I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy and enjoying the break from all the snow and ice we've experienced recently.
I'm sure no one missed the sad news this week that we have now lost over 500,000 Americans to COVID-19. My heart aches for each and every person who has lost someone they hold dear to this disease. Please, even as cases continue to decrease and vaccination rates increase, make sure you are practicing proper social distancing and wearing masks. These are simple things that we can do to ensure that our neighbors and their families are safe.
In this newsletter, I have more information from our vaccine town hall, an update on COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, and news on my legislation from the 2021 legislative session.
As a reminder, you can reach out to my office at any time at DelKDelaney@house.virginia.gov to schedule a virtual meeting with me. I am looking forward to hearing from you as the session winds down. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to email my office or call us at 703-996-9415.
Last Sunday, I had the pleasure of joining Senator Dave Marsden, Delegate Dan Helmer, Dr. Danny Avula from the Virginia Department of Health, and Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu from the Fairfax County Health Department for a vaccine town hall. The doctors gave a brief overview of our progress in the Commonwealth and the County, and then we took many questions that had been sent in ahead of time by our constituents. You can watch the whole town hall on my Facebook page here. If you don't have Facebook, you can click on the picture below to be directed to a Zoom recording of the town hall. You will need a password to access it, and that password is: xSbj.ti8
In a press conference this week, Governor Northam announced an easing of certain public health guidelines as cases continue to go down and vaccination rates go up. Below is a snapshot from the Governor's presentation with an overview of changes coming on Monday.
As an overview, here are some other changes coming soon:
Outdoor gathering limits are increasing to 25 people
The stay at home order from midnight to 5am is lifted
Starting May 1, overnight summer camps will be allowed to open with proper mitigation measures
Alcohol sales and consumption at restaurants will be allowed until midnight
Maximum amount of people at outdoor entertainment venues will be set to 30% capacity or 1,000 people, whichever is lesser
You can read the full release from the Governor's office here.
The Commonwealth continues to make progress in its vaccination efforts, thanks to a boost in supply from the federal government. Virginia is now receiving 161,000 doses per week from the federal government, which is then allocated to localities on a per capita basis.
The 2021 legislative session will officially end on Monday, but we still have bills in conference and the budget to discuss at tomorrow's floor session. As a reminder, you can stream House proceedings and watch archived video here.
I'm proud to announced that all seven of the bills that I introduced have passed both chambers and are headed to the Governor's desk! Here are some updates of what happened this week:
House Bill 1865 passed the Senate unanimously and is headed to the Governor's desk! I can't thank the advocates and parents from Decoding Dyslexia enough for their work on this important legislation.
House Bill 1868 also passed the Senate unanimously - not only will this bill help put a stop to human trafficking in the Commonwealth, but it keeps Virginia in line with federal rules and ensures that we remain eligible for millions of dollars in federal transportation funding in the years to come.
The Senate Judiciary Committee had amended my House Bill 2133, which creates a process for survivors of sex trafficking to vacate certain convictions from their record, so while it did pass the Senate last week, it needed to come back over to the House. The House accepted those amendments, and this bill was sent to the Governor's desk! Virginia is one of very few states in the country that doesn't provide any sort of post-conviction relief for survivors of sex trafficking, which is why I am so happy to see this legislation pass.
The Senate Education and Health committee also made a couple of amendments to my House Bill 2300 at my request. This bill passed the Senate, and the House accepted those amendments, so this bill is also heading to the Governor for signature. This legislation is a crucial first step in strengthening hospital protocols for discharging patients after nonfatal overdoses. With the opioid epidemic still claiming too many lives in the Commonwealth, I'm thrilled to see this bill pass with unanimous support from both chambers so we can continue to help prevent overdose death in Virginia.
Also, the conference report on the state's budget is now available. The budget still needs to be debated and voted on tomorrow, but I'll provide more detail on the highlights of the final version next week. The House Appropriations staff provided a briefing to House members and the public on the budget earlier today, and you can watch that here.
Mental Health and Domestic Violence Resources:
At this trying time, it is important that we continue to care for our mental health. Here are some resources if you are struggling and need help:
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Fairfax/Falls Church Community Services Board hotline: 703-527-4077
Loudoun County Mental Health Emergency Services...703.777.0320
Loudoun Suicide Prevention...703.777.0176
PRS CrisisLink: 703-527-4077 or text “Connect” to 85511
SAMHSA National Helpline: 800-662-HELP (800-662-4357)
Children's Regional Crisis Response: 844-NCrisis (844-627-4747) in English and Spanish