Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam today extended the current ban on elective surgeries by one week, until May 1, and the closure of Department of Motor Vehicles public-facing offices by two weeks, until May 11. Virginia State Police are directed to continue suspending the enforcement of motor vehicle inspections and take several additional measures through July 31.
The ban on elective surgeries will continue while the governor and State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver continue to evaluate, in conjunction with hospitals and other medical facilities, how to safely ease restrictions on non-essential medical procedures, and the availability of personal protective equipment.
In addition today, the Supreme Court of Virginia has extended its “Period of Judicial Emergency” to May 17. The court’s previous end date for the emergency was April 26.
Gov. Northam said today, “My top priority is protecting public health, and that includes ensuring that our frontline medical staff have the equipment they need to stay safe as they treat Virginians who are sick. We have increased our supply of PPE, but before we allow elective surgeries to resume, we must first be assured that the doctors, nurses, and medical staff who are fighting this virus or conducting emergency surgeries have the necessary supplies. We are working with medical facilities on plans to ensure that we can resume elective surgeries safely and responsibly.”
The public health emergency order does not apply to any procedure if the delay would cause harm to a patient, according to Northam. The order also does not apply to outpatient visits in hospital-based clinics, family planning services, or emergency needs.
Hospitals continue to treat emergency patients and perform essential surgeries, and Virginians should feel safe going to hospitals if they are experiencing a medical emergency, such as a heart attack. Northam also amended Executive Order 57 to allow licensed physician’s assistants with two or more years of clinical experience to practice without a collaborative agreement.
Northam also extended Executive Directive Seven, which closed Virginia’s 75 DMV offices and its mobile units to the public and extended the validity of driver’s licenses and vehicle credentials that were due to expire. Today’s action decrees that those credentials will be valid through July 31. Virginians who need to renew a license or vehicle registration are encouraged to do so online.
Northam expanded Executive Directive Eight, directing the Virginia State Police to suspend enforcement of the time period in which new Virginia residents must get a driver’s license or register their vehicles, the expiration of temporary license plates, and the time period in which temporary residents may operate vehicles with out-of-state plates. This directive continues the suspension of enforcement of motor vehicle inspections by Virginia State Police. While local law enforcement may still issue citations for expired vehicle inspections, Northam encouraged them to refrain from doing so during this pandemic.