Hey VA, Happy Tuesday! We hope everyone is doing well and staying cool in this summer heat. We’re happy to be back and share the latest news in Virginia 📬
📰 This week, we have news on the upcoming General Election that’s only 98 Days Away!!! To avoid the last minute election prep crunch, take some time this week so check your voter registration and make any updates necessary so you can vote this November!
Additionally, we have information on the upcoming Tax Free Weekend and what qualifies under the tax holiday and share a health update on Monkeypox in the state and breakdown what it is. We also break down local headlines, diving deep into new programs and research studies and end our newsletter with COVID data.
This week we share news and updates on;
▪️ General Election Countdown
▪️ Tax Free Weekend Coming August 5 - 8
▪️ Monkeypox in Virginia
▪️ Virginia Headlines:
▪️ COVID-19 Data
▪️ Vaccine Data
🗳 Election Day Countdown
In just 98 days, Virginians will vote in this year's 2022 General Election. Voters will get to elect representatives for the U.S. House of Representatives, special State Legislative seats, School Board, Municipal Government and more.
Here are some general tips on how to prepare for an upcoming election:
Register to vote or update your voter registration
Check Virginian’s voter registration deadlines, and then take two minutes to register to vote. If you’re not sure whether you are or aren’t registered, check in with your local registrar's office. (If you want to be super sure of your area’s process, visit the website of your local election office -- and that goes for most of the info in this guide)
Check your sample ballot and research the candidates.
Make sure there are no surprises come Election Day by checking out your ballot ahead of time using this tool. It’ll show you your national, state, and local candidates, as well as any relevant ballot measures. It also provides some background on the candidates to help start your research. You can find more candidate voter guides from non-partisan organizations like VOTE411.
Pro tip: You’re allowed to bring notes, voter guides, or a sample ballot with you into the voting booth, so no need to memorize all your chosen candidates! (Just make sure you have paper copies because some polling places restrict cell phone use.)
Think about how you want to cast your vote.
In Virginia, you can vote by absentee ballot, vote early or vote in-person on election day. Pick that date and time that works best around your schedule to make your vote this General Election!
Pro tip: If you’re traveling or a military member, you still have the opportunity to cast your ballot!
🤑 Tax Free Weekend
Virginia’s sales tax holiday is right around the corner! The tax free weekend holiday starts Friday, Aug. 5 at 12:01 a.m. and ends Sunday, Aug. 7 at 11:59 p.m.
During the sales tax holiday, qualified items will be exempt from the 4.3% state sales tax, the 1% local option tax, and any applicable regional taxes.
Below is a list of product categories on sale and what specific products are tax-free.
Qualified school supplies – $20 or less per item
Qualified clothing and footwear – $100 or less per item
Portable generators – $1,000 or less per item
Gas-powered chainsaws – $350 or less per item
Chainsaw accessories – $60 or less per item
Other specified hurricane preparedness items – $60 or less per item
Qualifying Energy Star™ or WaterSense™ products purchased for noncommercial home or personal use – $2,500 or less per item
Under current law, the sales and use tax rate is generally 5.3%, comprising a 4.3% state tax and a 1% local option tax, with an additional regional tax of 0.7% in the Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia regions. There’s a 1% regional tax in the Historic Triangle region (James City County, York County, and the City of Williamsburg) on top of the 0.7% regional tax. Look up the rate for a specific region, here.
See the full guidelines for the combined sales tax holiday and a complete list of qualifying items, at this link.
⚠️ Monkeypox in Virginia
There are now nearly 100 cases of monkeypox in Virginia, and three of those cases are in the central region. Now, shipments of monkeypox vaccines are beginning to arrive at health departments across Hampton Roads.
This comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports nearly 5,000 cases in the U.S. and 76 here in Virginia.
Before diving any deeper, what is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a rare contagious rash illness caused by the monkeypox virus. The virus is in the same family of viruses as the virus that causes smallpox. Monkeypox causes milder illness than smallpox, but some symptoms can be severe. The monkeypox virus can spread from animals to people and from person to person. In 2022, a monkeypox outbreak began. There are cases in many countries or areas where this infection is not usually found, including in the U.S. and in Virginia.
Anyone who feels they are in a high-risk group for monkeypox, or if you have come in contact with someone who has it, Hampton Roads health leaders urge you to call your doctor or the health department to see if you qualify for the vaccine.
Health officials said the monkeypox vaccine can cause redness or tenderness at the injection site and cause mild flu-like symptoms.
📰 Virginia Headlines:
VMP - Study finds Virginia Medicaid expansion increased financial security. Virginia Medicaid recipients reported the program has helped them achieve more financial security — and not just in medical costs, but in other areas such as food and housing, according to a study published this month in the journal Health Affairs.
The research focused on people who were able to enter the program after state lawmakers expanded Medicaid in 2019. Nearly 675,000 Virginians, including about 175,000 in the central region of the commonwealth, enrolled in Medicaid after the General Assembly expanded who was eligible to include single people, as well as those making up to 138% of the poverty line, double the previous baseline.
Wric News - Virginia’s first high school program for addiction recovery opens in Chesterfield. The Chesterfield Recovery Academy is a program designed to help high school students earn their degrees while getting clean.
The program is designed to aid in addiction recovery and is equipped with help from Chesterfield County Public Schools and the Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. Services will include academic, emotional, and social support while students continue class work. The program will accommodate up to 25 students and will offer group counseling sessions during the school day.
Prospective students who wish to enroll in the program must fill out an interest form to begin the application process. In addition, students have to have not been using substances for at least 30 days to be considered for enrollment in the program.
⚠️ COVID-19 & Vaccine Data:
COVID-19 In Virginia Data
The Virginia Department of Health reported Monday that the statewide total for COVID-19 cases is 1,962,140. The 1,962,140 consists of 1,396,377 confirmed and 565,763 probable cases. There are 20,938 COVID-19 deaths, and Virginia’s 7-day positivity rate is now at 23.3%.
Vaccine Summary: As of Monday, August 1
Total Doses Administered: 16,441,109
People Vaccinated with at least 1 dose: 7,055,447 or 82.1%
% of Adults (18+) Vaccinated with at least 1 dose: 92.6%
People Fully Vaccinated: 6,178,894 or 71.9%
% of Adults (18+) Fully Vaccinated: 81.1
% People Vaccinated with Booster / Third dose: 3,617,955
For more information on Virginia's vaccination efforts, please visit vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 877-VAX-IN-VA
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