COVID-19 Updates Archive - August 2020
- Aug. 31 Updates
- Aug. 25 Updates
- Aug. 21 Updates
- Aug. 20 Updates
- Aug. 18 Updates
- Aug. 14 Updates
- Aug. 13 Updates
- Aug. 12 Updates
- Aug. 11 Updates
- Aug. 7 Updates
- Aug. 5 Updates
- Aug. 4 Updates
Aug. 31, 2020 Update - 1 p.m.
Governor Northam Announces $4 Million to Expand Legal Aid Services for Virginians Facing Eviction
Governor will match $2 million IKEA donation with $2 million from Virginia’s COVID-19 Relief Fund
Governor Ralph Northam today announced $4 million in funding for the Legal Services Corporation of Virginia, which will support 20 Legal Aid attorneys in providing services to Virginia tenants facing eviction for the next two years. This critical investment comes as thousands of Virginians continue to be at risk of eviction and is supported in part by a $2 million donation from IKEA U.S. Community Foundation. The Governor will match the donation with $2 million from Virginia’s COVID-19 Relief Fund, which was approved by the General Assembly in April.
IKEA Retail U.S. has stores in Norfolk and Woodbridge and employs approximately 550 Virginians. As part of the company’s efforts to support COVID-19 recovery across the country, IKEA is providing partner states with a donation equal to the amount given to their employees in the form of unemployment benefits. Housing security continues to be a top priority for Virginia amid the ongoing public health crisis, and Governor Northam asked that the $2 million donation from IKEA to the Commonwealth be directed to support eviction relief.
IKEA has continued to follow Governor Northam’s orders to protect the health and safety of both employees and customers. After Governor Northam issued a statewide Stay at Home order, IKEA closed its two Virginia retail locations to keep their staff and customers safe. Now IKEA is giving back to ensure the Commonwealth has the funding to provide essential services and goods to those who need it most.
This funding will be matched by $2 million from Virginia’s COVID-19 Relief Fund, which is supported by tax revenue from electronic skill machines. Governor Northam proposed this one-year alternative funding mechanism as a way of providing additional support to small businesses, Virginians who are out of work due to the pandemic, and individuals struggling to stay in their homes.
Although $1.5 million per year for Legal Aid was unallotted from Virginia’s biennial budget, this $4 million in funding will allow for additional support during the COVID-19 pandemic. Legal Aid attorneys play a critical role in eviction diversion in the Commonwealth—Virginia families facing eviction have successful outcomes 72 percent of the time when represented by Legal Aid lawyers, as opposed to just 34 percent without representation.
Governor Northam also established the Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program (RMRP) with an initial $50 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds and proposed an additional $88 million in funding for the Housing Trust Fund over the biennium to prevent evictions and expand affordable housing. Since launching at the end of June, the RMRP has served more than 3,100 households in Virginia, and over 60 percent of the households served have children in the home.
The Legal Services Corporation of Virginia funds and oversees the work of nine regional Legal Aid programs and a statewide support center, the Virginia Poverty Law Center, that provide services to low-income Virginians in every city and county in the Commonwealth.
View the video of today’s announcement.
Aug. 31, 2020 Update - 9:45 a.m.
Chesterfield Launches ‘Lock and Talk’ Awareness Campaign for National Suicide Awareness Month
Campaign includes focus on coping with stress caused by COVID-19
In recognition of National Suicide Prevention Month, Chesterfield County and the Chesterfield Suicide Awareness and Prevention Coalition is partnering with Lock and Talk Virginia to prevent suicide and promote wellness.
Reducing the availability of highly lethal and commonly used suicide methods has been associated with declines in suicide rates of as much as 30-50 percent in other countries.
The county’s suicide awareness partnership with Lock and Talk Virginia is more important now than ever, as thousands of residents and their families continue to cope with the stress and strain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As people navigate economic stress, social isolation, reduced access to religious services and overall national anxiety, the Journal of the American Medical Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have reported a spike in depression, stress and suicides across the U.S. since March.
Chesterfield is working to prevent suicides by limiting access to firearms and poisons during a mental health crisis and educating members of the public on how to recognize and respond to the warning signs of suicide. Decreasing access to lethal means by securing them in a locking container coupled with having open and honest discussions about suicidal thoughts can save lives, reduce stigma and encourage those struggling with their mental health to seek help.
Means restriction is one of the few empirically-based strategies to substantially reduce the number of suicides. In addition, Chesterfield County offers a variety of programs to help citizens recognize and respond to many different types of mental health crises.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, call Chesterfield Mental Health Emergency Services at 804-748-6356 or National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
For more information, visit Mental Health Support Services' Suicide Awareness Campaign.
Read the full news release.
Aug. 25, 2020 Update - 10:45 a.m.
Governor Northam and VMFA Announce Recipients of Artist Relief Grants
Total of $200,000 will be distributed to 40 Virginia artists impacted by COVID-19
Governor Ralph Northam, First Lady Pamela Northam and Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Director and CEO Alex Nyerges announced 40 Virginia artists who will receive $5,000 grants through a special program to help visual artists impacted by COVID-19. The Virginia Artist Relief Fellowship Program, which launched in June, will distribute a total of $200,000 in funding
The Virginia Artist Relief Fellowship Program grant recipients included these Chesterfield artists:
- Eliza Lamb (Chester)
- Nikki Painter (Chesterfield)
- Jordan Shanks (Chesterfield)
- Alfonso Perez Acosta (Chesterfield)
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) received more than 350 applications for this program. Recipients were selected by a jury made up of three VMFA staff members: Valerie Cassel Oliver, Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art; Natasha Campbell, head of the museum’s fellowship program; and Jeffrey Allison, head of statewide programs.
The Virginia Artist Relief Fellowship Program is funded utilizing the accrued excess balance of the museum’s existing Artist Fellowship Endowment established in 1941 through a generous gift made by the late John Lee Pratt of Fredericksburg, Virginia. Pratt stipulated that the funds be used to support professional artists as well as art and art history students in the Commonwealth and not for other purposes. Through this endowment, VMFA has awarded nearly $5.8 million to Virginia artists in the Commonwealth over the past 80 years.
View a video of the awards ceremony held at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
Learn more about the Virginia Artist Relief Fellowship Program.
Aug. 21, 2020 Update - 4:30 p.m.
Virginia Receives Approval to Expand Access to Health Care through State-Based Exchange
Federal approval puts Commonwealth on path to full state exchange by 2023
Governor Ralph Northam announced that Virginia has been approved to proceed with a state-based health insurance exchange. Approval from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services allows Virginia to take over some functions of its current federal exchange beginning with open enrollment this November, and puts the Commonwealth on a path to full control by 2023.
By establishing the Virginia Exchange, the Commonwealth can implement policies to better address costs. The state will be able to work directly with insurance companies to meet the health coverage needs of all Virginians purchasing coverage, including small employers. Virginia will also be able to provide more targeted outreach and enrollment services and extend the time Virginians have to enroll in coverage, if needed. These strategies will expand access to health care and help increase overall affordability.
Increasing access to health care has been a top priority of the Northam administration. More than 452,000 Virginians have enrolled in new health care coverage since 2018, when Governor Northam successfully fought to expand Medicaid in Virginia. The expansion of Medicaid has proven a critical lifeline for Virginians during this health pandemic, with more than 125,603 Virginians, including 41,272 children, enrolled in Medicaid since the COVID-19 state of emergency was declared in Virginia on March 12 of this year.
Aug. 20, 2020 Update - 4:45 p.m.
August 26 Board of Supervisors Meeting to be Held in Person
Citizens can also submit comments ahead of time using online form
The Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors meeting on Wednesday, August 26, will be held in person in the Public Meeting Room at 10001 Iron Bridge Road. The online comment form is also available for citizens to submit comments ahead of time.
The meeting will begin at 2 p.m. with a work session followed by the 6 p.m. evening session. Both sessions will be held in the Public Meeting Room and will be available for viewing on Comcast Channel 98, Verizon Channel 28, and live streamed on chesterfield.gov and the County’s YouTube channel.
During the 6 p.m. session, a public hearing will be held seeking input on how best to spend approximately $50 million in federal CARES Act funds. Those wishing to provide input ahead of time on this topic can do so through the online comment form.
Measures are being put in place to accommodate in person public input while practicing social distancing, as recommended by health officials.
Those citizens wishing to participate in person will be required to wear a face covering and pass a simple health screening before entering the building. In order to maintain the 6-foot social distance requirement, seating will be extremely limited; however, TV monitors will be set up outside the Public Meeting Room.
Due to the COVID 19 occupancy limits of the Public Meeting Room, the general public will not able to be seated in the room, however, citizens requesting to speak before the Board will be given the opportunity to comment in person at the appropriate time.
Citizens who wish to make comments on the portion of the Board’s agenda known as "Citizen Comment Period on Unscheduled Matters" can submit comments via the online form; or call in comments and leave a message at 804-748-1808. A maximum of 15 citizens may leave comments for this meeting in accordance with the Board’s procedures on “Citizen Comment Period on Unscheduled Matters.” The portal will close at 5 p.m. on the day prior to the scheduled board meeting (Aug. 25) in order to prepare comments for the public and the board to see in a timely manner; prior to the Board meeting.
Citizens who wish to provide input on any and all of the public hearing items on the agenda are encouraged to submit comments via the online form. Citizens without internet access may call in comments and leave a message at 804-748-1808.
The public hearing comment form and the meeting agenda are posted online for citizens to view, and citizens are encouraged to view public hearing agenda items and all attachments before submitting a comment.
There are no limits on the number of citizens that can comment on each public hearing item; however, each citizen may submit only one comment per public hearing topic. The allotted comment space is equivalent to the 3-minute allotted time of in-person board meetings. At the end of each day through Aug. 25, the clerk will post all public hearing comments received that day for the public to view. Public hearing comments will be received until 5 p.m. on Aug. 25 in order to prepare comments for the public and the board to see in a timely manner, prior to the board meeting.
All comments received will be distributed to the board and posted online for the public to view in advance of the meeting and will be made a part of the board’s official public record within the rules of procedure adopted by the Board of Supervisors.
- The online public comment form may be accessed directly at www.chesterfield.gov/BOScomments.
- The public comment voicemail phone number is 804-748-1808
Aug. 18, 2020 Update - 4 p.m.
Governor Northam Signs Executive Order to Address Impacts of COVID-19 in State-Operated Psychiatric Hospitals
Executive Order Seventy (EO-70)
Governor Ralph Northam has issued Executive Order Seventy to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 at Virginia’s state-operated psychiatric hospitals and ensure the safety of patients and staff during the ongoing health crisis.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commonwealth’s psychiatric hospital system averaged 95 percent or more of total bed capacity and many have experienced an increase in admissions, at times exceeding operating bed capacity, through the month of July. The need to isolate or quarantine patients with confirmed or suspected diagnoses of COVID-19 has placed increased demands on state-operated psychiatric hospitals and further reduced bed capacity. The Code of Virginia requires these facilities to admit individuals under emergency custody for a mental health crisis who meet the criteria for temporary detention when no other inpatient bed can be identified.
Executive Order Seventy directs that when state hospitals are operating at 100 percent of their total bed capacity, they will not serve as the facility of temporary detention for individuals who are not under emergency custody. The order encourages law enforcement to ensure a bed is available before taking a new admission to a state hospital and requires a medical screening for COVID-19 and other acute medical conditions before transferring a patient to a state hospital. The executive order also requires timely updating of the statewide acute psychiatric bed registry and establishes clear expectations for communication regarding state hospital discharges.
Virginia’s state psychiatric hospitals are operated by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS). As of Aug. 17, there were 79 positive cases of COVID-19 in state hospitals, which includes 50 patients and 29 staff members. There are outbreaks in four of the 12 state hospitals and centers, and three of those hospitals have temporarily stopped taking new admissions based on recommendations from the Virginia Department of Health. These facilities include Piedmont Geriatric Hospital in Burkeville, where admissions are on hold as of July 14; Southern Virginia Mental Health Institute in Danville, where admissions are on hold as of July 28; and Northern Virginia Mental Health Institute in Fairfax, where admissions are on hold as of August 13. The fourth facility is designed using separate, small homes that facilitate quarantine so closure is not necessary.
View additional information on COVID-19 cases in the Virginia’s state-operated psychiatric hospitals.
Executive Order Seventy will remain in effect throughout the COVID-19 state of emergency.
View the full text of EO-70.
Aug. 18, 2020 Update - 11 a.m.
Governor Northam Proposes Voter Protection Measures Ahead of November General Election
Additional budget amendments address evictions, broadband, historical sites and dam safety
Governor Ralph Northam announced proposals to expand access to voting for the Tuesday, Nov. 3 General Election amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The measures were unveiled by the Governor during a virtual Joint Meeting of the House Appropriations, House Finance, Senate Finance and Appropriations Committees, and will be considered by legislators during the special General Assembly session set to begin this afternoon.
Governor Northam is putting forward three proposals aimed at addressing challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuring all Virginians have safe and fair access to access to the ballot box for the Tuesday, Nov. 3 General Election.
- Prepaid postage: Governor Northam’s proposed budget sets aside $2 million for prepaid return postage on all absentee ballots sent out for the Nov. 3 General Election.
- Drop off boxes and drop off locations: The Governor’s proposal includes language expressly permitting localities to use drop boxes or implement drop off locations for Virginians who choose to vote absentee, under security standards to be set by the Virginia Department of Elections.
- Absentee cure process: This measure will ensure Virginians’ voting rights are protected by allowing them to fix an error on their absentee ballot. Currently, Virginians who make an error are not able to fix that error and therefore their ballot may be discarded. Many Virginians will be voting absentee for the first time this November, and this language will help ensure Virginians’ votes are counted.
The Governor’s proposed budget also includes funding for measures to reform policing; teach a more accurate version of Virginia history; expand safe, affordable housing; increase access to high-speed broadband; provide resources for urgent dam safety; and support Virginia’s public Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
View additional information and presentations on the Governor’s proposed amendments to the 2020-2022 Biennial Budget.
Aug. 14, 2020 Update - 1 p.m.
Governor Northam Unveils Priorities for Upcoming Special Session
Governor’s proposals include measures to reform policing, protect Virginians from eviction; close the digital divide
Governor Northam unveiled his administration’s key priorities for the upcoming Virginia General Assembly special session, set to begin on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020.
Legislators will reconvene to address Virginia’s biennial budget, which has been severely impacted by the ongoing global pandemic. In addition, Governor Northam is proposing several measures to advance equity, reform policing and protect the safety, health and welfare of Virginians during this crisis.
Below are several of Governor Northam’s priorities for the upcoming special session. Additional priorities will be announced at the Governor’s annual speech to the General Assembly Joint Money Committees, scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 18.
Safe, Affordable Housing
Access to safe and stable housing is critically important, particularly in the midst of the ongoing health crisis. That is why Governor Northam is proposing $88 million in state funding to combat evictions and to expand access to affordable housing. These investments include a historic $85 million investment in the Virginia Housing Trust Fund, which will complement federal CARES Act funding to expand access to affordable housing, reduce homelessness and protect Virginians from eviction. The Governor is also proposing $3.3 million in funding to establish an Eviction Prevention and Diversion Pilot Program to reduce evictions in communities across the Commonwealth.
In addition, Governor Northam is proposing a pause on evictions until at least April 30, 2021, tied to the requirement that landlords and tenants work together on a payment plan and seek out financial assistance, including through Virginia’s statewide Rent and Mortgage Relief Program.
While Virginians remain safely housed, they also need access to critical utility services. The Governor’s package includes a moratorium on utility disconnections for electric, water and natural gas utilities until 60 days after the current state of emergency ends.
Access to Broadband
A recent SCHEV report found that nearly 200,000 K-12 students and 60,000 college students across Virginia lack access to broadband at home. This disparity is particularly troubling as many school districts across Virginia plan a virtual start to the school year. To address this, Governor Northam is proposing a record $85 million to expand access to broadband for unserved communities. This historic investment in the Virginia Telecommunications Initiative (VATI) will fund last-mile broadband infrastructure across the Commonwealth during this time of need.
Historically Black Colleges and Universities
Historically Black Colleges and Universities play an essential role in reducing educational inequities, many of which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. That is why Governor Northam is proposing a $15 million investment in Virginia’s public HBCUs. This funding will increase support for underserved students and will fund needed technology upgrades.
Police and Criminal Justice Reform
In July, Governor Northam directed the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the Virginia African American Advisory Board and the Commission to Examine Racial Inequity in Virginia Law to develop policy recommendations and share input with the administration. Governor Northam has also communicated regularly with activists, community leaders and law enforcement officials, and incorporated their feedback into his policy priorities.
The Governor’s special session priorities include measures to:
- Expand the criteria for which a law enforcement officer can be decertified, to include officers who are terminated due to law or policy violations or resign during an ongoing investigation;
- Empower Virginia’s Criminal Justice Services Board to initiate decertification proceedings when de-certifiable conduct is brought to the Board’s attention, regardless of written notice from a local law enforcement department;
- Require law enforcement officers to intervene when they see a colleague engaging in or attempting to engage in unlawful use of force;
- Standardize law-enforcement training across Virginia through development of statewide minimum training standards, curriculum and lesson plans, to include use of force tactics;
- Mandate information-sharing between hiring agencies and previous employers and strengthen the vetting process of newly-hired officers;
- Create best practices for Civilian Review Panels and empower localities to establish review panels;
- Diversify the Criminal Justice Services Board’s Committee on Training to include representatives from civil rights and community organizations, and require opportunities for public input into the development of training standards.
In addition, Governor Northam and his administration are working closely with legislators on measures not outlined above, including proposals related to behavioral health, fair and free elections, and racial equity. Additional proposals will be announced at the Governor’s annual speech to the General Assembly Joint Money Committees, and the Governor looks forward to continued discussions with lawmakers throughout the special session.
Aug. 13, 2020 Update - 10:15 a.m.
Governor Northam Announces Launch of Pediatric Coronavirus Serology Study
Interim adult serology study findings show an estimated 2.4% of adult Virginians have COVID-19 antibodies
Governor Ralph Northam announced that the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) will conduct a pediatric coronavirus disease serology study in Northern Virginia. Interim results from Virginia’s ongoing adult serology study show an estimated 2.4 percent of adults statewide have antibodies to COVID-19. The new pediatric study, completed in collaboration with Inova Health System, will measure the proportion of children and teens with antibodies to COVID-19.
Northern Virginia was selected for this project due to the number of confirmed COVID-19 pediatric cases reported in the region. Northern Virginia’s population is also diverse in terms of ethnicity, socioeconomic status and race, which provides an important comparison to the rest of the Commonwealth.
Inova Children’s Hospital will recruit up to 1,000 participants aged 0 - 19-years-old who live in Northern Virginia and seek care at participating clinical sites. Participants’ blood samples will be tested for COVID-19 antibodies, which indicate that a person had a COVID-19 infection in the past.
VDH will use the information collected from this project to estimate the total number of children and teenagers that have been infected with the COVID-19 virus in Northern Virginia and statewide, including those who may have had mild or asymptomatic infections. VDH will also analyze children's risk factors for COVID-19 infection, including age, underlying health conditions, sociodemographic characteristics, history of COVID-19 infection within households and childcare exposures. Preliminary results are expected by mid-September.
Adult Study: Interim Results
In early June, the Commonwealth launched an adult COVID-19 serology study in partnership with the University of Virginia, Inova Health System, Virginia Commonwealth University, Sentara Healthcare and Carilion Clinic. To date, that project has enrolled 4,652 adults (93%) of the 5,000 participant goal and is ongoing.
The interim analysis, based on 3,113 participants, estimates that 2.4 percent of adults statewide have antibodies to COVID-19. By region, the estimated COVID-19 antibody prevalence is: Northern, 4.2%; Central, 3.0%; Eastern, 1.5%; Southwest, 1.0%; and Northwestern, 0.9%.
According to the study, COVID-19 antibodies are 13.1 times higher among Hispanic adults (14.4%) than non-Hispanic adults (1.1%). Adults under 50 years-old have the highest seroprevalence, while adults ages 60-69 and 70-79 have a 1.0% and 1.4% seroprevalence, respectively.
Adults who reported a health condition that put them at risk for severe complications of COVID-19 infection had a lower prevalence of antibodies to COVID-19 than those without a chronic health condition (1.5% compared to 3.0%). A full report is expected at the conclusion of the study next month, September 2020.
Aug. 12, 2020 Update - 3 p.m.
Aug. 18 Planning Commission Meeting to be Held in Person
Residents can also submit comments ahead of time using online form
The Chesterfield County Planning Commission will hold its Tuesday, Aug. 18 meeting in person in the Public Meeting Room, 10001 Iron Bridge Road.
Measures are being put in place to accommodate public input while still practicing social distancing, as recommended by health officials.
Residents wishing to comment in person will be required to wear a face covering and pass a simple health screening before entering the building. In order to maintain the 6-foot social distance requirement, seating will be extremely limited; however, TV monitors will be set up outside the Public Meeting Room.
Citizens are encouraged to use the online comment form at www.chesterfield.gov/cpccomments to provide comment on public hearings regarding zoning cases. Those wishing to comment must submit a new online form for each public hearing they want to comment on. Only one comment per person per public hearing will be accepted. The online form can also be used to comment on unscheduled matters. In addition to the form, comments can also be received by email at email@example.com, or by calling 804-748-1125.
The Planning Commission will accept all public comments (online portal, telephone message and email) until 5 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 17 to ensure the comments are provided to the Planning Commission prior to the 6 p.m. meeting for their consideration.
The agenda, staff reports and PowerPoint presentations for the Aug. 18 Planning Commission meeting can be found on www.chesterfield.gov/plan.
The Chesterfield Planning Commission Meeting will be livestreamed on WCCT Chesterfield Community Television (Comcast channel 98 and Verizon channel 28) and on YouTube at YouTube.com/ChesterfieldCountyVA.
Aug. 11, 2020 Update - 5:15 p.m.
Chesterfield Health Department Announces Additional August Free COVID-19 Testing Event
Residents exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms should register prior to attending
The Chesterfield Health Department is adding an additional COVID-19 testing event set for Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020 from 5-7 p.m. at the Crystal Lake Apartments located at 3501 Meadowville Blvd.
The Aug. 19 event is one of several planned testing events set throughout the county as part of the commonwealth’s efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19, including a drive-thru testing event from 5-7 p.m. tomorrow at Beulah United Methodist Church located at 6930 Hopkins Road.
Other free COVID-19 testing events in August:
Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020; 5-7 p.m.
Beulah United Methodist Church
6930 Hopkins Road
Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020; 5-7 p.m.
Crystal Lake Apartments
3501 Meadowville Blvd.
Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020; Noon-2 p.m.
Jeff Davis Flea Market
5700 Jefferson Davis Highway
Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020; 5-7 p.m.
Journey Christian Church
3700 Price Club Blvd.
Testing is for individuals who have COVID-19 symptoms and is free for uninsured or underinsured persons.
While some appointments will be reserved for walk-ups, testing is limited and appointments should be made prior to arriving. Residents who may be experiencing COVID-19 symptoms as defined by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), should call the Chesterfield Health Department at 804-318-8207.
Spanish speaking staff also will be present during the testing event.
Aug. 7, 2020 Update - 5 p.m.
Chesterfield Navigating Strict Guidelines for Spending Federal Coronavirus Relief Funds
County informing citizens in preparation for Aug. 26 public hearing
In preparation for the Wednesday, Aug. 26 Board of Supervisors public hearing about the county’s use of federal CARES Act funding, Chesterfield is informing citizens about how the money may be spent in accordance with guidelines set by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The CARES Act established the Coronavirus Relief Fund to assist states and communities in overcoming challenges directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The federal dollars come with restrictions for how they may be spent. The public hearing will assist county leaders in further developing plans to allocate the funds in ways that best meet needs in the community while remaining within the strict guidelines.
Using the federal guidance provided, Chesterfield has identified six categories in which the money may be applied, including virus mitigation/public health, schools, food insecurity, business assistance, technology and community assistance. The money may not be used for recurring costs, revenue shortfalls or other expenses related to the normal day-to-day operation of government or schools.
Chesterfield’s allocation from the state equals approximately $61.5 million that have come in two equal payments since the start of the pandemic. States received CARES Act funding based on population. Virginia also used population to determine its distribution of the funds among local governments.
Chesterfield was not able to account for the funds in the budget leaders adopted April 22, but the money can cover COVID-19-related expenses incurred between March 1 and Dec. 30, and the funds must be used by the end of the year.
Examples of how Chesterfield initially allocated some of the funds include personal protective equipment and protective barriers as the county worked to maintain public services. Funds have also been used to provide grants to businesses to help them weather the pandemic’s significant economic impact. Further planning includes exploring the use of CARES Act funding to support daycare facilities and a newly planned spatial day-support program in a handful of schools in an effort to assist citizens juggling the constraints of work and caring for children who will be learning virtually this fall.
County leaders are also expected to allocate CARES Act funds to assist schools in ultimately reopening to in-person learning, as well as possible heating and air-conditioning upgrades at schools to improve air quality.
View details about how local governments may apply CARES Act funds.
View detailed FAQ about the Coronavirus Relief Fund.
View details about speaking during a Board of Supervisors public hearing.
Read the full news release.
Aug. 7, 2020 Update - 2 p.m.
Virginia Supreme Court Grants Temporary Statewide Eviction Moratorium
Court suspends eviction proceedings through Sept. 7 at Governor’s request
Governor Ralph Northam announced a temporary statewide moratorium on eviction proceedings in Virginia. The moratorium, which will begin on Monday, Aug. 10 and remain in effect through Monday, Sept. 7, halts all eviction proceedings related to failure to pay rent. Governor Northam requested this moratorium in a letter to Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Lemons on July 24.
On June 29, Governor Northam launched the Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program (RMRP), which provides an initial $50 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding for Virginia households facing eviction and foreclosure due to COVID-19. View eligibility and application information for the RMRP.
Tenants are encouraged to know their rights and responsibilities and pay their rent on time if they are able. Please visit StayHomeVirginia.com for additional information and resources on tenant rights.
View Governor Northam’s letter to Chief Justice Lemons requesting this moratorium.
View the order from the Supreme Court of Virginia.
Aug. 5, 2020 Update - 3:30 p.m.
Governor Northam Launches COVIDWISE Exposure Notification App to Help Contain COVID-19
Virginia is first-in-the-nation to use Apple-Google Bluetooth framework to protect personal privacy
Governor Ralph Northam announced the launch of COVIDWISE, an innovative exposure notification app that will alert users if they have been in close contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19. Virginia is the first state in the country to design a COVID-19 app using Bluetooth Low Energy technology developed by Apple and Google, which does not rely on personal information or location data. Users opt-in to download and utilize the free app.
The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) developed COVIDWISE in partnership with Spring ML using funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). The free app is available to download through the App Store and the Google Play Store. COVIDWISE is the only app in Virginia allowed to use the exposure notifications system (ENS) application programming interface (API) jointly created by Apple and Google. Other countries, including Ireland and Germany, have successfully used this technology in similar apps.
COVIDWISE works by using random Bluetooth keys that change every 10 to 20 minutes. iOS and Android devices that have the app installed will anonymously share these random keys if they are within close proximity for at least 15 minutes. Each day, the device downloads a list of all random keys associated with positive COVID-19 results submitted by other app users and checks them against the list of random keys it has encountered in the last 14 days. If there is a match, COVIDWISE may notify the individual, taking into account the date and duration of exposure, and the Bluetooth signal strength which is used to estimate proximity.
Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 will be notified by a VDH case investigator and will be given a unique numeric code. This code is entered into the app by the user and serves as verification of a positive report. Others who have downloaded COVIDWISE and have been in close proximity to the individual who reported as being positive will receive a notice which reads, “You have likely been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.” This is your alert to get tested.
The notice includes the estimated number of days since the exposure and provides several options for taking further action, including contacting a primary care physician or local health department, monitoring symptoms and finding nearby test locations. The Virtual VDH tab within the app also provides links to online resources and relevant phone numbers.
Anyone who downloads the app has the option to choose to receive exposure notifications, and if a person is diagnosed with COVID-19, it is up to them whether or not to share their result anonymously through COVIDWISE. No location data or personal information is ever collected, stored, tracked or transmitted to VDH as part of the app. Users have the ability to delete the app or turn off exposure notifications at any time.
Widespread use is critical to the success of this effort, and VDH is launching a robust, statewide public information campaign to make sure Virginians are aware of the COVIDWISE app, its privacy protection features, and how it can be used to support public health and help reduce the spread of the virus.
To learn more about COVIDWISE and the download the app, visit www.covidwise.org.
Read the one-page information sheet on COVIDWISE.
Aug. 5, 2020 Update - 10:45 a.m.
Aug. 4, 2020 Update - 2:30 p.m.
Virginia Joins Bipartisan, Interstate Compact to Expand Rapid Antigen Testing
Six-state agreement will put Virginia on path to purchase 500,000 rapid, point-of-care antigen tests
Governor Ralph Northam announced a cutting-edge interstate compact to expand the use of rapid antigen testing in Virginia. Governor Northam joined Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine in this bipartisan agreement with the Rockefeller Foundation, which represents the first interstate testing compact of its kind among governors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With today’s announcement, these six states are entering formal discussions with Becton Dickinson and Quidel, the U.S. manufacturers of antigen tests that have already been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration, to purchase 500,000 rapid antigen tests per state. By joining together, states are demonstrating to private manufacturers that there is significant demand to scale up the production of these tests, which deliver results in 15 to 20 minutes. Additional states, cities and local governments may join the compact in the coming weeks.
This interstate cooperative purchasing agreement will provide a unique platform to purchase tests and associated supplies in a sustainable and cost-effective manner. In addition, the states will coordinate on policies and protocols regarding rapid antigen testing technology. The Rockefeller Foundation will assist in facilitating financing mechanisms to support this large-scale interstate testing compact.