well.
Northam made Virginia one of the first two states to close schools for the rest of the academic year when he extended his closure order beyond the initial two weeks on March 23 and the state’s stay-at-home order, announced a week later, extends to June, one of the latest such orders in the country.
The survey of 812 Virginians was conducted via phone between March 25 and April 8. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.51 percentage points for all adults and 5.68 percentage points for likely voters.
Northam, a Democrat, has support from Republicans (68%), independents (70%) and Democrats (90%), according to the poll. The Richmond region’s 78% support figure is in line with the governor’s statewide favorability.
The same poll found that 50% of Virginians strongly or somewhat approve of how President Donald Trump is handling the crisis, while 48% strongly or somewhat disapprove. Much of that support (83%) comes from Republicans, while 79% of Democrats disapprove of Trump’s crisis response.
“Trump’s 50% approval rating relative to the COVID-19 handling is his strong personal appeal with his base, and could be the hidden magnet amongst the electorate,” said Wilder, the former Virginia governor.
The VCU poll also reported that likely Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden leads Trump by 10 percentage points among likely voters in Virginia.
The number of confirmed coronavirus outbreaks in Virginia eclipsed 100 on Tuesday, the majority of which remain in long-term care facilities.
The Virginia Department of Health reported Tuesday that there are 102 outbreaks in the state, up from 97 on Monday. Fifty-six of those outbreaks are in long-term care facilities, including Canterbury Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center in Henrico County, where 84 residents and 35 health care workers had tested positive, as of Monday.
An outbreak, according to the state health department’s definition, occurs when there are at least two laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases connected by people, place and time.
The uptick comes as the number of confirmed virus patients who have been hospitalized and discharged increased by nearly two-thirds since Monday.
That’s according to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, which started reporting the figure Monday. According to the organization’s COVID-19 dashboard, 721 people have been discharged — up from 467 on Monday.
VHHA also reported that 1,282 people with confirmed or pending COVID-19 tests are hospitalized, which is roughly 300 more than the 978 reported by the state health department. The two data dashboards have consistently had different hospitalization figures since the hospital organization started releasing data last week.
Roughly one in three of the hospitalized COVID-19 patients are in the intensive care unit, according to the VHHA, and a little more than one in five are on ventilators.
The Henrico health district has the most hospitalizations (40) in the Richmond region, according to the state health department. It’s home to the Canterbury skilled nursing facility in the western part of the county, which has been hit harder by the virus than all but one nursing facility in the U.S.
The Richmond region’s 19 outbreaks still trail only Northern Virginia for the most in the state.
The Virginia Department of Health reported Tuesday that 6,171 people in Virginia have tested positive for COVID-19 and 154 people have died as a result of the virus.
That’s an increase of 424 cases from the 5,747 reported Monday.
The VDH also said that 42,763 have been tested for the virus in Virginia and 978 have been hospitalized.
New modeling by UVA researchers that was made public Monday suggests social distancing policies are slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Virginia. The projections also point to a mid-August peak for new cases in the commonwealth.
Locally, the Thomas Jefferson Health District reported 185 cases in the region it covers: 53 in Albemarle County, 34 in Charlottesville, 62 in Fluvanna County due to an outbreak at a long term care facility, four cases in Greene County, 27 in Louisa County and five in Nelson County.
Yesterday, the TJHD announced that they would release data every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The health department encouraged residents to check out the updated VDH website with more state and district-level data.
On March 19, state health officials said there’s a lag in the reporting of statewide numbers on the VDH website. Figures on the website might not include cases or deaths reported by individual localities or local health districts.
– Paul Whelan