COVID-19 Update 4/7/20

April 7, 2020
Hello Friends,

This past week has been tough. We continue to home school our kids, watch our local businesses struggle, worry about the future of our own jobs, and remain fearful about standing closer than six feet from anyone we encounter. We have been asked to cover our faces with any types of mask we can find or make and have been asked to only go out when absolutely necessary for essential trips. We continue to see numbers of COVID-19 patients rise, but we also have seen that our social distancing precautions and stay-at-home efforts are paying off. This, too, shall pass but we must be patient and work together to shorten the course of this disease and have life as we know it return to normal.

I must take the time to thank all of you who have sewn masks for our office and have donated face shields, cleaning wipes, and hand sanitizers. We have become a collection point for all of these donated and needed items and are passing them out to nursing facilities, long-term care communities, and hospice and social workers. I have to take a moment to especially thank former House Delegate Cheryl Turpin and current Delegate Alex Askew who, in a showing of bipartisanship, have donated hundreds of masks made by their volunteers for our efforts. I am honored and thankful to have their help in fighting COVID-19 on a grassroots level. This bipartisan effort proves that taking care of our communities is not a political issue and that we must work together for the greater good during times like these. If you have homemade masks to donate, please contact our office. Thank you in advance!

As a healthcare provider, I take advantage of every opportunity to emphasize the importance of thinking about and communicating your healthcare wishes to your family. In my healthcare world, we call this Advance Care Planning. It includes designating a person or persons in writing who will be responsible for implementing your healthcare wishes if you are unable to do so. Coronavirus or not, it is important that we have these discussions to avoid difficult situations and unneeded stress in the future. For more information, please check out this website: https://theconversationproject.org/nhdd/

We have compiled a list of resources that have been mentioned by Governor Northam’s staff this past week. The entire General Assembly (100 House Delegates and 40 Senators) participates in conference calls with the Governor’s staff on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. This email is a compilation of information shared there and in follow-up emails from the Governor’s administration.

There are so many resources to help out there. If you are overwhelmed or need help finding specific answers to questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office. The email is: district07@senate.virginia.gov and our phone number is: 757-990-3080. As always, it continues to be an honor to serve and represent you all as the State Senator from the 7th district. Stay safe and well out there! We can get through this together!

Take care & stay well!
-Jen

Cases in Virginia:
The Virginia Department of Health website continues to update the status of cases in Virginia. As of 9 a.m. today April 7th, 3,333 positive cases have been reported here in Virginia. Additionally, we currently have 200 cases in Virginia Beach and 72 cases in Norfolk.

PPE Donations:
VDEM has issued the following survey to gather information from the private sector on offers of assistance to Virginia (donation, in-kind contribution, discounted): https://bit.ly/VaDonations. This applies to donation offers for tests, PPE, or other necessary equipment.

School Meal Finder:
Families and parents in Virginia can now visit the school meal finder website to find locations near them where local school divisions are offering free school meals —both breakfast and lunch, for pick-up while school buildings are closed due to COVID-19. 

Resources for Veterans:
This link serves as a resource guide from the Department of Veterans and Defense Affairs: 
https://www.vada.virginia.gov/media/governorvirginiagov/secretary-of-veterans-and-defense-affairs/pdf/VADA-COVID-19-Resources.pdf

COVID-19 Medicaid Pages:
Both English and Spanish COVID-19 informational pages are live on their respective CoverVirginia websites. CoverVirginia is the home for information on Virginia’s Medicaid and FAMIS programs.

Federal Agency Resources:
USA.gov is cataloging all U.S. government activities related to coronavirus. From actions on health and safety to travel, immigration, and transportation to education, find pertinent actions here.

Federal Mental Health Resources:
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s (SAMHSA) Disaster Distress Helpline – 1-800-985-5990 (or text TalkWithUs to 66746) – provides 24/7 crisis counseling and support to anyone who is seeking help in coping with the mental or emotional effects caused by developments related to the coronavirus pandemic. Learn more about the Disaster Distress Helpline here.

U.S. Dept of Treasury CARES Act Implementation:
The U.S. Department of the Treasury has set up a website with up-to-date guidance on CARES Act implementation. 

Federal Coronavirus Tax Relief:
The Internal Revenue Service has set up a website with up-to-date guidance to help taxpayers, businesses and others affected by the coronavirus.

Distribution of Economic Payments:
Distribution of economic impact payments to individuals will begin in the next three weeks and will be distributed automatically, with no action required for most people. Social security recipients, who are not typically required to file a tax return, will automatically receive economic impact payments. For guidance, see Economic Impact Payments: What You Need To Know.

Emergency Shelter for the Homeless:
Governor Northam today announced an initial $2.5 million in emergency funding to shelter Virginia’s statewide homeless population during the COVID-19 pandemic. A press release on that emergency funding can be found here.

This emergency support will provide temporary housing for the approximately 1,500 Virginians who are currently unsheltered or rely on shelters that require them to leave every day. The funding will also provide housing for individuals in shelters that may need to be quarantined, or where social distancing is not feasible.

Emergency Care Sites:
In Northern Virginia, the Dulles Expo Centerwill be the site for an alternative care facility. This center can accommodate 315 acute, or 510 non-acute beds. The Hampton Roads Convention Center will serve the Hampton Roads region, with an increased capacity of 360 acute, or 580 non-acute beds. The Richmond Convention Center will serve the greater Richmond area, with an increased capacity of 432 acute or 758 non-acute beds. 

The Northam Administration is working closely with the Army Corps of Engineers to complete contracts, approve designs, and move towards construction. The goal is for the alternative care facilities to be ready in 6 weeks, to correspond with the projected peak of the virus in mid-May.

Frequently Asked Questions from Workers:
Given the substantial economic impact that COVID-19 has had on Virginia’s workforce, the Northam Administration has released a comprehensive FAQ document to address questions that workers may have. That document can be found here.

Federal Major Disaster Designation:
Governor Northam announced that Virginia has received a Major Disaster Declaration to aid in the Commonwealth’s response to the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. Governor Northam requested this federal disaster assistance on Monday, March 30.
A Major Disaster Declaration designation provides federal public assistance for all areas in the Commonwealth of Virginia affected by COVID-19 at a federal cost share of 75 percent. The full press release on the Major Disaster Designation can be found here.

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