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Coronavirus Update 6.10.2020

I write today with updates on the state's response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including news on the Phase Two reopening for Northern Virginia, school openings, and youth sports.

First, though, I would like to address the tumult of the last few weeks, which have been marked by waves of empathy, anxiety, hope, and inspiration. Click here to read my statement on the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. I have expressed my grave concerns with the increasingly alarming behavior of our president during these difficult times, but I remain confident in the collective power of the American people to admit wrongs, right injustices, and grow together over time.

The Commonwealth will become a better place to live, work, and raise a family as long as we fight for the rights and dignity of every Virginian.


As I have included in every update, the new graphic below is the Virginia Department of Health's (VDH) COVID-19 Dashboard. If you have been tracking the data, you will note that beginning yesterday afternoon, the dashboard now reflects 13,000 additional tests and results that were backlogged at a Richmond-area laboratory.

If you are or know someone who is out of work, VDH is currently searching for applicants for positions including contact tracers, testing coordinators, and data managers. Click here for more information -- look for the orange sidebar for details.

If you would like to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in a volunteer capacity, I recommend signing up for the Medical Reserve Corps, which was established after the attacks on 9/11 as a national network of volunteers, organized locally to improve the health and safety of their communities. Click here to apply to volunteer.

In yesterday's press conference, the Governor made a number of important announcements.

Phase Two Reopening

  • Northern Virginia, which is currently in Phase One of reopening, will move to Phase Two on Friday, June 12th.
     
  • Local leaders and the Governor are confident that this is the right step for our region given that the percentage of positive tests in the region is declining, hospital bed capacity is high, PPE is sufficient, and the number of hospitalizations is on a downward trend.
     
  • Click here for full details on Phase Two requirements for all businesses and activities. Important highlights include:
     
    • Occupancy at restaurants is limited to no more than 50 percent of capacity while maintaining a minimum of six feet of physical distancing between all individuals as much as possible.
       
    • Retailers must limit occupancy to 50 percent of capacity of the lowest occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy.
       
    • Occupancy is limited at gymnasiums, recreation centers,   sports facilities, and exercise facilities to no more than 30 percent of the lowest occupancy load, if  applicable, while maintaining a minimum of ten feet of physical distancing between all individuals as much as  possible.
       
    • Indoor and outdoor swimming pools may be open for lap swimming, diving, exercise, and instruction only. Hot tubs, spas, saunas, splash pads, spray pools, and interactive play features must be closed.
       
      • I am currently working with the Administration to lessen restrictions on swimming pools while maintaining necessary standards to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
         
    • Occupancy at beauty salons, barbershops, spas, massage centers, tanning salons, tattoo shops, and any other location where personal care or personal grooming services are performed may not exceed 50 percent of the lowest occupancy load with at least six feet of physical distancing between work  stations.
       
    • Overnight summer camps will remain closed, but indoor camps within schools may open with increased social distancing and cleaning requirements.

Return to School Plan

  • Governor Northam and Virginia Department of Education Superintendent James Lane announced yesterday that schools will follow the same phases as the rest of the "Forward Virginia" plan for reopening businesses around the Commonwealth.
     
  • The process will begin with small groups in both private and public schools, and schools' plans must offer flexibility to every district and individual school by providing options for their guidelines to be adjusted on a school-by-school basis.
     
  • Phase One, where Northern Virginia stands for the next two days, is effective immediately and allows for in-person education for students participating in special education programs and for in-person childcare for children of working families.
     
  • Phase Two allows for in-person instruction for preschool through third grade students, English Language Learner programs, and special education programs. Summer camps in school settings can also operate in-person with strict hygiene and social distancing requirements.
     
  • Phase Three will permit in-person instruction for all students, but with strict social distancing measures -- like masks required for all staff -- in place. Remote learning will need to be incorporated as well to accommodate students and staff at risk of severe illness.
     
  • Click here for the full guidance on reopening schools.

Youth Sports

  • The Northam Administration is allowing youth sports to take place moving forward as long as a number of critical health guidelines are followed.
     
  • Clark Mercer, the Governor's Chief of Staff, encouraged Virginians to take a common sense approach and avoid intentional contact and equipment sharing.
     
  • Indoor fields and facilities will be limited to 30 percent capacity and outdoor fields and complexes are allowed 50 percent capacity or 50 people, whichever is fewer.
     
  • The 50-person limit does not apply when the people in excess of the limit are parents or guardians. Social distancing is still required for fans.

Miscellaneous

  • There will likely be a Special Session of the General Assembly held in early August to address the budget, and likely legislation regarding racial justice and policing.
     
  • Chief Justice Donald Lemons of the Virginia Supreme Court issued a moratorium on Monday on residential evictions across the Commonwealth while the Governor's Administration develops a new rent relief plan using federal dollars from the CARES Act.

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