COVID-19 Update - December 10, 2020

I hope everyone is safely enjoying the holiday season.

While I wish I had better news, I have to notify you that COVID cases in Virginia are rising. We are now averaging about 4,000 cases per day, on average. This number is much higher than it has been anytime during this pandemic.

I feel I need to underscore that part. If you go back to May, when the pandemic surge at that time was well underway, the daily case average was around 1,200. The daily average is now nearly 4 times higher from that time. As such, the Governor is issuing new restrictions, which can be found in the section below.

Most Virginians are following the protocols properly, and I am proud of that. But to the few who are not, I implore you to think about others. If you do not need to go out of your home, please don’t. I know this pandemic has wreaked havoc on so many parts of our lives, including our ability to socialize. But I ask you to make that sacrifice. Think about the 4,000+ Virginians and nearly 300,000 Americans who have lost their lives to this virus. If you can save just one life by doing something like choosing to host a virtual social event instead of meeting others in person, know that you are making all the difference.

The news of the vaccines continues to be optimistic. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but we still have some ways to go. Please, stay at home.

In the meantime, please continue to check on our friends, neighbors and family. 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. When these COVID-19 press conferences are called, they will be broadcasted and archived on The Governor’s Facebook and YouTube channel. Some of the highlights from today’s press conference are as followed:

  • There are now 271,043 recorded cases of COVID-19 in Virginia.
  • Cases continue to rise in Virginia. About 4,000 cases are recorded per day, on average.

    • ​The statewide rate for test positivity is around 11%, nearly double from a month ago.

    • Hospitalizations have increased statewide by more than 80% in the last four weeks.

  • The biggest issue in Virginia hospitals is staffing. Current hospital staff members are working an exhausting amount of hours.

  • The Governor is issuing new restrictions because of the record rise of COVID cases in Virginia, starting this coming Monday at 12:01 am. These restrictions include:

    • ​Every day from 12:00 to 5:00 am, Virginians are asked to stay at home (unless they are commuting to work). Virginians are still encouraged to stay at home throughout the day if they do not need to go out for necessary errands. When out of the home, wearing a mask is still vital indoors, and outdoors where staying 6 feet apart or more is not possible.

    • Social gatherings are limited to 10 people.

    • Previous restrictions (such as no alcohol being served after 10 pm) remain in place.

    • These restrictions will remain in place through January 31, 2021, unless rescinded or amended.

  • While enforcement of these restrictions will be stepped up, the Governor states that the vast majority of individuals and businesses are following the proper protocol.

    • The Virginia ABC and the Health Department do most of this enforcement (with the Departments of Labor and Industry, and the Agriculture Department assisting). They have completed more than 200 visits since the new restrictions took place less than a month ago. The good news is that they are seeing a compliance rate of around 90%. However, they are concerned that a minority of individuals and businesses still continue to not follow this protocol.

    • Businesses not following compliance risk the following: committing a misdemeanor offense, having their business being shut down, and losing their license.

  • Schools and higher education institutions will continue their work of educating students while keeping everyone safe.

  • With regards to recreational sports, spectators will be limited to 25 per field for indoor sports, and 2 guests per player for outdoor sports.

  • The Governor will look to getting teachers and school staff vaccinated when it is possible, to assist with having students back to school in person sooner.

 

COVID-19 Data and Information

  • According to the VDH website:
    • 271,043 persons have tested positive for COVID-19.

    • 15,723 of those individuals have been hospitalized.

    • 4,335 of those individuals have lost their lives to this virus.

  • This virus has been shown to disproportionately affect the African American and Hispanic/Latino population throughout the country. As such, Virginia has begun to collect race/ethnicity information. With the cases we have racial and ethnicity data on, 47,774 are African Americans and 50,307 are Hispanic or Latino.

 

Special Session

2020 has thrown a lot at us, from the COVID-19 pandemic to the exposure and need for true racial and criminal justice reform. Since the General Assembly gavelled out from our normal session in early March, we’ve seen so much suffering and hardship. We’ve been personally touched by the pain felt by so many across our Commonwealth and country. As such, we took action. During this special session, we have begun the process of healing.

Our General Assembly’s special session had made great progress. Even though it was certainly hard work, we are proud to have passed a solid budget. While the revenue coming to the state this year has experienced a close to a $2.8 billion shortfall, our budget will currently still be able to provide funding to very necessary items such as:

  • $254 million for emergency housing, rent, eviction legal aid and utility relief.
  • $28.4 million directed towards policing and social justice reform, such as giving the Attorney General resources to investigate law enforcement agencies for unconstitutional practices like using excess force.
  • $200 million in federal funding for school reopening costs, in addition to $119 million in federal funding and $80 million in state funding for higher education institutions.
  • Restoring $36.4 million in DD waivers.

Some of the bills that have passed both the General Assembly:

  • HB 5046 - clarifies certain Code provisions related to telemedicine services and require the Department of Medical Assistance Services to continue reimbursing providers for Medicaid-covered telemedicine until July 1, 2021.
  • HB 5115 - extends eviction and foreclosure continuance periods in court proceedings to more Virginians affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • HB 5098 - makes it a hate crime to make a false 9-1-1 call on the basis of race.
  • HB 5068 - prohibits creditors from garnishing, or seizing, emergency relief payments (like stimulus checks) from Virginians.

All of the special sessions and our committee hearings are archived here. If you would like to see a more comprehensive summary of our special session, our End of Special Session Newsletter will soon be on our newsletters’ webpage here.

 

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.

Ve aquí para español.

 

Comcast Updates

Comcast has recently announced that they will extend the free internet service to low-income customers they have been giving through the rest of 2020 as well as keeping their free public WiFi hotspots open through the end of the year. Please check out the following press releases from Comcast for more information:

Internet Essentials 60 days of free Internet service extended through 2020

Comcast extends free public WiFi access to everyone for the remainder of 2020

Comcast has partnered with Prince William County Schools to provide free internet service to low-income students that currently do not have internet at home. Comcast Internet Essentials, which is currently available for low-income families for $9.95 a month, will be covered by Prince William County for low-income students. It is anticipated that this program will cover thousands of students throughout the County.

To learn more about Comcast’s Internet Essentials program available for eligible low-income households, please go here.

 

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