**FILE** Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (Courtesy of the governor's office via Twitter)
**FILE** Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (Courtesy of the governor's office via Twitter)

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Friday that he has directed the state health department to release the names of individual long-term care facilities that have experienced a COVID-19 outbreak.

The state previously had allowed those facilities to remain anonymous to protect patient privacy.

“However, due to the widespread nature of this pandemic, it is now unlikely that releasing facility information would compromise anonymity or discourage facilities from participating in a public health investigation,” Northam said in a press release, which included a link to a website listing all of the facilities and the number of cases and deaths.

“Recently released data from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has also been inconsistent, creating public confusion,” the governor said.

According to the health department tracker, the state now has 1,602 coronavirus-related deaths — 1,000 of which are linked to long-term care facilities.

The news comes just days after Virginia reported dropping to a record low in coronavirus-related hospitalizations.

The 380 cases reported Monday is nearly 200 fewer than the 570 cases reported the previous week.

The low figures come more than two weeks after Northam mandated face coverings while in indoor public spaces.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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