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Coronavirus Update 5.4.2020

I write today with another update on Virginia's response to COVID-19. A graphic from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) regarding the coronavirus outbreak is below -- it is updated here daily. Note that this chart is interactive -- click here to drill down on data relating to number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.

Timeline for Reopening

  • We are all eager to return to our normal lives, and today Governor Northam announced next steps in order to begin that process. If the data continues along current trends, the Governor has set the date to commence Phase One on Friday, May 15th.
  • The statistics regarding the number of new cases and deaths may change such that the reopening schedule may shift. In any event, and for the foreseeable future, we must be prepared to continue taking proactive, preventative measures to contain the spread of COVID-19.
  • Executive Orders 53 and 55 regarding temporary restrictions on businesses and staying at home respectively have been extended through next Thursday, May 14th.
  • Governor Northam announced today that due to expanded testing ability, hospital capacity, an increase in PPE, and the flattening of the outbreak curve, he anticipates opening Virginia via Phase One of the CDC's three-phase approach to reopening states.
    • Barbershops and gyms, for example, would be able to open again, but with strict social distancing rules and cleaning requirements in place.
    • The slides used by the Governor to outline the three phases of reopening are below:

  • A key benchmark required to resume economic activity is contact tracing, a step in which public health staff work with COVID-19-positive patients to help them recall everyone with whom they has had close contact during the time frame while they may have been infectious.
    • State Health Commissioner Dr. Norm Oliver announced today that approximately 1,000 contact tracers are being prepared to be deployed throughout Virginia to help track and slow the spread.


  • Virginia has seen a large increase in the number of tests administered daily. As of my last email update, 2,554 tests were performed that day in Virginia. Yesterday, approximately 6,615 tests -- a 159 percent increase over last Wednesday -- were administered. The Governor's goal is to reach 10,000 tests per day.
  • According to the Administration, the Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services, the state lab, has increased testing capacities from initially 100 per day to now more than 300 per day. With receipt of equipment from Altria, capacity will increase to over 400 per day by next week.
  • This is in addition to the capacity provided by several hospital systems that have developed their own in-house testing capabilities. Additional hospitals are coming on-line and those with existing testing are scaling up their capacities.
  • Click here to find a testing site near you.


  • Arlington Democrats will hold a vote-by-mail caucus to select the two candidates for Arlington School Board who will receive the Democratic endorsement in 2020. Ballot requests must be received by May 7th. Click here for more information.
  • There will be a special election tentatively scheduled on July 7th to fill the Arlington County Board seat formerly held by Erik Gutshall. The Arlington County Board has requested that the Virginia Supreme Court postpone the special election in order to ensure that voters feel safe casting ballots at the polls.
    • Last week, I announced my support for this action. Click here to read the Arlington delegation's statement.
    • If the election is postponed for 30 days, the Supreme Court’s action would not change the May 8th filing deadline to appear on the special-election ballot, meaning parties would be forced to hold closed virtual caucuses to nominate a candidate.
    • If the election is postponed until November, however, parties would have an extended period of time in which to conduct a primary open to all voters.
  • The Virginia Department of Elections is recruiting election officers to work at polling locations for the May 19th, 2020, municipal elections being held in 56 Virginia localities and for the June 23rd, 2020, primaries being held across the Commonwealth. Election Officers are always in demand, but their service is needed even more now as the elections process faces unprecedented challenges.
    • According to Governor Northam's Chief of Staff Clark Mercer, "The Governor is encouraging college and university students, state employees, teachers, high school students, or anyone who is interested, to become involved as election officers, especially when many retired Virginians — a population that traditionally serves as election officers — are at a higher risk for complications from COVID-19. While working as an election officer, Virginians are not only able to help their communities, but they are also eligible for compensation."
    • Click here to complete the Officer of Election Interest Form.


  • Governor Northam extended the closure of DMV offices through May 11th. During this time, online and mail services will remain available to customers. Governor Northam also extended the validity of every driver, vehicle, special identification, and driver credential due to expire on or before June 10th, 2020 for up to 90 days not to exceed July 31st, 2020.
  • The Virginia State Police will continue suspending the enforcement of motor vehicle inspections and take several additional measures through July 31st, 2020.
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved Virginia to receive three Battelle Critical Care Decontamination System that can collectively sterilize up to 240,000 units of PPE per day for reuse. This new technology will extend the life of critical PPE to give medical facilities and first responders greater access to much-needed supplies and help Virginia manage its resources amid a nationwide shortage.

Helpful Links and Phone Numbers

  • I encourage you to tune in to the Governor's 2 pm briefings at 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 will continue to update you as relevant information becomes available. Stay safe and healthy.