Thursday, March 19, 2020

A message on COVID-19 from Senator Scott Surovell

Responding to COVID-19 

As you probably know, our region has confirmed multiple cases of COVID-19, the new coronavirus.  The infection rate has continued to rise in Virginia - increasing by over 22% just yesterday.  

I have posted information on my blog, the Dixie Pig, and continue updating the post as we receive new information. View it here:

THE DIXIE PIG: Responding to COVID-19 (March 12, 2020)

The Governor just announced a major series of responses including a moratorium on vehicle safety inspections, waiver of Medicaid co-pays, a declaration of economic disaster by the Small Business Administration which allows for small business loans, changes in childcare subsidy requirements, and actions to protect incarcerated persons.   You can link to those updates from the post above and I will highlight a few updates below. 

If you experience symptoms including a fever, cough, or trouble breathing, call your healthcare provider immediately.

The Virginia Department of Health website continues to update the status of cases in Virginia. As of noon today, 94 positive cases have been reported here in Virginia. 

Social Distancing

  • All restaurants, fitness centers, and theaters are mandated to significantly reduce their capacity to 10 patrons, or close. Restaurants are encouraged to continue carry-out and takeaway options. Violations subject business owners to closure and criminal prosecution.  
  • Those with chronic health conditions or aged 65 or older should self-quarantine. Public health experts advise that individuals with underlying medical conditions and those aged 65 or older are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. 
  • Avoid non-essential gatherings of more than 10 people, per federal guidelines.

Meals for Children and Families

All of our local school systems are distributing meals to children during the school shutdown.  There are over a dozen sites in the 36th District. Meals are free for 

Here are links to the locations in Fairfax, Prince William and Stafford County:

Transportation

  • Metro rail system hours and service levels are further reduced to support ESSENTIAL TRAVEL ONLY. DO NOT TRAVEL UNLESS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY and follow guidance from your state and local authorities.
  • New hours: Weekdays 5AM-11PM, Sat/Sun 8AM-11PM
  • Trains will run every 15 minutes on each line at all times, including the Red Line. All trains will operate with 8 cars, the maximum possible length, to help maintain social distancing between customers.
  • Buses will operate on a Sunday schedule, with supplemental service on selected routes to prevent crowding and ensure areas are not cut off. Visit wmata.com for information about "supplemental" routes that will operate, in addition to Sunday routes.
  • Governor Northam has directed the Virginia Department of State Police to suspend the enforcement of Motor Vehicle Safety Inspections for 60 days.

Help for Economically Impacted Businesses and Individuals

  • U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) approved an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration for Virginia. Small businesses and nonprofit organizations throughout the Commonwealth affected by the COVID-19 public health crisis can now apply for low-interest federal disaster loans of up to $2 million from the SBA to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other expenses. To submit a loan application through the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, please click here:

 Apply for Small Business Economic Disaster Loan

  • Businesses impacted by COVID-19 can also request to defer the payment of state sales tax due tomorrow, March 20, 2020, for 30 days. When granted, businesses will be able to file no later than April 20, 2020 with a waiver of any penalties.
  • The Governor has requested that the Department of Taxation to extend the due date of payment of Virginia individuals and corporate income taxes. While filing deadlines remain the same, the due date for individual and corporate income tax will now be June 1, 2020. Please note that interest will still accrue, so taxpayers who are able to pay by the original deadlines should do so.
  • No waiting for unemployment benefits. Governor Northam has directed the Commissioner of the Virginia Employment Commission to waive the one-week waiting period to ensure workers can receive benefits as soon as possible.
  • Unemployment Insurance benefits claims can be filed on the by calling the Customer Contact Centers at 1-866-832-2363 or doing so here: Apply for Unemployment Benefits
  • Enhanced eligibility for unemployment. Workers may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits if an employer needs to temporarily slow or cease operations due to COVID-19. If a worker has been issued a notice to self-quarantine by a medical or public health official and is not receiving paid sick or medical leave from their employer, they may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits. 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.
  • Fewer restrictions. For individuals receiving unemployment insurance, Governor Northam is directing the Virginia Employment Commission to give affected workers special consideration on deadlines, mandatory re-employment appointments, and work search requirements.
  • The Office of the Governor is providing answers for workers that have been temporarily laid off or discharged during this public health crisis. Read the Unemployment FAQ

Judicial System

  • All 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.
  • The Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) has suspended all in-person visitation to state correctional facilities and is complying with guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control related to COVID-19. 
  • VADOC has also suspended all transfers from local and regional jails for the next 30 days to limit potential exposure to the virus.

Access to Care

  • Dept. of Medicaid Assistance Services is eliminating all co-payments for services covered by Medicaid and Family Access to Medical Insurance Security (FAMIS), including COVID-19-related treatment as well as other medical care.
  • Ensuring current Medicaid members do not inadvertently lose coverage due to lapses in paperwork or a change in circumstances.
  • Permitting Medicaid members to obtain a 90-day supply of many routine prescriptions, an increase from the 30-day supply under previous rules.
  • Waiving pre-approval requirements for many critical medical services, and enacting automatic extensions for approvals that are already in place.
  • Expanding access to telehealth services, including allowing Medicaid reimbursement for providers who use telehealth with patients in the home.
As always, please reach out to my office at 571-249-4484 or district36@senate.virginia.gov if you have questions or ideas about things we can do to serve the community better.

It is an honor to serve you in Richmond.

           

          Senator Scott Surovell
          36th District

{{Paid for and Authorized by Surovell for Senate}}

{{P.O. Box 289, Mt. Vernon VA 22121}}

 

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