Tuesday, May 5
Alexandria Cases: 983
Virginia Cases: 20,256
United States Cases: 1,152,372
Alexandria Deaths: 26
Virginia Deaths: 713
United States Deaths: 67,456
WORKER RELIEF AND SECURITY: Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) with Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) released a draft framework for the Worker Relief and Security Act, legislation that would tie ongoing expanded unemployment benefits to the public health emergency and economic conditions. The bill would use automatic triggers to ensure that assistance continues to flow to workers for the duration of the pandemic and the resulting economic crisis even in the absence of action by Congress, said Beyer. “In the face of an historic crisis, the federal government must take extraordinary steps to give the American people sustained help and prevent this economic downturn from becoming a depression,” Beyer said. “This pandemic and the resulting economic crisis may continue to inflict horrifying suffering on the country for many months to come. Passing emergency relief legislation that incorporates automatic triggers would have the enormous benefit of ensuring assistance continues to flow to workers even if Congress itself is unable or unwilling to act.”
Beyer serves as Vice Chair of the Joint Economic Committee, which released a report last week arguing that “tying support to economic conditions is essential.”
Monday, May 4
Alexandria Cases: 940
Virginia Cases: 19,492
PHASE ONE EASE: Gov. Ralph Northam outlined a three-phase plan to ease restrictions on businesses and gatherings, when health data supports doing so. Northam said he will extend restrictions on businesses and gatherings of more than 10 people, at least through next Thursday, May 14. Officials will continue to monitor health data to ensure cases are trending down, that hospital capacity remains steady, that testing is increased, and that hospitals and medical facilities have necessary supplies of PPE.
Phase I would continue social distancing, teleworking, recommendations that people wear face coverings in public, and the ban on social gatherings of more than 10 people. It would ease some limits on businesses and faith communities, and would transition the stay at home directive to a “safer at home” guideline, especially for those in vulnerable populations.
Phase I would likely last two to four weeks, as would the two subsequent phases, depending on health metrics.
NATIONAL GUARD: The Alexandria Health Department teamed up with the Virginia National Guard to conduct point prevalence surveys at long-term care facilities in order to collect more information about how COVID-19 is affecting Alexandria. The collection tool is used to identify the number of people with an infection at a specific point in time, even if they don't have symptoms. In a long term facility like a skilled nursing or assisted living facility it can help determine the spread of COVID-19 and separate those with the infection. Members of the Virginia National Guard who are trained in specimen collection and transport for delivery to laboratories, could greatly reduce the burden on staff and allow them to focus on providing care to their patients.
NO MORE HATE: U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner joined Sens. Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and 13 other Senators in urging the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to address the surge in discrimination and hate crimes against Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) individuals in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. The Senators requested that the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ address this spike in discrimination by taking a concrete steps similar to those DOJ has taken in the past to address jumps in discrimination and hate crimes against a particular community.
“There are more than 20 million Americans of Asian descent, and 2 million AAPI individuals are working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, as health care workers, law enforcement agents, first responders, and other essential service providers,” they said. “It is critical that the Civil Rights Division ensure that the civil and constitutional rights of all Americans are protected during this pandemic.”
In the last month alone, Asian American organizations reported nearly 1,500 incidents of anti-Asian harassment and discrimination against AAPI individuals across the country. This comes after the FBI assessed in March that hate crime incidents against Asian Americans were likely to surge across the country, endangering AAPI communities.
Sen. Warner has been outspoken about the need to prevent discrimination and harassment towards Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. He has also pressed the coronavirus taskforce only to distribute accurate information about the virus and dispel misinformation or discriminatory rhetoric to help prevent suspicion, panic and race-based assaults.
Resilience Week in Virginia, May 3-9, can help individuals and communities bounce back from difficult experiences, like the COVID-19 crisis. It is a state-wide collaboration between Virginia Trauma-Informed Community NetworksToday’s focus is on mindfulness, a practice that can help build resilience by being fully aware of experiences, thoughts and emotions. Being mindful is easy to learn and becomes more readily available when practiced every day. There is growing research showing that training the brain to be mindful actually remodels its physical structure, and that mindfulness has positive benefits for health, happiness, work and relationships. Visit the City’s Resilience Week page https://www.alexandriava.gov/dchs/childrenfamily/default.aspx?id=115020
Sunday, May 3
Alexandria Cases: 899
Virginia Cases: 18,671
BUSINESS WEBINARS: The Northern Virginia Economic Development Alliance (NOVA EDA) launched a free, three-part,12-session series, “Beyond COVID-19: Business Resiliency Webinars.” The series will focus on how to keep moving forward during and after the global pandemic. The webinars will include topics such as government financing, staffing, technology readiness, healthy workplaces, new business and revenue models, customer retention, and more. Visit NOVA EDA at https://www.novaeda.org/events/
ASK THE ARCHAEOLOGIST: Many City meetings, events and activities can now be attended virtually. This week’s activities include storytelling, parkour, and an “Ask the Archaeologist” session. Visit the City Calendar for a complete list of virtual opportunities, as well as cancellations. https://apps.alexandriava.gov/Calendar/?sm=10
Saturday, May 2
Alexandria Cases: 848
Virginia Cases: 17,731
Alexandria Deaths: 26
The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in Alexandria is now 848, including 26 fatalities. Two additional fatalities were reported.
ONE-STOP RESOURCE: The Virginia Department of Social Services has launched a new website and app designed as a "one-stop" resource for individuals, families and businesses to access benefits, services and critical information related to essential needs such as food, child care, healthcare, housing, unemployment insurance and more during the pandemic. https://covid.virginia.gov/
Volunteer Opportunities: During a crisis, it is important for everyone to work together as a community to help others. Visit Volunteer Alexandria’s COVID-19 Care for Communities page to see opportunities. https://www.volunteeralexandria.org/careforcommunity?layoutViewMode=tablet
STERILIZING PPE: Virginia will receive three Battelle Critical Care Decontamination System machines that can collectively sterilize up to 240,000 units of personal protective equipment (PPE) per day for reuse. “This innovative new technology will extend the life of critical PPE like N95 masks, giving our medical facilities and first responders greater access to much-needed supplies and helping the Commonwealth manage our resources amid a nationwide shortage,” Northam said.
Friday, May 1
Alexandria Cases: 802
Virginia Cases: 16,901
Alexandria deaths: 24
Three more fatalities reported in Alexandria.
The Virginia Department of Health's (VDH) daily dashboard has added the ethnicity of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and fatalities for Alexandria.
While approximately 17% of Alexandria residents are Hispanic/Latinx, this community accounts for 39% of positive cases of COVID-19 and 38% of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Alexandria to date. Based on the data reported, this indicates that members of the Hispanic/Latinx community are experiencing higher rates of severe illness from COVID-19 than non-Hispanic whites. However, there are still large gaps in the data. Ethnicity was not reported for 27% of cases and 7% of hospitalizations. The number of tests performed is not available by ethnicity. AHD is working with healthcare providers to improve reporting of demographic data.
Keeping Children Healthy When School is Out: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that parents limit their children’s time with other children and with older adults who have serious underlying medical conditions, and directs that children 2 years and older wear a cloth face covering and practice physical distancing measures when in community settings.
HISTORICALLY BLACK UNIVERSITIES: U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA), members of the Congressional Bipartisan Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU) Caucus, applauded more than $36 million in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Education to support Virginia’s five HBCUs: Virginia State University, Virginia Union University, Virginia University of Lynchburg, Hampton University and Norfolk State University. The federal funding was made possible through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund established under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to support students, colleges, and universities as they cope with the immediate effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
TAX CREDITS NEED EXPANSION: U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) joined Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and a group of senators in a letter to senate leaders calling for a temporary expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit in the next coronavirus relief package. As the economic effects of COVID-19 are expected to last into next year, this would put money back in the pockets of working Americans as they continue to weather the economic downturn.
Thursday, April 30
Alexandria Cases: 754
Virginia Cases: 15,846
SPREAD CHEER: Everyone has a role—not only in stopping the spread of COVID-19, but also in giving encouragement and cheer to neighbors. Although Alexandrians are separated by physical distancing, the community can connect through shared positive messages.
The City of Alexandria invites the community to share positive messages and post photos on social media with the hashtag #SpreadCheerALX. Messages can be displayed as signs in windows or yards, chalk art on driveways, notes to workers on trash cans, or decorated rocks in yards. Messages should highlight the “Six Steps to Stop the Spread“ of COVID-19, thank essential workers for supporting our community, or other messages of gratitude, hope, resilience, solidarity or good cheer.
Messages posted on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter with the hashtag #SpreadCheerALX may be selected by the City to be reproduced as signs for others to display. Selected submissions will be printed, displayed on City property, and made available to residents who would like a sign for their yard or window. Those in need of supplies for this project should email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 703-746-5592.
SUMMER CAMPS CANCELLED: Registration for summer camps and programs offered by the City’s Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities (RPCA), which had been postponed to May 6, is now suspended until further notice. Previously planned summer camps and programs may need to be adjusted to accommodate the current stay-at-home order and physical distancing guidelines, as well as the potential for new state guidance for the summer months. All Spring programs have been cancelled.
All recreation, nature and art centers remain closed; all activities, events and private rentals are canceled; all reservations and registrations are suspended; all public playgrounds are closed; and all public sport courts, fenced fields, fenced dog parks, outdoor fitness stations, restrooms and parking lots at parks are closed. Transient boater access to City Marina piers is prohibited (open to license holders only).
But all unfenced City of Alexandria parks, trails and fields remain open to the public to provide opportunities for safe, physically distant exercise. The City and the Alexandria Health Department believe that access to outdoor exercise is crucial to maintaining both the physical and mental health of our community. Visit alexandriva.gov/Recreation for updates.
Virginia Expands Student Loan Payment Relief
Expanded payment relief is available for Virginians with privately held student loans. While the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided relief for students with federal loans until Sept. 30, this relief did not apply to borrowers with student loans made by private lenders. Under the new initiative, Virginians with commercially-owned Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) loans, Perkins loans, or privately held student loans who are struggling to make payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be eligible for expanded relief. Borrowers must immediately contact their student loan servicers to identify the options that are appropriate to their circumstances.
Wednesday, April 29
Alexandria Cases: 700
Virginia Cases: 14,961
Alexandria Deaths: 21
The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in Alexandria is now 700, including 21 fatalities. One additional fatality was reported.
BUDGET CHANGES: The Alexandria City Council unanimously adopted a Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 General Fund Operating Budget of $753.3 million, which is 5.8% lower than the $799.9 million operating budget originally proposed by City Manager Mark Jinks in February. The adopted budget reflects the revised operating and capital budgets proposed by Jinks on April 7, due to the nearly $100 million budget gap created by the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The budget approved by City Council does not include an originally proposed 2-cent increase in the 2020 real estate tax rate to fund City and Schools capital projects. The real estate tax rate approved by City Council remains at $1.13 per $100 of assessed value, and there are no other tax rate increases. This will require rescheduling to FY 2023 the beginning phases of the Waterfront Park and Flood Mitigation plan and the high school facility project at the Minnie Howard Campus. However, the new MacArthur Elementary School project remains budgeted and will proceed on schedule.
The approved budget allocates $1 million to the Alexandria Health Department from potential federal funding under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, to be used along with potential state funding for substantially increased epidemiological staffing. Although the Alexandria Health Department is a division of the Virginia Department of Health, more than 50% of its budget is funded by the City.
LIVING IN CLOSE QUARTERS: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided guidance for people living together in close quarters, available in multiple languages, for those who share a small apartment, live in the same household with large or extended families, or other similar situations. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/living-in-close-quarters.html
The City’s COVID-19 Information for Landlord and Renters page addresses frequently asked questions about COVID-19, including what to do if if a renter is diagnosed with the disease; cleaning and disinfecting; legal rights for renters; what landlords can do to stop the spread of COVID-19. https://www.alexandriava.gov/housing/info/default.aspx?id=114827
FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS: State orders and guidance on how to handle funerals has changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, adding stress to families already grieving. The Virginia Department of Health provides frequently asked questions about holding funerals and visitation services, cremations and burials, as well as information about what funeral directors need to know. https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/frequently-asked-questions/funerals-and-covid-19/
TRANSPARENCY?: U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) joined Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Chris Murphy (D-CT), as well as Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, in legislation that lays out a framework for federalizing and adding critical oversight and transparency to the supply chain for critical medical supplies and equipment. The Medical Supply Transparency and Delivery Act requires the president to utilize all available authorities under the Defense Production Act to mobilize a federal response to the pandemic through an equitable and transparent process.
U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) applauded $10,832,775 in federal funding through the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to assist the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services in preventing, preparing for and responding to the coronavirus pandemic. The CESF funding was authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act supported by Sens. Warner and Kaine.
CESF funding may be used to help purchase equipment – including law enforcement and medical personal protective equipment – or supplies, such as gloves, masks, and sanitizer. The funding can also be used to address the medical needs of inmates in state, local, and tribal prisons, jails, and detention centers.
SNAP: U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine joined their colleagues, led by Senators Jeff Merkley and Chris Murphy, in urging Senate leadership to support and strengthen SNAP — formerly known as food stamps— to help ensure that families across America can keep food on their tables despite the mounting economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Given the unprecedented disruption to the economy, income and employment with more than 17 million Americans filing unemployment benefit claims, an expanded and strengthened SNAP can serve as a buffer for families who are now at risk of food insecurity and are struggling to make ends meet during this national health crisis,” the Senators wrote.
Specifically, the Senators requested that the following provisions be included in upcoming coronavirus relief legislation: Increase the maximum SNAP benefit for all recipients by increasing the thrifty food plan by at least 15 percent to all households, which is equivalent to another $25 per person per month, or a little under $100 per month in food assistance for a family of four; increase the monthly minimum SNAP benefit from $16 to $30 to all households. Suspend the rules proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that would weaken SNAP eligibility and benefits at time when Americans most need SNAP assistance.
Tuesday, April 28
Alexandria Cases: 653
Virginia Cases: 14,339
Alexandria Deaths: 20
Two additional fatalities reported in Alexandria.
MENTAL HEALTH and WELLNESS: The City’s COVID-19 Wellness Resource Guide contains a range of resources for individuals, parents, children, families and responders. https://www.alexandriava.gov/dchs/info/default.aspx?id=114384
EXECUTIVE ORDER 60: Governor Northam signed an order 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 code offers protections for healthcare workers and first responders in cases of emergency. Nothing in this order prevents liability in the case of gross negligence or willful misconduct.
CHILDCARE BAILOUT: U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) joined Sens. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and 28 other Senators in calling on Senate leadership to include their plan for a $50 billion childcare bailout in the next coronavirus relief package, saying it is indispensable part of the nation’s response to the pandemic. Earlier this month, Sens. Smith and Warren unveiled their plan to stabilize the childcare system, keep providers in business, and ensure parents are able to go back to work when it is safe to return.