Coronavirus Updates

A MESSAGE FROM SEN. WARNER ON CORONAVIRUS

Updated: November 30, 2020

 

To date, there are more than 13 million cases of COVID-19 nationwide, and more than 266,000 deaths. Since the outbreak began, my top priority has been to provide our nation and our Commonwealth with the tools we need to fight this pandemic and help workers and small businesses make it through these tough times. As of November, two pharmaceutical companies have come out with promising data on two potential COVID-19 vaccines. I’m proud to have worked with my colleagues in Congress to secure the additional funding that helped safely accelerate the development of these vaccines. Going forward, I will continue to do everything in my power to help get the vaccine officially approved as soon it is safe to do so. Once that happens, you can count on the fact that I’ll be working to ensure that its distribution is fair and timely.

Below you will find a complete list of my actions to date on the coronavirus, along with resources for Virginians, the latest statistics on COVID-19 cases in Virginia, and guidance from public health officials. 

Together, we will get through this challenge, but it is important that we all work together to stop the spread of the virus and help our economy recover. That starts with the following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other public health officials on how to stay safe: 

  • Wear a cloth mask in public settings, including public transportation, at events and gatherings, and anywhere you will be around people. Masks should be worn over the nose and mouth and secured under the chin;
  • Practice social distancing: stay home, telework whenever possible, and avoid groups of people and close contact with others;
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (click here for instructions);
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes;
  • Avoid touching your face;
  • Regularly disinfect frequently-touched surfaces;
  • And most importantly, stay home if you are feeling sick and call your doctor

For more information and the latest guidance, please visit the CDC coronavirus website (embedded below).

My office continues to monitor the situation on the ground, including by maintaining regular contact with officials and health care providers in Virginia. My office also stands ready to assist with other coronavirus and non-COVID-19 federal issues. If you or a loved one is currently experiencing an issue with a federal agency, please click here to contact my office.

 

Legislation 

In the Senate, I have been working around the clock pushing for a robust coronavirus response by the federal government that includes Virginia priorities. So far, the Senate has passed three major bipartisan coronavirus response bills designed to aid in the fight against the virus and help workers and small businesses:

  • PHASE I: On March 6, the President signed a bipartisan $7.8 billion emergency funding bill that directed needed resources to federal, state and local agencies responding to coronavirus. This legislation immediately provided Virginia with $13.3 million in federal funding to help cover the costs of preparations for this public health emergency. It also included language based on my CONNECT for Health Act of 2019, which reduces restrictions on the use of telehealth for public health emergency response, as well as $500 million to facilitate its implementation.
  • PHASE II: On March 18, the President signed a second bipartisan coronavirus response bill that focused on the immediate economic impact of the coronavirus. This legislation greatly expanded paid sick leave to many Americans, made it easier for workers who’ve lost their job or had their hours cut to apply for unemployment insurance, and guaranteed that coronavirus testing will be free. It also included significant emergency funding for Medicaid, nutrition assistance, state unemployment programs, and coronavirus testing at VA medical centers. 
  • PHASE III: On March 27, the President signed a $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill intended to help workers who have lost jobs or paychecks due to the coronavirus, loans and grants to rescue small businesses, as well as hospitals and local governments facing financial strain because of the coronavirus. Specifically, the legislation provides emergency cash payments to Americans, a small business rescue plan, a “Marshall Plan” for America’s hospitals, and a significant expansion of unemployment insurance. You can learn more in the YouTube video below:
For days, I was in direct negotiations with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and my colleagues from both parties, working to include specific provisions that would help Virginia workers and local businesses, including:
    • Disaster Unemployment Insurance: to increase the amount and duration of unemployment benefits and expand eligibility to include hourly workers, gig workers, independent contractors, the self-employed, and others who would have otherwise fallen through the cracks in our system.
    • Foreclosure and eviction protections: to provide borrowers of federally backed mortgages with forbearance for up to 180 days on mortgage payments. Additionally, the bill includes a provision that would impose a moratorium on all foreclosures for at least 60 days. 
    • Small Business Paycheck Protection Program: to provide small businesses with loans of up to $10 million that forgive up to 8 weeks of payroll and other costs if the business retains its employees and their salaries. For more information on this and other programs for small businesses, my office has prepared a small business resource guide to assist Virginia small business owners. 
    • Employer Retention Tax Credit: to encourage companies to keep workers on the payroll so they can maintain their employer-sponsored healthcare and have a job to return to when the crisis is over.
    • American Worker and Main Street Lending Facility: to provide low-interest loans to help small and medium-sized businesses keep workers on the payroll.
    • Employer Participation in Student Loan Repayment: to encourage companies to assist in paying off their workers’ student loans, the legislation includes provisions from my bipartisan Employer Participation in Repayment Act.
    • And other provisions, including: protections for small business government contractors, cash advances and debt relief for small businesses, and eased restrictions on accessing emergency funds in your 401K.

In light of the significant size of this legislation, I also worked to ensure that the bill includes robust worker protections and transparency measures to make sure taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely. This includes restrictions on stock buybacks and excessive executive compensation for companies receiving government assistance, as well as full, real-time reporting of government loans to companies, and an inspector general to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse.

  • PHASE 3.5: On April 24, the President signed a bipartisan $484 billion coronavirus funding bill intended to replenish funds for several Small Business Administration (SBA) coronavirus relief programs that had run out of money, including:
    • $310 Billion for SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), including $60 billion in new SBA PPP funding dedicated to small lenders and community-based financial institutions
    • $50 billion for the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program
    • $10 billion for the SBA’s Emergency Economic Injury Grant program
    • $75 billion in emergency money for hospitals and healthcare workers
    • $25 billion to increase coronavirus testing and contact tracing capabilities

    The legislation also includes several reforms to the original programs, including expanding eligibility for injury disaster loans to farmers and agricultural businesses, as well as set-asides for microloans, minority-serving financial institutions, and other efforts to ensure funds flow to struggling small businesses and their workers.

HEROES Act: In May, the House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act, comprehensive COVID-19 stimulus legislation to provide real relief to the American people. For six months, the HEROES Act has sat on the desk of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who still refuses to bring it up for a vote in the Senate. Instead, the Senate has voted twice on the same “skinny” Republican COVID-19 relief legislation. This legislation has repeatedly failed to pass through the Republican-led Senate because the Leader McConnell can't even rally his own party around the bill, which neglects to include paid sick leave, assistance for renters and homeowners, adequate public school and child care support, or critical funding for states and localities. 

In October, I went against members of my own party and voted in favor of distributing another round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds to small businesses. I did this because I know that we need to provide urgently-needed relief to small businesses in Virginia amid Republican obstruction of comprehensive COVID-19 legislation. 

In the coming weeks, I plan to continue pushing to comprehensive relief, and working to include a number of proposals I’ve written to bring real relief to our communities – from our workers, to our small business owners. These include my Paycheck Security ActJobs and Neighborhood Investment Act, and RESTAURANTS Act, among others. 

If you would like to share your thoughts on the coronavirus or another issue that is important to you, I encourage you to send me an email using this form.

Other Actions 

In addition to legislation, another important tool at a Senator’s disposal are official letters, sent to government agencies, private companies, fellow senators, and other entities. Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, I have been closely tracking the actions of the Trump Administration and using these letters to urge federal, state, and local officials, as well as business leaders to respond appropriately to the threats posed by coronavirus.  

You may be wondering: What good does a letter do? At a minimum, these letters allow Senators to outline our priorities on an issue, shape public debates, and drive press coverage of important issues that might not otherwise get attention. Often, they create political pressure that yields real, tangible results for the American people. Let me give you three examples from letter I sent in the early months of this outbreak:

  • Lifting broadband restrictions: On March 12, I led 17 of my colleagues in sending a letter to the CEOs of eight major internet service providers (ISPs) calling on the companies to suspend broadband restrictions and fees that could limit Americans’ ability to work, study, and receive medical treatment from home while social distancing. Within days, AT&T, CenturyLink, Charter Communications, Comcast, Cox Communications, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon, as well as a number of smaller ISPs had responded and announced that they would be waiving fees and data caps for their customers during the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Gig Workers: On March 9, I called on the CEOs of the largest gig worker platform companies to provide flexibility and financial assistance to workers affected by the coronavirus. In the week since, several gig companies, including Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Instacart and Postmates have announced assistance for their drivers, and the Wall Street Journal reports that several gig platform companies are in talks to establish a joint fund to assist these workers.
  • Loan Forbearance: On March 9, I led my colleagues on the Senate Banking Committee in sending a pair of letters to financial regulators and trade groups urging our nation’s financial sector to prepare for the likely impacts of the coronavirus and take steps to protect consumers who may suffer financially as a result of a coronavirus outbreak. Shortly thereafter, multiple bank regulatory agencies issued a joint statement calling on banks to provide relief to customers affected by coronavirus and pledging regulatory assistance for banks who do so. 

Below you will find a full list of my efforts to ensure a strong response to the coronavirus outbreak:

Sen. Warner's Work on Coronavirus 

*A NOTE ON CONSTITUENT COMMUNICATION*

Due to safety precautions being taken to decrease the spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, delivery of all physical mail to my office may be significantly delayed.

If you are in need of individual assistance, please contact my office using this form. Please be sure to provide good contact information so my staff will be able to reach you.

If you have a general comment about a Coronavirus related topic, you can send me an email using this form.

You may be assured that messages received from the webforms are being monitored throughout the day.
If you are unable to complete a webform online please, contact my office by phone at (202) 224-2023.

For the latest information regarding the virus please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. For the latest on my work in the Senate on this evolving situation, please visit the Coronavirus Updates Page on my website.

For information and updates about the Coronavirus in Virginia, you may also contact the Virginia Department of Health at or by phone 1-877-ASK VDH3 (1-877-275-8343).

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