Happenings from the Homefront 8/3/20

August 3, 2020
Hello Friends,

We finally have a date for a special session for the General Assembly to meet again in Richmond: August 18, 2020. After months of asking to be a part of the conversation, the Governor has asked the legislative branch of Virginia’s government to finally have a say in some of the issues facing Virginians right now. Keep in mind, the Governor has stated that the agenda for this special session will be adopting budget changes based on the revised revenue forecast, criminal and social justice reforms, and legislation related to the emergency of COVID-19. 

Many of you have reached out with specific concerns and issues you would like to see addressed during this special session. I read all of my emails and social media messages and hear your concerns. Expect this session to be short (one week or less is what I’ve heard), but I promise you I will keep you informed about what the majority party will be pushing to accomplish.

At this short session, I will be introducing a few bills of my own. One bill is to require a school nurse to be present in every school in Virginia (it currently is not a requirement and many schools don’t have a healthcare provider in place). In my opinion, this bill is important to facilitate getting our kids back to school in person while assuring the safety of our staff, students, and their families. Another bill I will be bringing is a bill to expand worker’s comp coverage for our law enforcement and first responders to include illness, hospitalizations, and long-term health issues stemming from COVID-19.

My last bill for special session will be a nursing home isolation bill which will require long-term care facilities in Virginia to establish a plan for virtual or socially distant family visitation a minimum of once a week and to communicate that plan in writing to families and residents. I have heard the most heart-breaking stories over the past few months of healthy residents who are deteriorating due to loneliness and lack of family caregiving. Our already over-worked nursing home staff needs that familial support to ensure residents are receiving the proper care they deserve. 

There is also much work to do to in Virginia to support our businesses, restaurants, and tourism industries who have been hit hard economically over the past several months. I am a staunch advocate for our small businesses and continue to work to rebuild and sustain Virginia as a great place to do business, live, and raise a family.

I am always interested in what is important to my constituents and I value those of you who reach out to me to let me know your opinions. Thank you for paying attention to state politics… it is more important now than ever to be engaged and involved!

Take care-

Click Here to See Introduced Legislation for Special Session

Second Annual”Soiree on the Bay”with Senator Jen Kiggans
Reserve your spot today
Join us for an evening OUTDOORS on the banks of the Lynnhaven River to see friends and meet people who are interested in the future of Virginia politics and policies. Jen will give a summary of the General Assembly Special Session (to be held August 18, 2020). In addition, we will hear from Republican candidate for the 2nd District U.S. House of Representatives, Hon. Scott Taylor, and the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, LTCOL (Ret) Daniel Gade. We hope you can be a part of this annual event and look forward to seeing you there!

Lowering Prescription Drug CostIt was an honor to visit the White House with legislators from several states to watch the President sign four executive orders to lower prescription drug costs including the costs of insulin and Epi-pens. So many of my patients struggle with affording their medications, and I applaud any and all efforts to keep drug costs low. I was happy to represent the Commonwealth with Virginia House Delegate Jay Leftwich & Delegate Will Morefield.

News Updates
Navy hero honored for saving child, caregiver who had fallen into river

It was an honor to thank LT Miller in person and hear his story about rescuing a disabled child and adult caregiver who had fallen in the Elizabeth River. Thank you for your selflessness and courage!

Click here to see the article

Small Business of the Year Awards
Congrats to the Hampton Roads Chamber Small Business of the Year 2020: Hubs Virginia Peanuts! )And to all the city winners: Array DigitalPhillips & Peters, PLLC, Inter-Op, Music Makes You Happy Entertainment, & Warrant Realty Inc!) Thank you for the delicious peanuts and chocolate covered peanut brittle!

Quarantine Summer Camp
Since summer camps were cancelled this year, we had our own life science camp at my house! Yesterday 13 of the 14 duck eggs we incubated for a month hatched, and they are the cutest! (When I was little, we hatched quail eggs) It’s hard work keeping these kids entertained and off electronics during a quarantine!

Happy Anniversary
Happy 10th Anniversary to the Asian Business Association of Hampton Roads – ABAHR! It was an honor to attend your anniversary celebration. I am thankful for the Asian community’s contribution to our local economy!

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 August 3rd, 88,324 positive cases have been reported here in Virginia with 3,458 probable cases. Additionally, we currently have 4,299 cases in Virginia Beach and 3,210 cases in Norfolk.

New COVID-19 Measures in Hampton Roads Region
Governor Ralph Northam outlined new actions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the Hampton Roads region, which has seen a recent increase in new cases, hospitalizations, and positive tests. 
The new restrictions will apply to the Cities of Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Hampton, Williamsburg, Newport News, Poquoson, James City County, and York County.
Beginning at midnight on Friday, July 31, restrictions will prohibit the on-site sale, consumption, and possession of alcohol in any restaurant, dining establishment, food court, brewery, microbrewery, distillery, winery, or tasting room after 10:00pm. All restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms must close by midnight. Indoor dining in these establishments will be limited to 50 percent capacity. Public and private in-person gatherings over 50 people will be prohibited, down from a previous cap of 250 people.
The full text of Executive Order Sixty-Eight and Order of Public Health Emergency Eight is available here. Read the order in Spanish here.

City of Virginia Beach Preparing for Hurricane Isaias
Residents and City staff can take a number of simple steps to prepare themselves, including:
Remove and secure objects outside your home and business that may become projectiles during high winds. 
Sign up for VBAlert at http://www.vbgov.com/vbalert/ to get emergency alerts from the City of Virginia Beach via text message and/or email.Visit www.Ready.gov for a good list of supplies to have on hand, including drinking water, a first-aid kit, non-perishable food, a radio, flashlight and batteries, phone charger and blankets.
Have a family emergency plan in place. Plan and practice evacuation routes from home, work and school that are on higher ground.
Be informed. Learn more about steps you can take now to prepare for an emergency. Look for emergency preparedness information at www.ready.gov/severe-weather and www.VBgov.com/beprepared.

PreK-12 School Reopening GuidelinesGovernor Northam announced a phased approach that allows Virginia schools to slowly resume in-person classes for summer school and the coming academic year. 
Detailed information on each phase can be found in the guidance document available here.
VDOE has also developed comprehensive guidance to aid schools in planning for a return to in-person instruction and activities. “Recover, Redesign, Restart” can be found here.
A press release on this announcement can be found here.

Phased Reopening Plans
Governor Northam announced that his Administration has released its Phase 3 Guidelines for all business sectors. 
An online PDF version of that document can be found here.
For more information and detailed guidelines please visit virginia.gov/coronavirus/forwardvirginia.

Emergency Temporary Standard Translations
As a reminder, on July 15, the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board adopted COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards, which are the first of its kind in the nation. These standards can be found here, and will be enforced for six months after posting this week (the week of July 27).

City Services Bill Pandemic Relief ProgramStarting July 1, the City Services Bill Pandemic Relief Program will provide financial assistance to qualifying residential customers who are experiencing financial hardship due to the impacts of COVID-19. The Virginia Beach City Services Bill includes charges for solid waste collection, storm water, sanitary sewer, and water services. The pandemic relief program will provide financial assistance to qualifying applicants based on the services charged on their monthly bills. Relief is not guaranteed and is dependent on availability of funding.
Eligibility Requirements:
-Applicant must be a Virginia Beach resident with an active City Services account-Applicant must be listed as an account holder on the requested City Services account-Account must have been active from March 2020 or later-Account must have an unpaid balance due from March 2020 or later (prior balances are ineligible)-Applicant has been unemployed, furloughed or laid off in March 2020 or later-Applications can be submitted online at https://vb311.force.com/cspandemicrelief. Due to anticipated program demand, Public Utilities staff cannot provide application status updates. Customers must use the online application portal to submit and check the status of their application. Customers are encouraged to create an account when submitting their application so that they can easily check their application status.
Customers without internet access can request a mail-in application by phone at (757) 385-4160; however, status updates are not available with this option.
For additional program details and requirements, visit www.vbgov.com/CSPandemicRelief.

Virginia Department of Social Services offering residents cooling assistance
The Virginia Department of Social Services said in a news release Friday it’s accepting applications for cooling assistance during the summer months. Households approved to get cooling assistance will get a one-time payment of $300. One-time payments of $100 will also go to 113,000 households who received fuel or crisis help during the most recent heating season. These payments will go directly to vendors to credit the eligible household’s account, the release said. Those eligible will get notifications in the mail this week. While the cooling assistance program is provided yearly, the $100 payments are new, and part of the CARES Act funding program, said a spokeswoman for the department. The cooling assistance payments are offered through the department’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which pays electric bills, security deposits for electricity, central air conditioning system or heat pump repairs, whole-house fans, ceiling or attic fans and window unit air conditioners. To qualify, households must have a child less than 6 years of age, a person living with a disability or an adult aged 60 or older.There’s also an income requirement. This year, the maximum gross monthly income before taxes for a one-person household is $1,383 and $2,839 for a household of four.The program is accepting applications until Aug. 17. Applications can be filled out online via CommonHelp, or by calling the Enterprise Customer Service Center at 1-855-635-4370, or contacting your local department of social services.

Long-term Care
Governor Northam announced new guidelines and testing requirements for reopening long-term care facilities, and outlined how the Commonwealth will direct $246 million, primarily from federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding, to support long-term care facilities in their response to COVID-19. 
In addition, the Governor is directing the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) to make public facility-specific data regarding COVID-19 cases and deaths associated with long-term care facilities. Facility-specific data can be found here.

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.

Driver’s License Renewal Extension
Governor Northam announced an amendment to Executive Directive Seven (ED 7) to further extend the validity of credentials issued by DMV. The Fourth Amended ED 7 extends the validity of every driver, vehicle, and special identification credential due to expire on or before July 31, 2020 for up to an additional 90 days not to exceed October 31, 2020. This extension is in addition to the prior extension of up to 90 days not to exceed August 31, 2020. This means that a customer whose credential expires between March 15 and April 30 has an additional 90 days added to the prior 90 days, effectively 180 days, beyond the expiration date to renew. Customers whose credential expires between May 1 and July 31 will have up to 180 days beyond the expiration date to renew, not to exceed October 31, 2020. Customers with a credential that expires after July 31 must renew the credential before its expiration date. This extension will give customers with expiring credentials more time to schedule appointments to complete their DMV business.

Housing Resources
Please click here for a comprehensive overview of housing resources available to homeowners, renters, and landlords.
To identify the local Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program (RMRP) administering organization for a household and to conduct a self-assessment for eligibility, visit dhcd.virginia.gov/eligibility or call 211 VIRGINIA by dialing 2-1-1 from your phone. Tenants and homeowners are encouraged to know their rights and responsibilities and pay their rent and mortgages on time if they are able. Visit StayHomeVirginia.com for additional information and resources.

Mental Health
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 Hotline
Many 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 19
Community 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

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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