In my last newsletter, I reported that while Virginia is still set to begin this Friday, May 15th, Northern Virginia will remain closed, keeping the current Stay-at-Home and business restrictions. Northern Virginia’s Phase 1 opening will be delayed by at least 2 weeks.
Please know that this decision has been made by our leaders both in Northern Virginia and in Richmond with one goal in mind: keeping everyone as safe and healthy as possible. While Northern Virginia has about 33% of Virginia’s population, it contains nearly 70% of COVID-19 cases on any given day.
Our data clearly shows that we are not ready to open up. I know it’s been very difficult, but we must continue to stay at home. We know how dangerous this virus can be to our most vulnerable populations. If we open up too early, we may undo the sacrifice we have made so far to flatten the curve and risk hurting so many people. Additionally a premature open may result in a subsequent (and possibly longer) reclosure of the region. Please stay at home, we need you to do your part to keep everyone safe!
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 Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (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 26,746 cases of COVID-19 in Virginia.
Phase 1 is still set to begin for Virginia this Friday, outside of Northern Virginia which will continue the current restrictions. For regions outside of Northern Virginia, the following establishments can operate in a limited capacity:
Non-essential retail and houses of worship will be restricted 50% capacity. Restaurants with outdoor seating can use this at 50% capacity.
Gyms must be closed but can have certain outdoor fitness options.
Salons and barbershops can operate with strict social distancing and sanitization requirements.
More detailed guidance on Phase 1 can be found here.
Northern Virginia will delay its Phase 1 opening for at least 2 weeks.
11 DMV locations will be open back up to the public in 7 of 8 regions in Virginia - Northern Virginia will not have an open location.
Yesterday, we did 8,845 tests, getting us closer to our tests per day goal.
The Governor will send $650 million (in federal funding financial aid through the CARES Act) to our Virginia’s local government in response to this pandemic.
Additional federal dollars will be used for increased testing and contact tracing.
Additional Data and Information
- According to the VDH website:Virginia has a total of 160,077 individuals tested.
- 26,746 persons have tested positive for COVID-19.
- 3,520 of those individuals have been hospitalized.
- 927 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 18,724 cases we have racial data on, 8,022 are African Americans. With the 17,782 cases we have ethnicity data on: 7,711 are Hispanic or Latino.
Northern Virginia’s Current Status Regarding Phase 1
Earlier this month, the Governor released the criteria for the state to move to Phase 1 of reopening the state, with the caveat that localities can delay their reopening if they feel they have not met this criteria. On Sunday, May 10th, leaders from Northern Virginia localities sent a letter to the Governor stating they do not meet this criteria. To put this into perspective, on the same day the letter was sent, Northern Virginia accounted for 719 new positive tests (73% of all new tests), whereas the rest of Virginia accounted for 270 new positive tests (27% of all new tests). Based on a memo released by the top health officials in Northern Virginia, this is how we compare on each of the Governor’s criterias:
Downward trends of positive tests over a period of 14 days: We are currently unable to assess this. While Virginia as a whole may be moving downward, we cannot tell how Northern Virginia is faring. Northern Virginia health officials are currently awaiting this specific data from VDH.
Hospitalizations moving downward over 14 days: Based on our data we have not met this criteria.
Increased testing: We are unable to assess this. We only have Virginia’s whole number, not for our region specifically. VDH will provide this data soon.
Increased contact tracing: We have not met this criteria. We do not yet have the infrastructure to respond to every new case, trace and actively monitor their close contacts, and coordinate testing for symptomatic contacts.
Enough hospital beds and intensive care capacity: We are unable to assess this. Available critical care beds continue to decrease but still fall within normal operating capacity. Note: There is a 20% surge capacity that is not yet utilized.
Increasing and sustainable supply of PPE: We have not met this criteria. PPE for hospitals have been adequate currently, but PPE for outpatient facilities (private practices, long-term care facilities, and first responders) continues to be a challenge.
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.
Executive Order 51 was the first one, and it declared the state of emergency in Virginia due to COVID-19. This EO gave the Governor and the state government authority to preemptively address the pandemic.
Executive Order 52 increased hospital bed capacity throughout Virginia in response to threat COVID-19 presented. This allowed our hospitals to be ready for the amount of patients that would come in from COVID-19. This played a role into why our hospitals currently still have enough capacity to treat both COVID-19 and other patients.
Executive Order 53 declared the closure of businesses throughout the state that were not essential and gave guidance to the businesses that were essential (like grocery stores and pharmacies) on how they can operate safely during this time.
Executive Order 54 gave power to the Commissioner of the Virginia Employment Commission to request Title XII funding for our unemployed workers. This allowed our unemployment insurance program to boost its funding so it could cover a wider net of workers who have been affected by the pandemic.
Executive Order 55 is the Stay at Home order. This order detailed why individuals in Virginia can leave their home, and why they should stay at home for a majority of the time.
Executive Order 56 postponed the June 9th primary elections to June 23rd.
Executive Order 57 eased regulations on medical licenses so out of state doctors, residents, fourth year medical students, and other qualified individuals could treat Virginian patients without having to jump through many regulatory hurdles during this pandemic.
Executive Order 58 simplifies the process Medicaid recipients must follow to receive medical attention during this pandemic, as well as giving the Department of Medical Assistance Services more flexibility in making critical services more accessible to those who need it.
Executive Order 59 postpones the May 5th general and special elections to May 19th.
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 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.
- Online registration is now open for children who will enter kindergarten in the 2020-21 school year. Because of the COVID-19 shutdown, please note that the timeline for registration may take longer than usual. To register your child or for more information please click here.
Many of our community partners want you to know that they are with you in the fight and have free and helpful resources for you to use or be aware of. Please check out the below bulletins. Note: For state and local listings of resources as shared above, can be found 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.
In the last month, some emergency departments in Virginia and across the country have seen a reduction in patient volume of more than 30 percent (as an example, motor vehicle accidents — which account for a lot of ER visits — don't happen as often when there are no cars on the road).
“If you think you are having a medical emergency such as stroke, heart attack, trauma, or serious infection, come to the emergency department — or better yet, call 911,” says Bruce Lo, M.D., a Board member with the Virginia College of Emergency Physicians, which represents ER doctors throughout the Commonwealth. “Fear is leading many people to delay treatment for health issues that need to be addressed. Delaying treatment is dangerous, especially when it comes to signs of a heart attack or stroke.”
For more information, visit: https://www.vhha.com.
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We will not disconnect a customer’s internet or mobile service for nonpayment, and we will not impose late fees if they contact us and let us know that they can’t pay their bills during this period.
Xfinity is now offering eligible university students who live in our service areas and need internet service a Visa prepaid card worth about two months of internet service. No upfront fees, no installation costs.
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My Virtual Town Hall
This coming Friday, I will host my weekly COVID-19 town hall. I’ll be hosting these town halls every Friday at 1 pm on my Facebook page. Here is the event page. If you’d like to ask me a question, please fill this form out here.
If you were not able to listen and/or would like to receive the information I presented, please email me at email@example.com.
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.