Links on COVID-19:
Or by mail and phone:
301 King St
Alexandria, VA 22314
Sunday, December 20
Noon - 2pm
Click here to join us via Zoom.
If you don't have access to Zoom, you can also call in to join the discussion: (301) 715 8592.
(Meeting ID: 846 5275 3911. Passcode: 481253)
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With the 2021 session around the corner,
come discuss what the future holds via Zoom.
I know you're tired of it. I'm tired of it, too. Everyone is.
But here's the cold, hard truth:
COVID-19 is surging at an alarming rate.
As of this morning, the virus has killed 4,508 Virginians.
Cases are soaring. And it's a problem throughout the Commonwealth.
Northern Virginia has not been spared. Cases are increasing exponentially in the region.
Hospitalizations are at record numbers.
Our positivity rate has risen above 11% again.
And according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, our nation's leading infectious disease expert, we haven't even started to see the Thanksgiving surge. See this article from December 4:
We're all tired of this. But we have to keep hunkering down. The virus is far more dangerous now than it was when we began to hunker down in March. Only leave the house when absolutely necessary. Speaking of taking this virus seriously...
Governor Northam Announces New Measures
to Combat the Spread of COVID
Please read the above. That's from Greg Crowder, the Mayor of Hillsville, Virginia. I think that folks reading this are taking this virus seriously, but if you have any doubts about whether or not COVID is something to be trifled with, read Mayor Crowder's testimony above.
Noting the alarming rate at which COVID is spreading across Virginia, Governor Northam signed Executive Order 72 to try to contain this virus.
These new mitigation measures took effect on Monday, December 14 and remain in effect through January 31, 2021:
Modified Stay at Home Order: All individuals in Virginia must stay at home between the hours of 12:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. Exceptions include obtaining food and goods, traveling to and from work, and seeking medical attention.
Universal mask requirement: All Virginians aged five and over are required to wear face coverings in indoor settings shared with others and when outdoors within six feet of another person. This order expands the current statewide mask mandate, which has been in place since May 29, and requires all individuals aged five and over to wear face coverings in indoor and outdoor public settings outside of their own household. These changes are consistent with new CDC guidelines, released December 4, which recommend universal wearing of face coverings.
Reduction in social gatherings to no more than 10 individuals: This is a reduction from the current cap of 25 people. Social gatherings include, but are not limited to, parties, celebrations, or other social events, regardless of whether they occur indoors or outdoors. This cap does not apply to religious services, employment settings, or educational settings. Restaurants and retail stores are already governed by strict social distancing requirements, and are not included in this limit. Caps are also being imposed on children's sport events: 25 per field for indoor sports, and 2 relatives per participant for outdoor sports.
Continued limits on dining establishments: Virginia restaurants are currently governed by strict social distancing and sanitization requirements, which remain in place. The on-site sale, consumption, and possession of alcohol remains prohibited after 10:00 p.m. in any restaurant, dining establishment, food court, brewery, microbrewery, distillery, winery, or tasting room. All restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms must close by midnight.
The First Batch of Vaccines has Arrived in Virginia
Priorities Announced: Health care Workers and Long-term Care Facilities
On Tuesday, December 15, Yolanda Dumas in Norfolk became
the first Virginian to receive a dose of the vaccine.
Virginia is set to receive an estimated total of 480,000 doses of vaccine from two manufacturers (Pfizer and Moderna) by the end of December of 2020.
Health care personnel and long-term care facility residents will receive a first dose of the vaccine, beginning the inoculation process for nearly all members of Virginia’s two top-priority groups, if we receive this expected allotment. The Virginia Department of Health estimates that there are up to 500,000 people falling into these two categories in Virginia.
As recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, health care personnel that directly care for COVID-19 patients will receive top priority among health care providers.
To learn more about the plan for distributing vaccines across Virginia, click here.
I am excited to learn more about when a vaccine will be available to other people outside these top priority groups.
Governor Northam has proposed investing $90 million towards the vaccination in our new budget that we'll be working on during the 2021 session.
Governor Northam Announces Revised Budget
Governor Northam presented his proposed revised budget to the General Assembly's joint money committees yesterday.
The budget restores many of the funds that we had to unallocate in response to a drop in revenue resulting from the pandemic. Fortunately, the latest December revenue forecast anticipates an extra $1.2 billion beyond the prior forecast, released in August.
I am still reviewing his budget, but I recommend you read this document from the Governor's office to learn more. You can read the entire budget here.
Here are some highlights:
Vaccines and Pandemic Response
The budget invests $240 million for public health pandemic response, including $90 million to support Virginia’s vaccination deployment.
$500 million to prevent reductions to school division funding due to COVID-19
$27 million in school counselors (funding a 1 counselor per 325 students ratio)
$80 million for a two-percent bonus for teachers and support positions. If revenue forecasts improve, he wants this to become a permanent raise.
Restores over $16 million to expand access to early childhood education.
Invests $25 million in Virginia’s Housing Trust Fund in fiscal year (FY) 2022 to help local and regional efforts to craft housing affordability solutions, matching the $55 million that is maintained in FY2021 to bring Virginia’s Housing Trust Fund to its highest level ever of $55 million annually.
Adds $15.7 million in FY21 for the Rent and Mortgage Relief Program, and $1.5 million in FY2022 to fund additional housing attorneys at the Virginia State Bar.
The budget invests an additional $15 million in the Virginia Telecommunications Initiative (VATI) in FY2022, matching the $50 million that is maintained in FY2021 to bring the Commonwealth’s broadband funding to $50 million annually, a historic high.
As you know, broadband is a priority I've been fighting for since my first term in office. I'm glad to see the Governor's budget reflects my long-held priority.
As we conclude the Festival of Lights this evening with all candles lit, let us recall that Chanukah is really about the freedom to worship as you please.
We should always have complete freedom to practice our faith or to practice no faith at all, so as long as our religious practices do not restrict our neighbors from their own freedom to practice their faith or secular beliefs as they please.
Live and let live. That’s what I think about as I see the fragile lights which have grown over the last seven nights from a fragile pair to a full candelabra that pierces the darkness.
Our light grows day by day.
I still believe our future is bright.
I thank you again for the honor and privilege of serving you.
Delegate Mark Levine
Serving Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax in Virginia's 45th District