Links on COVID-19:
The Coronavirus Page
My COVID-19 Constituent Survey
On the website,
or on Twitter.
Or by mail and phone:
301 King St
Alexandria, VA 22314
I hope you and yours are doing well. Before diving into the latest updates, I wanted to share with you my COVID-19 Constituent Survey. Please take the survey today to help my team and me know what issues are most important to you during this trying time.
Click Here to Take my COVID-19 Constituent Survey Today!
As I discussed in my last newsletter, Governor Northam has announced that Executive Order 53 - which declared the closure of all non-essential businesses that couldn't maintain proper social distancing and gave guidance to the businesses that were essential (like grocery stores and pharmacies) on how they can operate safely - will expire on Friday, May 15.
Phase 1 of Virginia's reopening will begin on Friday,
but NOT for Northern Virginia.
On Sunday, May 10, the Mayor of Alexandria and Chairs of the Counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William, sent the Governor a letter saying that Northern Virginia is not ready for Phase 1. The Directors of Northern Virginia's local health departments also sent a letter stating their assessment, according to the stated metrics for a successful reopening, that the Northern Virginia region has not "met the criteria for moving into Phase 1 at this time."
Governor Northam announced at his Monday, May 11th press conference that Northern Virginia will not begin Phase 1 when the rest of Virginia does. (You can watch the press conference by clicking here.)
The Governor also asked some local leaders from Northern Virginia to join him at his 2pm briefing tomorrow (Wednesday) to discuss why Northern Virginia is likely to continue current public health restrictions as the rest of the Commonwealth begins Phase 1 of the reopening.
The Governor stated his decisions regarding the reopening have been and will continue to be based on daily incoming data and evidence.
While I share some details below, I strongly encourage you to read the new guidelines in their entirety by clicking the links below.
PHASE ONE EASING OF CERTAIN TEMPORARY RESTRICTIONS
DUE TO NOVEL CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)
Business guidelines can be found here. (Questions? Email [email protected])
Religious services guidelines can be found here.
(Frankly, given the enclosed space and the length of religious services,
the re-opening of houses of worship concerns me greatly.
I would highly advise you not to attend any indoor services for the time being.)
The below images come from Governor Northam's May 8th slideshow presentation on Phase 1.
We will share more details when we have them. Governor Northam gives press conferences to update Virginia on his Administration's pandemic response every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 2 pm. Tune in on the Governor's facebook page or on Virginia Public Media's Youtube channel.
What Does Re-Opening Mean for Unemployment?
Virginia is still awaiting guidance from the Virginia Employment Commission (guided by U.S. Department of Labor policy) on the eligibility for unemployment insurance for people who feel unsafe going back to work. A member of the Governor's team said they are developing what criteria workers may be able to demonstrate -- such as having pre-existing conditions -- to allow them to continue receiving unemployment while not returning to work. Those guidelines would not apply to healthy individuals who think their workplace shouldn't be open.
I am doing all I can to make sure that every single worker is protected and not put in a position where they have decide to between risking death and risking financial ruin. That is a choice that no one should ever have to make.
New Rules for Long-Term Care Facilities from the
Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services
On Friday, May 8, the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services has published an interim rule, with new reporting and notification requirements for federally certified nursing homes. This includes about 90% of nursing homes in Virginia. As you may be aware, nursing homes and assisted living facilities constitute a very large portion of the cases of novel coronavirus and deaths caused by COVID-19 in Virginia.
This is good news. Constituents of mine have rightfully complained that they were unaware of outbreaks in nursing homes and assisted living facilities that eventually took the lives of their loved ones. Due to a quirk of Virginia privacy law, these facilities were not heretofore required to disclose their cases. I believe they are required to do so now.
I believe this interim rule requires all federally-certified nursing homes to publicly disclose when residents or employees have contracted COVID-19 or are reasonably expected to have done so. Unfortunately, I do not believe the new regulation includes assisted living facilities that are not federally certified, but I am seeking clarification on this. The first report is expected May 18th.
When we reconvene for a special session, most likely in July or August, I intend to introduce or support legislation to change Virginia's privacy law to require nursing homes and assisted living facilities to report any outbreaks of contagious disease. Many of my constituents want to pull their loved ones out of Covid-ridden facilities, and I feel they should have that choice. At the very least, they should know when their loved ones are at risk so they can verify that facilities are taking the appropriate precautionary measures.
Federally certified nursing facilities must electronically report information weekly about COVID-19 including:
- Suspected and confirmed COVID-19 infections among residents and staff, including residents previously treated for COVID-19
- Total deaths and COVID-19 deaths among residents and staff
- Personal protective equipment and hand hygiene supplies in the facility
- Ventilator capacity and supplies available in the facility
- Resident beds and census
- Access to COVID-19 testing
- Staffing shortages
- Other information specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services
Long-term Care Facilities (LTCFs) must inform residents, their representatives, and their families of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases in the LTCF among residents and staff by 5 p.m. the next calendar day following the occurrence of either:
- A single confirmed infection of COVID-19
- Three or more residents or staff with new onset of respiratory symptoms that occur within 72 hours of each other
LTCFs must provide cumulative updates to residents, their representatives, and families at least weekly or by 5 p.m. the next calendar day following the subsequent occurrence of either:
- Each time a confirmed infection of COVID-19 is identified
- Three or more residents or staff with new onset of respiratory symptoms occur within 72 hours of each other.
- LTCFs' updates cannot include personally identifiable information and must include information on mitigating actions, including if normal operations in the LTCF will be altered.
- LTCFs are not expected to make individual telephone calls, but to utilize communication mechanisms that make this information easily available to all residents, their representatives, and their families (such as reporting on a website).
Virginia Hiring for Contact Tracing Program
Governor Northam has also announced that, as part of the phased re-opening, Virginia is beginning the process of hiring 1,000 contact tracers around the Commonwealth who will be working to track how the virus has spread and to protect people who've been in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus. Medical providers will be involved with contact tracing as well. Virginia's Department of Health currently employs over 200 contact tracers.
The Commonwealth is still ramping up the hiring process but you can learn about the different positions for which they are hiring by clicking the links below.
- Contact Tracers: https://virginiajobs.peopleadmin.com/postings/187236
- Regional Contact Tracer Supervisors: https://virginiajobs.peopleadmin.com/postings/187235
- Regional Testing Supervisor: https://virginiajobs.peopleadmin.com/postings/187232
- Case Investigator: https://virginiajobs.peopleadmin.com/postings/187231
- Data Manager: https://virginiajobs.peopleadmin.com/postings/187234
- Data Analytics Coordinator: https://virginiajobs.peopleadmin.com/postings/187233
If Your Child Gets Free or Reduced Lunch,
You Qualify for EBT
Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) is a temporary food benefit available in Virginia to families with children who would have received free or reduced-price meals if schools were open. The program is authorized through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service. The Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) and the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) are working together to operate the program.
Click here for the Frequently Asked Questions on P-EBT.
Expanding our Testing Availability
Click here to find a list of all COVID-19 Testing Sites in Virginia.
You can search by radius or by geographic region.
Virginia has tripled its test rate. At this point, anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 or anyone who believes they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 should be able to get a test.
You start with your health care provider. If you don't have a health care provider or are uninsured, please contact your local health department.
Local health departments can assist you in identifying a free healthcare clinic or a federally qualified health center for evaluation.
City of Alexandria Health Department
Arlington County Department of Health
Fairfax County Health Department
As always, we're working hard to share all the latest COVID-19 information on my website's Coronavirus Page.
If information is not there, let us know and we can find it, we'll add it.
Congratulations to Takis Karantonis,
the new Democratic Nominee for Arlington County Board
Congratulations to urban planner Takis Karantonis on earning the Democratic nomination for the Arlington County Board special election on July 7. Thank you to Barbara Kanninen, Chanda Choun, and Nicole Merlene for stepping up and running to replace the late Erik Gutshall; his shoes will not be easy to fill. Arlington is lucky to have so many people so committed to public service. I heartily endorse Takis for the seat. Arlingtonians: get your absentee ballots today!
Read more about Takis' nomination here.
Request your absentee ballot today.
Needless to say, it was not ideal to have fewer than 200 Arlington Democrats choose the Democratic nominee for an office as important as County Board. But the law had our hands tied. (I am committed to changing this law, by the way, at my first legal opportunity. I was unaware of it until Erik died.) So I, along with other members of the Arlington delegation to the General Assembly, supported the Virginia Supreme Court petition of the current members of the Arlington County Board to allow an extension of the election date so as to allow more people to participate in the nominating process. I was very disappointed the Virginia Supreme Court apparently declined to even consider the petition.
I'm unaware at this time of any Republicans or independents campaigning for the Arlington County Board seat.
Stories from the 2020 Session
Although I've written at length about the Fate of My Bills, you should also know I copatroned a very long list of bills, 158 to be exact, not including commemorative resolutions. I won't attempt to describe them any more than give the title of the bill, but I thought you should see them all. We do a lot of work each session. I listed the first 100 of them in previous newsletters available on my website. I will share the bills for which I was Chief Co-Patron in my next newsletter.
I've listed the final 58 of them here. Click on any one that interests you to learn more:
Legislation as Co-Patron:
- HB 826 State plan for medical assistance; payment for services provided by certified doulas.
- HB 827 Virginia Human Rights Act; unlawful discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth.
- HB 833 Virginia Public Procurement Act; public works contracts, prevailing wage rate, penalty.
- HB 849 Political campaign advertisements; disclosure requirements, advertisements placed, etc.
- HB 888 Retail Sales and Use Tax; exemption for certain gun safes.
- HB 893 Law enforcement; use of force, data collection and reporting requirement.
- HB 897 School resource officers; memorandums of understanding.
- HB 898 Employees; earned sick leave, civil penalties.
- HB 916 Culturally Relevant and Inclusive Education Practices Advisory Committee; established, report.
- HB 953 STEAM programs; establishes STEAM Education Fund.
- HB 964 Firearms; restoration of rights of persons convicted of violent felonies.
- HB 972 Marijuana; definitions, possession and consumption, civil penalties, report.
- HB 980 Abortion; expands who can perform in first trimester, informed consent required.
- HB 984 Misclassification of workers; cause of action.
- HB 995 Grand larceny; increases threshold amount.
- HB 1004 Protective orders; possession of firearms, surrender or transfer of firearms, penalty.
- HB 1015 Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Prevention Fund; created, report.
- HB 1024 State Police, Department of; establishment of cold case searchable database.
- HB 1062 Political campaign advertisements; definition of campaign telephone calls, etc.
- HB 1066 Driver of an overtaking vehicle; driver of an overtaken vehicle shall move to the right.
- HB 1070 Expectorating in public places; repeals the crime.
- HB 1071 Profane swearing in public; removes the crime from Code.
- HB 1072 Profane, threatening, or indecent language; use over public airways or by other methods.
- HB 1074 Harassing animals; certain species.
- HB 1083 Minors; allowing access to firearms, Class 1 misdemeanor.
- HB 1103 Ranked choice voting; elections for local governing bodies, local option pilot program.
- HB 1141 Health benefit plans; renewal of plans, special exception.
- HB 1161 Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Act; required disclosures, lead pipes.
- HB 1179 Higher educational institutions, public; in-state tuition, refugees.
- HB 1196 Driver's license; suspension for nonpayment of fines or costs.
- HB 1210 Minority language accessibility; voting and election materials.
- HB 1211 Driver privilege cards; definitions, effective date, report.
- HB 1244 Virginia Telephone Privacy Protection Act; telephone solicitation calls.
- HB 1257 Drinking water supplies and waterworks; maximum contaminant levels, effective date, report.
- HB 1301 Children's Ombudsman, Office of the; established.
- HB 1315 Higher educational institutions, public; students, determination of domicile.
- HB 1316 Standards of Quality; work-based learning, teacher leaders and mentors, principal mentors.
- HB 1392 FOIA Ombudsman; powers and duties, report.
- HB 1407 Misclassification of employees as independent contractors; Department of Taxation to investigate.
- HB 1429 Health insurance; nondiscrimination, gender identity or transgender status.
- HB 1479 Pharmacy benefits managers; managers to register with the Commissioner of the Bureau of Insurance.
- HB 1491 Student voters; public high schools to provide Virginia voter registration information.
- HB 1507 Marijuana; possession.
- HB 1510 Weapons; carrying into building owned or used by the Commonwealth or political subdivision thereof.
- HB 1514 Virginia Human Rights Act; racial discrimination, hair.
- HB 1517 Police and court records; expungement of records for misdemeanor and nonviolent felony convictions.
- HB 1519 Commission to Study Slavery and Subsequent De Jure and De Facto Racial and Economic Discrimination.
- HB 1530 No-fault divorce; corroboration requirement.
- HB 1537 War memorials for veterans; removal, relocation, etc.
- HB 1547 Higher educational institutions, public; eligibility for in-state tuition.
- HB 1580 Deeds not taxable; deeds involving only spouses.
- HB 1625 Veterans; war memorials.
- HB 1641 Coal ash ponds; definitions, testing private wells and public water supply wells, etc.
- HB 1642 Coal ash ponds; definitions, well monitoring program, wells near ponds.
- HB 1678 Election day; extending polling hours from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
- HJ 1 United States Constitution; ratifies and affirms Equal Rights Amendment.
- HJ 38 Gun violence in communities; Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission to study effects.
- HJ 44 JLARC; reinstatement of discretionary parole, report.
- HJ 52 Prescription drugs; SHHR to convene work group to address cost to Virginians, etc.
- HJ 79 Special education staffing ratios; JLARC to study.
- SB 635 Right to reproductive choice; right to refuse contraception.
- SB 812 Virginia Telephone Privacy Protection Act; telephone solicitation calls.
- SB 822 Telephone privacy protection; solicitor to immediately disclose who is calling, etc.
- SB 868 Discrimination; prohibited in public accommodations, etc., causes of action.
- SJ 59 Constitutional amendment; qualifications of voters, restoration of rights.
My Post-Session Postal Letter
If you contribute now, you can help us meet our goal of raising $3,300 to pay for my annual postal newsletter. You can help us inform constituents who are not as well informed as you are.
So far, exactly $2866.80 dollars has been contributed. Thank you! Donations ranged from $5 to $500. Thank you! We need to raise just $433.20 more to meet our goal. If you would prefer to send a check in the mail, just mail it to the address at the bottom of this email.
Every dollar donated today and every check dated today (May 12) will go towards postage to mail my annual letter to constituents. Simply put, the more I receive in contributions the more people will be able to receive the letter.
So I really appreciate your support.
And I thank you again for the honor and privilege of representing you.
Delegate Mark Levine
Proudly serving Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax
in the Virginia House of Delegates