I want to take the time to recognize the importance of this Friday, June 19th. This day is a significant one, as it marks the day in 1865 when the last African-American slaves in America heard the news that they will be freed. While the Emancipation Proclamation had been issued two and a half years prior, and the Confederate capital in Richmond had already been defeated by this time, the news of slavery being abolished travelled slow, with Texas being the last state to have heard it. However, that would change on June 19th, 1865, when Union Major General Gordon Granger issued the order that all slaves in Texas would become free.
Fast forward 155 years later, and we still have serious issues we need to address. Not everyone in our country has true equality. The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many countless other black people, have shown we still have a long way to go. But I am hopeful that we will make progress and one day soon eradicate the injustices that have plagued our country for too long.
The Governor has announced that legislation making Juneteenth a state holiday will be introduced. Many Americans celebrate the 4th of July as the birth of our nation and the liberation from a tyrannical empire, however, not everyone in America was given that freedom. We need to recognize this Juneteenth with the same reverence as the 4th of July because for so many American slaves, this was the day they were truly free. I am proud of this move and looking forward to supporting it. I am also very eager to pass legislation that will end the systemic injustices that have been ignored for far too long.
With this in mind, we still need to address the pandemic that continues throughout our country. The Governor has announced that Phase 3 will not begin this week for Virginia. We will receive more information as the week goes. Additionally, Northern Virginia will also be considered separately as the virus has spread in our region much more extensively. We are slowly overcoming it, but we must continue to social distance!
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. Please note that the Governor will be giving these press conferences every Tuesday and Thursday (unless an urgent update requires the Governor to speak on an off press conference day), and they will take place at 2 pm. They will be broadcasted and archived on The Governor’s Facebook and VPM’s YouTube channel. Some of the highlights from today’s press conference are as followed:
- There are now 55,331 cases of COVID-19 in Virginia.
- Total COVID-19 case numbers and number of hospitalizations (as well as number of COVID patients occupying hospital beds) have been trending downward.
- Virginia will NOT enter Phase 3 this week, more information will be provided later this week.
- The Department of Health will continue to focus on examining and publishing data on racial/ethnicity background with regards to COVID-19, especially considering how this virus has greatly threatened African American and Latino communities.
- The Governor’s office will work towards economic recovery by bringing in business to the Commonwealth, creating hundreds of new jobs.
- Today, the Governor announces the introduction of legislation that would make Juneteenth (June 19th) a paid state holiday.
- Additionally, the Commission on Racial Inequity in Virginia Law will be expanded to review current laws around education, public safety, criminal justice, health, housing, and voting.
Additional Data and Information
- According to the VDH website:
55,331 persons have tested positive for COVID-19.
5,643 of those individuals have been hospitalized.
1,570 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 41,481 cases we have racial and ethnicity data on, 7,763 are African Americans and 18,772 are Hispanic or Latino.
Northern Virginia’s Current Status Regarding Phase 1
Starting this past Friday, June 12th, Northern Virginia has entered Phase 2. The details of Phase 2 include:
- Restaurants can having indoor seating at 50% capacity.
- Gyms and fitness can having indoor workouts & exercise at 30% capacity.
- Pools opening with some restrictions.
- Outdoor venues opening with some restrictions.
- Recreational sports are allowed with social distancing and no shared equipment.
- Gatherings will be limited to 50 people.
- Teleworking & social distancing strongly encouraged.
- Face masks will still be required in indoor spaces.
COVID-19 Executive Orders
Since the pandemic reached Virginia more than a month ago, the Governor has issued numerous executive orders to address it. Here is a brief explanation of each, as well as the links to the full Executive Orders.
Most recent Executive Orders:
Executive Order 64: Declaration of a State of Emergency Due to Civil Unrest and Institution of a Curfew in the City of Richmond and the City of Virginia Beach
Executive Order 65: Phase Two Easing of Certain Temporary Restrictions Due to Novel Coronavirus
Link to all Executive Orders 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.
Prince William Testing Sites
There are multiple testing sites throughout Prince William County. If you don’t have a primary care doctor and/or insurance, please review the information found here regarding testing sites.
Eligibility is restricted to first responders, health care providers, those with symptoms, and those in high risk groups. If interested, visit www.DoINeedaCOVID19test.com to check eligibility.
Prince William County Information Center
Here is further information on what our county will be doing during this time:
- Prince William County has instituted a text alert system for COVID-19. Those interested in receiving updates from the county via text can text COVIDPWC to 888777 for English or COVIDPWCES to 888777 for Spanish.
- Additionally, residents can call the county's information at (703) 794-4669, Monday-Friday, 8 am - 5 pm, for information regarding county government operations.
- Health questions related to COVID-19 can be addressed by the Prince William Health District's call center #: (703) 872-7759, 9 am - 5 pm, seven days a week.
- Prince William County Schools, along with all of Virginia’s schools, will be closed for the remaining academic year.
- School Age Child Care (SACC) will be closed from March 16 onward.
- PWCS and the County will provide packaged breakfasts and lunches at select locations throughout the county to anyone under the age of 18. For a complete list of all to-go food locations and additional information please click here.
ERs Remain Open and Safe
Emergency physicians working on the frontline of this crisis continue to encourage everyone to practice social distancing and stay at home when possible. But, the doctors say, Virginians should not delay necessary medical care, especially if you think you are having an emergency.
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.