Greetings from the Bulova family kitchen table! Over the last few weeks, Virginia has been ramping up its response to COVID-19. While these disruptions have been tough, they are critical to slowing the spread of the virus and ensuring that our health system is not overwhelmed.
As we face this situation together, please do not hesitate to share your thoughts or ask for help with a particular issue. While I may not have an immediate answer, it is important for me to understand the concerns of my constituents so that I can bring them up during conference calls with the Governor and to alert key members of the administration.
Below is information on several topics that may be helpful over the next few weeks and months.
There are a number of ways you can help during this outbreak. If you are in a position to donate food items, the Northern Virginia Regional Commission has put together a list of food banks in the region. Likewise, blood drive cancellations have resulted in a severe shortage in the blood supply. If you are interested and able, the Red Cross has a number of sites that are open and safe to visit
Please stay safe and take the time to check in with neighbors to ensure that they are healthy and have the support needed to weather this very challenging time.
- The Governor is holding daily press briefings at 11 a.m. These will be broadcast on the Governor's Facebook page via Facebook Live.
- The Governor, Virginia Department of Health, Northern Virginia Regional Commission, Fairfax County, and the City of Fairfax all have very useful web pages devoted to COVID-19, including what to do if you believe you have been exposed to the virus.
- The Virginia Department of Health operates a 24-hour Coronavirus Information Hotline. Call (877) ASK-VDH3 or (877) 275-8343.
Public Gatherings/Restaurants, Gyms, and Theaters
- The Governor has directed Virginians to avoid non-essential gatherings of more than 10 people, per federal guidelines. This does not include normal operations at essential services such as manufacturers, distribution centers, airports, bus and train stations, medical facilities, grocery stores, or pharmacies.
- The Governor and the State Health Commissioner have issued a public health emergency order prohibiting more than 10 visitors in restaurants, gyms and theaters. Unlike the public gatherings covered above, the emergency order gives state and local law enforcement the authority to enforce the ban.
Day Care Centers
- Day care centers have been directed to limit their classrooms to 10 people, including teachers.
- Additionally, day care centers are being asked to practice staggered recess and only feed children in their individual classrooms.
Fairfax County Public Schools
- The Governor has ordered all K-12 schools in Virginia to close at least through Friday, March 27. The Virginia Department of Education website has general information about this order.
- All FCPS school buildings are closed until further notice. More information can be found here.
- FCPS has implemented grab-and-go food distribution sites. Details on locations and times are available here.
- State Superintendent James Lane is exploring options to provide flexibility in meeting state and federal testing requirements, including the Standards of Learning. More information can be found here.
George Mason University
- George Mason has extended Spring Break through Friday, March 20. The remainder of the semester will be conducted using virtual instruction.
- FAQs regarding GMU's actions and policies can be found here.
Department of Motor Vehicles
- DMV offices, as well as mobile units, will be closed to the public at least through April 2.
- Online services will remain available, and anyone needing to renew a license or vehicle registration is encouraged to do so online.
- For those who cannot renew online, or whose license or registration expires before May 15, DMV will grant a 60-day extension.
- Both Metro and the Virginia Railway Express are operating on reduced/modified schedules.
- Information about the VRE adjusted schedule may be found here.
- Information on the Metro adjusted schedule may be found here.
INOVA Health Systems
- For those who may have family or friends receiving care at INOVA facilities, an updated list of policies can be found here as social distancing measures are taken.
Support for Affected Workers
Several actions have been taken at the state level to assist affected workers:
- The Virginia Employment Commission will waive the one-week waiting period to ensure workers can receive benefits as soon as possible.
- Workers may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits if an employer needs to temporarily slow or cease operations due to COVID-19 or if they have 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.
- 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.
- For individuals receiving unemployment insurance, the Virginia Employment Commission will give affected workers special consideration on deadlines, mandatory re-employment appointments, and work search requirements.
- Additional FAQs regarding Virginia Employment Commission actions and policies can be found here.
Support for Affected Employers
- The Governor has requested a statewide Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration from the U.S. Small Business Administration to help get access to low-interest federal loans.
- Regional workforce teams are being deployed to support employers that slow or cease operations. Employers will not be penalized for an increase in the number of workers seeking unemployment benefits.
- The State Corporation Commission has directed regulated utility 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 outbreak.
- The Virginia Supreme Court has declared a judicial emergency.
- Through Monday, April 6, non-essential, non-emergency court proceedings in all district and circuit courts are suspended absent a specific exemption.
- This includes a prohibition on new eviction cases for tenants who are unable to pay rent as a result of COVID-19.
- All non-exempted court deadlines are tolled and extended for a period of 21 days.
- The Governor's State of Emergency Declaration has activated the Virginia Post-Disaster Anti-Price Gouging Act, which prohibits suppliers from unreasonably raising prices on essential goods.
- If you believe that price gouging is taking place, alert the Office of the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Section. For more information on anti-price gouging measures being taking, you may click here.