It’s hard to believe, but we’re almost halfway through 2021! As we move into the summer season and the vaccination rate keeps climbing, things continue to improve here in Virginia. This newsletter contains updates on Virginia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, local events in celebration of Pride Month, hurricane preparedness information, and more.
Vaccine and COVID Guideline Updates
Virginia has continued to make major strides in its vaccination efforts. Nearly 70% of all Virginians over the age of 18 have received at least one dose of the vaccine, but our work is not done yet. If you haven’t received either a first or second dose, you can get vaccinated at many distribution sites without making an appointment first. If you would like to find a place to get the vaccine you can find vaccination sites here. Remember, all Virginians aged 12 and older are eligible to receive the covid-19 vaccine!
Our progress on vaccinations has allowed us to lift many of the public health restrictions that have been in place since the pandemic began. Several weeks ago, Governor Northam announced the end to the statewide mask mandate. If you are not yet vaccinated you are still expected to wear a mask in public settings until you have been vaccinated. Masks are still required in K-12 schools due to the low vaccination rate among children, and private businesses can still require masks in their establishments. All remaining public health restrictions will be lifted when Virginia’s state of emergency expires on June 30th.
Gun Violence Prevention Month
June is Gun Violence Prevention Month. On June 4th, we commemorated National Gun Violence Awareness Day by wearing orange in honor of the victims and survivors of gun violence. This month of reflection and action was started in honor of Hadiya Pendleton who was shot and killed at the age 15, one week after performing in President Obama’s inaugural parade. I hope we can all take a moment this month to remember the lives of those lost to gun violence.
June also marks the beginning of Pride Month. Originally started as a commemoration of the Stonewall Riots, it is now a month many in the LGBT+ community consider a time to celebrate pride and their identity. Organizations throughout the commonwealth will be hosting in-person and virtual events to commemorate Pride Month. You can find a list with some of these events here.
This Saturday marks Juneteenth, an annual holiday commemorating the day in 1865 when news of the Emancipation Proclamation and the end of the Civil War reached Galveston, Texas. Juneteenth started in Texas as a celebration of the end of slavery in the United States. Juneteenth is now a federal holiday and is celebrated across the United States. Celebrations are taking place across the Hampton Roads region this weekend, including in Colonial Williamsburg and the City of Newport News.
June is also graduation season for all the high school seniors throughout the Commonwealth. I had the opportunity to attend Woodside High School’s graduation ceremony and have enjoyed seeing the joyful photos and videos from graduation ceremonies across the 93rd. I want to congratulate all the high school seniors who graduated or will be graduating this month. You’ve persevered through an incredibly difficult year and have bright futures ahead of you. I hope you all take some time to rest and celebrate before moving on to what’s next. Congratulations, graduates!
June 1st marked the start of hurricane season here in Virginia, which runs until November 30th. Now that hurricane season is here, it’s a good time to review the hurricane preparedness guidance from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. On top of the preparation information, VDEM’s website has great resources on the difference between warnings and watches, how to get flood insurance, and, if necessary, how to access local and federal recovery resources.
Local and State Assistance Resources
While we are well on our way to recovering from the pandemic, we’re not there yet. For those who need help there are several state and local programs available. With the Commonhelp website you can see if you are eligible for or apply for benefits in the form of healthcare programs, food assistance, child care assistance, heating and cooling assistance, or financial assistance. The United Way of the Virginia Peninsula also offers a resource referral service that you can learn more about here.
The FCC recently announced the Emergency Broadband Benefit, a new program to assist families with the cost of internet service. This benefit will give households $50 a month to be put towards broadband service and a one time coupon of up to $100 which can be put towards purchasing a laptop, computer, or tablet from participating providers. You can click here to check if you are eligible and apply for the program.
For help finding a job, the Virginia Workforce Connection website can help you browse available jobs and training opportunities. You can also use the Virginia Career Works Referral Portal which helps streamline intake processes across state agencies and connect people with the training, certification, education, and employment services they need.
Earlier this week, I was honored to present a resolution to Rebecca Suerdieck to commend her for her work creating Archive Williamsburg, a free digital archive that contains over 1,200 searchable Virginia Gazette articles covering the period of 1893 to 1925. Rebecca spent countless hours scanning each of these documents and converting them into word-searchable PDFs to ensure that anyone can access these historic records. The resolution also honors Rebecca’s dear friend, Julia Oxrieder, who compiled these records prior to her passing in 2013.
Archive Williamsburg is an incredible resource for all of us. You don’t have to be a historian to get lost in the articles detailing the suffragist movement in Williamsburg – take it from me! I encourage you to spend some time going through this digital archive, it’s really something special. You can learn more about the story behind Archive Williamsburg by reading this article from the Virginia Gazette.
That’s all for this newsletter, thanks for reading! Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions.
Stay safe and take care,
Delegate Mike Mullin
93rd House District