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Update on COVID-19 & Available Resources

To the Constituents of the 19th District,

A great deal has changed regarding the COVID-19 pandemic since I last wrote to you, and I want to make sure you have the most up-to-date information available as we all work to keep our families safe.



First, the good news. Many of the computer models have recently lowered predictions for the impact this disaster could have on our healthcare system. Initial estimates predicted that Virginia would run short of intensive care hospital beds as the wave of illness peaked in May. But the latest data shows, due to numerous actions such as social distancing, that Virginia will likely have the resources necessary to care for those who fall ill. Additionally, the number of deaths from COVID-19 will be much lower.


Help is also on the way for those suffering economically due to this virus.


State and Federal officials have made it easier to file for unemployment benefits, and increased the maximum weekly benefit by nearly 200 percent. Benefits will now be paid during the first week of unemployment, and the requirement to search for a job during this period has also been suspended. Click here for more information.


The Paycheck Protection Program is up and running, giving smaller businesses a lifeline in the form of forgivable loans to keep people on payroll until the economy opens again. Click here for more information on how to apply.


Find more information how this will impact your business here, or to begin a loan application.


Meanwhile, the Governor’s “stay at home” order remains in effect. Said simply, if you can stay home, stay home, and only leave for essential activities, such as grocery shopping.

The CDC has recommended that Virginians wear some sort of fabric covering over their mouth and nose when they go out. Contrary to popular belief, it is NOT illegal to wear a mask in Virginia if the purpose is health, keeping warm, or any other reason that is NOT concealing one’s identity. If you have to go out, consider covering your face.


School systems around the state are also rolling out their plans for what is left of the 2019-2020 school year. If you haven’t already been contacted, check with your local school system:

Alleghany County

Bedford County

Botetourt County

City of Covington


I encourage you to read this document for answers to the most frequently asked questions about what orders are currently in place for Virginia, including information on school closures and guidelines for businesses.


You can stay up to date with various health and safety measures being recommended by state officials by clicking here.


Reminders about ongoing general closings and cancellations can be found below:


Courts

The Supreme Court of Virginia has ordered all non-essential, non-emergency court proceedings to suspend through April 26th. This includes a suspension in eviction hearings. If you have ongoing matters before the courts, you may wish to reach out to your attorney or the appropriate clerk’s office for specific questions.


DMV

The DMV’s service centers remain closed to the public through at least April 23rd. Virginians with business before the DMV are encouraged to perform their transactions online HERE. For those who must appear in person for license renewal or other similar business, a 60 day deadline extension will be granted for all expirations occurring before May 15. Click here for more details.


The Virginia State Police have also been instructed to not enforce the state’s vehicle inspection program for 60 days. If your vehicle inspection is about to expire, you have an additional two months to drive without fear of a citation. Click here for more information.


Utilities

The State Corporation Commission (SCC) order remains in effect directing all publicly regulated utility companies to suspend disconnections for a period of 60 days.


Restaurants

Governor Northam’s ban remains in effect on gatherings of 10 or more people across the Commonwealth, leaving restaurants to function in a “take-out/delivery” mode if they remain open.


However, they will be able to sell mixed drinks for pick-up or delivery, as well as beer and wine, starting Friday.


My office continues to monitor the situation in Virginia closely and will keep you advised as we learn more.


Sincerely,

Delegate Terry Austin

19th House District

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