COVID-19 Update - Volume 5

Governor Issues Stay-at-Home Order for Virginia

Today, Governor Northam issued a "Stay-at-Home" order for all Virginians. Executive Order 55 takes effect immediately and will remain in place until June 10, 2020, unless amended or rescinded by a further executive order.

The order allows individuals to leave home to seek medical attention, work, care for family or household members, and obtain goods and services outlined in the order such as groceries and prescriptions. Outdoor activity is permissible  so long as they are limited to gatherings of 10 or less and people remain 6 feet apart. Private campgrounds must close for short-term stays, and beaches will be closed statewide except for fishing and exercise.

The order also prohibits all indoor or outdoor public and private in-person gatherings of more than 10 individuals, including parties, celebrations, religious, or other social events. This restriction does not apply to the operation of businesses not required to close under Executive Order 53 or gatherings of family members living in the same residence.

The order also directs all Virginia institutions of higher education to stop in-person classes and instruction. 


As a reminder, Governor Northam's COVID-19 press briefings are now being held Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 2:00 pm live, which you can watch on his Facebook Page

 

What's in The Federal CARES Act? 


On Friday, Congress passed and the President signed the $2.2 trillion CARES Act designed to bring much needed relief to workers, businesses, the health care system, and state, local and tribal governments.  Here are some highlights of the Act:

Direct Payments to Households: The Act authorizes one-time payments structured as tax refunds of $1,200 per adult making up to $75,000, $2,400 per couple making up to $150,000 and $500 per child. Payments phase out for higher income brackets, and are not available for individuals without children making over $99,00 or married coupes without children making more than $198,000. 

Unemployment Insurance: The Act provides funding to increase the weekly unemployment insurance benefit by $600 for four months and extend the duration of the benefit from 26 weeks to 39 weeks. The Act also extends unemployment to part-time, self-employed, contract, freelance, and gig economy workers. 

Aid to Small Businesses: The Act authorizes loans for companies with 500 employees or fewer, including nonprofits, self-employed people and hotel and restaurant chains with up to 500 workers per location. Loans are available for up to eight weeks of cash assistance to cover payroll, rent, utilities and other expenses, much of which would be forgiven if the company retains workers. The Act also provides funding to help small businesses repay existing loans and for grants up to $10,000 for small businesses to pay operating costs.

Health Care Investments: Provides funding for for grants to hospitals, public and nonprofit health organizations and Medicare and Medicaid suppliers.This includes funding for personal and protective equipment for healthcare workers, testing supplies, increased workforce and training, new construction to house patients, and emergency operation centers. The Act also includes additional funding for research and development of vaccines and treatments, stockpiling medical supplies.

Taxes: The Act temporarily waives penalties for virus-related early withdrawals, eases required minimum annual disbursements from some retirement accounts; and increases deductions for charitable contributions. In addition, employers who pay furloughed workers can get tax credits for some of those payments and postpones business payments of payroll taxes until 2021 or 2022.

REAL ID: Extends the deadline for obtaining a REAL ID compliant driver's license or identification card from Oct. 1, 2020, to Sept. 30, 2021.

Aid to State, Tribal, and Local Governments: The Act provides direct aid to states, tribal, and local governments to address the economic impact of the virus. Virginia is expected to receive approximately $3.3 billion.

Education Funding: The Act includes additional funding for states to distribute to local schools and higher education institutions.

Transportation Funding: The Act provides direct funding to passenger airlines for worker salaries and benefits, loans, and loan guarantees and to cargo airlines for loans, guarantees and payroll assistance. In exchange, carriers must agree not to furlough, lay off or cut pay for employees until September 30, 2020. The Act also includes funding to help pay contract workers such as airline catering, baggage loading, ticketing, checking, and other service at airports. The Act also provides additional funding for public transit systems and Amtrak.

Agriculture: The Act provides additional funding to agriculture and nutrition programs, including funding to support producers of specialty crops, livestock and dairy, suppliers to farmers markets, restaurants and schools, and food banks. 

Social Programs and Community Development: The Act includes additional funding for 

food stamps, grants for child care and early education programs, heating and cooling aid for low-income families, and extra staffing for Head Start programs. The Act also includes funding for block grants to help state and local governments expand health facilities, child care centers, food banks and senior services, $4 billion in assistance for the homeless, $3 billion for low-income renters, and $1.5 billion to help communities rebuild local industries.

Elections: The Act includes $400 million to help states prepare for 2020 elections through expanded vote by mail and additional polling locations.
Virtual COVID-19 Town Hall 

 

Please join me and other community representatives to discuss your concerns and questions on coronavirus on Tuesday March 31st at 5:30pm.
  
Representatives from the following organizations have confirmed:
  • Congressman Donald McEachin
  • Henrico & Richmond Health Department
  • Henrico & Richmond Public Schools
  • Central Virginia Legal Aid Society
  • Feed More
  • Senior Connections
There is a limited capacity to the call bridge. Call information will be sent after registration. 
 
Register for the event here. You can also view the event on my Facebook page, here.

My staff and I continue to monitor events and will share updates as they become available. Although our offices are closed, our team is still working remotely. As always, you may contact us at (804) 698-7509 or district09@senate.virginia.govYou can also stay informed about General Assembly activities and the latest coronavirus updated by following me on Twitterliking my Facebook page, and following me on Instagram
 
Sincerely,
Signature
Jennifer L. McClellan
Senate of Virginia, 9th District