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Coronavirus Update 5.19.2020

I write today with updates regarding the ongoing response to the coronavirus, particularly on regional reopening in Virginia.

As I include every week, below is a graphic from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) regarding the outbreak -- the site is interactive and is updated here daily. Using the tabs located above the graph generally outlining the coronavirus outbreak in Virginia, you can drill down into data regarding demographics and testing, for example.

If you visit VDH's website, you will also see a bright orange graphic on the left side of the page outlining the large number of open jobs at VDH that will contribute to Virginia's ability to scale-up contact tracing, a key component of moving forward in our reopening process. I encourage individuals who are or who know someone who is out of work to consider applying for one of these critical jobs.

Reopening Northern Virginia

  • While less densely populated counties in the Commonwealth have entered Phase One of reopening, the leaders of the counties and cities constituting Northern Virginia previously requested and were granted by the Governor the ability to maintain pre-Phase One restrictions for an additional two weeks (expiring on May 29th).
     
  • Northern Virginia has been hit especially hard by the coronavirus as shown by this chart using up-to-date VDH numbers on cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.
     
  • The 48th District includes both the Fairfax and Arlington Health Districts, which are ranked first and third in the number of cases thus far.
     
  • Because of the high numbers of cases, hospitalizations and deaths in Northern Virginia, we will need to wait until at least May 29th to begin opening up -- carefully.

Phase One in the Commonwealth

  • For those regions not in Phase Zero like Northern Virginia, Phase One includes the following "safer at home" guidelines:
     
    • Non-essential retail may open at 50 percent capacity.
       
    • Restaurants, breweries, and beverage services are limited to takeout and curbside; however, if the business already has an outdoor seating permit, it can allow service at 50 percent capacity outdoors.
       
    • Entertainment and amusement businesses must remained closed.
       
    • Fitness centers may only hold outdoor classes with some limitations.
       
    • Beaches and state parks are open for exercise and fishing.
       
    • Places of worship may continue drive-in services and may hold indoor services at 50 percent capacity.
       
    • Personal grooming businesses are limited to appointment only with strict social distancing and face covering requirements.
       
    • Child care facilities may remain open for essential workers.
       
    • Overnight summer camps are closed.
       
    • Gatherings are limited to 10 people.
       
  • Governor Northam announced yesterday that he is reopening Virginia Beach starting on Friday with restrictions as outlined below:

  • Entering Phase Two will be determined by monitoring health data trends, including the number of cases, positive tests, percent positive tests, percent of cases hospitalized, bed and ICU capacity, and availability of PPE.

Housing

  • Most courts across the Commonwealth officially reopened yesterday after the end of a judicial emergency order from the Supreme Court of Virginia. That unfortunately means that some eviction cases that had been put on hold may begin moving forward.
     
  • The Northam Administration is working with Virginia Housing, the state housing agency, which has committed $12 million to support nonprofit housing support services for anyone who may have lost housing.
     
  • Legislation was amended during the General Assembly's Special Session in April to allow tenants a 60-day deferral on eviction if they can prove COVID-19-related economic hardships.
     
  • The Governor noted that a new website, stayhomevirginia.com, has resources for landlords, tenants, and the homeless, as well as a summary of resources for people in need of housing assistance.

Miscellaneous Updates

  • Governor Northam announced the creation of a team of education leaders in Virginia to devise a plan for reopening K-12, early education and secondary education schools for the fall term this year.
     
  • The Governor issued a reminder that any employee can file a complaint through the Department of Labor and Industry or can contact OSHA if he or she feels that their workplace is unsafe.

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.

I will continue to update you as relevant information becomes available. Stay tuned.