Fairfax letter to Northam calls for ‘bolder and swifter actions’ on COVID-19

Posted at 12:01 PM, Mar 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-20 10:43:19-04

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax has sent a letter to Governor Ralph Northam requesting the state “implement bolder and swifter actions” in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In the letter, dated March 18, 2020, Fairfax said he had heard from “many Virginians, including small business owners, employees, healthcare workers, and community leaders” and they asked more be done to “flatten the curve and combat this unprecedented health and, consequently, economic threat.”

Fairfax said he suggested the Commonwealth implement several actions. These included:

• Ban all public mass gathering through, at least, April 15;

• Mandate the closure of bars, restaurants, gyms, and theaters to guests through, at least, April 15, but allow restaurants to continue carry-out, delivery, and to-go alcohol sales;

• Close all K-12 schools and post-secondary education institutions through the end of the current academic term. Additionally, provide guidelines to ensure no student is penalized and those on track to graduate be allowed to move to the next academic level;

• Suspend all state and local tax payments for 120 days;

• Increase maximum weekly unemployment payments to displaced workers from $378 to $800 for the next 120 days;

• And call a Special Session of the General Assembly to “address the COVID-19 health crisis” (Sen. Thomas K. Norment (R-James City County) has made the same request.

Read a copy of the letter here:

Northam was asked about the letter at his news conference on Thursday.

"I would say that I receive letters, other types of correspondence, whether it be via email, by the phone, in-person. Lot of individuals, as you might imagine, are offering their input," said Northam. "And I greatly appreciate their input and I take it all into consideration and then, through discussion with our staff, I make decisions that are in the best interest of Virginia."