Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, front, gestures during a news conference as House speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, right, and Secretary of Public safety Brian Moran, left, look on. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, front, gestures during a news conference as House speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, right, and Secretary of Public safety Brian Moran, left, look on. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Gov. Ralph Northam announced two new pilot programs designed to help people check their symptoms and have food delivered safely to residents’ homes.

The first program, a telehealth tool called COVID Check, is being launched Friday by the state health department. The telehealth tool will help answer questions about coronavirus symptoms and give residents recommendations on what steps they should take next. The tool can also recommend nearby testing locations. 

“The tool will give recommendations about what to do next, such as self-isolation, seeing your doctor or seeking emergency care,” Northam said. 

Providing additional information on where testing sites are located and recommending when residents should get tested will help officials further identify outbreaks of the coronavirus. 

“As we have talked about, testing and contact tracing are critical pieces of this puzzle as we move forward,” Northam said. 

The Virginia Department of Health is also currently in the process of hiring a workforce of contact tracers. They will be key to warning residents when and where they might have been exposed so they can take precautions like isolating at home to prevent further spread. 

Northam noted that the VDH is working to partner with pharmacies for additional testing. They are also working to ensure that doctors offices and clinics have all the testing equipment they need.

“This week we did more than 4,000 tests at community events in Woodbridge, Manassass and Leesburg. The Virginia National Guard has done almost 11,000 tests and as of this past Tuesday we’ll have done 9,000 tests throughout the week,” Northam said. 

Next week the department of health has a total of 44 community testing events scheduled around the commonwealth. Northam said he expects the testing events will bring in about 11,500 tests. 

Northam also announced another pilot program that was approved this week by the USDA. The SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot will allow residents signed up for the supplemental nutrition assistance program, also called SNAP, to order groceries from Amazon or Walmart and have them delivered to their doors. The program will launch in Virginia on May 29.

“This will help families get access to nutritious food without having to leave their homes. For families with small children or with members who have underlying health conditions that put them at greater risk this will help them keep safe,” Northam said.