COVID-19 Update - May 20, 2020

We are now more than two months into this state of emergency. I know it’s been a tough few months. This pandemic has truly tested the strength and resolve of our community. 

We here in the 51st District and the rest of NoVA continue to follow the necessary restrictions put in place over the past two months. The signs are certainly in our favor, but we must continue to stay at home.

If we stop too early, we’ll risk allowing this dangerous virus to hurt our community more than it already has. We’ve faced great trials and tribulations throughout our history, and this pandemic is the latest to threaten us. We can and will overcome this, and we’ll do it together!

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. 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 32,908 cases of COVID-19 in Virginia.

Monday, May 18th Updates:

  • Percentage of positive PCR tests continue to fall.

  • The Governor announces a number of upcoming testing events, with a sizable number of them occurring in Northern Virginia.

  • Looking to the upcoming Fall school semester, a team of education leaders, made up of officials and experts from all levels of Virginia’s education system, will meet regularly with the public health team to outline future steps.

  • Monday marks the first day some of Virginia’s courts begin to hear cases, including eviction cases. As such, the Governor reiterates the steps the administration has taken since the beginning of the pandemic to support housing, including the 3-month mortgage deferral program.

  • Safety measures have been implemented to protect voters and poll workers during tomorrow’s local elections throughout the state.

Wednesday, May 20th Updates:

  • Yesterday, Virginia had 9,782 PCR tests and 426 antibody tests.

  • $58 million from the CARES Act will help ramp up Virginia’s contact tracing program.

    • VDH is working to hire 200 new communicable disease investigators and 1000 contact tracers.

  • Since the beginning of the pandemic, Virginia has distributed 793,675 N95 masks, more than 1.3 million surgical masks, more than 3 million gloves, 285,031 gowns, 427,425 face shields, and 24,359 containers of hand sanitizers. 

    • The state has made it a priority to ensure healthcare providers working to care for COVID-19 patients have not run out of the PPE supplies they need.

  • By the Governor’s reports, yesterday’s local elections throughout the state, which had increased social distancing and sanitization protocols, occurred without incident.

    • Part of the election’s success was the increased number of Virginians who voted absentee.

    • ​The Department of Elections, as well as other relevant authorities, are preparing for the June 23rd primary elections with increased social distancing and sanitization protocols. Voters can request an absentee ballot by 5 pm, June 16th for these elections. They can be requested here.

 

Additional Data and Information

  • According to the VDH website:
    • 32,908 persons have tested positive for COVID-19.

    • 3,979 of those individuals have been hospitalized.

    • 1,074 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 22,844 cases we have racial data on, 5,082 are African Americans. With the 21,918 cases we have ethnicity data on: 10,147 are Hispanic or Latino.

 

Northern Virginia’s Current Status Regarding Phase 1

Earlier this month, the Governor released the criteria for the state to move to Phase 1 of reopening the state, with the caveat that localities can delay their reopening if they feel they have not met this criteria.

On Sunday, May 10th, leaders from Northern Virginia localities sent a letter to the Governor stating they do not meet this criteria. To put this into perspective, on the same day the letter was sent, Northern Virginia accounted for 719 new positive tests (73% of all new tests), whereas the rest of Virginia accounted for 270 new positive tests (27% of all new tests). Based on a memo released by the top health officials in Northern Virginia, this is how we compare on each of the Governor’s criterias:

Downward trends of positive tests over a period of 14 days: We are currently unable to assess this. While Virginia as a whole may be moving downward, we cannot tell how Northern Virginia is faring. Northern Virginia health officials are currently awaiting this specific data from VDH.

Hospitalizations moving downward over 14 days: Based on our data we have not met this criteria.

Increased testing: We are unable to assess this. We only have Virginia’s whole number, not for our region specifically. VDH will provide this data soon.

Increased contact tracing: We have not met this criteria. We do not yet have the infrastructure to respond to every new case, trace and actively monitor their close contacts, and coordinate testing for symptomatic contacts.

Enough hospital beds and intensive care capacity: We are unable to assess this. Available critical care beds continue to decrease but still fall within normal operating capacity. Note: There is a 20% surge capacity that is not yet utilized.

Increasing and sustainable supply of PPE: We have not met this criteria. PPE for hospitals have been adequate currently, but PPE for outpatient facilities (private practices, long-term care facilities, and first responders) continues to be a challenge.

 

COVID-19 Executive Orders

Since the pandemic reached Virginia more than a month ago, the Governor has issued numerous executive orders to address it. Here is a brief explanation of each, as well as the links to the full Executive Orders.

Executive Order 51 was the first one, and it declared the state of emergency in Virginia due to COVID-19. This EO gave the Governor and the state government authority to preemptively address the pandemic.

Executive Order 52 increased hospital bed capacity throughout Virginia in response to threat COVID-19 presented. This allowed our hospitals to be ready for the amount of patients that would come in from COVID-19. This played a role into why our hospitals currently still have enough capacity to treat both COVID-19 and other patients.

Executive Order 53 declared the closure of businesses throughout the state that were not essential and gave guidance to the businesses that were essential (like grocery stores and pharmacies) on how they can operate safely during this time.

Executive Order 54 gave power to the Commissioner of the Virginia Employment Commission to request Title XII funding for our unemployed workers. This allowed our unemployment insurance program to boost its funding so it could cover a wider net of workers who have been affected by the pandemic.

Executive Order 55 is the Stay at Home order. This order detailed why individuals in Virginia can leave their home, and why they should stay at home for a majority of the time.

Executive Order 56 postponed the June 9th primary elections to June 23rd.

Executive Order 57 eased regulations on medical licenses so out of state doctors, residents, fourth year medical students, and other qualified individuals could treat Virginian patients without having to jump through many regulatory hurdles during this pandemic.

Executive Order 58 simplifies the process Medicaid recipients must follow to receive medical attention during this pandemic, as well as giving the Department of Medical Assistance Services more flexibility in making critical services more accessible to those who need it.

Executive Order 59 postpones the May 5th general and special elections to May 19th.

**UPDATE: Most recent Executive Orders**

Executive Order 61 begins Phase 1 on May 15th by easing certain restrictions on businesses and individuals in Virginia in response to the pandemic.

Executive Order 62 delays Executive Order 61’s Phase 1 opening in Northern Virginia by continuing Phase 0 restrictions.

Link to all Executive Orders 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.

 

Prince William Testing Sites

Walmarts in Dumfries and Manassas will offer no cost, drive-thru COVID-19 testing starting today. These will be open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 7:00 am - 9:00 am.

Sentara will sponsor free testing at the Dale City Recreation Center from 7:30 am - 9:30 am and at Todos Supermarket in Dumfries from 10:00 am - 2:00 pm this Saturday, May 16th (only this Saturday).

Eligibility is restricted to first responders, health care providers, those with symptoms, and those in high risk groups. If interested, visit www.DoINeedaCOVID19test.com to check eligibility.

 

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.

 

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.

 

My Virtual Town Hall

This coming Friday, I will host my weekly COVID-19 town hall. I’ll be hosting these town halls every Friday at 1 pm on my Facebook page. Here is the Facebook Event Page. If you’d like to ask me a question, please fill this form out here.

If you were not able to listen and/or would like to receive the information I presented, please email me at delhayala@house.virginia.gov.

 

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