Representing Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax

Newsletter - May 4, 2020

I share a couple of important updates below but I first wanted to be sure you knew that tonight, at 7:30 pm, the Alexandria delegation will be sharing a General Assembly Update with the Alexandria Democratic Committee. You can watch live on the committee's facebook page. This is a great opportunity to learn about all we accomplished this legislative session.

Click Here to Watch: General Assembly Update for the Alexandria Democratic Committee
Tonight, May 4, starting at 7:30 PM

beginning just sixty minutes from now...

Virginia Nearing Re-Opening

Governor Northam announced today 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 - is being extended through May 14. The Governor stated his decisions regarding the re-opening have been and will continue to be based on daily incoming data and evidence. But barring any unforeseen sudden change in the data, the Executive Order will expire on Friday, May 15

Governor Northam also outlined the different phases of re-opening. More details will be coming soon, including guidance for businesses. What's below is copied and pasted from the Governor's May 4th slideshow presentation.

PHASE 1 looks like this:

  • Stay at home - especially if you are vulnerable
  • No social gatherings of more than 10 individuals
  • Continued social distancing
  • Continued teleworking
  • Face coverings recommended in public
  • Easing limits on business and faith communities

PHASE 1 Guidelines for All Businesses:

  1. Physical distancing
  2. Enhanced cleaning and disinfection
  3. Enhanced workplace safety

One example of Phase 1 regulation would be allowing (but requiring appointments for) hair cuts at barbershops and salons. Farmer's markets will be open for browsing as opposed to just curbside pick-up for pre-orders. The Northam administration will be disseminating guidance to business owners about what they should be doing to maximize worker safety. 

Entering Phase 2 will require stable PPE supplies and a continued downward testing trend.

Phase 1 is expected to last 2-4 weeks, or longer if data warrants it.

PHASE 2 looks like this:

  • Stay-at-home for vulnerable populations
  • No social gatherings of more than 50 individuals
  • Continued social distancing
  • Continued teleworking
  • Face coverings recommended in public
  • Further easing business limitations

Phase 2 is expected to last 2-4 weeks, or longer if data warrants it.

PHASE 3: Longer-term
To move to phase 3, we're looking for no evidence of rebound for a sustained period of time.

Phase 3 looks like this:

  • Safer at home for vulnerable populations
  • Remove ban on social gatherings
  • Remove capacity limits in establishments
  • Continue heightened cleaning and disinfection
  • Possible other measures

Phase 3 could be 10-12 weeks away, or more.

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.

Virginia Hiring 1,000 Contact Tracers

Governor Northam announced today 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.

Click below to learn more about contract tracing on the Center for Disease Control's website.

Contact Tracing : Part of a Multipronged Approach to Fight the COVID-19 Pandemic

What Does Re-Opening Mean for Unemployment?

Virginia is still awaiting guidance from the Virginia Employment Commission, which is guided by U.S. Department of Labor policy, on what eligibility for unemployment insurance may look like if people feel unsafe going back to work.

A member of the Governor's team said they are developing criteria to outline specific reasons that workers may meet a qualification to continue receiving unemployment and not return to work, like having pre-existing conditions. 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.

Rapid Expansion of Testing Availability

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.

Important Election Information for Arlington Democrats:
Don't delay! 
You must act by May 7 and May 8.

Arlington has two very important elections coming up in May:
  • a Democratic Caucus to choose whom the Democrats will endorse for school board elections in November, and
  • a Democratic Caucus to choose a member of the Arlington County Board to fill the vacancy caused by the tragic, untimely death of former board member Erik Gutshall at a special election scheduled for July 7. I have requested this election date be extended to August or September. (See below.)

I'm unaware at this time of any Republicans or independents campaigning for either of these positions.

Because these caucuses are controlled by the Democratic Party and not a general election, participating Arlingtonians can vote electronically and by mail. All Arlington Democrats can vote in the School Board Democratic Endorsement. Select members of the Arlington Democratic Committee can vote to fill the vacancy on the Arlington County Board. (See below.)

Arlington School Board Democratic Endorsement

From April 7 to May 7, Arlington registered voters may request a ballot by (a) completing and submitting an online ballot request form or (b) downloading and mailing a PDF version of the ballot request form (forma español). Use of the online ballot request form is strongly encouraged. Ballot requests must be received (not postmarked) by Arlington Dems by May 7. 

Request your absentee ballot today.

Arlington County Board Election

Because the July 7 election is fast approaching and Democrats are required by law to have a nominee no later than Friday, May 8 (60 days prior to the election), there is sadly no time to allow every Arlington Democrat to vote. And we can't have a "firehouse caucus" due to COVID-19. So the choice of Democratic nominee is restricted to certain officers and high-level officials in the Arlington County Democratic Committee.

Needless to say, it is not ideal to have fewer than 200 Arlington Democrats choose the Democratic nominee for an office as important as County Board. But the law has 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, have supported  the request of the current members of the Arlington County Board to the Virginia Supreme Court to allow a 30 to 60 day extension of this election so as to allow more people to participate in the nominating process.

I'm unaware at this time of any Republicans or independents campaigning for either of these positions.

Because these caucuses are controlled by the Democratic Party and not a general election, participating Arlingtonians can vote electronically and by mail.

Contact the Arlington County Democratic Committee at for more details.

Act today to preserve your right to choose your preferred nominee!

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 50 of them in my most recent newsletter.

I've listed the second 50 of them here. Click on any one that interests you to learn more:

Legislation as Co-Patron:

My Post-Session Postal Letter

I also just finished drafting my 22-page post-session postal letter that I mail out to thousands of our constituents. For those of you who read my electronic newsletter (that means you!), you'll have already seen much (but not all) of it:  I describe coronavirus resources, the budget, upcoming elections, our historic legislative session, redistricting, and the fate of my bills.

So if and when you receive this letter in the mail, please understand that I wrote at length there because thousands of households I represent don't receive what you read here. I only send it out once a year. That's why I send it to as many households as possible.

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 $2679.80 dollars has been contributed. Thank you!  Donations ranged from $5 to $500. Thank you! We need to raise just $620.20 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 4) 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