Representing Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax

Newsletter - March 18, 2020

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LINKS

Most recent developments on COVID-19:

A comprehensive list of the Governor's actions on the pandemic

Public Health Emergency Order to Enforce 10 Patron Limit in restaurants, gyms, and theaters

Metro service reduced to support essential trips only

Updated Department of Education FAQs related to school closures

Supreme Court of Virginia Declaration of Judicial Emergency

Health Resources: ​ 

Coronavirus in the DMV
Washington Post

Virginia Department of Health
 ​
Center for Disease Control and Prevention
 ​
World Health Organization
 ​
National Institutes of Health

Economic & Practical Resources:

File for unemployment

Driver's licenses and vehicle credentials

Info for Alexandria City:

City of Alexandria Health Department

Alexandria Public Schools

ACPS has also set up "ACPS-At-Home" to provide details to students and families during this extended closure.

Alexandria Public Schools Food Resources

ACPS has arranged food for ANY child 2-18 and ANY family who needs it.

Info for Arlington County:

Arlington County Department of Health

Arlington County Public Schools

Arlington County Public Schools Food Resources

Info for Fairfax County:

Fairfax County Health Department

Fairfax County Public Schools

Fairfax County Public Schools Food Resources

Federal COVID-19 Links:

National Institute of Health

US Senator Mark Warner

US Senator Tim Kaine

Congressman Don Beyer

CONTACT MARK

On the website,
 via email,
 on Facebook,
 or on Twitter.

Or by mail and phone:

Alexandria Office:
301 King St
Alexandria, VA 22314
571.234.8481

DelMLevine@house.virginia.gov

Before I get to the joy of telling you about all the bills I passed this session (PART THREE, for those anxiously awaiting), I have the more grim yet vital task of updating you on what your state and local governments are doing to minimize both the spread and the negative impact the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has on the lives of all Virginians, especially our most vulnerable. By now, you know that schools are canceled and many companies are encouraging people to work from home.


A greatly magnified close-up of the coronavirus, provided by the CDC.
A virus even deadlier than it is ugly.

Currently 67 Virginians have tested positive for COVID-19, but this number is almost absurdly low because the number of tests available is absurdly low. Due to the failure of the Federal Government to be properly prepared for this crisis, we are definitely not meeting the success rate of South Korea, which has, by all accounts, handled the crisis exceedingly well.

So, unlike in Korea, where they have been testing tens of thousands on a daily basis in a country smaller than 1/6 ours, we are flying blind. We just do not know how the disease is spreading in our community. We likely have 10 times the cases that have been reported. Or even much more.

Since there are just not enough tests for wide-scale community testing, health officials are relying on social responsibility to slow the disease and for people to voluntarily stay at home. This could change from week to week if the availability of testing improves.  

But for now, people who are sick without severe symptoms should stay home, call their doctor for guidance, and not rush to the emergency room.  If you believe you may have contracted the disease:

  • Call your local Department of Health. The City of Alexandria has a hotline staffed during business hours. Call 703-746-4988. If you live in Arlington or Fairfax, check the left-hand column.
  • There is also a Virginia COVID-19 informational hotline at 1-877-ASK-VDH3.
  • Check out the Virginia Department of Health’s Coronavirus website or the many other useful links in the left-hand column.

Yesterday, big announcements were made by Virginia's Governor Ralph Northam, the Metro, and the Supreme Court of Virginia that I wanted to make sure you knew about.  


BAN ON MORE THAN 10 PATRONS
AT RESTAURANTS, GYMS, AND THEATERS

The Governor and the State Health Commissioner issued an executive order declaring a public health emergency in Virginia and prohibiting restaurants, fitness centers, and theaters from operating with more than 10 customers present.

Violation of the Order is a criminal offense. An establishment with more than ten patrons inside could immediately lose their license. Violators can be charged with up to a class 1 misdemeanor, with penalties possible of up to one year in jail and/or as much as a $2,500 fine. Both local and state authorities may enforce the ban.

Restaurants may continue to provide carry-out and delivery options.

The goal, of course, is self-enforcement. If you order food for pickup at a restaurant, don't stay. Go in, pick up, and get out. Keep your social distance from everyone. Be extremely careful of what you touch. Consider delivery. And folks over 65 really shouldn't leave their homes at all, if at all possible. Most importantly, if you are sick, do not leave your home except in an emergency.


DMV CLOSING AND EXTENDED LICENSES

Governor Northam, in his press conference on March 17, urged Virginians with chronic health conditions or aged 65 or older to self-quarantine; and he closed all 75 DMV customer service centers until April 2.

In light of closing the DMV's customer service centers, the Governor is extending the validity of driver’s licenses, identification cards, vehicle registrations, and escort vehicle driver certificates for 60 days. This includes individuals aged 75 and older who are typically required to make an in-person visit.


UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

Click here to learn more about unemployment benefits and how to apply. Here are the highlights:

  • No waiting for unemployment benefits. Governor Northam has directed the Commissioner of the Virginia Employment Commission to waive the one-week waiting period to ensure workers can receive benefits as soon as possible. Click here to file.
  • Enhanced eligibility for unemployment. Workers may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits if an employer needs to temporarily slow or cease operations due to COVID-19. If a worker has been issued a notice to self-quarantine by a medical or public health official and is not receiving paid sick or medical leave from their employer, they may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits. In addition, a worker may be eligible for unemployment benefits if they must stay home to care for an ill family member and are not receiving paid family medical leave from their employer. Click here to file.
  • Fewer restrictions. For individuals receiving unemployment insurance, Governor Northam is directing the Virginia Employment Commission to give affected workers special consideration on deadlines, mandatory re-employment appointments, and work search requirements.

The Office of the Governor is providing a Frequently Asked Questions guide for workers that have been temporarily laid off or discharged during this public health crisis.


MORE NEWS FROM THE GOVERNOR

For a comprehensive list of actions Governor Northam has announced to combat COVID-19 in Virginia, visit https://www.virginia.gov/coronavirus-updates/.

These updates from the Governor follow him declaring a state of emergency on March 12 (this has broad implications and I encourage you to click the link for details).

Moreover, on March 13, he ordered all K-12 closing Virginia schools for a minimum of two weeks.

To watch the Governor lay all this out in his press conference today, click here.


METRO SERVICE reduced to support essential trips only

Metro’s Pandemic Task Force today announced major service reductions during the ongoing pandemic response. The changes further draw down service to protect frontline employees, while maintaining regional mobility for essential trips taken by hospital staff, government officials, and emergency responders. Cars will run every 15 minutes on all trains at all times.

Specifically, the Task Force is urging the public NOT to travel to view the cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin, to keep Metro’s capacity available for essential travel (e.g. doctors, nurses, essential governmental functions, etc.). Metro reserves the right to close stations near the Tidal Basin at any time to reduce the use of Metro for tourist trips.

In addition, Metro is acting urgently to further reduce the number of employees required at any time and working to create additional redundancy in Metro’s workforce to protect service continuity.

Read more Metro details here. 


SUPREME COURT OF VIRGINIA
halts all non-emergency proceedings,
including evictions

The Supreme Court of Virginia has issued an order declaring a judicial emergency and suspending all non-essential, non-emergency court proceedings for the next 21 days, including new eviction cases.

This follows the State Corporation Commission issuing an order directing utilities it regulates, such as electric, natural gas, and water companies in Virginia, to suspend service disconnections for 60 days to provide immediate relief for any customer, residential and business, who may be financially impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.


Got Internet?  Cable?  Wifi?  Electricity?

For those working and learning from home, several internet and phone providers are offering free public internet hotspots and waiving caps on data plans:

Comcast is offering free Xfinity WiFi hotspots and waiving caps on data plans. For more information, click hereComcast is also providing free "Internet Essentials" service to low-income families for 60-days. Sign-up is available online.

Cox Communications has implemented temporary changes to make the low-cost Connect2Compete broadband program more accessible and more efficient. Click here for more information.

AT&T is making all of their public WiFi hotspots open for all and Unlimited AT&T Home Internet available to all customers. Read more here.

Verizon, Comcast, Cox, and AT&T, have pledged to keep customers connected for the next 60 days and not terminate services to any residential customer or small business that are unable to pay their bills.

Dominion Energy, Washington Gas, Alexandria Renew, and the Virginia-American Water Company have all suspended service disconnections related to nonpayment during this time. 


PRICE GOUGING?

With a declared State Emergency declaration in effect, price gouging laws are in force right now across the Commonwealth. Report suspected violations to the Virginia Attorney General's Office.


 

WHO IS MOST AT RISK? - Older adults and those with compromised immune systems.

PRECAUTIONS - Virginians can take precautions to prevent the potential spread of this disease:
  • If you are at higher risk, stay home.
  • If you are sick, stay home.

SOCIAL DISTANCING:

  • Maintain 6 feet of separation from any other person.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid crowds as much as possible.
  • Avoid non-essential travel.

GOOD HYGIENE:

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are unavailable.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects people frequently touch.
  • Use elbow or back of your hand to touch elevator buttons.
  • After washing, use a paper towel to open bathroom doors and turn off sinks after washing.

If you have the symptoms of COVID-19, such as a fever of over 100.4 F, coughing and/or shortness of breath, please contact your primary care physician for information on an exam and testing.

If your physician is not available or you do not have a primary care physician, contact an urgent care center or Neighborhood Health.

Click here for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Frequently Asked Questions page. 

The Virginia Department of Health's website has valuable information about safety precautions, emergency contact information, and the status of the virus in Virginia.


MORE QUESTIONS?

The Virginia Emergency Operations Center (VEOC) has asked that any questions you may have about the virus and Virginia's response be directed to: covid19jic@vdem.virginia.gov where a staff member will be able to answer your question or direct you to the right agency to get your question answered.

Feel free to cc me (mark@markfordelegate.com) so that I can make sure you get your questions answered.


Thank you again for the honor and privilege of representing you.

Delegate Mark Levine
Serving Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax in Virginia's 45th District