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Coronavirus Update 5.11.2020

I write today with an update on Virginia's developing response to COVID-19. A graphic from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) regarding the outbreak is below -- please note that it is interactive on VDH's website and is updated here daily.

Phase One of Reopening

  • Governor Northam last week announced next steps to begin the process of carefully reopening Virginia's economy. If the data continues along current trends, the Governor has set the date to commence Phase One -- also known as the "Safer at Home Strategy" -- on this Friday, May 15th.
     
    • Click here to read a detailed guide from the Administration for businesses that can reopen during Phase One.
       
    • Click here to view broad features of what the "Safer at Home" initiative entails as presented by Governor Northam last Friday.
       
    • Click here to read Governor Northam's Executive Order 61 and Order of Public Health Emergency Three related to Phase One.
       
  • Non-essential retail stores that had previously been limited to 10 customers can open at 50 percent capacity.
     
  • Restaurants, bars, breweries, wineries and other places that sell food can open their outdoor seating at 50 percent capacity and may continue providing takeout and delivery.
     
    • Patrons will be able to use the restrooms inside of restaurants.
       
    • Parties must be seated at least six feet apart and must be limited to 10 patrons or less.
       
    • If live musicians are performing, they must be at least six feet away from patrons and staff.
       
    • Reusable menus will not be allowed. Employees working in areas where there are customers must wear face coverings.
       
  • Bar seats, congregating areas, game areas, dance floors, and playgrounds will remain closed.
     
  • The Administration has also issued guidelines for resuming religious services. You can find the guidance here.
     
  • If you are a business owner with questions about Phase One, please email     business@virginia.gov.

Reopening in Northern Virginia

  • Northern Virginia is one of the Commonwealth's worst-hit areas by coronavirus. As such, Governor Northam noted that if regions wish to open up more slowly than his Phase One recommendations, they may take steps to do so.
     
  • Regional leaders, including those from Fairfax and Arlington Counties, recently sent this letter to Governor Northam expressing their concerns about reopening too quickly given the high number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in the area.
     
    • Arlington County, for example, has had approximately 590.7 cases and 25.3 deaths per 100,000 residents, and Fairfax County has had 540.3 cases and 21.2 deaths per 100,000 residents. By comparison, Virginia as a whole has experienced about 293.7 cases and 10 deaths per 100,000 residents.
       
    • This letter follows another letter by health directors from the same Northern Virginia jurisdictions sent to Virginia Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver stating the region will not meet Phase One requirements based on current data.
       
  • Click here to read a Washington Post article outlining the disparities between Northern Virginia's coronavirus challenges and those of more rural regions.
     
  • The Governor will be announcing his decision on the timing of Northern Virginia's entry into Phase One on Wednesday.

Testing

  • The numbers on Virginia's daily tests administered are steadily rising -- all indications are that we will reach the 10,000 tests per day goal by tomorrow.
     
  • The head of the COVID-19 Testing Working Group, Dr. Karen Remley, announced this evening that Virginia has begun the process of shipping tests to free clinics across the Commonwealth.
     
  • The Virginia National Guard last week began coronavirus testing, particularly at long-term care facilities, in order to expand testing capacity in Virginia's most vulnerable settings.
     
  • Arlington County will open its first walk-up COVID-19 sample collection site tomorrow at the Arlington Mill Community Center located at 909 South Dinwiddie Street. Note that patients must schedule an appointment before visiting the collection site. Click here for more details.
     
  • Click here to find a testing site near you.

Job Opportunities through the Administration

Helpful Links and Phone Numbers

  • I encourage you to tune in to the Governor's 2 pm briefings at facebook.com/GovernorVA on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
     
  • For general information on the coronavirus, you can call VDH at (877) ASK-VDH3 or (877) 275-8343.
     
  • For updates from Arlington County regarding the virus, click here or call (703) 228-7999. For information from Fairfax County, click here.
     
  • For updates from Arlington County Public Schools, click here. Click here for daily updates from Fairfax County Public Schools.
     
  • To apply for unemployment insurance, click here or call (866) 832-2363.
     
    • Please note that due to passage of the CARES Act, many workers -- like the self-employed, independent contractors, and gig economy workers -- who were not eligible under traditional unemployment insurance may be eligible under a new federal program called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).
       
    • I understand that many constituents have had issues applying or receiving unemployment insurance payments. Do not hesitate to reach out to my office if you need assistance with these issues.

Miscellaneous

  • Please stay safe on the roads. Police have reported record numbers of incidences of reckless driving -- according to WTOP, the Virginia State Police stopped at least eight drivers exceeding 100 mph on Saturday, May 2nd, with one of those drives clocked in at 132 mph. There may be fewer cars on the roads, but please obey speed limits for your and others' safety.
     
  • I will host a virtual town hall this Thursday, May 14th, at 7 pm with Senator Barbara Favola, Delegate Patrick Hope, and Dr. Megan Healy, the Governor's Chief Workforce Advisor. If you would like to participate, please respond with an RSVP to this email.

I will continue to update you as relevant information becomes available. Stay safe and healthy.