COVID-19 Update - April 20, 2020

It’s been more than a month since our Governor announced the state of emergency and shut the state down. I know it’s been a very difficult month, but know that everything we’ve done has not been in vain. Social distancing has been playing a huge role in helping to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. 

Following guidance from the federal government, Governor Northam announced the state will look at opening back up once we meet certain criteria. The first phase out of the three phases of lifting the pandemic restrictions requires the amount of documented cases to be trending downward within a 14-day period. We have not reached this marker yet, but we will get there. Once we reach phase 1, certain businesses, like gyms, can open up, however they must adhere to strict social distancing protocols. Large venues like restaurants or movie theaters will be able to operate but under very strict physical distancing protocols. Please keep in mind that during phase one, all individuals are still encouraged to stay at home when possible, especially medically vulnerable individuals.

Until we get to phase 1, we must continue to hunker down. The sooner we can slow the spread, the sooner we can ease restrictions. But I must stress that we absolutely cannot open up too early. That will undo all the work we’ve done to slow the spread. Patience is important, but trust me when I say that we will overcome this situation. Until then, please 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 8,990 cases of COVID-19 in Virginia.

  • The ability to run large numbers of tests will be key to the plan to reopening the state back up. Testing capabilities were slow early on during this pandemic but have steadily risen since. Hospitals, private labs, universities and the state lab have scaled up their testing capacity.

    • ​The state lab can currently run more than 300 tests per day, and will increase that capacity to 400 next week.

  • ​To assist with supporting increased testing, the Governor has authorized a work group on this issue. The work group will include representatives from various medical entities throughout the state such as hospitals, free clinics, and long term care facilities. This group will have three main goals:

    • ​Expanding test sites and testing criteria.

    • Increasing testing volume and ensuring tests results come in faster.

    • Addressing the factors that limit testing, such as obtaining testing equipment.

  • Dr. Norm Oliver, the State Health Commissioner, will send a clinician’s letter to doctors throughout Virginia to ensure they test their patients who may have COVID-19 instead of just giving them a diagnosis without testing.

 

Additional Data and Information

  • According to the VDH website: Virginia has a total of 56,735 individuals tested. 
    • ​8,990 persons have tested positive for COVID-19.
    • 1,500 of those individuals have been hospitalized.
    • 300 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 cases we 5,860 have race/ethnicity data on: ​1,659 are African Americans.

 

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.

 

Tuesday’s Virtual Town Hall

Tomorrow (Tuesday, April 21st), I will co-host a virtual workforce town hall with my fellow members of the Prince William County General Assembly Delegation to provide updates on COVID-19. We will also be joined by Dr. Megan Healy, the Chief Workforce Advisor to Governor Northam. If you would like to ask us questions for the town hall, please email them to deleguzman@house.virginia.gov.

Please visit the Facebook Event Page for more information. Hope you can tune in!

 

Community Outreach

Many of our community partners want you to know that they are with you in the fight and have free and helpful resources for you to use or be aware of.  Please check out the below bulletins. Note: For state and local listings of resources as shared above, can be found here.

 

ERs Remain Open and Safe 

Emergency physicians working on the frontline of this crisis continue to encourage everyone to practice social distancing and stay at home when possible. But, the doctors say, Virginians should not delay necessary medical care, especially if you think you are having an emergency. 

In the last month, some emergency departments in Virginia and across the country have seen a reduction in patient volume of more than 30 percent (as an example, motor vehicle accidents — which account for a lot of ER visits — don't happen as often when there are no cars on the road). 

“If you think you are having a medical emergency such as stroke, heart attack, trauma, or serious infection, come to the emergency department — or better yet, call 911,” says Bruce Lo, M.D., a Board member with the Virginia College of Emergency Physicians, which represents ER doctors throughout the Commonwealth. “Fear is leading many people to delay treatment for health issues that need to be addressed. Delaying treatment is dangerous, especially when it comes to signs of a heart attack or stroke.” 

For more information, visit:  https://www.vhha.com.

 

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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