As Virginians continue to follow the recommendations and guidelines of public health experts, Virginians and constituents in the 41st District can find updates and resources below.
We must continue to remain vigilant in our fight to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of Virginians. This has been a long and challenging year for all. And, while there may be a temptation to relax the precautions we take, it is critical that we each continue to:
1. Avoid large gatherings
2. Wash our hands
3. Wear a face covering
4. Maintain physical/social distancing
Together, we can stop the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.
Please take care of yourselves during these challenging times. I continue to wish you, your family and friends good health.
Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn
In accordance with recent changes to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services guidance, Governor Northam announced the expansion of ‘Phase 1b’ to include individuals 65+ and those between 16-64 with with underlying medical conditions. This means that approximately half of all Virginians will be eligible to receive vaccination in Phase 1b under the updated guidelines. For more info on Virginia’s vaccine distribution plan click here.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Virginia has given more shots than 44 other states and territories in the U.S. And, among the states which are higher on that list, the majority have larger populations than our commonwealth. Additionally, only 9 states have distributed more vaccine doses than Virginia, and 8 of those states have larger populations. Moving forward, the Commonwealth of Virginia will continue pushing toward our goal of vaccinating 25,000 Virginians daily, as quickly as national supply allows. Click here for VDH’s Vaccine Distribution Dashboard.
Currently, Fairfax County is in Phase 1b of vaccine distribution. Registration for the newly added Phase 1b groups begins Monday, Jan. 18th. For more info on Fairfax County’s vaccine distribution and administration efforts click here.
Clarification from the Governor’s Office on EO-63 & EO-67 Revisions
For months, epidemiologists and other public health experts have warned that the Fall and Winter months would likely bring a rise in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and, tragically, deaths. In recent weeks, the United States has recorded some of the highest counts of these metrics since the start of the pandemic. Here in the Commonwealth of Virginia, numbers have risen as well.
To combat this surge, the Governor has taken steps to prevent this crisis from worsening. I wanted to take a moment to share with you clarification released by the Governor’s Office regarding the revised Executive Orders, EO-63 and EO-67.
- Reduction in public and private gatherings: All public and private in-person social gatherings must be limited to 25 individuals, down from the current cap of 250 people. This includes outdoor and indoor settings.
- Expansion of mask mandate: All Virginians aged five and over are required to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces. This expands the current mask mandate, which has been in place in Virginia since May 29 and requires all individuals aged 10 and over to wear face coverings in indoor public settings.
- Strengthened enforcement within essential retail businesses: All essential retail businesses, including grocery stores and pharmacies, must adhere to statewide guidelines for physical distancing, wearing face coverings, and enhanced cleaning. While certain essential retail businesses have been required to adhere to these regulations as a best practice, violations will now be enforceable through the Virginia Department of Health as a Class One misdemeanor.
- On-site alcohol curfew: The on-site sale, consumption, and possession of alcohol is prohibited after 10:00 p.m. in any restaurant, dining establishment, food court, brewery, microbrewery, distillery, winery, or tasting room. All restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms must close by midnight. Virginia law does not distinguish between restaurants and bars, however, under current restrictions, individuals that choose to consume alcohol prior to 10:00 p.m. must be served as in a restaurant and remain seated at tables six feet apart.
Does the gathering ban apply to:
The social gathering limit does not apply to religious services. Religious services of more than 25 people are required to meet distancing, cleaning, and safety restrictions, including seating parties a minimum of six feet apart and mandatory face coverings.
The social gathering limit applies only to social gatherings. The presence of more than 25 individuals assembled in an educational instructional setting is not a “gathering.”. Social gatherings that take place at schools (i.e., graduation ceremonies) must be limited to no more than 25 people.
The social gathering limit applies only to social gatherings. The presence of more than 25 individuals performing functions of their employment or assembled in an educational instructional setting is not a “gathering”.
Religious services may occur provided individuals attending religious services must be seated at least six feet apart at all times and must practice physical distancing at all times. Any social gathering held in connection with a religious service, like a wedding reception, is subject to the ban on public and private in-person gatherings of more than 25 people.
- Restaurants? Businesses?
No, the social gathering ban does not apply to businesses. Some businesses (i.e., restaurants) are prohibited from hosting over 25 people in a party, however they may still have more than 25 people on their premises if six feet of physical distance allows. The 25 person gathering ban DOES apply to private parties and social events that may be hosted at restaurants, breweries, wineries, or entertainment and public amusement venues — for example, wedding receptions.
What changed in the mask order?
- All individuals aged 5 and older must wear face coverings in indoor public settings, including schools and childcare.
Has enforcement of the mask order changed?
What is the deal with essential retail businesses?
- The Commonwealth’s public health experts have been recommending that essential retail businesses use the best practices on physical distancing, disinfection, and workplace safety in Guidelines for All Business Sectors. This will now be mandatory for all essential retail businesses, and is enforceable with a Class One misdemeanor.
Tell me about the restaurant curfew?
- Alcohol sales at restaurants, breweries, wineries, etc. must end by 10:00 p.m. Dining rooms must be closed between midnight and 5:00 a.m. Delivery and takeout services are unaffected.
What else is changed?
- Spectators at recreational sporting events are now limited to 30% occupancy or 25 spectators per field. Marathons and foot races are now limited to 250 participants, if they can be separated into heats of 25.
- Entertainment and public amusement venues, and racetracks and speedways are now limited to 30% occupancy or 250 people.
- Fitness and Exercise group classes are now limited to 25 people.
- Public beaches must prohibit gatherings of more than 25 people.
Fairfax County Public Schools
To ensure continuity of services for students and families, FCPS has expanded grab-and-go food distribution to more than 34 FCPS sites. All students enrolled in FCPS schools and other County children 18 years of age and under receive one meal at no-cost; and, may have additional meals at no-cost upon request. Effective Tuesday, March 24th, the grab and go meals will be available from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Breakfast and lunch are available at the same time.
Additionally, FCPS buses are delivering grab and go meals along some bus routes. School buses will stop at designated locations for delivery.
You may click here for a full map of FCPS grab and go locations, community meal distribution sites, food pantries, and other related services in and around the 41st District.
FCPS Resources for Students with Disabilities
Fairfax County Public Schools has assembled a resource page for students who are involved with special education programs or related services.
For more information and guidance from the Virginia Department of Education, you may click here.
VSHL 2020-2021 Seasons
Yesterday, the Virginia High School League’s Executive Committee voted to implement a condensed schedule for the 2020-2021 school year. This means there will be no sports until at least December 14th, 2020, with the first games starting on December 28th, 2020.
The new seasons will consist of:
- Winter sports running from Dec. 14-Feb. 20, with the first contest date on Dec. 28;
- Fall sports running from Feb. 15-May 1, with the first contest date on March 1;
- Spring sports running from April 12-June 26, with the first contest date on April 26.
However, this plan is subject to changes based on public health data and any changes to safety guidelines.
More information is available at the VHSL’s website.
Fairfax County Resources
Fairfax County COVID-19 Dashboard
The Fairfax County Department of Health has established a COVID-19 data dashboard, which displays up-to-date case information in the Fairfax Health District. The dashboard features maps and graphic displays organized by locality, combined ZIP codes, race and ethnicity, as well as age. It also features a case trajectory and curve of new cases. Click here to view the dashboard.
DMV has opened a number of locations with limited services available by appointment only. Click here to view precautionary measures the DMV is taking to protect the health of those seeking critical in-person services.
To accommodate social distancing and minimize volume, appointments will be required and available for select services. If customers can conduct their transaction online or by mail, they should continue to do so.
Appointments can be made by visiting www.dmvNOW.com/appt or by calling 804-497-7100.
Filling out your census form only takes about 10 minutes, and determines your community’s state, local and federal funding and representation for the next 10 years! While census takers will not be going door-to-door, for the first time ever, individuals are able to complete census forms online here, as well as via phone or by mail. Be sure to complete your form – everyone counts!
Ways to Help
- Consider donating blood if you are healthy and able. Currently, there is a severe blood shortage nationally. Appointments to give blood with INOVA can be made at INOVAblood.org.
- Please consider joining me and my colleagues in the General Assembly from Fairfax Co. in contributing to the Capital Area Food Bank and Food for Others.
- Ecumenical Community Helping Others (ECHO) serve individuals and families experiencing effects of long-term poverty and emergency financial need in Burke and Springfield
Mental Health Resources & Emergency Numbers
- If you are in crisis, text NEEDHELP to 85511, call 1-800-273-TALK, or dial 911; TTY dial 711
- CrisisLink Regional Hotline: 703-527-4077
- Dominion Hospital Assessment and Referral Line: 703-536-2000
- Mobile Crisis Unit: 1-844-627-4747
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK or 1-800-SUICIDE
- Merrifield Center Emergency Services: 703-573-5679; TTY dial 711
- Plan D Nova https://www.plandnova.org/
- Fairfax County’s 24-Hour Domestic Violence Hotline: 703-360-7273
- Domestic Violence Action Center: 703-246-4573
Healthcare.gov Open Enrollment
2021 Federal Marketplace enrollment is open now through December 15th. Whether you are enrolling for the first time or re-enrolling, this will be the last opportunity to get 2021 healthcare coverage through the HealthCare.gov marketplace, unless you qualify for Special Enrollment in the future.
New Driver’s License Online Renewal Option
Many Virginians will be eligible to submit a two-year renewal for their driver’s license online, thanks to a new DMV service. The new option will allow approximately 500,000 Virginians to postpone a trip to the DMV, opening up new appointment opportunities for those who need to visit in person to conduct their business.
The Commonwealth has expanded the Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program (RMRP) to further assist Virginians with past-due rental payments dating back to April 1st, 2020. Now, landlords can apply for the RMRP financial assistance on behalf of their qualifying tenants.
Launched in June 2020, the RMRP made $50 million in short-term financial assistance available to Virginians in the form of rent and mortgage payments to low-income households facing eviction.
To find out if you are eligible for assistance and to locate an administration offce visit dhcd.virginia.gov/eligibility or dial 2-1-1.
I also wanted to remind you of the Commonwealth’s “Stay Home Virginia” website, which is a consolidation of many useful tools, helpful information, and resources for renters, homeowners, landlords, and those experiencing homelessness. The website also outlines summaries of both the federal and state protections in place.
Virginia COPES Non-Emergency Support Line
The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS), in coordination with Mental Health America of Virginia, has established a COVID-19 Non-Emergency “Warm Line”. If you or someone you know are struggling with trauma or distress caused by COVID-19, trained staff are available to provide strength-based support, resilience coaching, community resources and direction for those in need.
You can find more info on Virginia COPES and other resources here and below.
Call or TEXT Toll Free: 877-349-6428
9 a.m. – 9 p.m. Monday – Friday
5 p.m. – 9 p.m. Saturday – Sunday
Face Coverings in Public Indoor Settings
Last week, Governor Northam signed Executive Order 63, which requires Virginians to wear face coverings in public indoor settings and directs the Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI) to develop temporary standards to prevent exposure to COVID-19 in workplace settings. This order is now in effect until amended or rescinded.
Exemptions to these guidelines include:
- individuals actively eating and drinking at a food and beverage establishment;
- individuals who are exercising;
- children under the age of two;
- a person seeking to communicate with a hearing-impaired person, for which the mouth needs to be visible;
- and anyone with a health condition that keeps them from wearing a face covering.
Click here to read the full text of Executive Order 63.
Click here to read the Governor’s Press Release on Executive Order 63.
Support for Workers
As we take precautionary measures across the Commonwealth, the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) will waive the waiting period to ensure workers can receive benefits ASAP. Workers may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits if an employer needs to 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 are not receiving paid sick or medical leave from their employer. You may click here or more info on how to file a claim.
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. For individuals receiving unemployment insurance, the VEC will give affected workers special consideration on deadlines, mandatory re-employment appointments, and work search requirements.
VDEM COVID-19 Materials
The Virginia Department of Emergency Management has established a web page of COVID-related materials, located here. Available resources include waivers, memoranda and guidance; available disaster grants and loan programs; along with instructions for private sector partners seeking to provide COVID-19 containment support to the Commonwealth.
SNAP Benefits Expanded to Include Online Orders
Virginians who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits will now able to pay for their groceries online and have them delivered. This is after the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved Virginia to participate in an innovative online purchasing pilot program – the first time such a program has been available.
Online shopping access is available through the Amazon and Walmart’s online platforms. Transactions will take place using SNAP customers’ secure Personal Identification Numbers (PINs). SNAP benefits cannot be used to pay for fees of any type, such as delivery, service, or convenience fees.
Click here to read the Governor’s full press release on the expansion.