We are coming up on more than a month since this pandemic has shut our Commonwealth down. These past few weeks have been a huge struggle for everyone. So many Virginians have suffered on more than one front because of this virus.
I’m sure by now, you have heard the term “social distancing” and “flattening the curve” more times than desired. But these words have become a very important part of our daily vocabulary to save the lives of our family, friends, neighbors and ourselves. Although the data that has been reported is varied, there is a very good reason to believe our social distancing has been working to flatten the curve.
The next time you feel like turning the TV off or logging off your social media because you heard the term “social distancing” for the thousandth time, remember the reason why we’re doing it. Remember the lives we have sadly lost because of how much the virus has spread. Remember the numerous healthcare workers and volunteers who put their lives on the line every single day to treat our patients. And remember those who are most vulnerable in our society, like senior citizens or cancer survivors, whose lives will be saved because we decided to stay at home to not allow this virus to spread further. We can’t stop now. Let’s continue to fight this virus together. Stay at home. Protect our community.
And as we continue to fight this together, this may or will take a toll on many. We have to make sure we check on one another, especially our most vulnerable. Please remember, if you or someone you know is feeling depressed or suicidal, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255, or the Disaster Distress Helpline, 1-800-985-5990.
If there is anything that I can do to help or if you know someone that is in need of help, do not hesitate to reach out to our office at 804-698-1051 or via email at DelHayala@house.virginia.gov.
The Governor's Update
The full press conference can be watched here. Please note that the Governor will be giving these press conferences every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (unless an urgent update requires the Governor to speak on an off press conference day), and they will take place at 2 pm. They will be broadcasted and archived on The Governor’s Facebook and VPM’s YouTube channel. Some of the highlights from today’s press conference are as followed:
- There are now 4,509 cases of COVID-19 in Virginia.
- To protect our nursing homes, one of the most vulnerable portions of our community, the Governor is placing Dr. Laurie Forlono, Virginia’s Deputy Commissioner for Public Health, as the head of a task force that will:
- Work with the Secretary of Finance to ensure nursing homes and long term care facilities have the resources they need.
- Will work with these facilities to ensure they strengthen their staffing and increase infection control methods through greater testing and increased PPE capacity.
- Will ensure the public and these facilities are getting the information and data they need about where the virus is appearing.
- The state is looking to increase our healthcare volunteer capacity. Hospital CEO’s list PPE and increased staffing as their two most important needs right now.
- The volunteer Medical Reserve Corps has over 13,000 volunteers. The state will work with colleges and medical schools to recruit more volunteers, however anyone who is able to support is encouraged to join. Information on volunteering for the Medical Reserve Corps can be found here.
- The Governor is proposing an amendment to the state budget that would give the Department of Corrections the authority to release offenders who have one year or less left on their sentences. These individuals must have demonstrated good behavior and must not be deemed a threat to public safety to be eligible for release.
- To assist the thousands of Virginians who have lost their jobs during this health crisis, the state will launch the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program, which will boost weekly payments by an additional $600 to unemployment claimants. Eligibility criteria for those who apply for unemployment has also expanded to include: gig workers, temporary workers, and self-employed workers.
- The state unemployment application must still be filled out for those who seek to receive these benefits. The application can be found here.
- The Governor has signed numerous bills to meet tomorrow’s deadline. These bills include the numerous firearm safety bills as well as the Virginia Reproductive Health Protection Act. By midnight tomorrow, the Governor will have acted on all legislation.
Additional Data and Information
According to the VDH website: Virginia has a total of 35,459 individuals tested.
- 4,509 persons have tested positive for COVID-19.
- 772 of those individuals have been hospitalized.
- 121 of those individuals have lost their lives to this virus.
Governor Northam’s Stay at Home Executive Order
The Governor had issued an Executive Order (E.O.), which establishes a temporary Stay at Home order to protect all Virginians by reducing the spread of COVID-19. All Virginians will be required to stay at their place of residence, unless they have a specified reason to leave as allowed by the Executive Order. This Order will remain in place until June 10th, 2020, unless it is amended or rescinded by another Executive Order.
Please be sure to read the E.O. in its entirety, it has a number of items that were covered in yesterday’s press conference. Some of the highlights include:
- Allowing Virginians to leave their residences for reasons such as:
- Obtaining foods or goods.
- Seeking medical attention.
- Taking care of other individuals, animals, or visiting the home of a family member.
- Traveling required by a court order.
- Engaging in outdoor activity such as exercise (while following social distancing requirements).
- Traveling to and from one’s residence, place of worship, work, or an educational institution.
- Volunteering for charitable or social services organizations.
- Leaving residence due to reasonable fear for health or safety.
- See #1 in the E.O. for more information.
- All public and private in-person gatherings of more than 10 individuals are prohibited. This does not apply to businesses not required to close to the public nor gathering of family members living in the same residence. See #2 in the E.O. for more information.
- Higher education institutions will cease all in-person classes and instruction, and cancel all gatherings of more than 10 individuals. See #3 in the E.O. for more information.
- All short term stays (less than 14 days) at privately-owned campgrounds are forbidden. See #4 in the E.O. for more information.
- All public beaches will be closed, except for exercising and fishing (with social distancing requirements to be followed). See #5 in the E.O. for more information.
Prince William County Information Center
Here is further information on what our county will be doing during this time:
- Prince William County has instituted a text alert system for COVID-19. Those interested in receiving updates from the county via text can text COVIDPWC to 888777 for English or COVIDPWCES to 888777 for Spanish.
- Additionally, residents can call the county's information at (703) 794-4669, Monday-Friday, 8 am - 5 pm, for information regarding county government operations.
- Health questions related to COVID-19 can be addressed by the Prince William Health District's call center #: (703) 872-7759, 9 am - 5 pm, seven days a week.
- Prince William County Schools, along with all of Virginia’s schools, will be closed for the remaining academic year.
- School Age Child Care (SACC) will be closed from March 16 onward.
- PWCS and the County will provide packaged breakfasts and lunches at select locations throughout the county to anyone under the age of 18. For a complete list of all to-go food locations and additional information please click here.
- Online registration is now open for children who will enter kindergarten in the 2020-21 school year. Because of the COVID-19 shutdown, please note that the timeline for registration may take longer than usual. To register your child or for more information please click here.
The CARES Act
Last week, the federal government passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This massive, $2 trillion bill provides a large stimulus package to Americans while our country overcomes the COVID-19 situation. Some of the highlights from this bill include:
- Over $150 billion for state & local governments for needs related to housing, education, and childcare, in addition to further funding for public health preparedness.
- Boosting funding for the Biomedical Advance Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and the National Institutions of Health (NIH).
- $100 billion to hospitals and health care providers, including $16 billion for the funding of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other necessary supplies.
- Assistance to small businesses and unemployment aid.
- More than $1 billion for food for pregnant women, mothers of young children, food banks, and families and seniors. It also provides resources for schools and nonprofits to serve children during closures.
- Establishing paid leave for employees if they have to stay home to take care of their child or if they are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus.
- Free testing for coronavirus.
- $1,200 cash payment to individual Americans ($2,400 for joint filers), along with an additional $500 per child. This money begins to phase out for those making more than $75,000 a year ($150,000 for joint filers). A 2018 or 2019 tax return must be filled out (or be receiving Social Security benefits) to receive this cash payment.
For more information on the CARES Act including Frequently Asked Questions, please go here.
Small Business - Emergency Loan Application
Virginia had submitted a request for aid from the United States Small Business Agency. This application has been approved. If your small business or non-profit is located in Virginia and it requires financial assistance during this situation, please visit the United States Small Business Agency Disaster Loan website here.
Additionally, there are other separate small business aid options, much of it strengthened by the $2 trillion CARES Act. Please visit the SBA’s Covid-19 Resource Center for more information.
Don't Forget to Take the 2020 Census!
During this difficult time, we must not forget other necessary responsibilities we must complete as Americans. One very important duty, which only happens once every 10 years, is to fill out the Census. Not only is the information from the Census used for statistical reasons, it will be used for essential items such as allocation of federal funds, redistricting, and informing decisions on where to build and maintain important facilities such as schools and hospitals. Please visit the official Census website here to fill it out today! Additionally, you can complete your 2020 census by phone with the numbers listed in the image provided! If you cannot see the image, please reply back to this email.
Ensuring SNAP Recipients are Protected
The Federal Agriculture Department last week said it would continue to pursue a decision on food stamp programs that would force hundreds of thousands of recipients out of the program.
This came after a judge ruled it would be “arbitrary and capricious” to move forward in this direction while the COVID-19 crisis continues. The Agriculture Department is looking to appeal this decision.
UPDATE: After receiving a notification from the Governor’s Office as well as our partners in the federal government, I have learned that Virginia will waive the work requirements for Virginia’s SNAP families! This will be a huge burden off so many Virginians’ shoulders during this very difficult time. I want to thank Governor Northam for his work, Congressman Gerry Connolly for keeping us informed, and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney for making us and so many in the country aware of this issue.
My Virtual Town Hall
Earlier today, I hosted my fifth virtual town hall that provided updates on COVID-19. I want to thank everyone who was able to tune in! If you would like a copy of the information presented during the virtual town hall, you can fill this Google form out here.
Other Helpful Resources
- Virginia Department of Health
- State Employee Memo via the Governor's Office
- Prince William County Schools grab free to-go breakfasts/lunches
- Medicaid/FAMIS Information
- Virginia Employment Commission
- "Frequently asked Questions for Workers Regarding COVID-19"
- Donate Blood to the Red Cross
- Families who need food assistance can text FOOD or COMIDA to 877877
- Families First Coronavirus Response Act - Information on Paid Family or Sick Leave
- Virginia Department of Education
- COVID-19 in Virginia Government Website
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) Personal Protective Supplies Survey
- Domestic Violence Hotline - 1-800-838-8238
My Contact Information
Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org, or call my office at: (804) 698-1051.
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In closing, I am here for you as is our Governor and our government agencies who are readily available to help during this tough time. It is important we prevent the spread for the safety of everyone, especially those who are most vulnerable. In addition, let's focus on caring for one another and beating this virus together.