COVID-19 Update - November 10, 2020

Over the past 8 months, we have made a ton of sacrifices. We knew that when this pandemic started, it was not going to be something that would leave soon.

I am thankful to the many Virginians who have taken the steps to mitigate the virus’ spread. While our Commonwealth is doing relatively better than a lot of other parts of our country, we are currently experiencing a rise in cases. Now more than ever, we must continue to follow proper social distancing protocol. 

I know it will be especially difficult as we near the holiday season, a time when many of us travel and gather with loved ones. But while this pandemic shows no signs of slowing down, we have to make a few more sacrifices. I know it will be tough, but staying at home will save lives. We have to concede some of our usual traditions this year so countless other Virginians and Americans can make it out of this pandemic to see many more Thanksgivings, Christmases, Hanukkahs, and other holidays. I am hopeful that we will soon see the light at the end of the tunnel, but until then, stay safe.

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 194,912 cases of COVID-19 in Virginia.
  • COVID-19 cases are unfortunately trending upwards in Virginia, with the Department of Health reporting 1,435 new cases and 13 newly reported deaths today. Hospitalizations are also on the rise.
  • Statewide positivity is currently 6.2%. 
    Southwest Virginia is currently an area of concern as it has rising cases, community spread, and fewer hospitals than other regions in the state. The current positivity in the Southwest region is 9%, higher than other parts of the state.
  • Other regions, both in the state and the country, are experiencing higher cases.
  • The Governor encourages everyone to continue practicing the proper protocol during this pandemic such as: avoiding indoor gatherings, washing our hands, and wearing a mask when out of our homes (especially indoors).
  • For the holidays, such as Thanksgiving, the Governor encourages everyone to stay safe such as: having smaller gatherings, consider gathering outside, staying at home, and wearing a mask.
  • Testing is a vital form to combatting the virus. The state will contract with three new testing labs to participate in Virginia’s “One Lab” network. One Lab is the state’s coordinated COVID-19 lab testing system.
    • This will allow us to increase testing capacity, especially in community events in surge areas. 7,000 new tests per day will be added by the end of the year.
  • 200,000 new antigen tests have been purchased, and are currently arriving in Virginia to be distributed to nursing homes and long term care facilities.
    • Additionally, we are receiving rapid BinaxNOW tests from the federal government. More than 52,000 of these tests have been distributed.
  • This week, Virginia will be distributing hundreds of thousands of tests to the Virginia Hospitals and Health Care Association, institutions of higher education, and to local health departments.
  • More than 850,000 masks and nearly 700,000 bottles of hand sanitizers have been distributed to high need communities all over the Commonwealth by the Virginia Health Equity Team.
  • Virginia is continuing to plan for a Coronavirus vaccine. The good news from this week is that Pfizer’s vaccine appears to be 90% effective. While it is very encouraging, we are still months away if this vaccine is approved for distribution. However, when a vaccine is ready, the Governor states Virginia will be ready to distribute it.
  • The Governor is encouraged by the progress made by the General Assembly’s special session (more information on this can be found below).
  • On the election, Virginia saw roughly 73% of registered voters participate, either in person, early in person, or by mail.
    • Around 2.8 million Virginians voted early (in person or by mail).
  • Virginia localities are certifying their election results today. Next week, on the 16th, the State Board of Elections will meet to certify those results.

 

COVID-19 Data and Information

  • According to the VDH website:
    • 194,912 persons have tested positive for COVID-19.

    • 13,183 of those individuals have been hospitalized.

    • 3,726 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, 37,463 are African Americans and 41,687 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