Last updated January 14th, 2021
I strongly encourage you to read through the Commonwealth's webpage that is dedicated to providing COVID-19-related updates and check that webpage regularly for new information. The Commonwealth's webpage is updated frequently and is one of the best sources of information for what actions Virginia is taking to combat the spread of COVID-19.
The Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) put together a portal through which you can access important materials related to COVID-19, including: waivers, memoranda and guidance; available disaster grants and loan programs; and instructions for private sector partners who seek to aid the Commonwealth in our COVID response. You can access the portal here.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is leading the national response to COVID-19 and is an excellent source of information on COVID-19, particularly for information on actions being taken in response to the spread of COVID-19 at the federal level. You can see the latest information published by the CDC here.
USA.gov has put together a webpage with sources of information on actions the federal government is taking to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. You can check that out here.
The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is a great source of information on Virginia's response to the spread of COVID-19. VDH is working with the CDC, local public health departments, and other stakeholders to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of Virginians. You can find updates from VDH here. VDH has also put together a number of helpful FAQs thatyou can find here.
The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association has published and is actively updating a COVID-19 data dashboard that tracks hospitalization and discharge numbers. You can check it out here.
The local health districts in Hampton Roads have established a regional call center to answer questions related to COVID-19. The call center is open from 8 AM to 6 PM on weekdays. The number for the call center is (757) 683-2745. If all the lines are busy your call will be returned within one business day.
HOW TO REDUCE THE SPREAD OF COVID-19
Practice Social Distancing: Key to reducing the spread of COVID-19 and lowering the burden on our health care system is social distancing.Social distancing "means remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible." It is impossible to emphasize how vital it is that we all practice social distancing. The graphic below shows how, when we all practice it, social distancing can save lives by keeping the number of COVID-19 patients at or below the capacity of our healthcare system.
Practice Good Personal Hygiene:
Call your doctor if you feel sick: If you think you are sick with COVID-19 and are exhibiting, call your doctor before going in for testing. Your doctor will run through your symptoms with you to determine whether or not you should come in for testing. According to the CDC, the following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure: fever, cough, shortness of breath
Virginia has begun the process of COVID vaccine distribution. For information about vaccine development and distribution, visit the Virginia Department of Health's website. To find out when you will be able to get vaccinated, click here. You can call the VDH hotline with questions at 877-ASK-VDH3 (877-275-8343).
UPDATES FROM THE GOVERNOR
On January 6th, Governor Northam announced a new plan to speed up vaccine distribution in Virginia. You can find details here.
On December 14th, the Governor welcomed the first shipment of COVID vaccines to Virginia. You can read more about the event here.
On December 10th, the Governor announced new measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These new measures come at a time when Virginia is experiencing record high COVID-19 case numbers. You can learn more about this announcement here.
On November 13th, in response to rising COVID-19 case numbers in the Commonwealth, Governor Northam announced new statewide measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. These measures include: a cap of 25 on in-person private gatherings, an expanded mask mandate, strengthened enforcement in retail businesses, and a 10 PM alcohol permit at dining establishments. You can find more information on this announcement here.
On September 10th, the Governor announced that, thanks to significantly improved health metrics, Hampton Roads would be joining the rest of Virginia in Phase 3 of reopening. You can read more about that announcement here.
On September 1st, the Governor announced that the DMV will extend the validity of driver's licenses', learners permits, and ID cards originally set to expire in August, September, or October of 2020 for 60 days. Credentials set to expire in November have been extended to November 30th. Additionally, starting in mid-September, the DMV will offer an online renewal option for most credential holders who are required to renew in-person between September 2020 and December 2021. This means that you can avoid a trip to the DMV by renewing online to obtain a two-year credential. You can find more information on this announcement here. The Governor also announced that Eastern Virginia would remain in Phase 2 of reopening. You can watch the entire September 1st briefing here.
On July 1st, Virginia will move into Phase 3 of Reopening. You can view the sector-specific guidelines for Phase 3 here.
On June 30th, the Governor announced that as Virginia begins Phase 3 of reopening, bar seating in restaurants must remain closed. You can read more about this decision here.
On June 26th, the Governor announced that on Monday, June 29th, Virginia will launch the Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program (RMRP) with the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development using $50 million in CARES Act funds. The Governor has also called on chief general District Court judges around Virginia to delay hearing eviction cases in their localities until July 20th. You can find out more about the RMRP program here.
On June 18th, the Governor outlined the Phase 3 Guidelines for Reopening. The Governor did not announce when Phase 3 will begin, but it will not be before June 26th. You can view the slides from the Governor's presentation here. Sector-specific guidelines can be found here.
On June 2nd, the Governor signed Executive Order 65 which outlines Phase 2 of Re-Opening. Most of Virginia is expected to enter Phase 2 this Friday, June 5th. Northern Virginia and the City of Richmond will remain in Phase 1. During Phase 2, Virginians are still encouraged to telework and follow social distancing guidelines. Masks are still required in indoor public settings. During phase 2 the number of people allowed at a social gathering will increase from 10 to 50. Restaurants and breweries may open indoor seating to 50% of capacity. Fitness centers may open indoor space to 30% occupancy. You can find the full language of Executive Order 65 here and industry-specific guidelines here.
On May 26th, the Governor announced that beginning Friday, May 29th, all Virginians over the age of 10 will be required to wear masks inside brick-and-mortar establishments. There are some exceptions, such as when you're eating or drinking, or if you have a medical condition that prevents you from safely wearing a mask.
On May 22nd, the Governor announced that Virginia has launched COVIDcheck, an online risk assessment tool that will assist Virginians with checking their symptoms, connect them with healthcare providers, and help them find testing sites. You can access COVIDCheck here.
On May 18th, the Governor announced that the beaches in Virginia Beach would be allowed to open for recreational activities beginning May 22nd. Parking lots and garages will be capped at 50%. You can learn more about this decision here.
On May 12th, the Governor announced that certain localities in Northern Virginia would be allowed to delay entering Phase 1 of reopening due to the region's significantly higher percentage of COVID-19 tests. You can read Executive Order 62 here. Accomack County and Richmond City also requested and received delays in entering into Phase 1. You can learn more about that here.
On May 8th, the Governor presented a detailed outline of Phase 1 of reopening Virginia. It is anticipated that we will begin Phase 1 next Friday, May 15th. You can find the full text of the guidelines here and an industry-specific breakdown here.
What will Phase 1 look like?
For businesses, the Phase 1 guidelines are as follows:
On May 4th, the Governor announced that the current restrictions on non-essential businesses, outlined in Executive Order 53, will be extended by one week. The Governor is hopeful that, if the positive trends we're seeing in the data continue, a gradual easing of public health restrictions can begin on May 15th. You can watch the Governor explain this decision, the data behind it, and specifics on what a gradual reopening will look like here.
On April 29th, the Governor made several announcements. First, he announced that beginning on Friday, May 1st, elective surgeries, dental procedures, and veterinary work can begin again. The Virginia Department of Health has put together an FAQ on this decision that you can read here. It was also announced that Virginia has secured loan relief for the approximately 200,000 Virginians with privately-held student loans. This relief is the result of an effort from Virginia and other states to secure loan relief for those with privately-held student loans that did not qualify for relief under the federal CARES Act. You can learn more about whether or not you qualify and what relief looks likehere. You can find afull recap of the April 29th briefing here.
On April 24th, the Governor announced that May elections would be postponed two weeks until May 19th. This means that you have until May 12th to request an absentee ballot. All voters are strongly encouraged to vote absentee instead of going to the poll in person. Torequest an absentee ballot online click on this link. Follow the prompt and select “I have a reason or condition that prevents me from going to the polls on Election Day.” The website will then have the option to choose “my disability or illness” as the reason for their request. To read more about the Governor's order to push the May election by two weeks, click here.
Also on April 24th, the Governor presented the phased approach for easing public health restrictions put in place to respond to COVID-19. This phased approach is based on guidelines issued by the CDC. To read more about what this approach looks like, as well as the data that is guiding decision-making, click here.
On April 23rd, the Governor made a series of announcements. The Governor directed the Virginia State Police to continue suspending the enforcement of motor vehicle inspections and take several additional measures through July 31. The Governor also extended the closure of public-facing DMV offices until May 11th. Additionally, the Governor extended the ban on elective surgeries until May 1st. You can read more about these decisions here.
On April 17th, Governor Northam signed Executive Order 57 to expand Virginia's healthcare workforce. Among other things, it allows Virginia-licensed nurse practitioners with two or more years of clinical experience to practice without a collaborative agreement; provides hospitals with additional flexibility in the supervision of interns, residents, and fellows; lets hospitals use fourth-year medical students in the provision of care; and allows for the expanded use of telehealth. You can read more about the order here.
On April 15th, the Governor announced that he would be extending Executive Order 53, requiring the closure of recreational and entertainment businesses, an additional two weeks until May 8th. You can read more about this announcement and find a Frequently Asked Questions Guide here.
On April 13th, the Governor, together with UVA's Biocomplexity Institute and the non-profit RAND Corporation, presented several models prepared by UVA's Biocomplexity Institute that model the impact of tactics taken to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in Virginia. Some key takeaways from these models are:
Also on April 13th, the Governor announced a major expansion of Virtual Virginia, Virginia's existing online learning system, to provide students and teachers with an additional resource for distance learning. Teachers can use Virtual Virginia to share lessons and activities with their students. Virtual Virginia content can be loaded onto students' devices so the program can be used regardless of whether or not students have internet access at home. You can learn more here.
On April 10th, Governor Northam announced a statewide effort to recruit an additional 30,000 volunteers for the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps (MRC). The MRC is made up of teams of health professionals and community members, working to assist our healthcare workers in the fight against COVID-19. Volunteers can submit their applications here.
On April 7th, the Governor requested that the General Assembly move the General Election and all special elections scheduled for May 5th, 2020 to the November 3rd General Election date in order to protect the health of voters and poll workers. The Governor also announced that the June 9th primary elections will be pushed back two weeks to June 23rd, 2020. The Governor has the statutory authority to make this change under § 24.2-603.1 of the Code of Virginia. You can read more here.
On April 6th, Governor Northam urged all Virginians tofollow new CDC guidelines and wear face coverings when out in public. These coverings don't need to be medical grade and you can use this link to find instructions on how to make a cloth mask using materials you have in your home.
Additionally, the Secretary of the Commonwealth's office has published guidelines on electronic notary applications that you can read here.
On April 3rd, the Governor announced that an initial $2.5 million in emergency funding will go towards providing shelter for Virginia's homeless population during the COVID-19 outbreak. You can read the details of the announcement here.
On April 2nd, Virginia received the Major Disaster Declaration to aid in the Commonwealth’s response to COVID-19. What this means is that the Major Disaster Declaration provides federal public assistance for all areas in the Commonwealth of Virginia affected by COVID-19 at a federal cost share of 75 percent. This will allow our state agencies, local governments, and some non-profits to buy additional supplies and receive reimbursements for costs related to COVID-19. It also means that federal agencies can now provide direct emergency assistance to Virginia. You can read more here.
On March 30th, Governor Northam issued a stay-at-home order. Under the order, Virginians are directed to not leave their homes except in extremely limited circumstances. Individuals may leave their residence for allowable travel, including to seek medical attention, work, care for family or household members, obtain goods and services like groceries, prescriptions, and others as outlined in Executive Order Fifty-Three, and engage in outdoor activity with strict social distancing requirements. You can be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor for violating parts of the order. You can read the full text of Executive Order 55 here.
On March 23rd, Governor Northam announced that all schools will be closed through the remainder of the school year. Additionally, all restaurants must close their dining rooms and move to carry-out and delivery only. All recreational businesses must close by midnight tomorrow (3/24). Grocery stores and other essential businesses may remain open. You can learn more about the latest order here. Have questions? Check out this FAQ. Any businesses with questions about essential vs. non-essential businesses can email those questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
On March 19th, Governor Northam announced that Virginia is increasing access to health care for Medicaid members and thousands of low-income residents. This includes: eliminating all co-payments for services related to the treatment of COVID-19; permitting Medicaid members to obtain a 90-day supply of their routine medications instead of the normal 30-day supply; waiving pre-approval requirements for critical medical services and enacting automatic extensions for approvals that are already in place; and more. You can read the other changes that are being made, as well as additional announcements made by the Governor, here.
On March 17th Governor Northam and the Commissioner of Health issued an order prohibiting non-essential gatherings of ten or more people. The Commissioner's order enforces this limit in restaurants, bars, theaters, and fitness centers. The order will last two weeks, at which time the Governor will determine whether it needs to be continued. You can read the order here.
On March 13th Governor Northam announced all schools to be closed for a minimum of two weeks. You can read his full announcement here.
On March 12th Governor Northam declared a state of emergency here in Virginia. You can find his full remarks here.