COVID-19 Updates


Last Updated March 27th, 2020


Public Health Resources

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 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.


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 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: 


  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. 
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are unavailable.  
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. 


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


UPDATES FROM THE GOVERNOR 


The Governor is holding briefings at 2 PM on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays to update the public on the actions his administration is taking to combat and contain the spread of COVID-19 in Virginia, as well as what is being done to support Virginians during this difficult time. The briefings are streamed over Facebook Live and you can tune into them here. Additionally, you can find news releases from the Governor 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 business@virginia.gov.


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.


Schools


Our school districts have been working tirelessly to ensure that students continue to have access to healthy meals and learning resources while schools are closed. For specifics on the meal location sites in your district, click on the link for your school district below. In addition to the meals provided by school districts, some local businesses are providing meals for students as well. You can learn more about that here.

Newport News Public Schools

WJCC Public Schools

York County School District


On March 23rd, Governor Northam announced that all schools will remain closed through the remainder of the school year. You can read more about that announcement here. You can use this link to read a general update from the Virginia Department of Education. The VDOE's updated FAQ page is another great source of information that you can read here.


On March 20th, the Virginia Department of Education announced that it plans on cancelling the Standards of Learning (SOLS) testing this year.

I also wanted to share some of the fun online resources that I've been using with my three boys. 
Google Earth has teamed up with National Parks to offer some seriously cool virtual field trips. If you're as obsessed with adorable penguins at the Shedd Aquarium as my household is then I'm sure you've already seen their great videos on Facebook. The Cincinnati Zoo is live-streaming a home safari every weekday at 3PM. There are a whole lot of awesome virtual museum tours out there too. Two national treasures, the Kennedy Center and Mo Willems, have teamed up to bring Lunch Doodles to your household every weekday at 1PM. Don't forget to take advantage of this streak of good weather and spend some time outside (while still practicing social distancing) as well!


DAY CARES

On March 18th, the Governor's administration issued guidelines to childcare providers on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These guidelines include:

  • Child care providers should limit capacity to 10 total individuals per room and prioritize care for children of essential personnel.
  • Children should eat meals in their own classrooms and increase distance as much as possible, such as allowing only one classroom at a time to go outside and staggering exits and entrances to reduce contact.
  • Staff and children should focus on basic health precautions, including regular hand washing and cleaning frequently touched objects.​​


You can read the full text of the guidelines here.


Additionally, Governor Northam directed the Department of Social Services to modify Virginia’s Child Care Subsidy program, currently caring for 25,000 children, to increase support and flexibility for enrolled families and providers. These modifications include:

  • Expanding eligibility for school-aged children currently designated for part-day care to full-day care.
  • Increasing the number of paid absences from 36 to 76 days for both level 1 and level 2 providers.
  • Automatically extending eligibility for families due for eligibility redetermination in the near future by 2 months and temporarily suspending the requirement for face-to-face interviews.


UTILITIES 


On March 16th the State Corporation Commission (SCC) issued a ruling that SCC regulated utilities, which include Dominion Energy and Washington Gas, will suspend service disconnections for customers for the next 60 days. You can see the ruling here.

Verizon announced they will waive late fees and keep customers connected to their services if they are negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. You can
find their announcement here

Cox Communications will waive late fees and keep customers connected as well as expand their low-cost services for students and families in need during the coronavirus pandemic. You can find their update here



THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM


On March 16th the Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) suspended all in-person visitation to state correctional facilities and suspended all transfers from local and regional jails for the next 30 days. The VADOC is providing all inmates with two free phone calls per week beginning March 20, 2020, through April 15, 2020. Off-site video visitation, facilitated through Assisting Families of Inmates (AFOI) remains available. JPay and VADOC have worked together to provide each offender's JPAY account with two free JPay stamps per week during this time. You can find information on the steps being taken by the Virginia Department of Corrections here.

On March 16th the Supreme Court of Virginia declared a judicial emergency and suspended non-essential state court proceedings from March 16 until April 6. During this time, an unlawful detainer may be filed by a landlord against a tenant unable to pay rent, but the court will not hear the matter until at least April 7. You can
find the announcement by the Supreme Court of Virginia here.



WORKERS AND EMPLOYERS


​Virginia Workers

March 17: The Virginia Employment Commission will waive the one-week waiting period to ensure workers can receive unemployment insurance benefits as soon as possible. Additionally, the eligibility for unemployment benefits have been expanded, and workers who meet the following criteria will be considered for support:

  • Workers affected because their employer needs to temporarily slow or cease operations due to COVID-19. 
  • Workers who have been issued a notice to self-quarantine by a medical or public health official and is not receiving paid sick or medical leave from their employer. 
  • Workers who must stay home to care for an ill family member and are not receiving paid family medical leave from their employer.


For more information, please see the Frequently Asked Questions guide for workers that have been temporarily laid off or discharged during this public health crisis.


Virginia Businesses

On March 23rd, Governor Northam announced all restaurants must close their dining rooms and move to carry-out and delivery only by midnight on March 24th. All recreational businesses must close by midnight on March 24th. 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 business@virginia.gov.


March 19th: Virginia has been approved by the US Small Business Administration for the Economic Injury Disaster Loans Program. Impacted Virginia small businesses and nonprofit organizations can now apply for low-interest federal disaster loans of up to $2 million to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other expenses. More information is available here.

March 17th: Governor Northam announced that regional workforce teams will be activated to support employers that slow or cease operations. Also, Virginia will tap into Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act rapid response funding for employers eligible to remain open during this emergency.


Virginia Farms and Businesses


The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has published a number of operational guidelines for various farms and agribusiness, including Pick-Your-Own Farms and Farm Stands. Those guidelines can be found here.


​TAX POLICY


The Department of Taxation is extending the due date for individual and corporate income taxes owed to June 1, 2020. Interest will still accrue. *Note: the filing deadline of May 1, 2020, remains the same.* Additionally, businesses impacted by COVID-19 can defer payments on state sales taxes due on March 20 for 30 days.


A couple of folks have reached out to my office asking if Virginia can extend the deadline to file individual and corporate income taxes further, until July 15th, 2020. Unfortunately, Virginia is not able to extend the state tax filing deadline to match the July 15th federal extension because the state's fiscal year ends on June 30th. Under the Virginia Constitution, we are mandated to have a balanced budget every year and pushing $2.1 billion in revenue into the next fiscal year would cause a severe imbalance. That said, individuals can still request an extension if they need to. More information about this and the June 1st payment extension can be found on the Virginia Tax website.


Virginia Tax has created a COVID-19 information page on the agency’s website to share critical messages with taxpayers. You can access that website here


TRANSPORTATION


On March 26th, Acting U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf issued a statement extending the REAL ID enforcement deadline from October 1, 2020 to October 1, 2021.


On March 19th the Department of State Police announced it will suspend the enforcement of the Motor Vehicle Safety Inspections Program for 60 days.

On March 17th the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) announced that all DMV Customer Service Centers will be closed effective midnight, March 18 until at least April 2. Online services will still be available, and to the extent possible, everyone is encouraged to complete your transactions online. There is a 60-day extension for licenses and identification cards that expire March 15 - May 15 and for car registrations that expire in March and April. You can
read the DMV's full update here

​​

​CERTIFICATE OF PUBLIC NEED WAIVER


On March 20th, Governor Northam signed an executive order giving hospitals and nursing homes the ability to increase their bed capacity without needing prior governmental approval, being issued a new waiver, or going through red tape. You can read the full order here.


​COVID-19 FRAUD TASK FORCE


On March 20th, the Virginia State Police joined its federal partners to announce the formation of the Virginia Coronavirus Fraud Task Force to address the significant increase in fraudulent scams, online websites, and robocalls that have begun since COVID-19 first appeared in the United States. The mission of the task force is to identify, investigate, and prosecute fraud related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in Virginia. 


The Virginia Fusion Center is also actively monitoring alleged fraudulent activity related to COVID-19 and sharing that information with local, state, and federal authorities. To report fraudulent activity, Virginians can notify the Virginia Fusion Center (VFC) at 
vfc@vfc.vsp.virginia.gov or visit the FBI website at www.ic3.gov.


Additionally, any Virginian who would like to report fraudulent activity can file a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General 
at this website.

​​Proudly representing Virginia's 93rd District