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Coronavirus Update 5.29.2020

This week marked a grim milestone as we mourn the more than 100,000 Americans, including 1,338 Virginians, who have perished due to coronavirus. These statistics and the changes in our ways of life are difficult to fully comprehend in their magnitude. Families and friends have lost loved ones, and others are suddenly struggling to make ends meet.

The number of deaths tragically will increase, but we have some control as to how high that number will go based on our ability and willingness to socially distance, wear a mask, and take other important precautions. We must continue to stay vigilant and put safety first even when it may feel exhausting, isolating, or stressful.

We can and will come through this pandemic if we band together and stay hopeful.

As I have included in each of my updates, below are updated figures from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH).

Please note that there is a new data tab on the VDH site with statistics regarding testing outcomes and rates. As you can see in the table below, testing has increased throughout Virginia while the percentage of positive tests is on the decline.

Reopening Northern Virginia

  • Northern Virginia will join the rest of the Commonwealth by beginning its Phase I of reopening today.
     
  • Local government officials recently wrote to Governor Northam in support of entering Phase I given that the region has met four of the six critical benchmarks for moving to this step. These include a decrease in the percentage of positive tests over two weeks, a decrease in hospitalizations, an increase in testing, and sufficient hospital bed and intensive care capacity.
     
  • Phase I 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.
       
    • 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.
       
  • Entering Phase II 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.
     
  • Phase II will not happen for at least a week according to the Governor.

Face Coverings

  • The Governor announced Tuesday that face coverings will be required inside public establishments starting Friday for individuals over the age of ten.
     
  • A face covering includes anything that covers one's nose and mouth such as a mask, scarf, or bandana.
     
  • Exemptions include:
     
    • While eating or drinking.
       
    • Individuals exercising or using exercise equipment.
       
    • Any person who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance.
       
    • Any person seeking to communicate with the hearing impaired and for which the mouth needs to be visible.
       
    • When temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to secure government or medical services.
       
    • Persons with health conditions that prohibit wearing a face covering.
       
  • The order will be enforced by VDH, not law enforcement. Governor Northam emphasized that he does not intend to punish those not wearing masks in public spaces, but rather encourage people to use them for their own and other's safety.
     
  • Arlington Board Chair Libby Garvey created an instructional video on how to make a face covering. Click here to view it.
     
  • The CDC also has step-by-step instructions on how to make a sewn and no-sew mask using items you likely already have at home.
     
  • Click here to read the full text of Executive Order 63.

Testing

  • Virginia has struggled with testing, but has steadily increased both the number of tests available and administered.
     
  • Below are graphs of the number of PCR (versus antibody) coronavirus tests administered in Arlington and Fairfax Counties, courtesy of VDH.

  • Below is a VDH chart with guidance regarding testing priorities.

  • The Governor announced yesterday that 39 CVS locations will offer additional community testing sites throughout Virginia. More information and a list of participating CVS locations can be found here.
     
  • There are two locations offering testing in the 48th District -- Inova Urgent Care Center of North Arlington and Preston's Pharmacy on Lee Highway -- and many more in the surrounding area.
     
  • To find the testing center closest to you, click here.
     
  • For VDH's answers to frequently asked questions about testing, click here.

Helpful Links and Phone Numbers

  • 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

  • If you are a student or are related to a student graduating this year, I encourage you to join Governor Ralph Northam and First Lady Pamela Northam in honoring the remarkable achievements of the Class of 2020 during a statewide virtual celebration at 5 PM today. Click here for more information, including a list of speakers and how to tune in.
     
  • Recreational beaches throughout Virginia will be allowed to open today. Beach-goers must adhere to social distancing requirements which include, but are not limited to: no large gatherings, no tents, no alcohol, and no group sports.
     
  • VDH launched a new website called COVIDCHECK, a system by which people can check their symptoms and determine if they need to get tested for COVID-19.
     
  • The Governor has extended the time in which Virginians can renew their expired driver’s licenses. If your license or ID card expires before July 31st, you will have until August 31st to renew it.
     
  • While the Governor's briefings were previously held on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, they are now being held on Tuesdays and Thursdays. You can watch press conferences at www.facebook.com/GovernorVA.

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