Links on COVID-19:
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301 King St
Alexandria, VA 22314
I hope you're holding up well. I know this is a tough time. I continue to be amazed by our first responders, healthcare professionals, hospital custodial staff, teachers, grocery store workers, food bank volunteers, garbage pick up crews, restaurant workers, and delivery drivers who continue to go to work knowing they are at risk.
It has been remarkable to see the resiliency of so many Virginians as we navigate these times.
I want you know that I am here for you. We're all in this together.
Are you talking with friends? Are you communicating with family?
I'll be seeing my family tonight via our virtual Seder to celebrate the first night of Passover.
I wish a wonderful Passover to all those who celebrate the holiday.
Tonight, we will not only celebrate our freedom from slavery.
We will also recognize our freedom sometimes entails restricting ourselves in order that others may live freely.
We all live in a community.
When we protect our community, we protect ourselves.
I also wanted to be sure that you saw the new guidance from both Governor Northam's administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Wear a mask when you go outside. It doesn't have to be medical grade.
The facemask should go from below your chin to the bridge of your nose.
The CDC advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost should be used as an additional public health measure to social distancing.
Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
Surgical and N-95 masks continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.
Click here for the CDC's guide on the use of cloth face coverings and tutorials on how to make one at home. You'll want to make sure to wash it once per day (or, really, after every time you wear it out).
Again: wearing a face covering does NOT replace practicing proper social distancing or good hand/face hygiene. You should still stay home as much as possible. But facemasks are another tool in our toolbox to fighting the spread of this pandemic.
Governor Northam Requests that
May and June Elections be Postponed
Wisconsin citizens in Democratic areas were forced to wait in line for hours,
Risking their lives just to vote.
We will fight to make sure this never happens in Virginia.
Yesterday, Wisconsin voters were forced to risk their lives to cast a ballot in yet another shameful attempt by Wisconsin Republicans and the five conservatives on the United States Supreme Court at voter suppression. No one should have to choose between protecting their own health and exercising their right to vote.
Governor Northam understands this concern and has taken steps to rectify it.
He announced at his press conference today that he will request the General Assembly move the May General Election and all special elections scheduled for May 5, 2020 to the November 3, 2020 General Election date to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and to extend the terms of local elected officials by six months to accommodate this new election day. I'm unaware of any elections in the 45th district scheduled for May, but I applaud the Governor's request and will support it.
The Governor is also exercising his statutory authority to move the June primary elections from June 9, 2020 to June 23, 2020. I support this action as well, as I hope and expect we will be on the "other side of the curve" by late June.
I strongly support the Governor's plan.
COVID Hitting Close to Home
According to the most recent numbers from the Virginia Department of Health, as of this morning, there are now 3,645 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Virginia.
Considering that our peak is yet to come, the Governor has determined the Dulles Expo Center will be an alternative care facility if and when hospitals in Northern Virginia are overwhelmed. Once it is ready, we will be able to treat 315 patients there if cases are on the more severe end (acute), and up to 510 cases if they are less severe (non-acute).
I am sad to report the first known death of an Alexandria resident to COVID-19, who had been hospitalized and died from respiratory complications.
Six Arlington residents have died so far. And nine Fairfax County residents have also lost their lives to the coronavirus. Across the Commonwealth, 63 Virginians have died. My heart goes out to all those who have lost loved ones - or fear losing loved ones - to this pandemic. I fear we will suffer many more losses before this is over.
Every one of these people will be missed by their loved ones, their friends, and their family. And frankly, it angers me that so many of these lives lost were unnecessary. If only we had more competent people in charge of our federal government, I know most of these people would be alive today. Let those of us in public service rededicate ourselves not just to mitigating this tragedy but to preventing the next one.
To help keep Virginians informed - and provide more data about our healthcare system's capacity to treat coronavirus patients - the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association recently went live with the
Securing Personal Protective Equipment
for our Healthcare Workers
As you may well know, the federal government has not kept an adequate stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical workers and hospitals across the USA. This has forced the nation's 50 Governors and the Mayor of DC to compete against one another, bidding up prices to get this now-scarce but life-saving material.
Virginia has signed a $27 million contract with Northfield, a Virginia-based logistics company, to produce more PPE for Virginia locations, as well as other contracts to handle distribution. The shipment is set to arrive next week.
The state health department has so far shipped out the following supplies to hospitals and long-term care facilities:
- One million masks (including 435,000 N95 masks)
- 1.5 million gloves
If you want to help make sure our healthcare and frontline workers have the tools they need, see below for ways you can help.
Virginia Resources: If you are a Virginia production organization who is producing PPE or other medical equipment and would like to help responding to shortages of PPE, you can contact your local office of the Virginia Healthcare Emergency Management Program. They work with Virginia hospitals and healthcare systems to enhance the Commonwealth’s capabilities to prepare, respond, and recover from all hazards.
Potential vendor offers: Given the high volume of potential vendors, the Administration has established a more streamlined vendor evaluation process. Please direct all businesses with offers to email@example.com
PPE Donations: VDEM has issued the following survey to gather information from the private sector on offers of assistance to Virginia (donation, in-kind contribution, discounted): https://bit.ly/VaDonations. This applies to donation offers for tests, PPE, or other necessary equipment.
The Governor's deadline to sign, amend, or veto bills, including any amendments to the budget that we passed, is midnight Saturday night/Sunday morning (April 11-12).
We will reconvene in Richmond on Wednesday April 22 to consider his budget changes, bill amendments, and vetoes. We are unlikely to meet in the Capitol though. We are scouring another location in Richmond large enough to accommodate appropriate social distancing.
As I outlined in my March 16 newsletter, I was very proud of the budget the General Assembly passed at the end of the legislative session. It included historic investments in education, healthcare, housing, environmental protection, and other hugely important priorities. It also left us a historically high (indeed a record) surplus to meet unplanned needs.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has changed much of that.
Well, that's what we provided the surplus for.
All discretionary spending is potentially on the chopping block. When we reconvene, we may well be faced with canceling raises for teachers, state employees, the Virginia State Police and/or local law enforcement. Our historic increases in K-12 funding may be significantly reduced as well, along with important investments in early childhood education.
A scary prospect.
Of course, it remains to be seen what the Governor will propose.
While budget cuts may be painful, we will have to do what is necessary to protect Virginians' lives. Still, I will fight to make sure that we cut as little "bone and muscle" as possible. I will update you as to our plans after the Governor releases his proposed amendments this weekend.
Thank You, Erik Gutshall
Arlington County Board Member Erik Gutshall announced yesterday that will be resigning from the Board to focus on his recovery from brain cancer.
Erik has long been a source of principled, smart, level-headed decision-making, both in his role on the County Board, and before that, as Planning Commissioner for Arlington County. I will miss working with him, and I'm really sorry to see him leave its service.
Thank You, Bernie
You probably saw that Senator Bernie Sanders is dropping out of the race to be the Democratic nominee for President in 2020.
As we unite to defeat Trump, I thank Senator Sanders for putting our country ahead of his very important and powerful ideas, many of which I share. While I didn't agree with Senator Sanders on every issue, I have always admired the urgency and moral clarity with which he has advocated for quality healthcare for all Americans, reducing our country's grotesque levels of income inequality, and protecting our environment.
Though his campaign ended today, his work is not yet done.
Biden thanked Bernie in a statement released earlier today: "Bernie has put his heart and soul into not only running for President, but for the causes and issues he has been dedicated to his whole life." I encourage you to read Biden's full statement by clicking here.
How to Help
As many individuals, families, workers and businesses are affected during this difficult time, there are a number of ways we can support our neighbors in the community.
First and foremost, please check in on your family members, friends and neighbors at home who are older or may be at higher risk and therefore advised to avoid crowds. If you are able and healthy you may want to:
- Offer to pick up medications, groceries, pet food, and other necessities to ensure one to two weeks of food and other essentials
- Check in with neighbors to see how they are doing and ask if they need anything
- If someone becomes ill, encourage them to contact their medical provider
The Washington Post has a good list of organizations doing important work in this article linked here.
Here are some other ideas:
Join the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps
The Virginia Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) is seeking individuals to volunteer with the corps. More information on the MRC can be found here.
Consider donating blood if you are healthy and able. Currently, there is a severe blood shortage nationally. Appointments to give blood with INOVA can be made at INOVAblood.org. Appointments to give blood with the American Red Cross can be made by visiting RedCrossBlood.org.
Many local organizations are looking for donations:
HealthWorks for Northern Virginia is looking for donations of surgical or N95 masks (any size), face shields/goggles, gowns, disposable gloves, hand sanitizer, and sanitizing wipes. Financial contributions can be made here. In-kind donations can be arranged by contacting Lisa Knapp at (703) 840-4688, firstname.lastname@example.org.
These local organizations are also doing great work:
- COVID-19 Response Fund for Northern Virginia
- ACT Now Alexandria COVID-19 Response Fund
- Volunteer at Volunteer Alexandria
- ALIVE! food bank
- Capital Area Food Bank (I donated $250. Can anyone match?)
- Senior Services of Alexandria (Provides Meals on Wheels)
- FCPS Student Food Fund
- Arlington Food Assistance Center
I also just gave a $250 donation to the ACT Now COVID-19 Response Fund and would appreciate if you could match (or exceed!) it, but any donation is welcome.
ACT for Alexandria and the City of Alexandria established the ACT Now COVID-19 Response Fund to provide emergency funding to non-profit organizations that are delivering the critical services and programs that are needed by Alexandrians right now.
Please remember to check out my website's page on coronavirus for all the latest updates. We are doing are best to keep you up to speed on all developments.
We are all in this together.
If we are careful and kind, we can save each other's lives.
Thank you again for the honor and privilege of representing you.
Delegate Mark Levine
Serving Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax in Virginia's 45th District