COVID-19 Update - December 2, 2020

I hope everyone is having a great, and safe, holiday season.

While we spend the holiday season each year with our loved ones, going out to shopping malls and restaurants, and doing other similar social activities, we must practice social distancing and other precautions this year. I know after all we’ve gone through this entire year, we would want to be with our friends and families now, but we must remain patient and stay at home as much as possible. With this recent surge of cases, both in Virginia and throughout the country, we need to be safe.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. Companies like Pfizer and Moderna are confident they have effective vaccines ready for distribution. Once the proper regulatory process has completed, these vaccines will begin to ship throughout the country. We are close to ending this pandemic, but we must continue to follow the proper protocol until we get there.

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 242,480 recorded cases of COVID-19 in Virginia.

  • COVID-19 cases continue to rise throughout all regions in the Commonwealth.

  • While Virginia is currently at 28 cases per 100,000 people (lower than 45 other states), the number in states around Virginia are concerning.

  • Local health districts have reported that the virus has especially spread in settings such as churches, small gatherings, socializing after work/school, and family gatherings.

    • As a reminder, the Governor states that social gatherings are limited to 25 people, restaurants have stopped serving alcohol after 10 pm, and enforcement of existing regulations in businesses have been strengthened.

  • In more hopeful news, Pfizer and Moderna are preparing to roll out their vaccines, and vaccines from other companies are expected to follow.

    • In addition to federal oversight, the Virginia Department of Health’s vaccination team is doing an independent review of these vaccine’s data.

    • While the vaccines will be available throughout all of Virginia, the first to receive it will be health care workers and residents of long term care facilities.

  • Once the FDA grants Pfizer the Emergency Use Request, vaccine doses will ship throughout the country. This could happen as early as mid-December.

    • Virginia expects to get about 70,000 doses in the first wave.

    • Pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens will assist with vaccine distribution.

    • Moderna, and possibly other companies, will be going through the same process.

  • An additional $15 million in CARES Act funding will go to group home settings for people with disabilities to help with COVID expenses.
    Virginia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services has a “warm” line for anyone who needs to talk about feelings of anxiety, stress, trauma, or grief.

    • ​Anyone in Virginia can call/text this line at: (877) 349-6428

 

COVID-19 Data and Information

  • According to the VDH website:
    • 242,480 persons have tested positive for COVID-19.

    • 14,883 of those individuals have been hospitalized.

    • 4,113 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, 44,134 are African Americans and 47,447 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.

Stay up to date by signing up for newsletters: Newsletters

Please watch my social media and website for additional updates:

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