May 12, 2021
This graph shows the dramatic increase in unemployment claims in Fairfax County when COVID-19 hit last year.
In this Issue
  • Commentary: Unemployment in a Time of Crisis
  • Latest Updates on COVID-19
  • Bulletin Board
  • What Can I Do?
  • Check your Calendar
Commentary
Unemployment in a Time of Crisis
The number of unemployed Virginians increased from 145,294 in March 2020 to 482,111 in April 2020 causing unemployment insurance claims to increase ten-fold within a month! In addition to the rising number of unemployed, Congress created several temporary programs to extend unemployment insurance benefits and expand them to many previously ineligible workers. Since those federal programs are administered by the states, the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) was overwhelmed with claims. In the fall of 2020 VEC ranked lowest nationwide for timeliness in processing unemployment insurance claims that required further review. Citizens were understandably frustrated and upset with a process that has left some without benefits for many months. My office, along with that of other legislators, was deluged with e-mails and calls from those desperately seeking help. My legislative assistant has put in many extra hours helping constituents with their filings and follow up.

A review of unemployment rates throughout the Commonwealth reveals that the rise in unemployment was statewide with areas having a high rate of unemployment going into the pandemic getting hit the hardest, but more prosperous areas got hit as well. According to data on the VEC website, the rate of unemployment for March 2021, the last period for which numbers are available, ranged from a low of 3.2 percent in Madison County, an agricultural area in the center of the state, to a high of 12.9 percent in Petersburg City, one of the poorest areas in the state. On the low end of the unemployment numbers, Falls Church City was number 2 with a rate of 3.4 percent, and Fairfax County was 39th lowest at a rate of 4.6 percent. On the high end, Richmond was 7.1 percent, and the cities in the Hampton Roads region including Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Hopewell ranged from 7.1 percent to 10.0 percent, just below Petersburg City.

The COVID-19 relief checks were very helpful in slowing the slide of the economy toward recession levels of unemployment. The additional funding now being debated in the Congress for infrastructure and additional relief will shore up the economy further until the normal activity of the economy returns with the end of the pandemic. I will leave to economists to debate the amount of stimulus needed to restore the economy, but I can say that the federal money that has flowed into the state has prevented widespread reductions in staff and services that would have been necessary without that funding.

For those who have borne the brunt of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic I can only offer my sympathy and compassion for what you have had to endure. I continue to be impressed with the resiliency of individuals and communities in times of challenge like these. The response of state government in this pandemic was unsatisfactory. True the bureaucracy was swamped with requests, but we should have been quicker to respond. True our existing technology was not up to the demand, but the technology that was to have been upgraded should have been done years ago. As Chairman of the Joint Legislative Audit Review Commission (JLARC), I promise that the results of the study that we are undertaking of VEC will address current concerns and provide recommendations to prevent this kind of situation from arising again!
Latest Updates on COVID-19
Fairfax County

5/11/2021 — Fairfax County and COVID-19 Vaccine for 12- to 15-Year-Old Children. Read the information.

5/11/2021 — Fairfax County Public Schools Shares Limited Virtual Program for 2021-22 School Year. Read the announcement.


Virginia

5/11/2021 — Statement from Virginia State Vaccination Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula on FDA Authorization of Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine for those 12 and Older. Read the statement.

5/11/2021 — Governor Northam Announces $62.7 Million in Virginia LEARNS Education Recovery Grants. Funding will support targeted initiatives to address pandemic-related learning loss. Read the details.


Nationwide

5/11/2021 — IRS offers overview of tax provisions in American Rescue Plan; retroactive tax benefits help many people now preparing 2020 returns. Read the information.

5/11/2021 — NIH Provides A Real-World Look at COVID-19 Vaccines Versus New Variants. Read the findings.

Bulletin Board
Inaugural Tour de Hunter Mill
Saturday, May 15, 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
The Tour de Hunter Mill is a community bike ride offering a long and a short route for riders of most abilities. The ride showcases Unity in our Community, as together we discover or revisit the many hidden treasures, cultural and environmental resources in the Hunter Mill District. Learn more and purchase tickets at Tour de Hunter Mill.
Meet VirginiaNavigator:
Your Nonprofit Guide to Aging, Disability & Veterans’ Services.
Caring for an ailing loved one. Maintaining social connections as you age. Managing chronic illness. Finding the right housing and employment when you live with a disability. Reinventing yourself after you leave the military. These are some of life’s biggest challenges — and no one should have to navigate them alone. When you need support, information and answers, visit VirginiaNavigator.org
Farmers Markets Are Open Again!
Fairfax County operates 10 farmers markets across Fairfax County under the Fairfax County Park Authority. By providing access to locally grown foods, our farmers market program strives to improve the health of citizens, support local food producers, and protect the environment. See locations and schedules at Farmers Markets. Vienna also has a market at the Vienna Community Center. It is open 8:00 a.m. to noon now and every Saturday through October 30.
What can I do? Civic Involvement
Be Prepared for the June 8 Primary
Links available at June 8 Primary Deadlines.
Calendar of Events
Wednesday, May 12, 7:00 p.m., The History of Reston's Village Centers.
Online event by Reston Museum and Reston Community Center. Learn about the history of Reston’s village centers, their unique characteristics, how they have brought the community together, and their importance in achieving Reston's founding principles. More is at Reston's Village Centers.

Friday, May 14, 10:00 a.m., Gun Violence Awareness Vigil at National Rifle Association headquarters, 11250 Waples Mill Road, Fairfax. The vigil commemorates the anniversary of the day 26 children and educators were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Please DO NOT park in the NRA's parking lot. There is plenty of free parking in the office building lot on Fairfax Ridge Drive across Waples Mill Road. Signs and flags will be provided. Most protesters will drive past the NRA with signs taped to their car windows or doors. Those who want to social distance and wear masks will stand on the sidewalk.

Sunday, May 16, 2:00 p.m., Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Dedication. After 13 years of sweat, tears and fundraising, the virtual dedication of the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial is now set! Details and links for streaming are at Turning Point Suffragist Memorial.

Sunday, May 16, 3:00 p.m., Equity Matters: Moving Forward to Equal Justice – Black Is... Black Ain't Film at Reston Community Center. In his final film, director Marlon Riggs takes an honest, and at times humorous, look at Black identity. Recent events demonstrate that the ongoing struggle for racial justice and equitable treatment for Blacks in America remain urgent efforts. Join local Black leaders for these thought-provoking and deeply emotional films and their dialog following the screenings about how the subjects connect to their lives. Patrons can listen to the post-screening dialog which will be livestreamed on RCC’s Facebook page shortly after the movie ends.

Sunday, May 23, Container Gardening Educational Tours. These tours are designed for people who live in apartments, condos or townhouses that limit their ability to have a more traditional garden. Sign-up for a half-hour tour starting at: 1:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m. or 4:00 p.m. View or download a flyer with further details.

Wednesday, May 26, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., Celebrating AAPI Stories that Connect Us All, virtual event from Fairfax Library. Learn more and register at Celebrating AAPI Stories.

Thursday, May 27, 1:00 to 2:00 p.m., Zoom Meeting with Congressman Gerry Connolly, sponsored by the Shepherd's Center of Northern Virginia. Congressman Connolly will provide his perspective on the latest priorities in the House of Representatives. Learn more and register.

Sunday, May 30, 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m, ViVa! Vienna!, at Vienna Town Green (144 Maple Ave E). Rides, music, crafts, food, entertainment, and FUN!! Hosted by the Rotary Club of Vienna, ViVa! Vienna! is a family- and community-oriented celebration of Memorial Day and the greater Vienna community spirit. Vienna Town Calendar.