COVID-19 Update - April 17, 2020

Most folks throughout Virginia and the country have been following the social distancing guidelines. I am proud to see that we are taking this seriously.

There are a few individuals out there, however, who do say it’s time to end social distancing and to reopen. These people do not have qualifications to back their statements up. I am not asking you to listen to my advice. I am asking you to listen to the advice of those who are actually qualified: the medical experts who have been spending day and night fighting this pandemic. Many of these experts have even put their own lives in danger to protect us.

No one wants this. But we need to do this to keep our community safe, especially the most vulnerable. Please remember the sacrifices being made on our behalf. We need to continue flattening the curve, and that means we must stay at home.

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 7,491 cases of COVID-19 in Virginia.

  • Virginia received $1.6 billion from the federal government to aid in fighting the pandemic.

  • We have approval from FEMA to provide hotel accommodations for first responders and essential workers.

  • The Governor was on the phone with the President last night and talked about phased guidelines for the coming future. The first phase requires positive tests on a downward trend for 14 days. We have not yet met this criteria.

  • Our first shipment of PPE procured through a contract with Northfield (a Virginia based logistics company) has arrived.

    • ​This includes more than 24,000 N95 masks, as well as gloves and gowns.

  • ​Today, the Governor signed Executive Order 57. This Order eases licensing restrictions on certain medical practitioners such as nurses or doctors who are licensed in other states. It also expands telehealth usage. This Order will allow us to expand our medical workforce.

  • Virginia will waive regulatory rules around staffing in long term care facilities so they can recruit staff and volunteers more quickly. The Medical Reserve Corps. is working with long term care facilities to support staffing. 

  • We are expanding testing criteria to include those who are about to be admitted in congregate settings like long term care facilities.

  • Since early March, the local jail population in Virginia has been reduced by 17%. This is due to local authorities opting to use alternative methods such as electronic monitoring devices and issuing summons to prevent minor offenders who are deemed not a threat to society instead of placing them in jail and increasing its population.

    • ​There is a 67% decrease in the number of people entering jails on misdemeanor charges. All of this has been done with public safety in mind. 

  • ​Call centers and more employees have been added to support the Employment Commission to ensure Virginians who seek unemployment benefits have access.

 

Additional Data and Information

  • According to the VDH website: Virginia has a total of 48,997 individuals tested.
    • ​7,491 persons have tested positive for COVID-19.

    • 1,221 of those individuals have been hospitalized.

    • 231 of those individuals have lost their lives to this virus. 

  • This virus has been shown to disproportionately affect the African American population throughout the country. As such, Virginia has begun to collect race/ethnicity information. With the 2,781 cases we have race/ethnicity data on:

    • ​1,401 are African Americans.

    • 71 of those who lost their lives are African Americans.

 

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.

 

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