It’s now been more than a week since the Governor issued a state of emergency after the first confirmed case of COVID-19. I know it’s been a bit tough for everyone, but I just want to say how proud I am to see Virginians come together to follow the proper procedures so we can overcome this situation.

We must keep our physical distance, but that doesn’t mean we should keep our emotional distance from each other. During these tough times, don’t forget to check up on your family members, friends, neighbors, or anyone you know who wants someone to talk to. Whether it’s a phone call, texting, or whatever communication method, we need to make sure we’re all doing okay during these trying times.

And 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.

As we continue to flatten the curve, I want to make sure I’m providing you with the most up-to-date information. The Governor held his daily 11 am press briefing today. In the next section of this newsletter, you can see what his updates and comments are.

Governor Northam will continue to provide updates during press conferences he will hold every day at 11 am. You can watch his press conferences by going to his Facebook here.

To see what our state and local (Prince William County) governments’ overall plans are for tackling COVID-19, take a look at our first newsletter on this matter by clicking here.

Here are the latest updates:

Governor Northam's Press Conference

During the Governor's press conference today, he provided multiple updates on various departments and areas throughout the state. You can watch his statement here.  Here are some highlights from the Governor's updates:

  • There are now 152 confirmed cases in the Commonwealth. Keep in mind that this jump in number is largely due to the expanded availability of testing kits.
  • Testing criteria has expanded to give additional priorities to medical professionals who have: (1) made contact with COVID-19 patients, and (2) developed COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Also easing testing criteria for people in nursing homes and long term care facilities.
  • Working to obtain more PPE (personal protective equipment) to our frontline healthcare providers.
    • A shipment of PPE was distributed to providers yesterday.
  • The Governor signed an executive order last evening to lift certain regulations in order to provide more flexibility for hospitals to add beds should they need to do so quickly.
  • The Federal Department of Education announced it will accept waivers from states for federal testing requirements.
    • ​Virginia’s Department of Education is preparing our waiver now.
  • ​The Governor also announced that he will provide relief for students on state mandated SOL’s, going further than the federal government’s mandate.
  • Reiterated that the Department of Education will ensure high school seniors will be able to graduate this year.
  • Attorney General Mark Herring made an opinion allowing public bodies (such as local Board of Supervisors’ hearings or School Boards) to conduct business virtually during this state of emergency. This clarifies an issue with the Code of Virginia that mandates that public bodies must assemble publicly.

Small Business - Emergency Loan Application

Virginia had submitted a request for aid from the United States Small Business Agency. This application has been approved. If your small business or non-profit is located in Virginia and it requires financial assistance during this situation, please visit the United States Small Business Agency Disaster Loan website here.

Upcoming May Elections

The Board of Elections will be encouraging voters to vote absentee for the May primary elections. A reason will still be required under current regulations. Box 2A in the request form is listed as "illness or disability". The deadline to request an absentee ballot for the May elections is April 28th. You can request an absentee ballot here.

 
Other Helpful Resources
  • Virginia Department of Health:  www.vdh.virginia.gov

  • State Employee Memo via the Governor: State Employee Memo

  • Prince William County Schools grab free to-go breakfasts/lunches. More information PWC Link

  • Inside Nova article on mobile testing can be found here

  • Unemployment funds for laid-off/furloughed workers: Virginia Employment Commission

  • Supporting our Workforce: "Frequently asked Questions for Workers Regarding COVID-19" document can be found here

  • Donate Blood to the Red Cross: We are facing a shortage of blood donations. The Red Cross has a number of sites across Virginia that are open and safe to visit. Site listing here.

My Contact Information 

Email to: delhayala@house.virginia.gov, or call my office at: (804) 698-1051.

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Overcoming this situation together!

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. The response to this disease may seem overly strong, but it's 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.

If your life has been severely impacted by COVID-19 and you are in need of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact my office with the information above. I will do everything I can in my power to help!

Sincerely,

Hala Ayala