- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said Wednesday that officials are assessing damage from Tropical Storm Isaias to determine whether the state qualifies for federal assistance, noting that the storm killed a person in Lancaster County, whipped up tornadoes in several areas and caused flooding and power outages.

“This is just the first storm in the hurricane season, a bit earlier than what we would have hoped for,” Mr. Northam said at a press conference. “So I encourage all Virginians to make sure that you are prepared, be ready for power outages and even evacuations as we move further into the season.”

The Democratic governor noted that the federal government this week has agreed to pay for the majority of coronavirus efforts by the National Guard, which has assisted with the response to the tropical storm and COVID-19 testing.

While coronavirus cases have steadily risen in Virginia in recent weeks, the test positivity rate has remained steady at 7.2%, Mr. Northam said. But the eastern region of the commonwealth, which has seen a sharper rise in cases, has a positivity rate that has hovered around 10%.

As of Wednesday, the coronavirus has infected 95,049 people in Virginia and killed 2,274.

In the District, officials on Wednesday urged parents to be diligent about bringing their children to doctor offices for wellness checkups and vaccinations, despite the cautionary online-only start to the school year for public schools, to avoid a potential epidemic amid a pandemic.

“Even though the first day of school will look different, we still need to make sure that children are getting vaccinated to keep children healthy and also to protect vulnerable members of our community,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said at a press conference. “So please stay on track with your well child visits.”

Miss Bowser referenced the measles epidemic last year, when the U.S. reported more than 1,200 cases, the largest number of infections since 1992.

“We want all of our students to be able and ready to return to an in-person learning environment as soon as our public school health indicators allow for such,” said Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, director of the D.C. Health Department. “We want all families and parents to know that these services are still critically important during a pandemic as the mayor has mentioned. One pandemic is enough and we don’t want an epidemic during our pandemic.”

For children who are 18 years old or younger, health officials recommend vaccinations for hepatitis A and B, rotavirus, inactivated poliovirus, diphtheria/tetanus/acellular pertussis, measles/mumps/rubella (MMR), varicella, meningococcal and the annual flu shot, among others.

A list and schedule of recommended vaccinations can be found at cdc.gov/vaccines.

Parents can visit the following school-based health centers for child wellness visits and immunizations: Anacostia Senior High School, Ballou Senior High School, Cardozo Learning Center, Coolidge Senior High School and Ida B. Wells Middle School, Dunbar Senior High School, Roosevelt Senior High School and Woodson Senior High School.

Last week, officials announced that students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade at D.C. Public Schools will be learning online only this fall, starting Aug. 31 and through Nov. 6, out of health and safety concerns.

The District has confirmed another 45 coronavirus cases, raising its total to 12,443 infections. The coronavirus also has killed 587 residents, according to Health Department data published Wednesday.

Although there was a two-hour delay Wednesday in opening some of the testing sites due to Tropical Storm Isaias, the sites should resume normal hours Thursday.

This week, Virginia became one of seven states, including Maryland, to create a pact to jointly purchase antigen tests that can deliver results of a person’s COVID-19 status in 15 to 20 minutes. Miss Bowser said the District had not been invited to join the pact, but said she would follow up with the governors about the rapid coronavirus tests.

• Shen Wu Tan can be reached at stan@washingtontimes.com.

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