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Total positive Coronavirus Cases in our Community, as reported by the Health Department:

Locality Emporia Greensville Brunswick Southampton Sussex
Positive Reported Today 147 373 116 168 210
Positive Reported Previously 143 368 112 163 209
Total Deaths Reported 15 8 1 9 5

Cases in our area are still on the rise. Please continue to wash your hands and avoid thouching your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth.

Wear a mask in public

(a properly worn mask COVERS YOUR MOUTH AND NOSE and does not hang below your chin or rest atop your head),

continue to socially distance

and wash or sanitize your hands often.

The death toll in Emporia has risen significantly in the last few days. Between June 26 and July 2 the City reported the loss of NINE (9) souls to Covid 29. Properly Worn Masks, Social Distancing and Proper Hand Washing/Sanitization may well have saved even one or two of the NINE (9) people who died during those eight days.

We're all in this together...

Career Opportunity

LPN

Posting Date:  June 8, 2020

Job Posting #:  2020-3

Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility for youth located ten minutes north of Emporia, Virginia seeks Virginia licensed LPN. Psychiatric experience a plus.   Full-time position.  Twelve-hour evening/overnight shift (8PM to 8AM).

Compensation package includes employer matching 401(k) retirement plan & employer sponsored health, dental, vision & life insurance.  JFBHS is a Drug Free Workplace.  Successful applicants must pass a pre-employment drug screening and criminal background screening.  Position open until filled. EOE.

E-mail, fax, or mail cover letter & resume to:

Jackson-Feild Behavioral Health Services
Job# 2020-3
Attn: Chris Thompson
E-mail: careers@jacksonfeild.org
Fax: (434) 634-6237

As we begin to enter Phase Two, masks are REQUIRED IN PUBLIC and everyone is still strongly encouraged to practice social distancing and regular handwashing.

Virginia Issues Year-End Revenue Report

Total General Fund revenue collections increased 2.0% over prior year, but $236.5 million below official forecast

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Virginia ended fiscal year 2020 with a deficit of approximately $236.5 million in general fund revenue collections. While the shortfall was expected due to the impacts of COVID-19 on the state’s economy and budget, it is smaller than anticipated, and overall, revenues increased 2.0 percent over fiscal year 2019.

“COVID-19 has created both a health crisis and an economic crisis, and we have to box in this virus before we can fully address its fiscal impacts,” said Governor Northam. “While I am pleased that our revenue shortfall is less than initially expected, we know this pandemic will continue to negatively affect our state’s finances as long as this virus is with us. We must all keep taking steps to protect public health so we can continue our economic recovery and ensure the Commonwealth remains on strong financial footing.”

Total revenue collections rose by 2.0 percent in fiscal year 2020, behind the forecast of 3.1 percent growth. The main drivers of the revenue shortfall were payroll withholding and sales taxes—these two sources contributed $351.5 million to the deficit. Nonwithholding income tax payments—mainly from 2019 tax returns—were on target and income tax refunds contributed positively to the bottom line revenues by $146.3 million. Total revenues were $3.1 billion in June, a 26.7 percent increase, as the due date for payments from individuals and corporations was extended to June 1. 

“While this is good news as it relates to the final fiscal year 2020 projected shortfall, I am concerned that payroll withholding fell 2 percent and retail sales declined by 7 percent for the months of April, May, and June contributing to a $496.5 million shortfall in the fourth quarter,” said Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne. “We were helped by prior year income tax payments and current year payroll withholding and sales tax revenues not falling as much as initially anticipated.  But the fact remains, the Commonwealth has had a significant contraction in jobs and those effects on payroll withholding and the ability for consumers to spend is an obvious concern going forward into fiscal year 2021 for the state budget.” 

In reviewing the State Comptroller’s report on the preliminary revenue shortfall, the Commonwealth will conduct an interim forecasting process with an updated economic and revenue outlook for fiscal years 2021 and 2022. These forecasts will be released on August 18 at the Joint Money Committee meeting.

Analysis of Fiscal Year 2020 Revenues
Based on Preliminary Data

  • Total general fund revenue collections, excluding transfers, fell short of the official forecast (Chapter 1283) by $236.5 million (1.1 percent variance) in fiscal year 2020.
    • The 30-year average general fund revenue forecast variance is plus or minus 1.6 percent.

  • Payroll withholding and sales tax collections, 85 percent of total revenues, and the best indicator of current economic activity in the Commonwealth, finished $351.5 million or 2.1 percent behind the forecast.
    • Payroll withholding growth of 3.0 percent was behind the forecast of 4.7 percent growth.

    • Sales tax collections increased 3.5 percent as compared to the annual forecast of 7.4 percent.

    • Fourth quarter results show that payroll withholding fell 2.0 percent and sales tax revenues fell 7.0 percent.

  • Nonwithholding income tax collections finished the year in line with expectations, down 4.3 percent. 2019 tax year final payments due June 1 were ahead of expectations; however, estimated payments due in June for 2020 were below expectations.
  • Individual income tax refunds were a positive to the forecast, as the average check size did not increase. Tax refunds were $146.3 million below expectations and is a positive to the bottom line.

  • Corporate income tax collections increased 7.2 percent for the year, behind the annual forecast of 9.3 percent mainly due to the lower than expected payments in the April to June period.

  • A complete analysis of all final receipts for revenue sources, including transfers, will not be available until the Joint Money Committee meeting on August 18.

Osteoporosis: What you can do

If you are concerned about a loved one’s osteoporosis—brittle bones—it’s a good idea to bring this up with the doctor. He or she will likely discuss various medicines that can help.

In addition, changes in daily life outlined below can go a long way to making stronger bones. Consider:

Calcium. The best food sources are low-fat dairy products; dark green leafy vegetables; canned salmon, mackerel, or sardines (with bones); and tofu. Women over age 50 should consume a total of 1200 mg of calcium per day. Men need 1000 mg/day until age 70. Then they too should get 1200 mg/day. A supplement is fine. But be sure to pick a dose that factors in the calcium your relative already receives from food. More than 2000 mg/day may increase the risk of heart disease and kidney stones.

Vitamin D. Exposure to sunshine yields vitamin D. But only when sunscreen is not used (no free lunch!). Look for foods such as milk that have been fortified with vitamin D. Or get a supplement. Adults age 51–70 are advised to take 600 international units (iu)/day. Those over age 71 need 800 iu/day. African Americans don’t absorb vitamin D well through the skin, so 2000 iu is the recommended supplement. Most people can safely take up to 4000 iu/day.

Strength exercises. Weight-bearing exercise works with gravity to produce strong bones: Brisk walks, hiking, dancing, climbing up stairs. Resistance training also helps: Lifting weights or using exercise bands. Talk to the doctor about the safest way to build up strength.

Lifestyle changes

  • Get up off the couch! A sedentary lifestyle leads to brittle bones.
  • Limit alcohol to no more than two drinks/day. Alcohol kills bone cells and leaches calcium from the bones.
  • Stop smoking. Smokers’ bones heal more slowly.

Virginia Newsom Boney

Services

Thursday, July 9, 2020, at 7:00 P.M.

Echols Funeral Home
806 Brunswick Avenue
Emporia, Virginia 23847

Virginia Newsom Boney, 69, passed away on July 6, 2020. She was born in Roanoke Rapids, NC., and worked many years at Simmons Truck Stop in Emporia, VA. She was preceded in death by her parents, Bobby Thomas Newsom and Ocie Odell Finch. She is survived by her husband, John Howard Boney, her sons, Thomas Wayne Boney (Rebecca Jarrett) of Emporia, VA., Stephen Michael Boney (Mary) of Roanoke Rapids, NC., daughter, Tiffany Spenla (Ian) of Houston, TX., sisters, Laura Newsom of Gaston, NC., Betty Stephenson of Roanoke Rapids, NC., Dorothy Cannon (Joe) of Jackson, NC., Susan Newsom of Gaston, NC., brother-in-law, Gerald Allen of Emporia, VA., sister-in-law, Barbara Allen of Emporia, VA., grandchildren, Ivey, Evelyn, Zachary, Megan, Mathew, and her cat, Peaches.

A memorial service will be held at Echols Funeral Home, Thursday, July 9, 2020, at 7:00 P.M. with Rev. Brad Barbour officiating.

Online Condolences may be made at www.echolsfuneralhome.com

Spotlight on Jobs by the Virginia Employment Commission

 

Truck Driver, EMPORIA, VA     Operate various on and off-road trucks (30-40 ton articulating dump trucks, 3,800 gallon water truck) associated with environmental remediation construction projects.  The Truck Driver must be able to demonstrate safe operation of any assigned vehicle based on changing travel (road) conditions.  The Truck Driver is expected to use their experience and judgement to make decisions within their limits of authority.   JOB ORDER # 1981221

CNA/PCA    EMPORIA, VA     Must provide basic patient care under direction of nursing staff.  Performs duties such as feeding, bathing, dressing and grooming, moving patients and changing linens. Must have CNA/PCA/PCA CERTIFICATE.  Hours are 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. (Required to work every other weekend) will travel a distance of 30 miles or fewer)  Needed in the areas of Emporia, Greensville, Jarratt, Skippers, Freeman, etc.)   JOB ORDER # 1981414

TIRE TECHNICIAN TRACTOR TRAILOR, COMMERCIAL    Garysburg, NC    We are currently have an opening for a tire technician. This will be a full time position, Monday through Friday (7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) along with every other Saturday (8:00 a.m. to 12:oo p.m.). Applicants need experience in changing tires on commercial vehicles along with tractors and other heavy equipment. We offer competitive pay along with company provided uniforms, health insurance, paid holidays, vacation time, and retirement benefits. Must be able to lift 50 lbs. Applicants will need a valid driver's license and ability to go out on road calls.    JOB ORDER# 1979885

STONEY CREEK SANDWICH ARTIST    Stoney Creek, VA     The Sandwich Artist greets and serves guests, prepares food, maintains food safety and sanitation standards, and handles or processes light paperwork. Exceptional customer service is a major component of this position.  JOB ORDER# 1971594

Heavy Equipment Operator     Emporia, VA   Seeking experienced Heavy Equipment Operators to operate various types of heavy equipment  (82,000 lbs, tracked excavator, D-6 dozer with GPS machine control, D-& dozer with GPS machine control, motor grader, etc.) associated with environmental remediation construction projects. Operator must be  able to demonstrate safe operation of assigned equipment based on changing operating conditions,  The Operator is expected to use his/her experience and judgement to make decisions within his/her limits of authority. JOB ORDER# 1981219

THESE AND ALL JOBS WITH THE VIRGINIA EMPLOYMENT COMMISSION CAN BE FOUND ONLINE AT

www.vawc.virginia.gov

The Virginia Employment Commission is An Equal Opportunity Employer/Program. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.

La Comision de Empleo de Virginia es un empleador/programa con igualdad de portunidades.  Los auxiliaries y servicios estan disponibles a dedido para personas con discapacidades

Therapy Dog Program Seeking Volunteers

VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital is seeking volunteers with friendly and well-behaved dogs to participate in a program that aims to bring cheer to hospital patients, visitors and staff.

The Dogs On Call Therapy Dog Program provides complementary therapy to enhance the well-being of patients, staff, and students through canine-assisted interventions.  The dog and handler would visit patients that requested to have a visit and visit hospital departments to lift spirits of staff.

If you have a dog that would be a good fit for this program and would like to learn more about volunteering as a Dogs On Call team, please call 434-584-5411.

Sidney Stanley "Stan" Prince

October 16, 1946 – June 24, 202

 

Sidney Stanley "Stan" Prince, October 16, 1946 – June 24, 2020. A native of Emporia, VA, he graduated from Greensville County HS in 1965. A member of the class of 1969 at VPI, he graduated with a Bachelors of Architecture in 1970. Stan was a retired Licensed Architect in the Commonwealth who practiced commercial architecture in Norfolk, Chesapeake, and Richmond, where he retired as Corporate Architect for the Covington Company, having served as Corporate Architect for Heilig-Meyers Furniture for 23 years, and an Associate with Williams and Tazewell in Norfolk, where he managed projects for the building of Scope and Chrysler Hall, and subsequently for 3M Architects, designing furnishings for Kuwaiti Air Force Bases. He is survived by his wife of almost 50 years, Dr. Anita H Prince, and only child, daughter, Meghan E P Bryant (husband, Blanton F Bryant, Jr). Stanley was a devoted Hokie, having rarely missed a game in more than 30 years after he became a season ticket holder. In remembrance, any act of kindness or support would honor him because he was a kind and decent human being. He had a special love for Feed More, Habitat for Humanity, and the Boy Scouts of America to which he belonged as a youth and young man achieving Eagle Scout, God and Country, and Order of the Arrow. Arrangements are pending with Echols Funeral Home, Emporia, Virginia.

 

Governor Northam Launches Rent and Mortgage Relief Program to Assist Virginians Facing Eviction or Foreclosure

 
RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today launched the Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program (RMRP), which will provide $50 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding for households facing eviction or foreclosure due to COVID-19. RMRP will provide short-term financial assistance on behalf of households in the form of rent and mortgage payments.
 
“Expanding access to safe, affordable housing has been and will continue to be a top priority of my administration, during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond,” said Governor Northam. “The Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program will help Virginians experiencing financial instability as a result of this unprecedented health crisis by preventing evictions and foreclosures and keeping Virginia families safely in their homes as we battle this virus.”
 
The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) will administer the $50 million program through a variety of partners, including nonprofit organizations and local governments, which will receive upfront funds that they will distribute on behalf of eligible households. Individuals and families receiving funding will also be connected to housing counseling and receive other technical assistance.
 
Eligible households must demonstrate an inability to make rent or mortgage payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Monthly rent or mortgage must be at or below 150 percent Fair Market Rent (FMR), and eligible households must have a gross household income at or below 80 percent of area median income (AMI).
 
“Safe, stable housing is essential for public health,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “As we continue to secure funding for rent and mortgage assistance, this $50 million investment will serve the most vulnerable Virginians while providing a roadmap for future relief.”
 
To ensure RMRP funding assists households most in need, the program will complete targeted outreach to communities of color across Virginia. Before the pandemic, analysis from RVA Eviction Lab at Virginia Commonwealth University found that minority communities had higher eviction rates, even after controlling for income, property value, and other characteristics. The COVID-19 pandemic has also had a disproportionate impact on people of color.
 
“DHCD delivers programs through our partners that are closest to the Commonwealth’s communities, and our team is deeply appreciative of the local and regional network that has rapidly developed this program to assist in meeting this critical housing and health need,” said DHCD Director Erik Johnston. “We urge all tenant advocates, landlords, lenders, philanthropy, local governments and faith communities to partner with your local program providers to ensure that these funds stretch as far as possible to Virginians most in need of this assistance.”
 
The program will also give precedence to households without other federal and state eviction or foreclosure protections. From June 29 to July 20, priority will be given to households with current gross incomes equal to or below 50 percent of AMI. After July 20, households with current gross incomes at or below 80 percent of AMI will be also be included. In addition, households with an unlawful detainer action dated prior to June 8 will be given top consideration.
 
To identify the local RMRP administering organization for a household and to conduct a self-assessment for eligibility, visit dhcd.virginia.gov/eligibility or call 211 VIRGINIA by dialing 2-1-1 from your phone. Tenants and homeowners are encouraged to know their rights and responsibilities and pay their rent and mortgages on time if they are able. Visit StayHomeVirginia.com for additional information and resources.
 

Virginia Department of Health Urges Virginians to Engage with Legitimate Contact Tracers, Avoid Scams

Contact Tracers Will Not Ask for Social Security Numbers or Bank Details

(Richmond, Va.) — The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) encourages all Virginians to respond and engage with legitimate contact tracing calls and emails while remaining vigilant against scams. Caller ID will read “VDH COVID Team.”

The Commonwealth employs contact tracers to notify individuals who have been exposed to known cases of COVID-19. Contact tracers will offer information, encourage individuals to monitor themselves for symptoms, and refer those who develop symptoms for medical evaluation and testing to help contain the spread in Virginia.

Contact tracing saves lives by preventing the spread of COVID-19, so we encourage every Virginian to do their part and answer calls, text messages, or emails from the Commonwealth’s contact tracers.

Recognizing the signs of a scam is important. Contact tracers will not ask for money or information such as a Social Security Number (SSN), bank account details, or credit card numbers.  The Commonwealth does not charge individuals for contact tracing services.

Contact tracers will offer to enroll Virginians in a voluntary contact monitoring platform called Sara Alert, which individuals can use to update local health departments on their health status during the period of time they are participating in public health monitoring. The Sara Alert system is secure and always contacts users from the same phone number or email: 844-957-2721 or notifications@saraalert.org.

In addition to being vigilant, there are several other ways to stay safe from scams:

  • use multi-factor authentication for online accounts;
  • enable auto updates for the operating systems and apps on your electronic devices to ensure you have the latest security;
  • and back up the data on your devices regularly, so you won’t lose valuable information if a device gets malware or ransomware.

Verizon Communications, Inc provided the Caller-ID feature for VDH contact tracers without charge.

Additional information from the Federal Trade Commission on contact tracing scams is available here.

Governor Northam Prohibits Congregating in Bars, Stresses Caution As Virginia Moves to Phase Three

With cases rising in other states, Virginia will maintain current restrictions on bar seating, congregating

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that bar seating will remain prohibited in restaurants as the Commonwealth moves into Phase Three at midnight tonight. While key health indicators in Virginia are improving, the Governor made clear that he is taking a cautious approach and is prepared to implement tighter restrictions if needed.

To reduce the likelihood of patrons gathering in bar areas without observing social distancing guidelines, bar seating and congregating areas of restaurants will remain closed except for those passing through. Restaurants may use non-bar seating in the bar area, as long as a minimum of six feet between tables is provided.

“I am watching what is happening in other states—we are taking a cautious approach as we enter Phase Three and maintaining the current restrictions on bar areas,” said Governor Northam. “In Virginia, our hospitalization rates have fallen, our percentage of positive tests continues to trend downward, and we are conducting more than 10,000 tests each day. We want these trends to continue, but if our public health metrics begin moving in the wrong direction, I will not hesitate to take action to protect the health and safety of our communities.”

Virginia is currently averaging more than 10,400 tests per day—exceeding Governor Northam’s goal—and hospitals continue to report ample supplies of personal protective equipment. The percentage of positive tests has dropped to six percent from a high of 20 percent in mid-April. The number of Virginians hospitalized with a positive or pending COVID-19 test has declined significantly over the past several weeks, and more than 1,200 contact tracers are presently working throughout the Commonwealth.

Despite these positive trends, Governor Northam is monitoring increases in several states, and taking proactive steps to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Virginia. Governor Northam also continues to remind Virginians that they are safer at home, especially if they are high-risk or vulnerable. All Virginians must continue to comply with the statewide face covering requirement in indoor public spaces, and Virginians are strongly encouraged to:

  • continue teleworking if possible
  • wash hands regularly
  • maintain six feet of physical distance when outside of home
  • get tested immediately if you have COVID-19 symptoms

     

Executive Order Sixty-Seven and Order of Public Health Emergency Seven is available here. Read the order in Spanish here.

Sector-specific guidelines for Phase Three can be found here. View this document in Spanish here.

Visit virginia.gov/coronavirus/forwardvirginia for more information and answers to frequently asked questions.

Library Announces Phased Reopening

 The Meherrin Regional Library closed to the public on March 18th in response to the Covid-19 crisis and the governor’s stay at home orders. Since then the library has been working behind the scenes to bring books and services back to the community. While closed, the library staff have been preparing library facilities to promote social distancing; acquiring PPE for enhanced cleaning of books and other surfaces; converting the annual Summer Reading Program into a virtual experience; increasing online ebooks, newspapers, magazines and other offerings; installing contact-free locker pick up services; and developing plans to meet the community’s needs in a new normal.

Starting Monday, June 29th MRLS will be reopening its doors again to welcome patrons back to the library. The Richardson Memorial Library, Emporia, will be open on Mondays and Tuesdays from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM and the Brunswick County Library, Lawrenceville, will be open on Thursdays and Fridays from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM until further notice (closed July 3rd for Independence Day). On closed days each library will continue to provide contact-free locker service and will be using that time to adapt to developing needs and sanitizing surfaces.

Face coverings and hand sanitizing will be required for all visitors entering library facilities during this initial reopening phase. Each library will have a ten patron building capacity. Because of this restriction the library suggests that patrons limit their visit to 30 minutes. Copier, fax, and scan services will be available as well as 30 minute public computer and printer sessions. Walk-ins are welcomed, however library use appointments will be accepted to minimize potential wait times.

For questions concerning library services contact the Richardson Memorial Library at 434-634-2539 or richardsonmemoriallibrary@gmail.com. The Brunswick County Library may be contacted at 434-848-2418, ext. 301 or brunswicklibrary@gmail.com. MRLS is also found on Facebook at Meherrin Regional Library System.

SVCC Announces 2020 Fall Semester Plans

Southside Virginia Community College (SVCC) will resume a full schedule of classes this fall beginning August 24th. In what the college is terming its “HyFlex” approach to course delivery, class options (depending on needs of each discipline) may include a mix of in-person instruction, expanded online offerings, and a new “Zoom to Home” option.

Instruction will comply with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for physical distancing, hygiene and safety. “While priority for in-person instruction will be performance-based classes and labs that cannot be delivered online, additional seated courses will be offered as room availability allows. SVCC's Fast Forward workforce programs will be offered in small groups.

The college's flexible approach allows for appropriate social distancing, while making alternatives available for those students who do not have adequate high-speed internet at home and, therefore, would not be able to participate in online or at-home Zoom classes.

According to Dr. Quentin R. Johnson, SVCC President, "SVCC's partnership with communities to establish off-campus centers, in addition to our Alberta and Keysville college locations, is a real benefit at this unprecedented time in our history. It allows the college to offer students the flexibility to utilize classroom space and computer labs and to access high speed internet at various locations across the college's 4,200 square mile service area, while complying with the appropriate guidelines."

Aware that the outlook can change, Dr. Johnson says, "We will remain nimble and adjust as needed. SVCC's COVID-19 Task Force has a plan in place to pivot back to fully remote and online options if public health and safety requires it." Dr. Johnson is quick to point out that it will not be business as usual at SVCC. At all SVCC locations face coverings will be required, classrooms have been reconfigured to comply with social distancing, and there will be limited access to facilities.

Times have changed, but SVCC is still open for business and remains committed to assisting our students in every way possible. More information is available at Southside.edu or by calling 434-949-1000.

Virginia Chamber of Commerce Weekly COVID-19 Update

On July 1, all regions of the Commonwealth are expected to transition into Phase Three of re-opening as part of the Governor’s “Forward Virginia” plan. Under this phase, restaurants and non-essential retail will be able to fully re-open without capacity restrictions and gatherings of up to 250 will be permitted. More information on the guidelines associated with this phase can be found below.

The Safety and Health Codes Board of the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry met on Wednesday to consider a new emergency regulation that would set out additional requirements for Virginia employers related to workplace safety due to COVID-19. The Board was also tasked with considering comments that were offered during the brief 10-day window the Board allowed for input from the public.

Over 3,300 comments were submitted to the Board for consideration. After meeting for close to eight hours, technical difficulties, and motions to delay, the Board has agreed to meet again for final consideration of the standards at some point next week.

The Virginia Chamber submitted a comment letter to the Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry and the Safety and Health Codes Board as part of the public comment process to voice our strong concerns about placing additional burdens on Virginia businesses and inconsistencies with federal regulations within the proposed standards.

The Board will meet again next week to consider additional changes to the emergency standard and vote for final approval. If the Board approves the standards, they could go into effect by July 15, 2020. You can view the proposed emergency standards here.

As the discussion around the process for re-opening k-12 schools continues, leadership from the Northam Administration announced yesterday that the authority to determine the individual strategy for each district will be determined by the local school boards. While local school boards will have the responsibility of developing the process that works best for their district, they are encouraged to utilize the guidelines put forward by the Northam Administration earlier this month. These guidelines are available on the Virginia Department of Education’s website.

This week, the Virginia Chamber is pleased to recognize sPower for its significant contributions to support COVID-19 relief efforts, helping communities across the Commonwealth.

As communities across the country are faced with the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, sPower, a leading renewable energy Independent Power Producer (IPP) with an office in Glen Allen, announced a $500,000 commitment to support emerging Covid-19 needs in local communities where it develops and operates. Beginning in March, sPower staff began reaching out to local leaders, chambers of commerce, non-profits, educational institutions and others to identify specific needs in communities. The company has adopted a ‘hyperlocal’ approach to giving, as COVID-19 has impacted communities in varying ways. Grants have included direct donations to food banks; food for seniors, first responders and families; healthcare supplies; small business support and wireless access to communities with limited broadband. More information on this week’s “Member Spotlight” can be found below.

Member Spotlight: sPower

As communities across the country are faced with the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, sPower, a leading renewable energy Independent Power Producer (IPP) with an office in Glen Allen, announced a $500,000 commitment to support emerging Covid-19 needs in local communities where it develops and operates. Beginning in March, sPower staff began reaching out to local leaders, chambers of commerce, non-profits, educational institutions and others to identify specific needs in communities. The company has adopted a ‘hyperlocal’ approach to giving, as COVID-19 has impacted communities in varying ways. Grants have included direct donations to food banks; food for seniors, first responders and families; healthcare supplies; small business support and wireless access to communities with limited broadband.

sPower has made the following donations in Virginia: 

  • In Virginia, where the company is building a 620 MWdc solar project, contributions were made in Spotsylvania County to Mary Washington Healthcare to fund personal protective equipment for front-line medical workers and to the Community Foundation to support childcare for essential workers.

  • Charles City County – The company supported the food bank at the local high school, feeding more than 100 local students and their families each week consistently. sPower also partnered with Cul’s Courthouse Grille, by purchasing meals for first responders over five Fridays in April and May.

  • Fauquier County - sPower funded donations to Community Touch, Inc, a transitional housing organization with its COVID-19 outreach efforts and the Fauquier Community Food Bank & Thrift Shop. The company also provided $3000 worth of gift certificates to local first responders from a local business, Grioli’s Italian Grill and Pizzeria.

  • Surry County - The needs of the community varied from support for small businesses, to homeless services and protective equipment. sPower contributed to Rushmere Community Development, to assist Brother’s Keeper homeless services, First Baptist Church Spring Grove to aid their mask-making efforts, the Virginia Diner to feed more than 100 seniors eight lunches, Just for Kicks Cupcakes to supply treats to First Responders and to Crater Regional Workforce Initiative to provide small business grants.

Governor Northam Outlines Phase Three Guidelines to Lift Additional Public Health Restrictions

Virginia will continue to closely monitor key health metrics to determine when to safely move to next phase

FAIRFAX—Governor Ralph Northam today presented the third phase of the “Forward Virginia” plan to continue easing public health restrictions while mitigating the spread of COVID-19. The Commonwealth does not yet have a targeted date for entering Phase Three.

Ahead of his bilingual COVID-19 press conference, the Governor met with local Latino leaders and community activists in Northern Virginia to discuss the issues they are facing in fighting this virus. Latino Virginians make up 45.3 percent of the cases for which Virginia has demographic data, and 35 percent of hospitalizations—even though Hispanic and Latino people make up about 10 percent of the Commonwealth’s population.

As many states are experiencing a surge in new infections, Virginia’s case counts continue to trend downward. Virginia’s hospital bed capacity remains stable, the percentage of individuals hospitalized with a positive or pending COVID-19 test is trending downward, no hospitals are reporting PPE shortages, and the percent of positive tests continues to decline as testing increases. The Governor and Virginia public health officials will continue to evaluate data based on the key health indicators laid out in April.

“Our Phase Three guidelines will help Virginia families and businesses plan for what the next stage of easing public health restrictions will look like in our Commonwealth,” said Governor Northam. “While we may not have the same spike in infections that many states are seeing right now, Virginians need to remain cautious and do the things that we know reduce transmission: wear a face covering, maintain physical distance, and stay home if you are high-risk or experience COVID-19 symptoms. This virus is still with us, and we must continue to adapt our lives around it and ensure we are keeping our vulnerable communities safe.”

In Phase Three, the Commonwealth will maintain a Safer at Home strategy with continued recommendations for social distancing and teleworking, and the requirement that individuals wear face coverings in indoor public settings. The maximum number of individuals allowed in social gatherings will increase from 50 to 250 people. All businesses should continue to follow physical distancing guidelines, frequently clean and sanitize high contact surfaces, and keep enhanced workplace safety measures in place. 

Restaurant and beverage establishments are required to maintain six feet of distance between tables, fitness centers may open indoor areas at 75 percent occupancy, and recreation and entertainment venues at may operate at 50 percent occupancy, or a maximum of 1,000 persons. Swimming pools may also expand operations to free swim in addition to indoor and outdoor exercise, diving, and swim instruction. Overnight summer camps will remain closed in Phase Three.

Phase Three guidelines for specific sectors can be found here. Phase Two guidelines are available here. Visit virginia.gov/coronavirus/forwardvirginia for more information and answers to frequently asked questions.

Read the Phase Three guidelines in Spanish here.

View the slides from today’s presentation here.

Governor Northam Announces New Tools for Virginia Workers and Job Seekers

Virginia Career Works Referral Portal will help working Virginians impacted by COVID-19 access comprehensive employment support

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today shared a new suite of technology tools to help Virginians take full advantage of the supportive services available through the Commonwealth’s workforce system. The Virginia Career Works Referral Portal is a statewide platform designed to streamline intake processes across state agencies and connect individuals with training, certification, education, and employment services to help them find a job or advance a career path. The new Virginia Career Works Dashboard is an innovative data visualization tool that makes information about Virginia’s labor market and workforce system more accessible to workers, businesses, and policymakers.

“Workers and families across Virginia are experiencing tremendous financial pain, as well as coping, in many cases, with the devastation of getting sick or losing a loved one to COVID-19,” said Governor Northam. “This ongoing health crisis requires our government systems to respond faster and with more flexibility than ever before. This strategic investment in our workforce technology infrastructure puts the Commonwealth is in a stronger position to help Virginians get back on their feet and overcome these unprecedented challenges.”

Building up Virginia’s workforce development system has long been a priority of the Northam administration. While these tools were in development before the COVID-19 crisis began, the Commonwealth worked to accelerate their rollout to ensure the resources would be available to Virginians who need them during an extremely difficult time.

“The new portal and strategic workforce dashboard embody Governor Northam’s vision for the workforce development system as a whole,” said Chief Workforce Development Advisor Megan Healy. “By making the full spectrum of services accessible through one virtual door, we are bringing every resource to the table to help Virginians recover from the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis.”

Consistent with the requirements of Executive Order Nineteen, the cloud-based system leverages open-source software supported by the Apache Foundation, expediting development and reducing long-term operational costs.

“This scalable, standards-driven system is an important addition to Virginia’s growing information technology ecosystem,” said Chief Data Officer Carlos Rivero. “In addition to its immediate benefits, this collaboratively built solution provides a future-proofed foundation for continuing development.”

The new technology tools were developed in collaboration with the Chief Workforce Development Advisor, the Commonwealth’s Chief Data Officer, and six state agencies: the Virginia Community College System, the Virginia Employment Commission, the Virginia Department of Education, the Virginia Department of Social Services, the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services, and the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired. Technology partners that supported the development and implementation of the Virginia Career Works Referral Portal and Virginia Career Works Dashboard include Qlarion, BrightHive, and PAIRIN.

For more information, please visit the Virginia Career Works Portal here. A guide to navigating the Portal and creating an account can be found here.

Beware Coronavirus Scams

Scammers thrive in crises. The Federal Trade Commission is reporting a surge in fraud complaints. Bad actors are leveraging fear and shortages to bilk consumers out of millions and to harvest information for identity fraud.

Help your loved one avoid scammers by following these tips.

Research requests for donations. Verify the nonprofit on Guidestar.org, the registry that provides financial reporting on all registered 501c3 organizations. Be especially wary if the request is “urgent” and for payment by gift card or prepaid debit card.

Ignore social media ads, texts, or emails selling

  • cures or vaccines. Relief is months, maybe a year or more away. Look for an announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and get a prescription from the doctor.
  • hard-to-find supplies. From gloves to toilet paper, surgical masks to hand sanitizers. Amazon and Facebook are working hard to block gougers and bogus sellers. Pay attention to the star ratings of sellers and look for complaints of supplies never being received.
  • stock deals. Many fraudsters offer great investment deals on stock that is “going to take off” with the latest cure, test, or vaccine. Unfortunately, they have bought the stock already. When demand drives the price up, they sell. The price then plummets and investors get stuck with the loss. 

Hang up on robocalls asking for money or information. The federal government never uses this method of communication. Neither do other credible organizations. It’s the medium of scammers.

Do not click on emailed links or download files from organizations you do not know. Many fraudsters are looking to insert malware on your computer to harvest information for identity theft. Even if the email seems genuine and the website looks like a government or reputable organization, do a Google search to find the real domain name. (Cybercriminals set up a mirror site at redcross.net, for instance. The actual address for the Red Cross is redcross.org).

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