Happenings from the Homefront 6/5/20

June 29, 2020
Hello Friends,

I think we can all agree that it has been a stressful week. We have all seen the video of the needless death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. His death started a cascade of emotion in our country that resulted in bringing challenging issues to light through peaceful marches but also igniting violent riots resulting in destruction and pain for many. We relied on our members of law enforcement to respond and appreciated their efforts to return peace to our cities and states across America during these dark days. 

The destruction, riots, and looting that have occurred around our great country have been devastating. I watch and read the news and have seen the most heart-breaking stories about individuals of all races who are small business owners who had their shops and stores looted and burned. People already struggling from the economic effects of the COVID-19 shutdowns now have nothing. We are better than that as Virginians and we are certainly better than that as Americans.
I support the First Amendment and have said many times that when you show up on the steps of the Capitol en mass to advocate for your cause, I see you and I listen to you as any representative of the people should. There is strength in numbers and in a peaceful presence. Violence and rioting are not and will never be the answer. Let the discussions begin. Instead of picking a side, choose to be a unifier.

On top of that, COVID-19 still exists (although the scenes from TV might have you believe otherwise!). I am so proud of how our beaches, restaurants, and small businesses have responded with really trying to keep employees and customers safe. I applaud each and every business who has been patient and is re-opening their doors to regular routines again. Thank you!!

Starting today, the gyms are open (at 30% capacity), the restaurants are open inside (at 50% capacity), pools are open for exercise purposes, gardens & zoos can reopen, and gatherings of up to 50 people can be held. I encourage everyone to wear their masks if they are at risk and to be considerate of others who may be at risk by wearing a mask around them. Use commonsense but get out and live life. It’s summer and we live at the beach!

Thank you all so much for your emails, phone calls, & social media support. I am thankful to have constituents who communicate and who are interested in state government. Keep in touch and stay well!

Stay well & take care-

We remember the twelve lives lost in the Virginia Beach tragedy on May 31, 2019. We pray for their families and friends left behind that God can continue to give them strength and comfort them today and everyday.

The COVID pandemic has silently initiated a few new epidemics without trying…. In addition to a variety of mental illnesses, I can personally attest to the obesity crisis I see in my primary care patients. By closing our gyms and rec centers, many people have put exercise on the back burner. My older adult patients rely on gyms and rec centers (Silver Sneakers!) to keep their instability, muscle weakness, & joint pain at bay. The good news is that as of Friday, the gyms are back open (at reduced capacity), and it’s time to buy new sneakers and lose that COVID weight we’ve gained.
Phase 2 Reopening

Per the Governor, here are the things that Phase Two (starting Friday) allows:
· Gatherings of up to 50 people while practicing social distancing
· Restaurants can have indoor seating at 50% capacity
· Gyms and fitness centers can have indoor workouts at 30% capacity
· Pools can open with restrictions
· Gardens, zoos and other outdoor venues can reopen with some restrictions· Rec centers allowed to open with physical distancing and no shared equipment

I delivered pizza with Tommy Smigiel, Norfolk City Councilman & the Norfolk Fire-Rescue team to long-term care facilities and one emergency room in Norfolk as a way to say “thank you” for all their hard work during the coronavirus pandemic. (Special thank you to Randy Wright for organizing & Azalea Inn Grill and Time Out Sports Bar for the pizza!)

Click Here to see the WAVY10 Story

many-waving-flags.jpgClick Here4th of July Flag Event – VOLUNTEERS NEEDEDClick the button below to email our office to help us deliver 100% American-made U.S. Flags across Virginia Beach this Fourth of July! My office is happy to join with Senator DeSteph and his staff to celebrate America’s birthday throughout our community. We are working to ensure that even with the current restrictions, we can help spread a little American joy!!

COVID-19 Updates

Cases in Virginia:
The Virginia Department of Health website continues to update the status of cases in Virginia. As of 9 a.m. today June 5th, 46,281 positive cases have been reported here in Virginia with 2,251 probable cases. Additionally, we currently have 784 cases in Virginia Beach and 560 cases in Norfolk.

Phased Reopening Plans
Governor Northam announced that on Friday, Virginia will be moving into Phase 2, with the exception of Northern Virginia and Richmond, both of which will remain in Phase 1. 
See here for the full text of Executive Order 65, Phase 2 Easing of Temporary Restrictions due to COVID-19. See here for the Spanish translation.

See here for the Phase 2 Guidelines for all Business Sectors. See here for the Spanish translation.
A press release on this announcement can be found here.

For more information and detailed guidelines please visit virginia.gov/coronavirus/forwardvirginia.

The full text of E.O. 61 and Order of Public Health Emergency Three can be found here.

Virginia Beach: New Program to Provide Emergency Grants to Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19 Pandemic:
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (May 6, 2020) — Virginia Beach is adding to the list of loan and grant programs available to small businesses by creating a new Economic Development Investment Program (EDIP) offering that provides emergency assistance.

On April 28, 2020, the City Council provided $1.5 million in funding and approved an ordinance to temporarily allow the Virginia Beach Development Authority to make emergency assistance grants to small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The EDIP part E fund is designed to help businesses with rent, utility or other business expenses up to $10,000. Qualifications, criteria, application, and associated documents can be found at www.yesvirginiabeach.com. Data from the Virginia Employment Commission and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership indicate that, since April 1, 2020, more than 20,000 new unemployment filings were received from Virginia Beach residents and that the majority of those job losses have been from small businesses. Additionally, respondents to a survey the City of Virginia Beach recently completed that asked businesses about needs indicated that funds to pay rent, utilities and related expenses were their top concern. “The pandemic has exacted high tolls from nearly everyone in one way or another. Our economic recovery depends on the ability of our hardest hit small businesses to survive long enough to begin reopening and attracting customers back,” said Mayor Robert M. “Bobby” Dyer. “The City Council heard very clearly from constituents that emergency assistance is needed to fill critical funding gaps small businesses are experiencing. This will be money well spent.” EDIP is administered by the Virginia Beach Development Authority, which is appointed by the City Council to promote investment, reinvestment and workforce development.

Face Coverings in Virginia
Governor Northam signed Executive Order 63, requiring Virginians to wear face coverings in public indoor settings to help contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.  Face coverings do not take the place of public health guidelines to maintain six feet of physical distancing, increase cleaning and sanitation, and wash hands regularly.

See here for a press release on this announcement. See here for the full text of E.O. 63.

CVS Drive-thru Testing Locations
Governor Northam announced that CVS would be opening 39 new drive-thru testing locations across Virginia. Please input your location here to find a testing location near you.

Public Beaches
Governor Northam announced that  public beaches would be allowed to reopen, provided that they follow the social distancing guidelines established in Virginia Beach: no large gatherings of more than 10 people, no tents, no alcohol, no group sports.

Racetracks to Reopen
Governor Northam announced that horse and vehicle race tracks would be allowed to reopen for single-day events. However, spectators will be prohibited from attending the event, and strict social distancing guidelines must be followed.

Driver’s License Renewal Extension
Given the shutdown of most DMV locations, Governor Northam announced that anyone whose driver’s license is set to expire before July 31, 2020 will have until August 31, 2020 to renew it.
Housing Resources
Please click here for a comprehensive overview of housing resources available to homeowners, renters, and landlords.

Mental Health Month
May is mental health awareness month. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI Coastal Virginia) is one of our local resources here to provide help. Especially now, check in on those you worry about & be mindful of your own mental health. The NAMI helpline number is: 1-800-950-6264 (M-F, 10am-5pm). The National Suicide Prevention Helpline (available 24/7) is: 1-800-273-8255.NAMI Coastal Virginia also provides the following support:—-Online Support Groups: https://www.namicoastalvirginia.org/online-support-groups

Hampton Roads COVID-19 Resources: https://www.namicoastalvirginia.org/covid-19-resources

Action Alliance Statewide HotlineMany Virginians are unaware that sexual and domestic violence programs are still open – providing crisis services, emergency shelter, and resource-based support – or that they can still go to the hospital for care after trauma/assault. The Virginia Statewide Hotline is still here (24 hours a day, 365 days a year) and ready to help, and so are sexual and domestic violence programs all over the state. Call: 1.800.838.8238 or Text: 804.793.9999.

Behavioral Health Resources for COVID 19Community Services Boards (CSBs) across Virginia have transitioned some in-person strategies to work remotely. Many Virginians may be in need of additional mental health or behavioral health support and services. Linked here is a document that is updated periodically with activities and resources from local CSBs.

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.Also available in Spanish: haga clic aquí

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.
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!

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

Like our daily routines, how we conduct politics has changed as well. We have taken a break from political fundraising for many months but are starting to begin to ask for support again in the form of small donations as we go forward. Please consider a small donation if possible to help me defend the values that we hold dear as Virginians.

Donate Here