Apr 6, 2020

Virginia State and Local Action on COVID-19

For a complete look at federal and state action related to the coronavirus, visit MWC’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Facts and Resources website.

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Updates from Gov. Northam’s Press Conference | April 6

On Monday, April 6, 2020, Governor Northam made the following announcements on Virginia’s response to COVID-19:

  • Virginia has 2,878 cases of COVID-19.
  • Governor Northam advised Virginians to wear a face covering in public per CDC guidelines.
  • The Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS) is using genetic technology to help public health officials better understand COVID-19. One insight they have learned is that the virus was introduced in Virginia in multiple communities rather than spreading from one source. DCLS is one of the first public health labs in the nation to do this work. Governor Northam said DCLS’s work will help give us more tools to fight COVID-19.
  • Governor Northam said that build out on the 3 alternative care sites (Dulles Expo Center, Richmond Convention Center, and Hampton Roads Convention Center) will begin this week.
  • Virginia has executed a $27 million contract with Northfield, a Virginia-based logistics company, to provide PPE. The first shipment of PPE will arrive a week from today. Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran said this is just the first of many purchases of PPE.
  • Virginia has also signed a contract with Estes Trucking to handle logistics and distribution.
  • Virginia shipped 56K MREs (Meal, Ready-to-Eat) to food banks, which will supply the food banks for the next six weeks.
  • VDH shipped the 3rd round of PPE to hospitals from the national stockpile.

Virginia State Action on COVID-19

March 30

Governor Northam issued Executive Order 55, a “stay at home” order
Importantly, Executive Order 53, which Governor Northam signed last week, remains in effect.

March 25

GOP candidate sues Virginia election officials, says coronavirus thwarted efforts to get ballot signatures
A candidate seeking the Republican nomination to run against U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D) has filed a lawsuit against Virginia election officials that argues the COVID-19 pandemic has made it too difficult to gather the petition signatures necessary to qualify for the June primary ballot. Omari Faulkner, a Navy reservist and former Georgetown University basketball player, filed the suit in the Richmond Circuit Court this week.

Northam splits with Trump on timeframe for recovery
Gov. Ralph Northam on Tuesday batted down a suggestion from President Donald Trump that the nation’s economy could be “open by Easter.” Hours later, the Richmond area reported its first two coronavirus deaths, pushing Virginia’s statewide toll to at least nine. “While it would be nice to say that this will be behind us in two weeks, that’s really not what the data tells us,” Northam said in a briefing with reporters.

Virginia offers flexibility so high school seniors can still graduate
Guidance from the Virginia Department of Education released after Gov. Ralph Northam ordered state schools to be closed for the rest of the school year provides leniency so members of the senior class can still graduate.

Courts are scrambling to address coronavirus
Courts across Virginia have been forced to rapidly escalate their planning and communication processes over the past two weeks in an effort to avoid public gatherings and therefore to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

Virginia ABC stores to cut operating hours effective Friday
Virginia ABC stores will open late and close early for a deep cleaning in response to the spread of coronavirus.

March 24

Northam cancels school year, orders some businesses closed
Virginia public schools will remain closed for the rest of the current school year and certain types of businesses, like bowling alleys, salons, gyms and theaters, must close in response to the coronavirus outbreak, Gov. Ralph Northam said Monday.

Virginia may take $1 billion annual revenue hit in new budget
Virginia’s top finance official says the state is likely to lose $1 billion in revenue in each year of the pending two-year budget — and that’s the best scenario, assuming significant aid from the federal government for workers and business owners who have lost their livelihoods because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Governors Clamp Down as Trump Considers Easing Virus Plans
Governors and mayors across the U.S. issued orders to shut down normal human contact and commercial life even as the Trump administration debates dialing back guidance that officials fear is smothering the economy.

Staggered schedules, moving desks: How 109,000 state employees are working during coronavirus
While Gov. Ralph Northam is banning groups of more than 10 people from gathering, and encouraging people to work from home during the coronavirus pandemic, more than 109,000 state employees are getting creative with their workspaces.

Northam orders some businesses to close as state's COVID-19 death toll reaches 7
Gov. Ralph Northam on Monday ordered bowling alleys, theaters, barber shops, gyms and spas to close in order to help slow the spread of the coronavirus that has so far killed seven Virginians and hospitalized at least 38.

A list of essential and nonessential businesses in Virginia, according to the governor
The following recreation and entertainment businesses are considered nonessential and must close to the public beginning at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, according to Gov. Ralph Northam: theaters, performing arts centers, concert venues, museums and other indoor entertainment centers.

Virginia K-12 schools closed for remainder of academic year
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Monday ordered the state’s K-12 schools to remain closed for the rest of the school year. “School closures are necessary to minimize the speed at which COVID-19 spreads and protect the capacity of our health care system,” he said.

March 23

Virginia Governor Issues Executive Order Addressing Schools, Businesses, and Large Gatherings
Executive Order 53 closes K-12 schools for the remainder of the academic year, bans gatherings of 10 or more, and creates temporary business restrictions.

Northam: Prepare for coronavirus outbreak to last months
As health officials reported 67 new coronavirus cases in Virginia — bringing the total to 219, the biggest jump yet

As Va. jobless claims soar, economists expect hit to state's economy
Solid economic data is hard to come by so far about the severity and extent of damage to Virginia’s economy from the coronavirus outbreak, but anecdotal reports coming to economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond do indicate a sudden and major hit to employment especially for businesses such as restaurants and hotels.

Va. attorney general: Local governments must continue to meet in person during outbreak
Local governments scrambling to conduct board and council meetings while respecting social distancing and coronavirus safety concerns were provided little leeway by an opinion on the matter from Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring.

Region's legislators credit Northam for crisis response, see budget adjustments coming
Members of the General Assembly delegation for the Roanoke and New River valleys credit Gov. Ralph Northam for his coronavirus outbreak response, but remain unsure about how to balance protecting public health with keeping businesses afloat.

Virginia ABC allowing all restaurants with on-premises licenses to sell wine and beer to go
Any restaurant in Virginia with a valid license to sell wine and beer on-premises can now sell wine and beer to go and for delivery without applying for additional permits.

Virginia will cancel SOLs this year because of the coronavirus
Virginia students and teachers won’t have to worry about Standards of Learning tests this spring.

Virginia’s retirement plan for teachers and government workers says it is weathering market turmoil
Financial markets are in turmoil, but the retirement plan that covers Virginia teachers, state employees and most local government staff has just completed processing the payments to retirees it will be sending out April 1.

March 20

Virginia small businesses eligible to apply for coronavirus disaster loans
Virginia small businesses are now eligible to apply for financial assistance due to the impact of the spreading coronavirus.

Governor faces calls for special session, ‘bolder and swifter action’ on COVID-19
After adjourning a historic legislative session last week, a few Democratic lawmakers crossed Capitol Square to stand with Gov. Ralph Northam at a news conference about the state’s response to COVID-19. Then they left town and went home to their districts. Then the world changed.

DEQ suspends routine fieldwork but will continue pipeline monitoring through contractors
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has suspended all routine fieldwork, including regular inspections and in-person monitoring, for two weeks in the face of the continuing spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus.

March 19

Governor Northam Announces Additional Actions to Address COVID-19
Co-pays eliminated for all Medicaid-covered services, tax relief, small businesses can begin applying for low-interest federal disaster loans

Virginia to extend May 1 tax deadline for all individuals and businesses
Virginia will allow all individuals and businesses to delay paying their 2019 income taxes by 30 days, bumping the deadline to pay from May 1 to June 1

Insurers waiving testing, telemedicine fees
Virginia health insurers say members who need screening and testing to see if they are infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus won't be asked for the usual co-pay or other cost-sharing

Unemployment Benefits for Workers Impacted by Coronavirus in DC, Maryland, Virginia
Workers are facing financial hardship as businesses either shut down or reduce their hours over the coronavirus

VDOE seeks federal SOL testing waiver during coronavirus crisis
Amid statewide school closures due to the threat of coronavirus, the Virginia Department of Education has requested a federal waiver for students slated to take the Virginia Standards of Learning tests this spring

In letter to Northam, Fairfax offers suggestions to help fight coronavirus
Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax sent a letter to Gov. Ralph Northam voicing his opinion on what steps the state should implement during the coronavirus pandemic

Virginia officials asking law enforcement to avoid arrests when possible
Virginia state officials are asking law enforcement agencies to avoid arrests when possible, amid calls from civil rights groups about jail conditions amid the COVID-19 outbreak

Virginia GOP Delays Convention to Pick Trump as Nominee; The Republican Party of Virginia has postponed its upcoming statewide convention due to the coronavirus
The Republican Party of Virginia has postponed its upcoming statewide convention due to the coronavirus.

DMV shopping malls shut down amid coronavirus concerns
Simon Properties and Westfield stores have temporarily closed stores in Maryland and Virginia

March 18

Clearer picture arrives of economic toll of coronavirus
The economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic became clearer Tuesday as layoffs and furloughs in the hospitality and service industries continue to mount in Greater Washington

State allocates additional $11M to struggling transit systems
Commonwealth Transportation Board funds are aimed at helping transit agencies recover from ridership losses and other COVID-19-related operating expenses

Universities, colleges cancel graduation ceremonies amid pandemic
Public, private and community colleges have canceled commencement

Pentagon wants USNS Comfort ready to deploy to New York
The Defense Department wants the Norfolk-based hospital ship USNS Comfort to get ready to deploy to New York in an effort to aid civilian hospitals that may need to relocate patients who aren’t diagnosed with coronavirus

March 17

Governor Northam Announces New Measures to Combat COVID-19 and Support Impacted Virginians
Directs adherence to 10-person gathering ban, quarantine for high-risk individuals, worker and employer support

Governor Northam Declares Public Health Emergency

March 12

Governor Northam Declares State of Emergency, Outlines Additional Measures to Combat COVID-19
Governor issues guidance on large events and state workforce, activates long-term economic plan

Virginia Local Action on COVID-19

April 2

Richmond Economic Development Authority Creates Small Business Loan Program

March 25

Lynchburg mayor denounces move to reopen Liberty as 'reckless'
With the threat of the coronavirus looming, Lynchburg Mayor Treney Tweedy sharply criticized Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr.’s decision to invite students back to campus, calling the move reckless and unfortunate.

March 24

Arlington Grapples with Community Transmission of Coronavirus
Like other nearby localities, Arlington has entered the community transmission phase of coronavirus outbreak.

Athletic Fields, Dog Parks, Playgrounds Closing in Arlington
All Arlington dog parks, fields and playgrounds are closing in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Dan River Region leaders react to executive order to close businesses
Many of the area businesses that had managed to remain open during the past few weeks now will be forced to close for at least a month as a result of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s executive order.

March 23

Fairfax County COVID-19 Update
Fairfax County is still proceeding with development reviews, inspections and permitting, albeit with adjusted procedures. For zoning cases, the Department of Planning and Development is primarily working remotely and has adjusted to receiving electronic resubmissions.

Alexandria closes outdoor spaces due to coronavirus
Playgrounds, recreation centers and other outdoor areas have been shut down by the City of Alexandria in order to slow the spread of coronavirus, the city announced Saturday afternoon. The closures, announced in conjunction with Alexandria City Public Schools, target basketball and tennis courts, fenced-in fields and dog parks.

Arlington County Rethinks FY2021 Budget Due To Coronavirus
Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey called the Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Proposal County Manager Mark Schwartz submitted in February "no longer very relevant" in light of the current coronavirus crisis

March 19

F.C. Declares Local Emergency in Response to Coronavirus
Falls Church City Manager Wyatt Shields, in an exclusive interview with the News-Press Wednesday afternoon, confirmed that the City and City schools are in full-scale mobilization to adhere with “social distancing” and other key elements aimed at stemming the spread of the deadly airborne coronavirus. 

LewisGale implements stricter policies as coronavirus cases in Virginia reach 77
LewisGale Regional Health System is implementing new procedures as cases of the novel coronavirus continue to increase throughout Virginia

Colonial Downs announces all Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums will close temporarily amid coronavirus

Richmond-area police departments prepare to enforce 10-person limit, while keeping eye on crime during pandemic
The Richmond and Chesterfield County police departments are giving targeted businesses a grace period to comply with Gov. Ralph Northam’s order limiting gatherings larger than 10 people.

Arlington Officials Scramble to Rethink Budget, Urge Additional Action from State
While reducing the human toll of the coronavirus outbreak is a top priority, Arlington officials are also trying to determine its impact on the upcoming county budget

Social distancing: Williamsburg City Council met via video, and the public participated

Hampton’s top prosecutor criticizes judges for hearings held amid coronavirus concerns
A jury trial in a Hampton gun possession case this week likely marked the last such trial in Hampton for quite a while.

March 18

Loudoun County board opposes sending letter to governor requesting closure of gathering places

With budgets to review, local governments seek legal help to balance COVID-19 precautions, public participation

As virus forces shutdown, rural Northern Neck library works to fill essential role for community

Virus threat pushes jail head, prosecutors to release inmates at Middle River Regional Jail
Middle River Regional Jail in Verona has started releasing some non-violent offenders in an effort to reduce the jail population as the threat of the coronavirus continues to grow

Amazon to hire 1,400 Virginians to meet order surge, donate $1M to Arlington nonprofits
The company will also add $2/hour to employees' current hourly rates through end of April

Arlington County residents get tested at drive-thru coronavirus testing site
As COVID-19 cases spike in Virginia and the D.C. area, Arlington County is stepping up its efforts to test those who are showing symptoms of the novel coronavirus

Central Virginia's First Drive-Through Coronavirus Tests Begin
More than 100 people were tested for the coronavirus disease at the first drive-through testing site in Central Virginia on Wednesday

Goodyear shutting down operations until at least April 3
Citing a sudden decline in market demand with the spread of the coronavirus, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. is shutting down manufacturing until at least April 3, according to a company statement. Goodyear is Danville's largest employer with about 2,000 workers