Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center
COVID-19, or Coronavirus, is the rapidly spreading virus that has put Virginia and the nation on lockdown. As a medical professional, I know how crucial it is to dedicate every resource I have as a State Delegate to fighting this outbreak and protecting vulnerable Virginians. Here you can find essential resources and updates that can help the Commonwealth get through these trying times together, as one community.
No matter where you are, there are basic steps everyone must take to slow the spread of the virus, save lives, and avoid overwhelming our healthcare system:
- STAY AT HOME: Virginia’s Governor has issued a stay-at-home order this afternoon, which will go into effect immediately and last until June 10th, unless otherwise amended. Virginians must stay at home unless they are accessing essential services such as grocery stores, healthcare providers, pharmacies, banks, government offices, gas stations, food banks, delivery restaurants, or law enforcement offices. Virginians may also leave home to care for family or engage in outdoor activities. When you do need to go out to get these services, please practice safe behaviors like wearing a mask or bandana, frequently washing your hands, and always staying at least six feet away from others.
- Quarantine vulnerable populations. Those with chronic health conditions as well as those over the age of 65 are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 and the complications that come with it. Public health experts recommended that anyone in those vulnerable populations self-quarantine to the best of their ability.
- Wash your hands and disinfect often. Keeping your hands clean as well as household surfaces and clothing can help prevent possible transmissions.
- Stay up to date with relevant information. You can head to this web page or to the myriad resource pages available below to find official information from government agencies, public health authorities, and other trusted sources.
Governor Northam and his administration are using their executive authority to respond to the virus responsibly. The official website for Virginia’s government has a helpful page explaining the Governor’s actions in response to COVID-19 and any changes to state government services. Click below to head there now.
Recently, the Governor ordered all K-12 schools to close for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year. He instituted a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people. He has also ordered the closure of many non-essential businesses Virginians should take these measures seriously to ensure we can flatten the curve and avoid completely overwhelming our healthcare system.
Additional information about state government services during COVID-19:
- Support for affected workers: Many workers are losing hours or their entire job during this pandemic. Virginia has now waived the usual waiting period to receive unemployment benefits, lowered restrictions, and expanded eligibility to apply to more Virginians. Click here to learn more about applying for unemployment benefits in Virginia.
- 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.
- Medicaid: At a time when healthcare needs are highest, Virginia has made some necessary changes to Medicaid. Patients can now get COVID-19 related care, as well as all other care, without copayments. Patients can get a 90-day supply of routine prescriptions so they can stock up and avoid leaving the house. The state is also waiving many pre-approval requirements for medical services and extending approvals already in place. Click here to learn more.
- Transportation: Public transit, including Metro, Amtrak, and Virginia Rail Express, will remain open and will ramp up their cleaning and sanitizing efforts to ensure those who need to take public transit during this outbreak can do so safely.
- Department of Motor Vehicles: 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. Governor Northam has directed the Virginia Department of State Police to suspend enforcement of Motor Vehicle Safety Inspections for 60 days.
- Courts: 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.
My Legislative Response
I was the first lawmaker in Virginia to call on the General Assembly to reconvene for an emergency legislative session to respond to COVID-19. In a time of global pandemic, thousands of Virginians are without any health insurance, and thousands more are at risk of losing work hours or losing their job entirely without any way to stay afloat financially. That’s unacceptable, and it’s a huge risk for public health and long-term economic stability. It’s also why I took to the floor of the House of Delegates on the last day of the regular session to push my colleagues to take bold action. Now a bipartisan group of legislators is calling for an emergency session to work on policies like healthcare for all, paid sick leave, help for small businesses, and other assistance stopgaps for working families who are being hit hard.
Now more than ever it’s important to find reliable sources of information. Where we get our news during COVID-19 can be the difference between reasonable and unreasonable responses to the crisis. Remember that any information on social media should be double-checked with facts from major news outlets and public service announcements. Below are some newspapers and websites that are providing free coverage of COVID-19 news.
The Virginia Department of Health operates a 24-hour Coronavirus Information Hotline. For questions about the coronavirus, call (877) ASK-VDH3 or (877) 275-8343. Or, you can email your questions to COVID19JIC@vdem.virginia.gov