Hello VA Friends! We hope everyone is doing well and staying cool during this very hot time. Luckily today the weather cooled down, but be sure to stay cool and hydrated when going out.
Outside of weather advisories, your weekly VA Updates include a notice on updated COVID guidance in Virginia schools, a $2 billion dollar Budget Surplus (and what that means for taxpayers) and a mix of headlines across the country.
This week we’re talking about;
▪️ Heat Advisory Notice & Where to Cool off in VA
▪️ School COVID-19 Guidance Update
▪️ $2 Billion Dollar Budget Surplus
▪️ Virginia Headlines - 988 Suicide Prevention Number / State Employees Resigning / Severe Storms Coming
▪️ COVID-19 Data
▪️ Vaccine Data
🔥 Heat Advisory Notice by NWS
Temperatures continue to climb throughout the week before topping off near 100 degrees on Sunday. As extreme, dangerous heat hits the DMV region, the National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a heat advisory for D.C. and parts of Virginia because of high heat index values that will make it feel like it's 105 degrees in some areas.
If you need a place to escape the heat, communities across Virginia have locations to cool off including cooling centers, spray parks, recreation centers and libraries with air conditioning.
The weather service offers the following safety tips for dealing with the heat:
Drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors.
Young children and pets should never be left unattended in vehicles under any circumstances.
Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside. When possible reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening.
Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Wear lightweight and loose fitting clothing when possible.
To reduce risk during outdoor work, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air conditioned environments.
Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location.
Heat stroke is an emergency! Call 9 1 1.
😷 School COVID-19 Guidance Change
Guidelines for quarantine following COVID-19 exposure have been updated for children in Virginia.
On Thursday, the Office of Governor Glenn Youngkin announced updated quarantine guidelines that said quarantine is no longer routinely recommended after exposure to COVID-19 infected individuals in child care, K-12 schools, and camp settings.
Youngkin said since vaccines, tests and treatments are readily available, hospitalization rates are low, and the number of people in Virginia with increased natural immunity, he thinks it’s time to re-evaluate the guidelines.
The new guidelines are as follows, according to the full document:
Symptomatic persons should isolate and be tested.
People who test positive should isolate for at least five days, and after their fever is gone, they may return to their programs. If they can wear a mask, they should for at least ten days. If they are unwilling to wear a mask, VDH recommends having a negative test after a five-day isolation period or isolation for ten days. Schools are to provide rapid tests for symptomatic students.
People that have been exposed, but have no symptoms are no longer being recommended to quarantine. They are allowed to attend their programs for as long as they do not have symptoms.
If you want to view the full guidelines, you can read them here.
💰 $2 Billion Dollar Budget Surplus
Governor Glenn Youngkin announced that Virginia ended the fiscal year 2022 with a $1.94 billion general fund revenue surplus.
According to preliminary data, on a fiscal year-to-date basis, total revenue collections rose 16.3 percent.
Youngkin says this surplus confirms that Virginians have been overtaxed.
According to the Secretary of Finance Stephen Cummings, the state's payroll withholding and retail sales taxes increased by 9.5 percent, which he says indicates that Virginia’s underlying economic foundation is strong.
Youngkin says although recent trends are encouraging, Virginia has yet to recover more than 133,000 jobs that were lost during the pandemic (now at 96.9 percent of pre-pandemic levels). Virginia is now ranked 15th among the states in employment growth for the first four months of 2022.
A complete accounting of all final revenue sources will be available after the final year-end close and will be released on August 19.
In more money news, the Virginia Dept. of Taxation says individual taxpayers will receive up to $250, while married couples filing jointly can expect up to $500. The amount is based on the filer's individual/couple's tax liability. The tax authority notes that not every taxpayer is eligible based on their tax liability.
The rebates are expected to start going out in late September, and those who filed before July 1 should expect it no later than October.
📰 Virginia Headlines
NBC News - 988 suicide prevention hotline launches nationwide. People experiencing a mental health crisis can now call or text a three-digit number, 988, to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and connect with mental health professionals trained to respond to such emergencies. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline went live on Saturday morning, according to SAMHSA Assistant Secretary Miriam Delphin-Rittmon.
ABC 8 News - More state employees may leave jobs as telework policy lowers morale, survey shows. The Virginia Governmental Employees Association collected responses from 708 members, which only amounts to around 1% of state employees, within the last week and the survey remains open. While some workers conveyed support for Youngkin’s changes, preliminary results provide insight into low team morale and building frustration. Based on public records requests from five state agencies, 8News reported earlier this month that more than 300 employees have resigned since Youngkin announced the new telework policy.
Wric News - Severe thunderstorm warnings in effect throughout Richmond Metro, Central Virginia. According to the National Weather Service, a severe thunderstorm warning is in effect in the City of Richmond, Chesterfield County, New Kent County, Henrico County, Hanover County, King William County, Caroline County and Orange County. Winds of up to 60 miles per hour and quarter-sized hail are possible and torrential rainfall is expected. Residents of the above areas are asked to stay indoors and avoid driving.
⚠️ COVID-19 & Vaccine Data
The Virginia Department of Health reported Monday that the statewide total for COVID-19 cases is 1,941,358. The 1,941,358 consists of 1,382,418 confirmed and 558,940 probable cases. There are 20,873 COVID-19 deaths, and Virginia’s 7-day positivity rate is now at 22.5%.
Vaccine Summary: As of Monday, July 25
Total Doses Administered: 16,393,941
People Vaccinated with at least 1 dose: 7,046,312 or 82%
% of Adults (18+) Vaccinated with at least 1 dose: 92.6%
People Fully Vaccinated: 6,171,263 or 71.8%
% of Adults (18+) Fully Vaccinated: 81%
People Vaccinated with Booster / Third dose: 3,587,356
For more information on Virginia's vaccination efforts, please visit vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 877-VAX-IN-VA source: vdh.virginia.gov
Thank you for joining us this week!
Be sure to catch back up with us next week for another VA Updates Newsletter.
- María Reynoso, Editor-in-Chief