Virginia moves into Phase 3 of reopening today as our Commonwealth’s COVID-19 numbers trend in a hopeful direction. Face coverings are still required inside public spaces and we all remain safer at home. I hope that – while we now have more opportunities to support our local businesses – we continue to practice physical distancing as much as possible to keep ourselves and each other safe.
Community Policing Act
The Community Policing Act goes into effect today. I introduced this law during the last General Assembly session because bias-based policing and excessive force isn’t a new issue for my office – in fact, I introduced the same bill in 2019 under a Republican majority. This year it finally passed. Starting today, bias-based profiling by law enforcement officers is officially prohibited across the Commonwealth. The basis and outcome of every traffic stop, demographic information of stopped drivers, and complaints alleging use of excessive force will all be recorded, analyzed, and reported along with recommendations for change. Read more about the Community Policing Act here.
In May I launched an initiative to provide COVID-19 testing and personal protective equipment (PPE) to home care workers and providers at long-term care facilities. As a workplace safety measure, adequate testing and PPE will help our long-term and home care workers safely care for our most vulnerable. Now, home care workers are getting masks!
Over the last several weeks we have been working with SEIU 512, the home care union, to fight for access to masks for home care workers. Home care workers are health care heroes who perform essential work during which social distancing is impossible. Even though most of their patients are high-risk older adults, home care workers have not been prioritized for PPE until now. Last week, Virginia’s Department of Medical Assistance Services announced that they are shipping masks to Medicaid recipients to share with their home care providers. ICYMI: Check out this article on our win.
We have more left to do. Home care workers still need additional PPE, hazard pay, and overtime. And we still need to ensure our providers at long-term care facilities have access to the testing they need. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to get the next good news first.
Unity for Prince William Schools
On Monday the Prince William County School Board approved renaming Stonewall Jackson High School and Stonewall Middle School. The high school will be renamed Unity Reed High School in honor of Arthur Reed, a longtime security assistant at the school who was nicknamed the “Godfather of Stonewall.” The middle school will be renamed Unity Braxton Middle to recognize the work of community members Celestine and Carroll Braxton – a name that I advocated for.
Celestine Braxton was a civil rights activist and Prince William County educator for over 30 years. She was hired as part of an effort to integrate Prince William County Schools staff, teaching for decades at Antioch McCrae, Martseller, and Stonewall Jackson Middle School. Outside of her work as an educator, Mrs. Braxton fought to end racial segregation in Manassas. Mrs. Braxton’s husband, Carroll Braxton, became a Montford Point Marine, one of the first Black men in the United States Marine Corps.
The courageous, trailblazing Celestine and Carroll Braxton are far more fitting representatives of Prince William County – not to mention role models for our youth – than a Confederate general. Prince William students deserve this change. I thank Chairman Babur Lateef and the Prince William County School Board for their support.
Virginia’s Department of Motor Vehicles has doubled its credential extension. Every driver, vehicle, and special identification credential that was set to expire before July 31 has been extended an additional 90 days, but not beyond October 31.
Some examples from the DMV:
- March 15 and April 30: A customer whose credential expired between these dates will have an additional 90 days added to the prior 90 days, effectively 180 days, beyond the expiration date to renew.
- May 1 and July 31: Those with credentials expiring between these dates will have up to 180 days beyond the expiration date, not to exceed October 31, 2020.
- After July 31st: If a credential expires after July 31st, it must be renewed before its expiration date.
Vehicle registrations expiring March through July are extended for up to 180 days, not to exceed October 31. More details here. Additionally, Executive Directive Eight directed the Virginia State Police to suspend enforcement of vehicle safety inspections at least through July 31.
I am continuing to update this summary of Northern Virginia’s public transportation schedule changes and enhanced safety measures. OmniRide, Metro, and VRE are all requiring riders to wear masks or face coverings.
Metrobus is temporarily suspending bus service on four routes with currently low ridership (NH2, C14, G2, and M6) to allow for more frequent trips on busier routes to reduce crowding.
Omniride Express commuter buses continue to operate on a reduced level, running only the D-100 Dale City – Washington, D-300 Dale City–Navy Yard, and MC-200 Montclair–Pentagon routes on a Friday schedule and the 612 Gainesville–Pentagon/L’Enfant Plaza/Navy Yard route on a regular schedule.
VRE is still operating at a reduced “S” schedule level.
Rent and Mortgage Assistance
On Monday, Governor Northam launched the Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program within the Department of Housing and Community Development. The relief program will provide $50 million in CARES Act funding to Virginia households facing eviction or foreclosure as a result of COVID-19. Anyone with a past-due rent or mortgage payment who has lost income due to the pandemic can learn more about the program and check assistance eligibility here.
As of Tuesday, there were 7,285coronavirus cases, 656hospitalizations, and 144deaths in Prince William County. Please visit the Prince William County coronavirus website and Virginia’s coronavirus website for more information on staying healthy and resources like unemployment insurance, food assistance, or small business loans.
I remain inspired by our community’s resilience. Keep in mind that my office is committed to providing advocacy and assistance wherever possible: Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns. Clarice and I wish you a safe and happy Independence Day!