I am proud to say that Virginia has once again been named the top state for business by CNBC. Our strong workforce and solid education system propelled Virginia to its second straight win in CNBC’s state competitiveness rankings. Virginia has captured top honors five times — more than any other state — and is the first state to notch back-to-back wins. Virginia was also applauded for our efforts in supporting access to voting rights and anti-discrimination. Governor Northam and we, in the General Assembly, have been working hard to address the many needs of our Commonwealth - both in the business community and those of our residents and this work is receiving national recognition. We are fiscally responsible, socially progressive and inclusive and welcoming for everyone. That is indeed good for business!
Yesterday, Helix Electric, a business in Chantilly, held a blood drive and barbecue. I spent some time speaking with their employees about career opportunities in the trades, the need to share these opportunities with our high school students and others looking for a new career, and I thanked them for giving back to our community. It’s so important to me to support businesses in District 33 and I am happy to stop by to learn more about your work.
We are in the process of preparing for our special legislative session, returning to Richmond on August 2nd where we will make decisions about the $4.3 billion federal American Rescue Plan Act funds and the budget surplus. I expect that we will be able to allocate resources to help our struggling businesses and make investments in our schools and mental health system. During the special session we will also select judges for the Virginia Court of Appeals.
While I always stay busy here in the district, next week will be a particularly busy one. With the falling number of COVID-19 cases and increases in vaccinations, I am holding two legislative town halls in person - Tuesday, July 20th in Leesburg and Wednesday, July 21st in Herndon. If you are not vaccinated, please wear a mask as recommended by CDC guidelines or watch the broadcasts. Additionally, I am hosting a virtual town hall for our youth on Thursday, July 22. This is your opportunity to share your concerns and ideas for legislation, as well as hear about new laws and what’s going well as we move forward. Please use one of the google links to send your questions in advance and share the town hall invites with your friends and let young people know about my town hall for our youth.
Tuesday, July 20 at 6:30 pm, Town Hall with Delegate Goodities in Leesburg Town Council Chambers
Submit Questions Here: https://forms.gle/aNLgkmbMUSHgmpwB9
Wednesday, July 21 at 6:30 pm, Town Hall in Herndon Town Council Chambers
Submit Questions Here: https://forms.gle/V2xg3mMrKUBjdgfK6
Thursday, July 22 at 5 pm, Virtual Youth Town Hall
Youth Register for Zoom link: https://bit.ly/3hHikNv
Submit Questions Here: https://forms.gle/mFkm3TkxR5wf7mif7
For students to be fully vaccinated by the first day of school, they need a first dose by July 19 in Fairfax County and July 22 in Loudoun County. There is more information on back to school vaccination clinics below.
As we look back over the past year and a half, I continue to be mindful of the difficulties so many have faced. My staff and I continue to receive requests for assistance from residents who are struggling with a business, unemployment, and health issues on a daily basis and I am so glad to say that we have been able to help get positive outcomes for many. Thanks for putting your trust in me and my team - Karen Harrison and Kathy Shupe especially. They have been working above and beyond on the casework, often working into the wee hours of the night to help a constituent. We make constituent services a top priority.
Lastly, I am going to have an in person event here in the district on Sunday August 8th. It will be a lovely chance to see friends and colleagues. I would love to have you join us!
PS. If you are able (and only if it does not cause a hardship) and if you appreciate my work, please consider contributing so that I can continue the good work in our community.
Progress Fighting the Covid-19 Pandemic
Cases in Virginia and an Update on Vaccines
The Virginia Department of Health website continues to update the status of covid-19 cases in Virginia. As of 5 pm yesterday, the number of positive COVID-19 cases in Virginia is 684,054 with 440 new cases in the past 24 hours. These numbers show an uptick in cases, likely due to travel. The number of vaccinated Virginians is increasing - 51.9% of our population is now fully vaccinated.
Masks are an Effective and Legal Way to Help Protect Yourself and Others
The Virginia Department of Health website is clear, while vaccination is the best defense against COVID-19, masks are also an important tool to protect yourself and others. The VDH website states that “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.”
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 and Frequently Asked Questions.
Free Vaccines Available for All Over 12 Years of Age
Schedule appointments directly through the Vaccinate Virginia vaccine system by visiting vaccinate.virginia.gov or by calling 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682, TTY users call 7-1-1).
Learn more about back to school vaccination clinics for FCPS here. The graphic is for FCPS and the first dose for students to be fully vaccinated by the first day of school is July 19. Loudoun County is scheduled for an August 26 first day of school so students should receive their first dose by July 22. Find a vaccine appointment or walk-in hours here.
All COVID-19 vaccines are free regardless of health insurance or immigration status. Assistance is available in English, Spanish, and more than 100 other languages. Videoconferencing in American Sign Language also is available by videophone at 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682) or online by clicking the “ASL Now” button at vaccinate.virginia.gov.
The free COVIDWISE app can be downloaded in the App Store and Google Play. 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.
Free COVID-19 Testing
Virginia is still seeing new cases of COVID-19, including variants. You can find free COVID-19 testing using this website.
Mental Health Support - Virginia COPES Warm Line
Many people are experiencing anxiety, depression and other health effects from the ongoing stresses of the pandemic. Please continue to take care of yourself and check on others. Please reach out if you need support and share this resource with others.
Call or TEXT Toll Free: 877-349-6428
9 am - 9 pm Monday - Friday
5 pm - 9 pm Saturday - Sunday
You can find more information on Virginia COPES and other resources available to Community Service Boards from state agencies here.
Unemployment Assistance, Resources for Job Searchers, and More
VEC now requires that people receiving unemployment benefits show proof of job searches each week. Support for finding a job is available from Virginia Career Works and Loudoun Workforce Resource Center. They can help identify training programs, job opportunities, and help with resumes, emails, and interviewing skills. Please reach out if you are looking for a job.
Help Paying Bills
I know that many of you are still struggling to pay bills. Please visit Virginia’s CommonHelp website to figure out if you qualify for assistance. You can also reach out to your county - your local government will review your financial situation and connect you with resources. In Fairfax County, contact Coordinated Services. In Loudoun County, contact Information and Referral. Here are additional resources for food. If you are struggling to pay rent or at risk of eviction or foreclosure, it is best to reach out for help early.
Many of the calls and emails to my office are from constituents who are frustrated and struggling because of the break in benefits that has occurred as they exhaust benefits under regular unemployment and move to benefits under one of the federal programs enacted to help those who are unemployed due to the pandemic. We are also hearing about problems with the identification verification system. VEC has been ordered to speed up the processing of unemployment claims as a result of a lawsuit brought by the Legal Aid Justice Center, Legal Aid Works, the Virginia Poverty Law Center and others.
Please contact my office if you have filed for unemployment benefits and have not received a decision regarding your eligibility or are still waiting for payments or need help with the identification system.
Further guidance is expected from VEC regarding Applications for Waiver of Overpayments. I expect this section of the VEC website will be updated, VEC Application for Waiver of Overpayment. Claimants with outstanding balances will receive written notice with instructions on how to apply for the waiver of overpayment.
Use Your Voice: Route 7 Corridor Study between Route 28 and the Fairfax County Line
The draft corridor study examined existing and projected future conditions along Route 7 in Loudoun Countybetween the Route 28 interchange and Dranesville Road (Route 228) at the Fairfax County line, approximately 4.25 miles. The study evaluated conditions through 2040. The study team is seeking the public’s input on the interim safety improvements and the alternatives and areas needing attention along this corridor. You can review the study and alternatives and submit comments.
Federal Child Tax Credit
Starting today, millions of families will receive monthly payments thanks to the Child Tax Credit expansion in the federal American Rescue Plan. This tax credit for working families will deliver much-needed support to working parents to help with the costs of raising children, paying for groceries, and more.
An estimated 1.5 million children across Virginia will benefit from this expanded child tax credit, including 249,000 children in the Commonwealth who currently live in poverty or deep poverty. Most families with children ages 6-17 will receive monthly payments of $250 per child, while those with children under age 6 will receive monthly payments of $300 per child every month between now and December.
If your family makes $150,000 or less per year, and you filed tax returns for 2019 or 2020 taxes, or signed up for a stimulus check, your monthly payments will be deposited automatically into your bank account, or a check will be mailed to the address on file, with no further action required. If you don't normally file tax returns, sign up here to get your monthly payments. Please share this information with parents you know who might not file tax returns.
Summer Food Programs - Fairfax County Public Schools
This summer, Fairfax County Public Schools are distributing Summer Meal Kits for pick up thru August 2d. Meal kits,containing seven days of breakfast and lunch items packed in bulk,will be available for pick up every Monday from 8:30 am - 10:30 am or until supplies are exhausted. Meal kits are available at no-cost to FCPS students and children eighteen years of age and under. Parents/caregivers may pick up for children and adults may purchase kits for $28.00.
Ten (10) buses per day will run weekly routes Monday - Thursday throughout the community distributing the meal kits thru August 5th. All meals are available at no-cost to FCPS students and children eighteen years of age and under. Parents/caregivers may pick up for children. Adult meals will not be available for purchase.
Check here for locations and hours of pick ups and bus routes.
Summer Food Programs - Loudoun County Public Schools
Summer walk-up meal service will be held every Monday from 9 am to 11:30 am throughout the summer at 23 Loudoun County Public Schools. Bus delivery of meals will provide eight days of meals through August 16. To find the nearest meal delivery stop, please use this interactive online map.
USDA Summer Food
There are additional summer food sites on the USDA website.
Virginia Private College Week, July 26 - 31, 2021
With three or more virtual or in-person tours, you can apply to three private colleges for free. Learn more at vaprivatecollege.org.
Get Help with Your Broadband Bill
Eligible households for Emergency Broadband Benefits can enroll through a participating broadband provider or directly with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) using an online or mail in application. Eligibility and enrollment information is available by visiting www.fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit, or by calling 833-511-0311.
In the News
HART is a no-kill animal rescue and support group, incorporated in 1990, that takes in and rehomes abused and unwanted dogs and cats. It’s the rescue where I adopted my cats, Elizabeth Bennet and Jane Eyre. Donate here if you are able to help or consider donating an item on the wish list. HART is a 501(c)(3) non profit organization and your donations are tax deductible.
Saturdays, year round, 8 am- noon (May – Oct), 9 am – noon (Nov – April)/Leesburg Farmer’s Market, located at the Virginia Village Shopping Center, 30 Catoctin Circle, SE, in Leesburg.
Sundays, April - December 2021, 9 am - 1 pm/Cascades Farmer’s Market, located at 21060 Whitfield Drive (Parking lot of the Senior Center) in Sterling, VA.
Thursdays, April 22 - November 4, 8 am - 12:30 pm/Farmer’s Market in Old Town Herndon By the Red Caboose.. See here for information on all of Fairfax County Farmers Markets.
Every Tuesday and Wednesday all summer at 10:00 a.m./Regal’s Summer Movie Express
Thursday, July 15, 2021, noon & Monday, July 19, 2021, 5:30 pm/Loudoun County has added two more sessions of the Revive! opioid overdose reversal training
Wednesday, July 28 2021 - Sunday, August 1 2021/Loudoun County Fair
Friday, August 6 - Sunday, August/Virginia Sales Tax Holiday
We welcome notices about events that are free or very low cost.
Keep in Touch
I am working hard in District 33. My team includes my Chief of Staff Karen Harrison, and aides, Kathy Shupe and Alec Fischbein.. For constituent services, appointments by telephone, and to schedule meetings with your community group, please call (703) 437-0086 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Friend me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.