MARK IN THE NEWS
GOOD NEWS ARTICLE ON VIRGINIA COVID-19 STATE OF EMERGENCY
Or by mail and phone:
900 East Main Street, Suite E208
Richmond, VA 23219
301 King St
Alexandria, VA 22314
The Virginia General Assembly's 2020 legislative session is over. We adjourned sine die yesterday on Thursday, March 12.
We will meet again on April 22 for a one-day session to vote on the Governor's amendments and vetoes.
I've been compiling a list of legislative accomplishments to send you, which I still hope and expect to send out over the weekend, but events related to COVID-19 have kept me focused on that crisis.
Yesterday afternoon, Governor Northam declared a state of emergency to combat COVID-19.
As the Federal Government has not been particularly competent in handling this matter, I'm glad to see our Governor has stepped up to do his best to contain the crisis:
1. Virginia is creating tests for the virus;
2. Virginia is canceling conferences and out-of-state travel by public employees; and
LOCAL PUBLIC SCHOOL CLOSURES
Alexandria Public Schools intend to close
as of this Monday March 16 until April 13.
April 6-13 was the previously scheduled Spring Break.
But this is not a break from school. Online instruction will continue.
So will the provision of meals for students in need.
"During our closure, a daily update will be sent out via ACPS Express around 1 p.m to all families and community members who are signed up to receive these updates. Sign up for ACPS Express now. There will be a webinar at 3 p.m. every day to answer questions from families. We will send more information with specific details about this on Monday, March 16, 2020.
Please make sure your contact information is current in our system so that you can receive all correspondence from the school division during this time. Please contact your registrar today if you need to update your contact information in our system. For more details, see the FAQ on the ACPS website, information below or visit our coronavirus webpage at www.acps.k12.va.us/coronavirus."
Click here for details on Alexandria Public Schools and their response to the coronavirus.
Arlington and Falls Church City Public Schools
will also be closed
from Monday, March 16 until April 14.
"In response to growing concerns and anxiety in our community about the coronavirus (COVID-19), Arlington Public Schools and Falls Church City Public Schools have aligned, and in close collaboration with other Northern Virginia school divisions, will close beginning Monday, March 16, 2020. The present plans are to remain closed through Spring Break, with students scheduled to return on April 14, 2020. We will continue to evaluate and monitor the situation on a daily basis and will provide an update on our plans as new information is available."
Click here for details on Arlington Public Schools and their response to the coronavirus.
Fairfax Public Schools are closed today
and will continue to be closed on Monday.
Click here for details on Fairfax Public Schools and their response to the coronavirus.
Virginia's State of Emergency
"While Virginia has been thoroughly preparing for weeks and has adequate funding to address the situation, this declaration will allow the Commonwealth increased flexibility to ease regulatory requirements and procurement rules, continue federal and multi-state coordination, and ensure continued access to critical services for the most vulnerable Virginians. In addition, it has become increasingly clear that states must take a primary leadership role in the national response to COVID-19. The full text of the Governor’s emergency declaration is available here."
Governor Northam also announced additional steps to ensure the health and safety of all Virginians, including:
Ban on State Employee Travel and Implementation of Telework Policies
Virginia has over 100,000 state employees stationed throughout the Commonwealth. Governor Northam has halted all official travel outside of Virginia by state employees, with increased flexibility for inter-state commuters and essential personnel. Specific guidance will be released to agency heads and state employees, and Virginia will revisit these guidelines after 30 days.
Governor Northam has also directed his Secretary of Administration to implement a phased transition to teleworking for state employees. The Department of Human Resources Management will work with the Virginia Department of Health’s Equity Workgroup to prioritize support for impacted state employees that may be unable to perform their duties from home, including janitorial, food, and grounds staff.
The Department of Human Resources Management has worked to ensure all agencies have updated emergency operations and leave policies. State employees, including part-time employees, can access paid Public Health Emergency Leave in the event of exposure to COVID-19 or high-risk travel.
Public Gatherings and Large Events
In accordance with advice from state public health experts, the Commonwealth of Virginia will cancel all specially-scheduled state conferences and large events for a minimum of 30 days.
Governor Northam is directing state agencies, through the Department of Human Resource Management, to limit in-person meetings and non-essential, work-related gatherings.
Governor Northam is also urging localities and non-profits to limit large public events, effective immediately. Localities should make these decisions in coordination with their local health departments and the Virginia Department of Health. Highly populated localities and those with close proximity to positive cases are strongly encouraged to announce updated event guidance by Friday, March 13, at 5:00 PM, in advance of the weekend.
Long-Term Economic Planning
Governor Northam is also assessing the potential long-term economic impacts of COVID-19. While containing the spread of the public health threat remains a top priority, Governor Northam is working with state and local partners to ensure Virginia are prepared for any continued economic disruption.
Virginia’s Secretary of Commerce and Trade will coordinate regularly with representatives from the Virginia Employment Commission, the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the Department of Housing and Community Development, the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity, the Department of Labor and Industry, the Virginia Tourism Corporation, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and other relevant stakeholders.
Throughout his administration, Governor Northam has worked closely with state legislators to protect Virginia’s strong economy and prepare for unexpected economic shocks. The General Assembly will vote today on a budget that boosts Virginia’s reserve funds more than at any other time in the Commonwealth’s history, an essential mechanism to ensure continued state services regardless of economic uncertainty.
Ongoing State Response Efforts
The Commonwealth of Virginia is continuing to execute a multi-agency response plan across all levels of government. Efforts include the following:
- The Department of Education has advised all school districts to update their pandemic guidelines, in consultation with their local health departments.
- The Northam administration continues to be in regular communication with superintendents, university and community college presidents, to provide guidance on the unique situations they are facing on the ground.
- The Virginia Department of Health has expanded its testing criteria to ensure that anyone who has symptoms and is in a nursing home is top priority and gets immediate testing.
- Nursing homes and senior care facilities have updated their policies to provide additional visitor screening and increased monitoring of patients.
- Virginia’s social services agencies are preparing options to ensure the most vulnerable populations have continued access to critical services, including the potential for in-home care and food supports.
- In the event of extended school closures, the Virginia Department of Social Services is working with local partners, such as food pantries, to ensure no one goes hungry.
Addressing Barriers to Care
- Virginia is working with insurers to waive co-pays and diagnostic testing related to COVID-19.
- Governor Northam continues to encourage private businesses to explore telework and paid time off options, including those with hourly workers.
- Across the Commonwealth’s transportation network, which includes airports, Metro, buses, and rail, Virginia is adjusting cleaning schedules according to CDC protocol.
- Virginia is also working with transportation partners to help reduce the potential spread of disease.
WHAT IS CORONAVIRUS?
Coronavirus is a very contagious virus named for the crownlike spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to lung lesions and pneumonia.
- If you are at higher risk, stay home and avoid crowds as much as possible. Stock up on supplies.
- Stay home when you're sick.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid non-essential travel.
- 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.
- Get your annual flu shot if you haven't already. You don't want to be vulnerable to getting sick with both flu and COVID-19 (To find a nearby location to get your flu shot, visit the CDC Flu-Finder website.)
Preparedness Checklist in the Event of a Pandemic - for Individuals and Families
- City of Alexandria Health Department
- Arlington County Department of Health
- Fairfax County Health Department
Risk to the community remains low for now, but it is increasing rapidly. Two days ago, there were three presumptive positive cases in Virginia all related to international travel: one in Fort Belvoir, one in Fairfax City, and one in Crystal City. Now there are nine, five of which are in Northern Virginia.
I will continue to monitor the situation. If you have any questions, concerns, or news on the coronavirus in Northern Virginia or the DMV, please don't hesitate to let me know.
I'll be back soon with more newsletters, featuring much happier news, such as all the tremendous progress we made this session!
Thank you again for the honor and privilege of representing you.
Delegate Mark Levine
Serving Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax in Virginia's 45th District