Your Mission for this weekend,

should you choose to accept it:

The Riparian Woman’s Club is asking all residents and businesses in the City of Emporia and Greensville County to place a sign or picture of one of these three symbols on your door or window. The symbols are a Rainbow, Butterfly, or a Candle. These symbols all represent "hope."

We are asking the public to do this in support of our frontline workers and those families who have been affected by the coronavirus. We also wish to do this in support of each other.

So many people are suffering in so many different ways during this time of uncertainty and isolation. Hopefully, seeing these symbols will bring a smile to someone’s face. If so, then we have served our purpose well.

Email photos of your Symbols of Hope so that they may be shared with out of town readers who may need a pick-me-up from home...send them to news@emporianews.com.

We're all in this together...

Send news tips, story ideas and advertising questions to news@emporianews.com.

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Seven Day Forecast for Emporia, Virginia

Governor

Governor Terry McAuliffe Declares State of Emergency As Winter Storm Approaches

RICHMOND, Va. – Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency today, an action that authorizes state agencies to be ready to assist local governments in responding to the major snow storm that is forecast to hit the Commonwealth starting tomorrow.

In declaring a state of emergency, the governor authorizes state agencies to identify and position resources for quick response anywhere they are needed in Virginia.

“Now is the time for Virginia to get ready for this storm,” said Governor McAuliffe. “This state of emergency declaration will empower the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, the Department of Transportation, the Virginia National Guard, and our electric and cable utilities to prepare for a storm that is predicted to create power outages and significant travel challenges across the Commonwealth over the next few days. 

“Just as state government is preparing for this storm, I urge every Virginian to take proper preparations. Prepare to limit unnecessary travel during the storm, have emergency supplies on hand and be ready in the event that power in your area goes out.”

To prepare for the storm:

  • The Virginia Emergency Operations Center has additional response team members to coordinate the state’s response to the storm.
  • The Virginia Department of Emergency Management is coordinating conference calls between the National Weather Service, state agencies and local governments.
  • The Virginia Department of Transportation is treating roads in some parts of the Commonwealth, and crews will be out in full force for snow removal as the storm arrives. Roads with the highest traffic volumes are cleared first.  VDOT has adequate supplies for this storm. 
  • The Virginia National Guard has been authorized to bring up to 300 personnel on state active duty to support emergency response operations.  Virginia Guard personnel will be alerted to begin staging and expect to be in place Wednesday so they are able to rapidly respond if needed.
  • The Virginia State Police will extend shifts and have additional troopers on patrol to expedite response times to traffic crashes and disabled motorists. 

Citizens should:

  • Be prepared to take care of yourself and your family for at least 72 hours, in case roads are blocked and/or there are power outages.
  • A three-day supply of food includes a gallon of water per person per day and food that does not require electricity to prepare it.
  • Have a battery powered and/or hand-crank radio and extra batteries for emergency information.  Listen to local weather forecasts and instructions from local officials.
  • Always run generators outside in well-ventilated areas.  Never use a portable generator in any enclosed or partially enclosed space.
  • Only travel if absolutely necessary.  Roads can become very hazardous very quickly.  Always wear a seatbelt, and know road conditions before you leave.  Road condition information is available 24/7 by calling 511 or going to www.511Virginia.gov
  • Have emergency supplies in your vehicle.  If you are stranded you will need water, food, blankets, flashlight and extra batteries at a minimum. 
  • Avoid overexertion while shoveling snow and cleaning up from the storm, no matter your age or physical condition.  Shoveling snow or pushing a car can bring on a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse.
  • If you need help for an elderly or disabled person during the storm, need information on warming shelters or are concerned about an unsheltered individual or family, call 211 or visit www.211virginia.org.  When you call 211, a trained professional will suggest sources of help using one of the largest databases of health and human services in your community and statewide.
  • Get winter weather preparedness information at www.ReadyVirginia.gov and download the new Ready Virginia app for iPhones and Android devices.

Nike Air Force

Governor Northam Announces Education Work Group to Help Guide Process for Safe, Equitable Reopening of Schools

Education stakeholders will develop recommendations to ensure continuity of learning and address the needs of all Virginia students

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced a diverse set of education stakeholders participating in the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 Education Work Group to help chart a path forward for determining how schools can safely reopen later this year.

The group is comprised of representatives from Virginia’s public and private early childhood, K-12, and higher education systems, and includes teachers, superintendents, parents, college presidents, state agency personnel, special education advocates, museum directors, and student perspectives. This wide variety of education stakeholders represent the whole of Virginia’s education system and come from every region of the Commonwealth.

Secretary of Education Atif Qarni formed the work group and chaired its first meeting on April 23. Since then, the work group has been focused on developing recommendations to align policies throughout the Commonwealth’s preK-20 education system and ensure continuity of learning.

“I am deeply grateful for Virginia’s educators, administrators, school nutrition workers, support staff, parents, and students for the ways they have adapted to new learning environments over the past two months,” said Governor Northam. “As we make decisions about the path forward, this panel will help ensure that we are best supporting rural students, English language learners, students of color, and students with special needs. School closures have been necessary to protect health and safety, but lost class time has a disproportionate impact on Virginia’s most vulnerable and economically disadvantaged students. That’s why equity will remain at the forefront as we determine when and how we can safely and responsibly return to in-person learning.”

The work group is chaired by Secretary of Education Atif Qarni, and is staffed by Deputy Secretary Education Fran Bradford, State Council of Higher Education Director Peter Blake, and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. James Lane. These four individuals comprise the steering committee for the COVID-19 Education Work Group.

“As we begin to think about how Virginia’s education system can operate in the summer and fall, it is crucial that we have the advice of a diverse, thoughtful group of education leaders,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “This group will use their expertise to guide our approach and help ensure that all voices are heard and all recommendations are made through the lens of equity.”

Members of Virginia’s COVID-19 Education Work Group include:

Steering Committee

  • Atif Qarni, Secretary of Education, Chair of COVID-19 Education Work Group  
  • Fran Bradford, Deputy Secretary of Education for Higher Education and Museums
  • Peter Blake, Director, State Council of Higher Education for Virginia
  • Dr. James Lane, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Virginia Department of Education
     

Work Group Members

  • Jenna Conway, Chief School Readiness Officer, Office of the Governor
  • Holly Coy, Assistant Superintendent for Policy, Communications, and Equity, Virginia Department of Education
  • Dr. Laurie Forlano, Deputy Commissioner for Population Health, Virginia Department of Health
  • Jennifer O. Macdonald, Director, Division of Child and Family Health, Virginia Department of Health
  • Dr. Lynn Clayton Prince, Director of Special Education, Powhatan County Public Schools and President-Elect, Virginia Council of Administrators of Special Education
  • Pam Simms, Program Director, Gladys H. Oberle School
  • Dr. Donna Henry, Chancellor, University of Virginia’s College at Wise and Chair, Council of Presidents in Virginia
  • Dr. Michael Rao, President, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Taylor Reveley, President, Longwood University
  • Dr. Makola Abdullah, President, Virginia State University
  • Dr. Sharon Morrissey, Senior Vice Chancellor, Virginia Community College System
  • Dr. John Downey, President, Blue Ridge Community College
  • Dr. Eric Williams, Superintendent, Loudoun County Public Schools
  • Dr. Jared Cotton, Superintendent, Chesapeake Public Schools
  • Dr. Dennis Carter, Superintendent, Smyth County Schools
  • Kathy Burcher, Representative, Virginia Education Association   
  • Melinda Bright, Representative, Virginia Education Association
  • Dr. Travis Burns, Principal, Northumberland High School and President, Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals
  • Dr. Andrew Buchheit, Principal, T. Clay Wood Elementary School and President, Virginia Association of Elementary School Principals
  • Ann-Marie Ward, Council Treasurer, Virginia Parent Teacher Association
  • Pamela Croom, President-Elect, Virginia Parent Teacher Association
  • Teddy Martin II, Member, Henry County School Board and Regional Chair, Virginia School Boards Association
  • Karen Corbett-Sanders, Chair, Fairfax County School Board
  • Grace Creasey, Executive Director, Virginia Council for Private Education
  • Robert Lambeth, President, Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia
  • Dr. Larry Stimpert, President, Hampden-Sydney College
  • Dr. Tiffany Franks, President, Averett University
  • Dan Gecker, President, Virginia Board of Education
  • Marianne Radcliff, Representative, State Council of Higher Education for Virginia
  • Jared Calfee, Executive Director, Virginia21          
  • Rich Conti, Director, Science Museum of Virginia
  • Dr. Betty Adams, Executive Director, Southern Virginia Higher Education Center
  • Ingrid Grant, Member, Governor’s African American Advisory Board
  • Hyun Lee, Member, Governor’s Asian Advisory Board
  • Diana Brown, Member, Governor’s Latino Advisory Board
  • Ashley Marshall, Chair, Virginia Council on Women
  • Shan Lateef, Rising Senior, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology and Governor’s STEM Phenom Award Winner
     

On March 13, Governor Northam directed all K-12 schools in Virginia to close for a minimum of two weeks in response to the spread of COVID-19. On March 23, Governor Northam was one of the first governors in the country to issue a statewide order closing schools for the remainder of the academic year. The Virginia Department of Education established the Continuity for Learning (C4L) Task Force consisting of more than 120 teachers, leaders, and collaborating educational partners across Virginia to help school divisions to develop and implement continuous learning plans in partnership with local county health departments, families, staff, and local boards of education.

Virginia’s COVID-19 Education Work Group will develop recommendations on key issues schools must address before reopening and help determine how to ensure continuity of learning for Virginia students from cradle to classroom to career. After this guidance is developed, the work group will transition to focus on long-term recovery plans to include addressing learning gaps and social emotional needs of students resulting from school closures.

In the coming weeks, Governor Northam will outline a roadmap for Virginia schools, colleges, and universities to return to in-person learning in a safe, equitable, and responsible manner. The data-driven and science-based approach will include recommendations from the COVID-19 Education Work Group, and will be coordinated with the Forward Virginia plan to gradually ease public health restrictions. The Forward Virginia plan is grounded in federal CDC guidelines, and includes specific goals to contain the spread of the virus through increased testing, contact tracing, and ensuring adequate medical capacity.

Governor Northam Announces Phase One Guidelines to Slowly Ease Public Health Restrictions

Phase One will begin no sooner than Friday, May 15

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam signed Executive Order Sixty-One and presented a detailed framework for the first phase of the “Forward Virginia” plan to safely and gradually ease public health restrictions while containing the spread of COVID-19. The Phase One guidelines will be implemented when the data meets the public health criteria outlined by the Commonwealth. The new executive order modifies public health guidance in Executive Order Fifty-Three and Executive Order Fifty-Five and establishes guidelines for Phase One.

The Governor’s phased approach is grounded in science and data and includes mitigation strategies to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus through enhanced safety practices. The plan allows localities to consider delaying implementation of Phase One guidelines based on local conditions.

“I am proud of the millions of Virginians who have stayed home and helped to flatten the curve, but our work is not done,” said Governor Northam. “These guidelines represent one step forward in a gradual process, establishing the necessary modifications to business operations to minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure for employees and customers. When we move into this first phase, it will be important for Virginians to act cautiously—especially our most vulnerable populations, the elderly, and those with underlying medical conditions.”

Under Phase One, the Commonwealth will move to a Safer at Home strategy, which continues the ban on social gatherings of more than 10 people and maintains recommendations for social distancing, teleworking, and wearing face coverings. All businesses should make modifications to maintain six feet of physical distancing, increase cleaning and sanitization of high contact surfaces, and provide enhanced workplace safety measures. 

Retail establishments will be allowed to operate at 50 percent occupancy, restaurant and beverage establishments may offer outdoor dining at 50 percent occupancy, personal grooming services may begin operating with one patron per service provider, and fitness centers may offer outdoor exercise services. Campgrounds may also begin taking reservations for short-term stays.

Places of worship have had a 10-person limit and have been allowed to hold drive-in services allowed. In Phase One, drive-in services may continue, and services may be held inside at 50 percent capacity. Specific guidelines for religious services can be found here.

Many of the restrictions put in place by Executive Order Fifty-Three will remain in place in Phase One. Entertainment and public amusement venues will remain closed and beaches will continue to be open only for exercise and fishing. Childcare centers remain open for children of working families. Overnight summer camps will remain closed in Phase One.

See more about the changes in Phase One below:

Phase One guidelines for specific sectors are available here or at virginia.gov/coronavirus/forwardvirginia.

View the graphs and slides from the Governor’s presentation here

The full text of Executive Order Sixty-One and Order of Public Health Emergency Three is available here.

Governor Northam Announces Expansion of Payment Relief for Student Loan Borrowers

Borrowers are encouraged to contact their loan servicer immediately

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Virginia has secured relief options for more than 200,000 Virginians with privately held student loans. The payment relief is the result of a new initiative by Virginia and several other states to work with the major private student loan servicers to expand on protections for federal student loan borrowers through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“Virginians are facing unprecedented hardships as a result of this ongoing public health crisis, and student loan borrowers should not have to deal with the added pressure of how they are going to make their loan payments,” said Governor Northam. “This initiative will provide an important financial lifeline and repayment flexibility to Virginia residents who were not eligible for relief under the CARES Act.” 

The federal CARES Act provided much-needed relief for students with federal loans, including the suspension of monthly payments, interest, and involuntary collection activity until September 30, 2020. However, millions of student loan borrowers with loans made by private lenders and federal loans not owned by the U.S. Government were left out. 

Under this initiative, Virginians with commercially-owned Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) loans, Perkins loans, or privately held student loans who are struggling to make their payments due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will be eligible for expanded relief. Borrowers in need of assistance must immediately contact their student loan servicer to identify the options that are appropriate to their circumstances. Relief options include:

  • Providing a minimum of 90 days of forbearance

  • Waiving late payment fees

  • Ensuring that no borrower is subject to negative credit reporting

  • Ceasing debt collection lawsuits for 90 days

  • Working with borrower to enroll them in other borrower assistance programs, such as income-based repayment

These options will provide short-term relief for borrowers with significant changes in their income, which is advisable over the option of non-payment which can lead to default. Borrowers should note that these solutions will impact the terms and conditions of the loans. Before exercising these options, carefully consider the impact of the interest that accrues during the 90-day forbearance and how it will extend the repayment schedule for the loans.

“Borrowers did not have a choice in whether their FFEL loans were held by the federal government or by the commercial lender, and yet 65 percent of all FFEL loans are not eligible for the CARES Act relief,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “The principle of equity demands that we provide relief for all federal borrowers, regardless of whether the federal government or a commercial lender backs the loan.”

The Office of the Qualified Education Loan Ombudsman at the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) is responsible for helping Virginia student borrowers understand their rights and responsibilities. The Student Loan Advocate serves as a liaison between student loan borrowers and loan servicers or other agencies, helping them explore repayment options and aiding in the resolution of complaints against loan providers.

“As a result of this collaboration with servicers, lending institutions for privately held loans, and several other states, we are pleased to expand the relief options for Virginia’s student loan borrowers who are struggling financially during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Virginia’s Student Loan Advocate Scott W. Kemp.

Other states in the initiative include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, and Washington.

Private student loan servicers providing relief include:

  • Aspire Resources, Inc.
  • College Ave Student Loan Servicing, LLC
  • Earnest Operations, LLC
  • Edfinancial Services, LLC
  • Kentucky Higher Education Student Loan Corporation
  • Lendkey Technologies, Inc.
  • Higher Education Loan Authority of the State of Missouri (MOHELA)
  • Navient
  • Nelnet, Inc.
  • Scratch
  • SoFi Lending Corp.
  • Tuition Options, LLC
  • United Guaranty Services, Inc.
  • Upstart Network, Inc.
  • Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority (UHEAA)
  • Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC)

Borrowers can visit the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid or call Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-433-3243 or 1-800-730-8913 (TDD) to determine the types of federal loans they have and who their servicers are. Borrowers with private student loans can check their monthly billing statements for contact information. Borrowers can also file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau here.

Borrowers experiencing trouble with their student loan servicer or looking to better understand the implications of these relief options are encouraged to contact Virginia’s Student Loan Advocate at studentloan@schev.edu or (804) 786-2832.

For additional information about relief options for federal loan borrowers, visit schev.edu/studentloan.

Governor Northam Acts to Ensure Liability Protections for Healthcare Workers

Executive order reinforces statutory liability protections for healthcare providers during COVID-19 emergency

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today signed Executive Order Sixty, which reinforces certain existing statutory liability protections for Virginia healthcare workers. Due to COVID-19, public and private healthcare providers are operating with limited resources and may be forced to serve patients outside of conventional standards of care.

“Virginia’s healthcare workers are heroes,” said Governor Northam. “We must ensure that they can continue to provide high-quality and compassionate care during this tremendously challenging time.” 

Virginia’s code offers protections for healthcare workers and first responders in cases of emergency. This order clarifies that these statues protect healthcare workers operating during the COVID-19 crisis. Nothing in this order prevents liability in the case of gross negligence or willful misconduct.

The full text of Executive Order Sixty is available here.

Governor Northam Unveils Blueprint for Easing Public Health Restrictions

‘Forward Virginia’ blueprint informed by diverse health and business stakeholders, includes testing, tracing, and PPE priorities

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today presented the “Forward Virginia” blueprint, which will help guide the Commonwealth on when to safely begin easing public health restrictions. The blueprint includes a phased approach that is grounded in the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and has specific goals to contain the spread of the virus through increased testing, personal protective equipment and supplies, and medical capacity.

“We will move forward, but in a way that prioritizes public health and builds public confidence,” said Governor Northam. “Businesses know that customers will return only when they feel that it is safe to do so. Our blueprint for the path forward is data-driven and provides clear guidance, so Virginians will know what to expect and understand how we will decide to when to lift certain public health restrictions.”

Virginia is looking at a wide range of public health data. The Governor emphasized that key indicators will include a 14-day downward trend in confirmed cases as a percentage of overall tests and in reduced COVID-19 hospitalizations. While hospitalization rates have largely stabilized in the Commonwealth, confirmed cases continue to rise.

The Forward Virginia blueprint includes the following priorities:

TESTING AND TRACING

To ensure the continued safety of Virginians, the Commonwealth aims to test at least 10,000 individuals per day. Karen Remley, former Commissioner of Health and current co-chair of Virginia’s Testing Work Group, outlined a four stage approach to meet this goal prior to safe reopening. The expanded testing plan includes hiring contact tracers, who will support local health departments in identifying individuals who may be exposed to COVID-19 and helping them self-isolate.

PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is critical to ramping up testing, ensuring the safety of healthcare staff, and expanding the medical workforce. Virginia’s PPE pipeline is improving, and hospitals are successfully managing their supplies. The Governor cautioned that safely easing restrictions will require an ongoing stable PPE supply chain across all sectors of healthcare, and ensuring that the supply is regularly replenished.

Virginia has ordered 17.4 million N95 masks, 8.3 million surgical masks, 17.1 million gloves, 1.7 million gowns, and 1 million face shields. This includes a contract signed jointly with Maryland and the District of Columbia for 5 million N95 masks.

Governor Northam announced that a second shipment from Northfield Medical Manufacturing is scheduled to arrive today and will be promptly distributed. The latest shipment includes 3 million nitrile exam gloves, 100,000 N95 masks, 500,000 3-ply procedure masks, and 40,000 isolation gowns.

HOSPITAL CAPACITY AND STAFF

Hospitalizations and ICU admissions are largely stable across Virginia, even as case counts continue to rise. To ensure continued capacity as Virginia move towards “Phase One” of easing restrictions, Governor Northam yesterday extended the ban on elective surgeries through May 1 and expanded the ability of physicians’ assistants and nurse practitioners with two or more years of clinical experience to practice without a collaborative agreement.

The Virginia Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) continues to recruit and deploy medical and non-medical volunteers to bolster the work of local health departments, hospitals, and healthcare providers. The MRC currently has over 16,500 trained volunteers, more than halfway to Virginia’s goal of 30,000.

PHASE ONE OF EASING RESTRICTIONS

Governor Northam outlined key benchmarks Virginians can expect in the first phase, which will begin no sooner than two weeks from now to allow for a 14-day downward trend in confirmed COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

Phase one includes continued social distancing, teleworking, limits on travel and public gatherings, and recommended use of face coverings. Any easing of restrictions will be informed by public health experts, members of the Governor’s COVID-19 Business Task Force, state and local officials, and other stakeholders.

The Commonwealth is developing two sets of guidance: one with broad based recommendations for all businesses, and another with industry specific recommendations for public-facing businesses like restaurants and non-essential retail. The guidance will be provided to businesses in early May.

The slides from today’s presentation are available here.

Governor Northam Extends Ban on Elective Surgeries, Closure of DMV Offices

Virginia State Police also directed to take additional administrative action under expanded executive directive

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today extended the current ban on elective surgeries by one week, until May 1, and the closure of Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) public-facing offices by two weeks, until May 11. Virginia State Police are directed to continue suspending the enforcement of motor vehicle inspections and take several additional measures through July 31.

The ban on elective surgeries will continue while the Governor and State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA continue to evaluate, in conjunction with hospitals and other medical facilities, how to safely ease restrictions on non-essential medical procedures, and the availability of personal protective equipment.

“My top priority is protecting public health, and that includes ensuring that our frontline medical staff have the equipment they need to stay safe as they treat Virginians who are sick,” said Governor Northam. “We have increased our supply of PPE, but before we allow elective surgeries to resume, we must first be assured that the doctors, nurses, and medical staff who are fighting this virus or conducting emergency surgeries have the necessary supplies. We are working with medical facilities on plans to ensure that we can resume elective surgeries safely and responsibly.”

The public health emergency order does not apply to any procedure if the delay would cause harm to a patient. The order also does not apply to outpatient visits in hospital-based clinics, family planning services, or emergency needs. The full text of Public Health Emergency Order Two as amended is available here. View the Frequently Asked Questions Guide here.

Hospitals continue to treat emergency patients and perform essential surgeries, and Virginians should feel safe going to hospitals if they are experiencing a medical emergency, such as a heart attack. Governor Northam also amended Executive Order Fifty-Seven to allow licensed physician’s assistants with two or more years of clinical experience to practice without a collaborative agreement. The text of the amended executive order is available here.

Governor Northam also extended Executive Directive Seven, which closed Virginia’s 75 DMV offices and its mobile units to the public and extended the validity of driver’s licenses and vehicle credentials that were due to expire. Today’s action decrees that those credentials will be valid through July 31. Virginians who need to renew a license or vehicle registration are encouraged to do so online. Read the full text of Executive Directive Seven here.

Governor Northam expanded Executive Directive Eight, directing the Virginia State Police to suspend enforcement of the time period in which new Virginia residents must get a driver’s license or register their vehicles, the expiration of temporary license plates, and the time period in which temporary residents may operate vehicles with out-of-state plates. This directive continues the suspension of enforcement of motor vehicle inspections by Virginia State Police. While local law enforcement may still issue citations for expired vehicle inspections, Governor Northam encourages them to refrain from doing so during this pandemic. The directive is in effect until July 31. Read the full text of Executive Directive Eight here.

Governor Northam Announces Expansion of ‘Virtual Virginia’ to Support Distance Learning During School Closures

New resources available for K-12 schools and teachers

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced a dramatic expansion of Virtual Virginia, the Virginia Department of Education’s existing online learning system, to allow every teacher in the Commonwealth to host virtual classes while schools are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. These resources include a platform that enables all Virginia public school teachers to share lessons and activities with their students through June 30.

“While there is no perfect substitute for in-person classroom instruction, this is an unprecedented public health crisis and we must do everything we can to ensure all children have equitable learning opportunities,”  said Governor Northam . “I want to thank our educators, school administrators, and superintendents for their extraordinary efforts to keep students connected and learning. The expansion of Virtual Virginia will help ensure that the closure of schools and interruption of formal instruction this spring does not lead to a widening of achievement gaps.”

Virtual Virginia will expand its offerings to include elementary and middle school content as an option for students to learn content missed this spring. Courses will begin in May and the new course content will be available to any school division that enrolls students and teachers in the program, at no cost to the division.

Virtual Virginia content can be loaded onto devices for use by students in homes without sufficient internet access to support online learning. The expansion does not affect the more than 6,000 students already enrolled in one or more of Virtual Virginia’s 81 high school-level courses.

“The expansion of Virtual Virginia will provide additional options for school divisions to present the instruction and content that they are unable to provide this spring in traditional classroom settings,”  said Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane . “Access to the Virtual Virginia platform will be especially helpful for teachers and students in school divisions without robust distance learning systems.”

The expansion of Virtual Virginia is the third major action the Commonwealth has taken within the last week to mitigate the impact of school closures on students.

Today, Monday, April 13, marks the launch of “VA TV Classroom” by four Virginia public media stations. Blue Ridge PBS, VPM, WETA, and WHRO Public Media worked closely with the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) to create the programming to provide teacher-led, on-air instruction aligned with the Commonwealth’s academic standards for students who are unable to access other distance learning options.

In an effort to support Virginia educators, VDOE established the Continuity for Learning (C4L) Task Force consisting of more than 120 teachers, leaders, and collaborating educational partners across Virginia. Working with the C4L Task Force, VDOE launched Virginia Learns Anywhere, a hub of resources and recommendations to reinforce much-needed structure while also empowering individual teachers to support students in learning remotely. The C4L Task Force encourages divisions to develop and implement continuous learning plans in partnership with local county health departments, families, staff, and local boards of education.

Virginia Learns Anywhere includes a guidance document for teachers and schools on providing equitable learning opportunities for students and preventing the widening of achievement gaps and meet the social and emotional needs of students while schools are closed. Sample instructional modules cover essential knowledge and skills for all content areas and grade levels and provide recommendations on integrating the skills and attributes known as the “5 C’s” (critical thinking, creative thinking, communication, collaboration and citizenship) into distance learning.

A comprehensive list of resources, guidance, and support documents for K-12 public schools in Virginia during the COVID-19 school closures is available here. Find answers to frequently asked questions here.

Governor Northam Signs New Laws to Support Virginia Workers

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam has signed nearly two dozen new laws to support working Virginians, including legislation to combat worker misclassification and wage theft, ban workplace discrimination, and prohibit non-compete covenants for low-wage workers.

The Governor proposes to increase the minimum wage starting May 1, 2021, and to advance prevailing wage, collective bargaining, and project labor agreement legislation then as well. This will ensure workers get the support they need while allowing greater economic certainty in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Every Virginian deserves access to a safe and well-paying job,” said Governor Northam. “These new laws will support workers and help our economy rebound as quickly as possible from COVID-19. I am grateful for the General Assembly’s ongoing partnership as we address these critical issues.”

In addition, Governor Northam is proposing amendments to prohibit apprenticeship discrimination on the basis of gender identity and to create a work-sharing program to support workers impacted by COVID-19.

Governor Northam signed the following bills:

Combatting Worker Misclassification

  • House Bill 1407 and Senate Bill 744, sponsored by Delegate Jeion Ward and Senator Jeremey McPike, respectively, authorize the Department of Taxation to oversee investigations into suspected cases of worker misclassification and levy penalties as appropriate. A 2012 report of the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) estimated that at least 214,000 Virginians were misclassified as “independent contractors” by their employers.

  • House Bill 984 and Senate Bill 894, sponsored by Delegate Karrie Delaney and Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw, respectively, create a private cause of action for a misclassified worker to bring civil action for damages against his or her employer.

  • House Bill 1199 and Senate Bill 662, sponsored by Delegate Kathy Tran and Senator Jennifer Boysko, respectively, protect employees or independent contractors who report misclassification from employer retaliation. Employers that are found to have engaged in retaliatory action will be subject to a civil penalty up to the value of the employee’s lost wages.

  • House Bill 1646, sponsored by Delegate Paul Krizek, requires contractors to properly classify all workers as employees or independent contractors. This law gives the Board of Contractors the ability to sanction contractors who are found to have intentionally misclassified workers.

Banning Workplace Discrimination

  • House Bill 827 and Senate Bill 712, sponsored by Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy and Senator Jennifer McClellan, respectively, protect workers from discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. This law prohibits pregnancy discrimination, requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnancy and childbirth, and creates a private cause of action for workplace pregnancy discrimination.

  • House Bill 1049, sponsored by Delegate Mark Levine, prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in a number of areas of law, including employment, public contracting, and apprenticeship programs.

Combatting Wage Theft

  • House Bill 123, sponsored by Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy, creates a private cause of action for workers to recover unpaid wages lost to wage theft. If a court finds an employer has knowingly failed to pay an employee’s wages, the court may award the employee reasonable attorneys’ fees in addition to triple the amount of wages due.

  • Senate Bill 838, sponsored by Senator Adam Ebbin, creates a private cause of action for workers to recover unpaid wages. Additionally, this new law makes general contractors liable and subject to penalty for wage theft, under certain conditions. 

  • House Bill 336 and Senate Bill 49, sponsored by Delegate Marcia Price and Senator Lionell Spruill, respectively, give the Department of Labor and Industry expanded authority in investigating wage theft complaints.  

  • House Bill 337 and Senate Bill 48, sponsored by Delegate Marcia Price and Senator Lionell Spruill, respectively, protect employees who report wage theft or institute proceedings against their employer from retaliation.  

Additional Worker Protections

  • House Bill 330 and Senate Bill 480, sponsored by Delegate Schuyler VanValkenburg and Senator Bill DeSteph, respectively, prohibit employers from entering into a non-compete contract with any of their low-wage employees. This new law also creates a private cause of action for a low-wage employee to bring a lawsuit against an employer who tries to enforce a non-compete covenant.

  • House Bill 798, sponsored by Delegate Karrie Delaney, protects workers from retaliation from their employer for reporting violations or suspected violations of state law.

  • House Bill 1201 and Senate Bill 380, sponsored by Delegate Kathy Tran and Senator Jeremy McPike, respectively, allow localities to include criteria in their “invitation to bid” to determine whether a bidder who is not prequalified by the Virginia Department of Transportation is a responsible bidder. This new law will support workers and help local contractors find the best trained and safest workers for their projects.

Governor Northam proposes amendments to these bills: 

  • Senate Bill 548, sponsored by Senator John Edwards, addresses qualifications for unemployment insurance. In light of the current economic crisis, Governor Northam amended this legislation to authorize a work-sharing program in Virginia. Work-sharing programs can help businesses avoid laying off their employees by permitting them to reduce their employees’ hours and allow affected employees to collect reduced unemployment benefits in the form of short-time compensation. The federal CARES Act offers funding incentives for states to build work-sharing programs of this sort.

  • House Bill 1252, sponsored by Delegate Don Scott, prohibits a sponsor of a registered apprenticeship program from discriminating against an apprentice or applicant on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age (if older than 40), genetic information, or disability. Governor Northam amended this legislation to also include protections from discrimination on the basis of gender identity. 

  • House Bill 395 and Senate Bill 7, sponsored by Delegate Jeion Ward and Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw, respectively, raise the minimum wage. Under the Governor’s amendments, the minimum wage would increase beginning May 1, 2021. 

  • House Bill 833 and Senate Bill 8, sponsored by Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy and Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw, respectively, address payment of “prevailing wages” by contractors doing business with certain government bodies. Under the Governor’s amendments, this law would take effect May 1, 2021.

  • House Bill 582 and Senate Bill 939, sponsored by Delegate Elizabeth Guzman and Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw, respectively, permit localities to enter into collective bargaining agreements with local employees. Under the Governor’s amendments, this law would take effect May 1, 2021.

  • House Bill 358 and Senate Bill 182, sponsored by Delegate Alfonso Lopez and Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw, respectively, authorize state and local bodies to require project labor agreements for construction, manufacture, maintenance, or operation of public works. Under the Governor’s amendments, this law would take effect May 1, 2021.




 

Governor Northam, University of Virginia Biocomplexity Institute, RAND Corporation Present Infectious Disease Modeling on Impact of COVID-19 Mitigations in Virginia

Modeling suggests social distancing efforts have slowed the spread of the virus in the Commonwealth

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam, in partnership with researchers from the University of Virginia’s Biocomplexity Institute and the nonprofit RAND Corporation, released new infectious disease modeling on the impact of COVID-19 mitigations in Virginia.

Current models presented during a briefing held yesterday show that social distancing efforts beginning in mid-March have paused the growth of the COVID-19 epidemic in the Commonwealth. While data and testing remain limited, current trends suggest that Virginia’s statewide hospital bed capacity will be sufficient in the immediate future.

“We are proud to be working with some of the top minds in the country on these projections,” said Governor Northam. “While the data is limited, we can draw a few key conclusions: First, social distancing is important, and it’s working in Virginia. Second, while we continue to work closely with our hospital systems and other health care partners to prepare for a potential surge in acute cases, we are optimistic about our statewide hospital bed capacity. Finally, it’s clear we need to be responsible about how we ease restrictions, so we can keep Virginians safe and protect public health.” 

“From the beginning, Governor Northam has made it clear that everything we do must be grounded in science, public health expertise, and data,” said Secretary of Health and Human Resources Daniel Carey, M.D. “These models change every day, but we can use various models to help inform a range of outcomes we may be facing so we can make sure that Virginia is ready for all possible scenarios. Like every other state and many other countries, we are preparing for how we can move forward in a way that does not trigger another medical surge.”

Key takeaways from infectious disease models developed by the UVA Biocomplexity Institute include:

  • Current social distancing efforts starting March 15 have paused the growth of the epidemic in the Commonwealth of Virginia. In this scenario, “paused” growth means that the rate of new cases is holding steady rather than increasing.

  • Current trends suggest that Virginia’s statewide hospital bed capacity will be sufficient in the near future.

  • Lifting social distancing restrictions too soon can quickly lead to a second wave.

To understand the impact of COVID-19 mitigations in Virginia, the UVA Biocomplexity Institute developed a model of the pandemic that incorporates disease dynamics such as transmissibility and incubation period as well as population density and social behavior. The Institute modeled five potential scenarios, exploring slowing growth vs. pausing growth with social distancing in place until April 30 and June 10 compared to no mitigation.  

“Currently, it appears as if the Commonwealth of Virginia is tracking with the pause scenario, which means that the residents of Virginia are doing an excellent job with mitigation,” said Bryan Lewis, Research Associate Professor for the Network Systems Science and Advanced Computing division for the Institute. “Even without perfect projections, we can confidently draw conclusions. We know that social distancing is working and lifting restrictions too early can lead to a second surge. We will continue to improve our models as more data become available. We plan to incorporate outcomes specific by age, integrate the role of seasonality, and analyze mitigation techniques such as a Test-Trace-Isolate approach.”

The UVA Biocomplexity Institute has been on the forefront of epidemic modeling and mitigation since 2002, supporting the U.S. federal government and other countries through several epidemics, including planning for H5N1, the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, the MERS outbreak of 2012, and the Ebola outbreaks of 2014 and 2019. Institute researchers have worked in partnership with U.S. government agencies since early 2020 to inform evidence-based decision making for the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Several groups have produced models to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic might progress and to explore potential policy options,” said Carter Price, a senior mathematician at the RAND Corporation. “Each of these models has strengths and weakness, and they are likely to evolve as more and better data become available. We are helping the leadership of the Commonwealth of Virginia assess the different models so that policy can be made with the best available information.”

Additional information, including slides from yesterday’s briefing are available here. The full video of the briefing is posted here.

Governor Northam Signs Sweeping New Laws to Expand Access to Voting

Legislation expands early voting, makes Election Day a state holiday

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam has signed landmark new laws to repeal Virginia’s voter ID law, make Election Day a state holiday in Virginia, and expand access to early voting.

“Voting is a fundamental right, and these new laws strengthen our democracy by making it easier to cast a ballot, not harder,” said Governor Northam. “No matter who you are or where you live in Virginia, your voice deserves to be heard. I’m proud to sign these bills into law.”

Governor Northam signed these bills:

  • House Bill 1 and Senate Bill 111, sponsored by House Majority Leader Charniele Herring and Senator Janet Howell, respectively, allow early voting 45 days prior to an election without a stated excuse. Virginia currently requires voters who wish to vote absentee to provide the state with a reason, from an approved list, why they are unable to vote on Election Day.

  • House Bill 19 and Senate Bill 65, sponsored by Delegate Joe Lindsey and Senator Mamie Locke, respectively, remove the requirement that voters show a photo ID prior to casting a ballot. Voter ID laws disenfranchise individuals who may not have access to photo identification, and disproportionately impact low-income individuals, racial and ethnic minorities, the elderly, and individuals with disabilities.  

  • House Bill 108 and Senate Bill 601, sponsored by Delegate Joe Lindsey and Senator Louise Lucas, respectively, make Election Day a state holiday, which will help ensure every Virginian has the time and opportunity to cast their ballot. In order to maintain the same number of state holidays, this measure repeals the current Lee-Jackson Day holiday, established over 100 years ago to honor Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.

  • House Bill 235 and Senate Bill 219, sponsored by Delegate Joshua Cole and Senator David Marsden, respectively, implement automatic voter registration for individuals accessing service at a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office or the DMV website.

  • House Bill 1678, sponsored by Delegate Joe Lindsey, extends in-person polling hours from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM.

“We need more access to the ballot box, not less,” said Senator Louise Lucas. “I am so proud to be a part of new laws that expand access to voting and make our Commonwealth more representative of the people we serve. Today is an historic day.”

“Our democracy relies on equal access to the ballot box,” said House Majority Leader Charniele Herring. “I’m grateful to the Governor for his partnership in breaking down barriers to voting, and ensuring all Virginians have the opportunity to exercise this fundamental right.”

“Virginia’s photo ID law was designed to make it more difficult to vote,” said Delegate Joe Lindsey. “It is past time we repealed this law, and I’m grateful to the Governor for helping us get it done.”

Governor Northam Announces Additional Actions Providing Relief for Restaurants and Distilleries Impacted by COVID-19 Pandemic

~Executive directive defers collection of annual fees for ABC-issued licenses and permits, allows delivery of mixed beverages~

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today issued an executive directive authorizing the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC) to defer annual fees for licenses and permits that would be up for renewal through June. The Governor also directed the Virginia ABC to allow establishments with mixed beverage licenses, such as restaurants and distilleries, to sell mixed beverages through takeout or delivery, effective at midnight Thursday.

Under the Governor’s executive directive, the Virginia ABC will defer the collection of license renewal fees for 90 days from original expiration date for establishments with licenses expiring in March, April, May, and June. Any penalties that would normally be associated with the late payment of such fees will be waived. If a business loses their license, they would have to go back through the application process, which takes at least 30 days. This deferral will allow more than 6,000 licensed retail, wholesale and manufacturing businesses to reopen and conduct business more quickly once the crisis is passed. An estimated $4.5 million in payments will be deferred.

“This unprecedented health crisis has had a tremendous impact on businesses across the Commonwealth, and restaurants have been hit especially hard,” said Governor Northam. “Allowing restaurants and distilleries that remain open to sell mixed beverages with takeout or delivery orders will help them augment their revenue streams, so they can continue serving their customers and employing Virginians. These actions will give establishments with mixed beverage licenses greater flexibility to operate while their dining rooms are closed.”

Many Virginia restaurants have pivoted from dine-in establishments to a combination of takeout, delivery, or makeshift drive-thrus in an effort to maintain operations amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. These establishments often rely on alcohol sales to meet profit margins, and this temporary privilege will support restaurants that have lost a substantial stream of revenue from the sale of mixed beverages, and distilleries that have been unable to provide their products to the public and suffered financial losses.

“These deferrals will allow businesses to continue to operate without concern over choosing between keeping an employee or renewing a license,” said Virginia ABC Chief Executive Officer Travis Hill. “Without this relief, some closed businesses would be in the position of paying a fee for a license they can’t exercise or risk losing their license. Virginia ABC is committed to supporting retailers, restaurants and their employees during this pandemic.”

Earlier this week, Virginia ABC announced temporary in-state direct to consumer shipping privileges for local distilleries to provide industry members both small and large with a mechanism to get their product to consumers.

On March 20, Virginia ABC adjusted licensing regulations to permit businesses with only on-premise licenses to exercise off-premise privileges such as allowing the sale of wine or beer in sealed containers for curbside pickup in a designated area (parking lot, etc.), and delivery of those products to customers’ homes without needing a delivery permit. In order for licensed businesses to use this feature, both curbside pickup and delivery must be facilitated by a customer’s electronic order either online, over the phone or through an app.

Additionally, licensees with off-premise privileges, including breweries, farm wineries and wineries were allowed to sell products for curbside pickup in a designated area or deliveries to customers’ homes without obtaining an additional delivery permit. Distillery stores were enabled to deliver products to customers seated in their vehicle on the premises or in the parking lot of the distillery.

The full text of Executive Directive Ten is available here.

Visit abc.virginia.gov/covid-19 to learn more about actions Virginia ABC has taken in response to COVID-19. For additional information and resources to support Virginians impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, visit virginia.gov/coronavirus.

Governor Northam Issues Statewide Stay at Home Order

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today issued a statewide Stay at Home order to protect the health and safety of Virginians and mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. The executive order takes effect immediately and will remain in place until June 10, 2020, unless amended or rescinded by a further executive order.

The order directs all Virginians to stay home except in extremely limited circumstances. Individuals may leave their residence for allowable travel, including to seek medical attention, work, care for family or household members, obtain goods and services like groceries, prescriptions, and others as outlined in Executive Order Fifty-Three, and engage in outdoor activity with strict social distancing requirements.

The executive order also directs all Virginia institutions of higher education to stop in-person classes and instruction. Private campgrounds must close for short-term stays, and beaches will be closed statewide except for fishing and exercise. 

“We are in a public health crisis, and we need everyone to take this seriously and act responsibly,” said Governor Northam. “Our message to Virginians is clear: stay home. We know this virus spreads primarily through human-to-human contact, and that’s why it’s so important that people follow this order and practice social distancing. I’m deeply grateful to everyone for their cooperation during this unprecedented and difficult time.”

The full text of Executive Order Fifty-Five can be found here.

Last week, Governor Northam issued Executive Order Fifty-Three closing certain non-essential businesses, prohibiting public gatherings of more than 10 people, and directing all K-12 schools to remain closed for the rest of the academic year. A Frequently Asked Questions guide about Executive Order Fifty-Three can be found here.

For the latest information about the COVID-19 outbreak, visit virginia.gov/coronavirus or CDC.gov/coronavirus.

Governor Northam Declares State of Emergency, Outlines Additional Measures to Combat COVID-19

While Virginia has been thoroughly preparing for weeks and has adequate funding to address the situation, this declaration will allow the Commonwealth increased flexibility to ease regulatory requirements and procurement rules, continue federal and multi-state coordination, and ensure continued access to critical services for the most vulnerable Virginians. In addition, it has become increasingly clear that states must take a primary leadership role in the national response to COVID-19. The full text of the Governor’s emergency declaration is available here.

“Our top priority is to make sure Virginians stay safe and healthy, and that our response to this situation leaves no one behind,” said Governor Northam. “From our health department, to our schools, to our hospitals, to our transit systems, Virginia’s agencies and institutions have been thoroughly planning for every scenario. This emergency declaration will ensure we can continue to prepare for and appropriately respond to Virginians’ needs during this time.”

Governor Northam also announced additional steps to ensure the health and safety of all Virginians, including:

Ban on State Employee Travel and Implementation of Telework Policies

Virginia has over 100,000 state employees stationed throughout the Commonwealth. Governor Northam has halted all official travel outside of Virginia by state employees, with increased flexibility for inter-state commuters and essential personnel. Specific guidance will be released to agency heads and state employees, and Virginia will revisit these guidelines after 30 days.

Governor Northam has also directed his Secretary of Administration to implement a phased transition to teleworking for state employees. The Department of Human Resources Management will work with the Virginia Department of Health’s Equity Workgroup to prioritize support for impacted state employees that may be unable to perform their duties from home, including janitorial, food, and grounds staff.

The Department of Human Resources Management has worked to ensure all agencies have updated emergency operations and leave policies. State employees, including part-time employees, can access paid Public Health Emergency Leave in the event of exposure to COVID-19 or high-risk travel.

Public Gatherings and Large Events

In accordance with advice from state public health experts, the Commonwealth of Virginia will cancel all specially-scheduled state conferences and large events for a minimum of 30 days.

Governor Northam is directing state agencies, through the Department of Human Resource Management, to limit in-person meetings and non-essential, work-related gatherings.

Governor Northam is also urging localities and non-profits to limit large public events, effective immediately. Localities should make these decisions in coordination with their local health departments and the Virginia Department of Health. Highly populated localities and those with close proximity to positive cases are strongly encouraged to announce updated event guidance by Friday, March 13, at 5:00 PM, in advance of the weekend.

Long-Term Economic Planning

Governor Northam is also assessing the potential long-term economic impacts of COVID-19. While containing the spread of the public health threat remains a top priority, Governor Northam is working with state and local partners to ensure Virginia are prepared for any continued economic disruption.

Virginia’s Secretary of Commerce and Trade will coordinate regularly with representatives from the Virginia Employment Commission, the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the Department of Housing and Community Development, the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity, the Department of Labor and Industry, the Virginia Tourism Corporation, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and other relevant stakeholders.

Throughout his administration, Governor Northam has worked closely with state legislators to protect Virginia’s strong economy and prepare for unexpected economic shocks. The General Assembly will vote today on a budget that boosts Virginia’s reserve funds more than at any other time in the Commonwealth’s history, an essential mechanism to ensure continued state services regardless of economic uncertainty.

Ongoing State Response Efforts

The Commonwealth of Virginia is continuing to execute a multi-agency response plan across all levels of government. Efforts include the following:

Schools

  • The Department of Education has advised all school districts to update their pandemic guidelines, in consultation with their local health departments.

  • The Northam administration continues to be in regular communication with superintendents, university and community college presidents, to provide guidance on the unique situations they are facing on the ground.

Nursing Homes

  • The Virginia Department of Health has expanded its testing criteria to ensure that anyone who has symptoms and is in a nursing home is top priority and gets immediate testing.
  • Nursing homes and senior care facilities have updated their policies to provide additional visitor screening and increased monitoring of patients.

Vulnerable Virginians

  • Virginia’s social services agencies are preparing options to ensure the most vulnerable populations have continued access to critical services, including the potential for in-home care and food supports.
  • In the event of extended school closures, the Virginia Department of Social Services is working with local partners, such as food pantries, to ensure no one goes hungry.

Addressing Barriers to Care

  • Virginia is working with insurers to waive co-pays and diagnostic testing related to COVID-19.
  • Governor Northam continues to encourage private businesses to explore telework and paid time off options, including those with hourly workers.

Transportation

  • Across the Commonwealth’s transportation network, which includes airports, Metro, buses, and rail, Virginia is adjusting cleaning schedules according to CDC protocol.
  • Virginia is also working with transportation partners to help reduce the potential spread of disease.

Governor Northam Announces More Than $13.4 Million in Community Development Block Grants

Fourteen localities receive funding for housing and community revitalization efforts

GREENSVILLE—Governor Ralph Northam today announced more than $13.4 million in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) for the counties of Accomack, Alleghany, Grayson, Greensville, James City, Lee, Mecklenburg, Russell, and Wise, and the towns of Appomattox, Chase City, La Crosse, Parksley, and South Boston. Governor Northam made the announcement at an event in Greensville, where he presented local officials with a check for one of the fourteen awarded projects.

“The Community Development Block Grant program continues to be a vital resource for funding projects that help build strong regional economies throughout Virginia and address the most pressing needs in our communities,” said Governor Northam. “The localities receiving these grant awards are making important investments in infrastructure, housing rehabilitation, and downtown revitalization that will enable them to deliver essential services to their citizens and attract new residents, businesses, and visitors.”

Since 1982, the federally-funded CDBG program has been administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), and Virginia receives approximately $18.1 million annually for this grant program. CDBG grants are awarded through a competitive process. Most projects benefit low- and moderate-income persons, and many projects are targeted for the prevention or elimination of dilapidated structures and blighted conditions.

“These grants fund 14 different projects targeted to improve quality of life,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “CDBG is a flexible tool we utilize to help address blight, improve housing, provide facilities for a variety of needed services, and increase access to water and sewer in communities throughout the Commonwealth.”

2019 CDBG Competitive Grant Awards:

 

Locality

 

 

Project Name

 

 

Award

 

Accomack County

Gospel Temple/Adams Crossing CDBG Project

$700,000

Alleghany County

Wrightsville Community Revitalization Project

$1,400,000

Town of Appomattox

Appomattox Downtown Revitalization

$700,000

Town of Chase City

Endly Street Phase II

$1,374,406

Grayson County

Eagle Bottom Housing Phase II

$523,200

Greensville County

Washington Park Phase VI

$1,353,241

James City County

James City County Scattered Site Rehab

$1,000,000

Town of La Crosse

Pine Street Neighborhood Improvement Phase I

$1,397,044

Lee County

St. Charles Water Line Replacement Phase III

$1,000,000

Mecklenburg County

Quail Hollow Road Housing Rehab Project

$1,000,000

Town of Parksley

Parksley Downtown Revitalization

$700,000

Russell County

Belfast Waterline Extension Project Phase II Letter of Intent

$630,000

Town of South Boston

Poplar Creek Homes Letter of Intent

$700,000

Wise County

Banner Sewer Project

$954,000

TOTAL:

$13,431,891

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Virginia Delegation Calls on President Trump to Issue Federal Emergency Declaration Ahead of Hurricane Florence

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, along with U.S. Reps. Rob Wittman (VA-01), Scott Taylor (VA-02), Bobby Scott (VA-03), A. Donald McEachin (VA-04), Tom Garrett (VA-05), Bob Goodlatte (VA-06), Dave Brat (VA-07), Don Beyer (VA-08), Morgan Griffith (VA-09), Barbara Comstock (VA-10), and Gerry Connolly (VA-11), called on President Donald Trump to issue a federal emergency declaration ahead of Hurricane Florence, a tropical storm which was recently upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane and is expected to make landfall somewhere on the southeast or Mid-Atlantic coast Thursday night. Virginia’s congressional delegation wrote to the President in support of a request from Gov. Ralph Northam in advance of the storm’s potentially devastating effects on the Commonwealth of Virginia.

“The health and well-being of my constituents is my top concern, which is why I joined the entire congressional delegation of Virginia to call on President Trump to give full consideration to Governor Northam’s request to issue a federal emergency,” said Congressman Donald McEachin. “If this storm continues as predicted, making federal resources available will help us achieve a speedy recovery.”

“A federal emergency declaration would ensure the full availability of federal resources to support the Commonwealth’s efforts to guarantee public safety and rapid recovery from the direct and indirect effects of Hurricane Florence. Thank you for your consideration of Governor Northam’s request. We look forward to working with you, FEMA, and other relevant federal agencies to ensure that the Commonwealth of Virginia has the resources available to ensure the safety of our constituents,” wrote the Virginia Congressional Delegation.

On September 8, 2018, Gov. Northam declared a state of emergency in Virginia in preparation for Hurricane Florence, which is projected to have a significant impact on the Commonwealth in the coming days. It is increasingly likely that Virginia will face damaging winds, heavy rainfall, and potentially life-threating storm surge flooding. Many localities have already ordered mandatory evacuations to prevent potential physical harm or loss of life.

The full text of the letter can be found below.

Dear Mr. President:

We write today to express our support for Governor Ralph S. Northam’s request for a federal emergency declaration in advance of Hurricane Florence’s potentially devastating effects on the Commonwealth of Virginia.

As you may know, on September 8, 2018 Governor Northam declared a state of emergency in Virginia in preparation for Hurricane Florence, which is projected to have a significant impact on the Commonwealth in the coming days. It is increasingly likely that Virginia will face damaging winds, heavy rainfall, and potentially life-threating storm surge flooding due to Hurricane Florence. Many localities have already ordered mandatory evacuations to prevent potential physical harm or loss of life.

Governor Northam’s emergency declaration ensures a fully coordinated state response to support local recovery efforts. The Commonwealth has activated the Virginia Evacuation Coordination Team for Operational Response to assess the storm’s potential effects and the Virginia Emergency Operations Center is already coordinating the state’s response with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

A federal emergency declaration would ensure the full availability of federal resources to support the Commonwealth’s efforts to guarantee public safety and rapid recovery from the direct and indirect effects of Hurricane Florence.

Thank you for your consideration of Governor Northam’s request. We look forward to working with you, FEMA, and other relevant federal agencies to ensure that the Commonwealth of Virginia has the resources available to ensure the safety of our constituents.

 

 

NIKE

Virginians Should Prepare Now for Hurricane Florence Impacts

Please note that while the projected path of Hurricane Florence has changed, the path is still probable. Our area could still be impacted with several inches of rain and wind gusts in the 40 mph range.

Nike

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Northam Signs ‘Stop Gun Violence’ License Plate Bill

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