COVID-19 Updates Archive - July 2021
July 21, 2021 Update - 2:15 p.m.
Virginia Departments of Health and Education Release Updated Guidance for PreK-12 Schools
PreK-12 schools will make locally-informed decisions on masking and prevention measures, as informed by CDC recommendations
The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the Virginia Department of Education today released new guidance for PreK-12 schools for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year. The Interim Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in Virginia PreK-12 Schools (PDF) reinforces the importance of in-person learning and supports school divisions in making decisions on masking and other prevention measures, as informed by local data and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The State Health Commissioner’s Public Health Order (PDF) is in effect until Sunday, July 25, 2021, and will not be extended, giving school divisions the ability to implement local mask policies based on community level conditions and public health recommendations. As informed by recent CDC recommendations, Virginia guidance strongly recommends divisions adopt the following for the 2021-2022 school year:
- Elementary schools should implement a requirement that students, teachers and staff wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, until vaccination is available for children under 12 years old and there has been sufficient time to allow for children younger than 12 years old to be fully vaccinated.
- At a minimum, middle and high schools should implement a requirement that students, teachers and staff who are not fully vaccinated wear masks indoors. While school divisions regularly confirm school-required immunization records of their students, they should consult with their counsel in determining if and how to confirm student and staff COVID-19 vaccinations.
- All schools may want to consider universal masking for specific reasons as outlined in certain circumstances by the CDC.
- All schools should be prepared to adjust local mask policies as local public health conditions evolve throughout the year.
The CDC federal order requiring masks be worn on public transportation remains in effect and applies to buses operated by Virginia public schools.
All schools in Virginia are required to make in-person instruction available to all students in the 2021-2022 school year, pursuant to Senate Bill 1303 which was passed during Virginia’s 2021 legislative session. According to the updated guidance, physical distancing of at least 3 feet should be maximized to the greatest extent possible but schools should not reduce in-person learning to keep a minimum distance requirement.
Prevention strategies are most effective when layered together, and will continue to be necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in schools. The guidance recommends that divisions work with local health departments to implement mitigation strategies based on information about the levels of community transmission, local vaccine coverage, the occurrence of cases and outbreaks in schools and the use of screening testing data to detect cases in schools.
Vaccination remains the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic. Vaccinating teachers, staff and eligible students is a critical layer of prevention and protection for all.
In 2020, Governor Northam directed $492 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to public schools and PreK-12 state-level education initiatives. This year, Virginia received approximately $939 million in ESSER II funds under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act of 2021. Ninety percent of the funding was distributed to school divisions in January, with the other 10 percent set aside for targeted state-level initiatives to address the impact of the pandemic on students and schools. Additionally, the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) III funds directly allocate $1.9 billion to school divisions (PDF), with an additional state set aside of $211 million.
This spring, Governor Northam announced $62.7 million in Virginia LEARNS Education Recovery grants to help school divisions expand and implement targeted initiatives to support Virginia students as they continue to recover from the impacts of the pandemic.
July 20, 2021 Update - 3:45 p.m.
Chesterfield to Host Facebook Live Discussion Over Federal Relief Funds
Public hearing regarding the allocation of money from the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021
Residents and businesses will have the opportunity to learn about the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and how Chesterfield could allocate $68.5 million in federal money during a Facebook Live session at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, July 26.
Following a short presentation by members of the county’s Budget and Management Department, people can submit questions during the Facebook Live session on the county’s main Facebook page. Chesterfield residents are encouraged to submit questions ahead of the presentation to firstname.lastname@example.org.
People who cannot join the Facebook Live discussion that day will be able to view the presentation in its entirety the following day on WCCT Chesterfield Community Television, including Comcast channel 98 and Verizon channel 28, and on YouTube - ChesterfieldCountyVA.
Residents also will have the chance to comment about the proposed allocation of American Rescue Plan Act money during the 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 28 Chesterfield Board of Supervisors meeting.
Suggested uses for relief funds include: Water and Sewer infrastructure, public health and housing support, public safety and cybersecurity efforts.
Passed by the U.S. Congress and signed by President Joe Biden in March, the American Rescue Plan Act is a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill that aims to help municipalities respond to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
View the full news release.
July 12, 2021 Update - 4 p.m.
Governor Northam Proposes $353 Million in American Rescue Plan Funding to Accelerate Small Business Recovery
Includes investments for Rebuild VA, community revitalization, tourism and hospitality industries
Governor Ralph Northam has announced that his first budget proposal for American Rescue Plan funding invests $353 million to boost recovery among Virginia’s small businesses and industries hardest-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. In May, the Governor and General Assembly leaders released a joint statement outlining shared priorities for the $4.3 billion in federal funds available to the Commonwealth from the American Rescue Plan.
The Governor was joined by House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, and Delegates Kelly Convirs-Fowler, Nancy Guy, and Alex Askew for an event at Neptune’s Park on the Virginia Beach oceanfront to discuss his proposed $250 million investment in the Rebuild VA economic recovery fund, $50 million for Virginia Tourism Corporation initiatives, and $53 million for other small business including the Industrial Revitalization Fund and Virginia Main Street program.
Since launching in August 2020, the Rebuild VA economic recovery fund has awarded $120 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to more than 3,000 small businesses and nonprofits. Governor Northam and the General Assembly agreed to fund Rebuild VA with an additional $25 million in March to fulfill many of the pending applications. The Governor is proposing a new $250 million investment in Rebuild VA to meet the ongoing demand for the program and provide grants to additional small businesses.
Travel and hospitality have long been an impactful revenue generator for the Commonwealth, and from March 2020 to April 2021, Virginia lost an estimated $14.5 billion in total tourism spending. Governor Northam is proposing a $50 million investment to help the tourism industry recover and restore additional economic activity across the Commonwealth. The Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) will create the Virginia Tourism Recovery Program to deliver funding to all 114 destination marketing organizations throughout the Commonwealth. This funding will also allow VTC to boost its sports and meeting marketing programs, which experienced significant revenue loss during the pandemic, and extend its broadcast and digital marketing into tier 2 and 3 media markets in Charlotte, Pittsburgh, Boston and Chicago and digital advertising to an additional 29 markets east of the Mississippi River.
Finally, Governor Northam is proposing $53 million for the Industrial Revitalization Fund and the Virginia Main Street program. The Industrial Revitalization Fund helps jumpstart industrial projects through a collaborative approach with local governments and assistance with site identification, location preparation, and the transformation of derelict structures to increase the number of shovel-ready projects. The funding will also support Virginia Main Street’s Technical Assistance Grant program, which has proven to be a successful tool for revitalizing small towns. This increased investment will be focused on providing support for minority and immigrant communities, as well as woman- and minority-owned businesses.
July 9, 2021 Update - 3 p.m.
Virginia Department of Health Announces New Dashboard to Show COVID-19 Cases by Vaccination Status and to Track COVID-19 Vaccine Breakthrough Cases
Vaccine breakthroughs remain rare and COVID-19 vaccination is highly effective in preventing illness
The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) COVID-19 in Virginia dashboards now include information on the number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths by vaccination status. They also include data to track COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Vaccine breakthrough means someone who is fully vaccinated develops COVID-19.
Vaccination is the most important strategy to stop the COVID-19 pandemic. Every time an immune person is exposed, the chain of transmission is broken, slowing the spread from person to person. Getting vaccinated is a much safer way to develop immunity than getting sick from COVID-19.
All COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States are effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death. To receive the most protection, people should receive all recommended doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccine breakthroughs are rare and COVID-19 vaccination is highly effective in preventing illness, even acute illness.
For more information on COVID-19 in Virginia, visit VDH's COVID-19 webpage and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) COVID-19 webpage. COVID-19 vaccines are free and accessible to all Virginians. Virginians seeking a vaccination opportunity can check in with their provider, pharmacy or find and schedule appointments at vaccinate.virginia.gov, vaccinefinder.org or by calling 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682).
July 1, 2021 Update - 3:30 p.m.
VDH Reminds Virginians of Important Role of Masks to Protect Against COVID-19
Masks are an effective and legal way to help protect yourself and others
Public health officials encourage Virginians to continue to wear masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and allowed by state law. There is no legal barrier to wearing masks to protect oneself and others from the virus, nor should anyone be penalized for doing so. While the law prohibits wearing a mask for the purpose of concealing one’s identity, it does not prohibit wearing a mask for the purpose of preventing the spread of COVID-19. This is true even now that Virginia is no longer under a statewide declaration of emergency.
COVID-19 spreads more easily indoors than outdoors. The CDC recommends wearing a mask in indoor public places for anyone aged 2 or older who is not fully vaccinated, and for anyone with a weakened immune system regardless of vaccination status. Although it is not generally necessary to wear masks outside, people who are not fully vaccinated should continue to wear masks in crowded settings, particularly in areas with high numbers of cases.
Masks must be worn by persons aged 5 or older while indoors at a public or private K-12 school, pursuant to an Order of Public Health Emergency (PDF) issued by the State Health Commissioner and in effect from July 1 through July 25, 2021. Federal law requires masks on planes, buses (including school buses), trains and other forms of public transportation. Even when not required, people who are fully vaccinated should continue to wear masks whenever they would be more comfortable doing so.
Businesses are generally free to adopt their own mask requirements. Employees of some workplaces may still be required by state regulations to wear masks, even if fully vaccinated. For more information, employers should refer to the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry’s Standard (PDF) and Frequently Asked Questions.
Masks may be especially important now that recent cases of the Delta variant (B.1.617.2) have been identified in Virginia. This variant can spread more easily and might cause more severe illness than others. Although current COVID-19 vaccines appear to be effective against the Delta variant, additional mitigation measures (such as wearing masks, keeping distance from others, washing hands frequently and cleaning surfaces) help lower risk even more.
July 1, 2021 Update - Noon
Chesterfield Health District to Host Free COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Every Wednesday in July
Clinics will be held from 3-6 p.m., beginning July 7
The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) Chesterfield Health District (CHD) will host free COVID-19 vaccination clinics every Wednesday in July starting on July 7, from 3-6 p.m. These clinics will be held at St. Augustine Catholic Church, located at 4400 Beulah Road, North Chesterfield.
No pre-registration is required, and walk-ups are welcome.
This location will be administering the Pfizer vaccine, which is given in two doses. Attendees will be given an appointment card for the next clinic around 21 days to receive the second dose. If this vaccination clinic is not convenient, citizens are encouraged to visit VaccineFinder.org to find a vaccine closest to them.
Children 12 years of age and older may get the Pfizer vaccine. A parent or guardian is required to accompany the child for them to receive the vaccine.
View the full news release.
July 1, 2021 Update - 11:45 a.m.
Chesterfield COVID-19 Declaration of Emergency Officially Ends
Increased pathways to government participation and modes to serve will continue
Chesterfield County has officially ended its local Declaration of Emergency nearly 16 months after issuing the decree to address several health and economic stressors related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The emergency declaration ended July 1.
Chesterfield first issued the local emergency declaration in March 2020 to respond and acknowledge COVID-19’s impact to the overall economic and health wellness of the county’s residents and businesses.
As part of the declaration, the county has worked closely with local, regional, state and federal partners to ensure businesses and residents have had access to a variety of programs and resources, including:
- Obtaining and distributing personal protective equipment to essential and emergency workers.
- Procuring additional technology to ensure continuity of services while adhering to distancing guidelines.
- Providing support to the Chesterfield Health District in community testing initiatives.
- Full utilization of county resources to assist in vaccination efforts, including the development of a database system for residents to sign-up for a COVID-19 vaccine, providing vaccines to public safety and government employees and redeployment of county government employees to maintain and improve services to residents and businesses.
Despite the official end to the declaration, the county will continue to adhere to several state and federal measures to keep people safe. Each county office building also will have access to hand sanitizer and disposable masks.
While state and federal guidelines no longer require face coverings, it is permissible for those wishing to wear them while on county property.
Furthermore, Chesterfield plans to maintain several virtual engagement initiatives either introduced or enhanced during the pandemic to allow increased interaction with county officials and departments, which include:
- Hosting Facebook Live discussions and features on specific topics and programs.
- Live streaming the Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission’s meeting over the county’s YouTube channel and on WCCT Chesterfield Community Television, with citizen opportunities to continue commenting online for public hearings and additional comments to be incorporated into meetings.
- Submitting online documents for development and permits through Planning and Zoning’s online Enterprise Land Management (ELM) portal.
- Launching the Public Portal for Concerns and Assistance, which allows residents and businesses to provide feedback, concerns, report fraud, waste or abuse to county departments.
Other additional measures developed during the pandemic to serve residents and businesses are all being reviewed to supplement traditional in-person services provided by the county.
The county also will maintain its COVID-19 webpage, where residents will have around-the-clock access to resources and information related to the pandemic that includes available vaccination clinics, an update on overall vaccinations in the county and updates to state and federal resources for housing and business assistance.
“Ending the emergency declaration marks yet another chapter in our progress to end the pandemic,” said Chesterfield Board of Supervisors Chair James “Jim” Holland. “What we’ve experienced, how we’ve adapted, and what we’ve learned along the way have shaped in countless ways how we move forward. Throughout the pandemic, Chesterfield’s resilience and fortitude have shined in all directions, and we are today a stronger community.”
View the full news release.