Delegate Michael P. Mullin
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I wanted to reach out and provide an update on what actions Virginia is taking to respond to the spread of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth.
Daily Updates from the Governor
The Governor is holding daily briefings at 11 AM 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. The Virginia Department of Health continues to update its website daily and is an excellent source of information as well.
Updates from this Week
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.
Earlier today, 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.
Earlier this week, 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.
The Virginia Department of Social Services has issued guidelines to daycare centers that includes a requirement to limit capacity to ten individuals per room, including staff. You can read the guidelines here.
The State Corporation Commission issued a ruling that blocked electric, gas, and water companies from disconnecting utilities for the next 60 days. Additionally, the State Supreme Court issued a ruling halting evictions in the Commonwealth.
The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) have issued guidelines to limit all elective surgeries.These guidelines are consistent with the measures adopted by all members of the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association.
The U.S. Census Bureau has suspended its field operations until April 1, 2020 in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. You can still respond to the Census online at 2020census.gov. So take advantage of this time of social distancing and make sure to complete the Census. It's critical that we all complete the Census to ensure the most accurate count possible.
Support for Workers
The Governor's Administration has put together a FAQ sheet for workers impacted by COVID-19 that you can read here. The FAQ contains information on expanded unemployment benefits, the removal of the one-week waiting period to receive benefits, and information as to how the Families First Coronavirus Response Act passed by Congress might apply to you.
Support for Employers
Virginia requested and has received an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration from the Small Business Administration (SBA). Small businesses in Virginia can now apply for a loan of up to $2 million from the SBA to pay fixed debts, payroll, and other expenses. You can submit a loan application here.
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
The Virginia Department of Education is providing updates on the status of SOL dates on their FAQ page which you can find here.
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!
Please continue washing your hands frequently and practicing social distancing. Times are tough right now, but by limiting our contact with others as much as possible and taking the other precautions recommended by VDH, we can prevent the spread of COVID-19 and bring this emergency to an end sooner rather than later. Things continue to change quickly, so I encourage you to watch the Governor's daily updates at 11 AM. Thank you for taking the time to read this message and please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions.