We are now over 8 months into this pandemic in Virginia. I know how tough this has been for so many throughout the Commonwealth.
With Thanksgiving coming up, many of you will want to gather with your loved ones. I am asking you to make one more sacrifice and limit any in-person social gatherings during this holiday season. We need to do this so more Virginians can see next year's Thanksgiving, and many more after that.
There has been a recent surge in cases, both in Virginia and throughout the nation. Because of this concerning rise, the Governor has announced new restrictions, which can be found in the section below. I know it's difficult to hear, but it is necessary. With the recent news of the two possibly successful vaccines, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We will get through this, but we must continue to hunker down until we know it is truly safe to live our lives like we used to.
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 208,833 cases of COVID-19 in Virginia.
- In the past couple of weeks, two major pharmaceutical companies (Moderna and Pfizer) have announced vaccines that are close to 95% effective, and may be ready for distribution as close as the end of the year.
- While the virus is spreading in Virginia and throughout the United States, Virginia is doing better than the majority of the country.
- With that said, we are still seeing greater spread, hospitalization, and deaths. The Governor states Virginia is committed to combatting this new surge.
- Because of this surge, the Governor has announced new restrictions for the pandemic which include:
- Reduction in public and private social gatherings from 250 people to 25. This is for both indoor and outdoor settings.
- The age minimum for the mask mandate now includes those 5 and above (it used to be ages 10 and above).
- It is now a class 1 misdemeanor (enforced by the Virginia Department of Health) for any retail store, including essential retail stores, to not adhere to statewide guidelines for physical distancing, wearing face coverings, and increased sanitation.
- Alcohol cannot be sold after 10:00 pm, and all restaurants, bars, and other food/beverage locations must close by midnight.
- The Governor has signed the budget sent by the General Assembly at the end of the special session. More information on the budget and other legislative pieces can be found in the Special Session section below.
- Earlier this year, the federal government authorized Title 32 status for the National Guard, which means the federal government would fund the National Guard's activities in Virginia. The Governor has requested for this Title 32 status to be extended.
- The eligibility criteria for the Rebuild VA grant program, as well as the amount of grant money given out, has been expanded. This program was launched in August to assist small businesses during this economic crisis. To apply for this grant, please go here.
COVID-19 Data and Information
- According to the VDH website:
208,833 persons have tested positive for COVID-19.
13,707 of those individuals have been hospitalized.
3,860 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, 39,480 are African Americans and 43,512 are Hispanic or Latino.
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.
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:
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.
My Contact Information
Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.