COVID-19 Update - April 13, 2020

I hope everyone who celebrated Easter this past Sunday had a good and safe holiday. I know holidays like Easter are when many in our community gather together so I want to thank everyone who made the sacrifice to maintain social distancing while celebrating.

Our data is showing that social distancing is working. According to a Virginia specific model created by the University of Virginia for the Governor’s Office, the measures we have taken this past month are slowing the spread of the virus. However, if we lift these measures too early, the models say cases will spike and we’ll undo all the progress we have made. We have to be prepared to make this sacrifice for the near future. This will ensure we don’t have to take more extensive measures if the spread ends up continuing at a high rate because we opened up too soon. Patience is key.

But just because we are physically separated from each other doesn’t mean we have to be emotionally separated. We must also do a wellness 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 5,747 cases of COVID-19 in Virginia.
  • The Governor reports on the treacherous weather that has been in Virginia since early this morning. There is flooding and power outages throughout the Commonwealth. Authorities are addressing the damage now.
    • ​Virginians are encouraged to listen to local weather reports. If there is a tornado warning, please take immediate shelter. The Governor wants to highlight that finding immediate shelter in such a situation to ensure the safety of your life is more important than social distancing.
    • If you are driving and encounter flooding on the road, do not try to drive over it. Please turn around.
  • The Governor’s Office has presented the extensive models they have used to guide their decisions to the press. Also notes that these models change daily, as people’s behaviors change.
    • The University of Virginia has created a Virginia specific model. Currently, it shows that social distancing measures have been working to slow the spread. Virginia’s hospitals also currently have sufficient capacity. However, if social distancing measures are lifted too early, cases will spike and the slowing of the virus’s spread will be undone.
  • The Department of Education, along with school leaders across the state, have worked to ensure students, especially those in underserved areas, have the necessary tools to continue learning even though schools have been closed for the remainder of the year. Some of these measures include:
    • Expanding the existing online education platform (called “Virtual Virginia”) to allow every single public school teacher in the Commonwealth to host online classes through June 30th.
    • Students who don’t have regular internet access can download lessons on their device and watch it offline.
    • Beginning today, four Virginia public media stations have launched “VA TV Classroom”. They will broadcast teacher lessons on televisions across Virginia.
      • The partnering stations include Blue Ridge PBS, VPM, WETA, and WHRO Public Media. Information on broadcast schedule and channels can be found here.
    • A new guidance document on high quality, equitable instruction has been released to schools and teachers throughout Virginia.
  • Last Friday, the Governor announced the creation of a Nursing Home/Long Term Care Facility task force. The task force, headed by Dr. Lori Forlano, has begun work on helping long term care facilities.
    • They have already identified a resource that could help, which is included in the Governor’s budget amendments: increasing rates paid to nursing homes/long term care facilities by an additional $20 per Medicaid recipient per day. This will help with staffing issues.
    • The Virginia Medical Reserve Corps. may potentially help with staffing long term care facilities as well.
  • The Governor’s Office dealt with 1,291 pieces of legislation to meet this past Saturday’s deadline to act on passed bills.
  • The Governor has proposed 144 amendments to the state budget. 83 of these amendments freezes new discretionary spending of $874.6 million in FY21 and $1.4 billion in FY22. 49 amendments contain language changes to relax certain requirements and increase flexibility to certain agencies, as well as institutions of higher education, to conduct business during the pandemic.

 

Additional Data and Information

  • According to the VDH website: Virginia has a total of 41,401 individuals tested.
    • 5,747 persons have tested positive for COVID-19.
    • 903 of those individuals have been hospitalized.
    • 149 of those individuals have lost their lives to this virus.
  • Virginia has race/ethnicity information on 3,121 cases:
    • ​921 are African Americans.
    • 33 of those who lost their lives are African Americans.
  • Of the 97 reported outbreaks in Virginia, 53 have been in long term care facilities.
    • ​At least 554 cases are in long term care facilities residents.
    • 34 individuals in these facilities 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. 

 

COVID-19 Resource Page

I have a page on my website dedicated towards providing resources offered by the state, local government, and other entities, to those who need it. If you need assistance please visit the webpage now!

Additionally, there are other helpful, informative links that I would recommend you take a look at so you can stay up to date on this dynamic situation. You can visit the webpage here.

 

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.

 

 

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

This past Friday, 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

 

My Contact Information 

Email to: delhayala@house.virginia.gov, 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.

 

Sincerely,

Hala Ayala