Update on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

March 18, 2020

Hello Friends,

I wanted to take a moment to update you on the actions that are being taken in reference to COVID-19 or the coronavirus.

The COVID19JIC@vdem.virginia.gov email is now operational. The email address account will be monitored by our Joint Information Center (JIC) staff and relayed to the appropriate subject matter expert. If you have questions, please reach out using the above email.

For information about best practices from the CDC, Click Here

For updated information from the Virginia Department of Health, Click Here

For updates from the City of Virginia Beach, Click Here

At the City Level:

Most services are continuing as normal, although the City is making temporary operational modifications to ensure the health and safety of the community and City staff. These changes will ensure continuity of important programs and services while modifying non-essential activities. In each area, staff is committed to working through situations with residents on a case-by-case basis. For the latest updates on services, cancellations, announcements and resources, visit emergency.vbgov.com.

City Council

  • Tuesday, March 17 formal agenda meeting was cancelled
  • A brief informal meeting is planned for a COVID-19 update and take action on one item
  • Planning and any other items that require a public hearing currently on the agenda for March 17 would be carried forward, with appropriate notification, to the April 7 agenda
  • Should applicants want their items deferred to a different date, they can work with staff

Libraries

  • All branches closed at least until March 27, 2020.
  • Use your library card to access e-books, digital magazines, music and movies, as well as research resources, online classes, SAT prep tests and more at www.VBgov.com/digital-library.
  • No items will become overdue while library buildings are closed and no additional fines will accrue on items currently overdue; no holds will expire on-shelf.
  • Library staff members are available to assist you at (757) 385-0150 or library@vbgov.com between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Recreation Centers

  • All centers are closed at least until March 27, 2020. Parks remain open although all events in the parks are canceled.

Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center and The Adventure Park

  • Closed until at least March 27

City Treasurer

  • Conducting all transactions online, by email or mail. Call corresponding office with questions.
  • The following locations will be closed to the public:
    • Beach location – 420 Birdneck Circle, 23451
    • Kempsville location – 5340 Fairfield Shopping Center, 23464
    • Lynnhaven location – 2875 Sabre Street, Suite 500, 23452
    • Thalia location – 4001 Virginia Beach Blvd, 23452
  • Drop boxes at outlying locations can still be utilized.
  • Please see the contact telephone numbers and email addresses located on the Treasurer’s website: www.vbgov.com/government/departments/city-treasurer/Pages/default.aspx

At the State Level:

Governor Ralph Northam has already declared a State of Emergency in response to the virus and announced the closure of all Virginia schools for two weeks in order to try and limit person to person contact. Yesterday, the Governor announced additional measures that are being implemented to try and combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus:

Further Reducing Public Gatherings

Governor Northam told 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.

Protecting High-Risk Virginians

Those with chronic health conditions or aged 65 or older should self-quarantine. Public health experts advise that individuals with underlying medical conditions and those aged 65 or older are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Governor Northam encouraged neighbors and friends to stay in touch and regularly check in with high-risk individuals.

Increasing Social Distancing

All restaurants, fitness centers, and theaters are mandated to significantly reduce their capacity to 10 patrons, or close. Restaurants are encouraged to continue carry-out and takeaway options.

Support for Affected Workers

Governor Northam announced the following actions to protect working Virginians impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Support for Impacted Employers

  • Regional workforce teams will be activated to support employers that slow or cease operations. Employers who do slow or cease operations will not be financially penalized for an increase in workers requesting unemployment benefits.
  • The Governor is authorizing rapid response funding, through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, for employers eligible to remain open during this emergency. Funds may be used to clean facilities and support emergency needs.
  • Governor Northam is directing all employers to follow U.S. Department of Labor guidance on workplace safety.

Department of Motor Vehicle Office Closures

  • Virginia’s 75 DMV offices, as well as mobile units, will close to the public. 
  • 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.

Courts

Governor Northam requested and the Supreme Court of Virginia granted a judicial emergency in response to COVID-19. From Monday, March 16 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.

Utilities

The State Corporation Commission (SCC) issued 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.

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

As the situation progresses, I will provide updates via email and/or social media. I have attached a button below to direct you to my Facebook page. If there is anything that I or my office can do to be of continued assistance to you, please do not hesitate to contact me at: district07@senate.virginia.gov

Thank you and stay safe,

-Jen

PS Please look for my “Facts from the Floor” session summary in the next week.