Matt Fariss

January 13th begins the 2021 General Assembly session. The Senate will meet in person while the House remains virtual. I have added links below for you to be able to watch session live. All committee meetings can now be viewed online as well, and the public will need to register to speak at these meetings. Please keep up with my Facebook page as I will share instructions and links on how to sign up for these meetings. 

House viewing: https://virginiageneralassembly.gov/house/chamber/chamberstream.php

Senate viewing: https://virginia-senate.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3

I also would like for you to take a few minutes to fill out my pre-session survey. This survey helps me know what is important to my constituents for the upcoming session. You can complete the survey here: http://survey.house.virginia.gov/Survey.aspx?s=212d846d3c6048c4b32e4fad03b5fd02 

If you would like a paper copy mailed to you, please call my office and we can send one to you.  

Last week, the Virginia Crime Commission voted 9-to-2 in favor of repealing Virginia’s mandatory minimum sentences. Even worse, they voted to recommend re-sentencing for a significant number of those sent to jail under those penalties.

Last week’s action by the Crime Commission represents the most extreme ‘soft on crime’ action by Democrats since they won control in 2019. Not only does this proposal weaken sentences for those who commit crimes such as producing child pornography, child rape, and violation of protective orders more than once, it opens these crimes up for re-sentencing. From manslaughter to the repeated use of a firearm in a felony, Democrats would weaken the system of criminal justice we have put in place that has made Virginia one of the safest states in the nation with some of the lowest levels of criminal recidivism.

Last week’s events in Washington were unprecedented. Protesters stormed the Capitol, took the floor of the House and Senate, and engaged in armed standoffs with law enforcement. What happened Wednesday was unacceptable. We are a nation governed by laws, not mobs. I condemn these actions in the strongest possible terms.

Many Virginians are angry over the results of the election. That’s understandable and acceptable. Questions raised about the conduct of the Presidential election haven’t been answered to the satisfaction of many citizens. Getting to the bottom of those questions was the point behind today’s challenges to the Electoral College vote. 

Following the law, each Chamber adjourned for two hours to debate the challenges on their merits. What followed, though, was wholly inexcusable. Protesters attacked law enforcement, broke through barricades, and stormed the U.S. Capitol. Four people lost their lives.

Said simply, if the actions taken by rioters during summer’s riots across the country were wrong, then so were the actions taken by those who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.

The first shipment of vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech was received in Virginia on December 14, 2020. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires ultracold storage and was distributed to geographically diverse health care systems with ultracold storage capacity. They were provided for health care personnel.  Healthcare systems and local health departments are now holding vaccination clinics, utilizing both Pfizer and Moderna vaccine, for healthcare personnel across the state. 

Despite Virginia having vaccines for weeks now, less than 27% of those on hand have been distributed. 

Central Virginia delegation has sent a letter to the Governor to allow a comprehensive and coordinated whole community approach to accelerate the distribution of the vaccine in our region. 

Most long-term care facility residents and staff in Virginia elected to receive vaccinations from CVS and Walgreens’ teams onsite through CDC’s Federal LTCF Pharmacy Partnership. VDH notified CDC on December 10, 2020 that it was activating Part A of the contract as of December 14, 2020 and allocated Pfizer vaccine for that purpose. CVS and Walgreens began onsite vaccination in skilled nursing facilities on December 28, 2020. 

Local health districts are developing plans to ensure opportunities for non-hospital healthcare personnel to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Together with healthcare systems, they are making plans to hold vaccination clinics for providers in their areas.  Local health districts are reaching out to practices to engage them in this process.

Virginia needs vaccinators. The VDH website contains a Provider Intent Form, and related documents, for those series of health care providers who wish to serve as COVID-19 vaccinators.  VDH is working as quickly as possible to process these intent forms and complete provider registration. 

Phase 1a of Virginia’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign is focused on health care providers as well as long term care facility staff and residents – more than 500,000 individuals in all.  We expect opportunities for vaccination to continue to increase as they work as quickly as possible to get the clinics set up.  

On December 20, 2020, the Centers for Disease and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended that in Phase 1b nationally, vaccine should be offered to persons aged ≥75 years and frontline essential workers (non–health care workers) and that in Phase 1c, persons aged 65–74 years, persons aged 16–64 years with high-risk medical conditions, and essential workers not recommended for vaccination in Phase 1b should be offered vaccine. VDMAC has provided its recommendations to the Virginia COVID-19 Unified Command Leadership for approval. The Virginia COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Workgroup provided comments to VDMAC to consider in making its recommendations. 

VDH continues to work with federal and community partners to develop COVID-19 vaccine distribution plans and will ensure that all eligible priority groups receive clear communication regarding how to receive the vaccine in a timely manner. For the latest information about VDH’s COVID-19 vaccination plans, please visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine.   

If you have a question on when you can receive the COVID-19 vaccine, please call your local health department. A list of local health departments is available at https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/health-department-locator/. 

I am also providing a link that will allow you to check when you are eligible to get the vaccine per CDC and VDH guidelines. https://vdh.jebbit.com/amkwk6m1?L=Owned+Web&JC=Vaccine&fbclid=IwAR2DvyTHwJ1oB07q2wXStTfpg1wxJFrsUer1WZ-rMi2NkYLhCCeB19iGaac

VDH has a dashboard on its website to keep people apprised of the number of vaccine doses distributed in Virginia and the number of doses administered. It is updated daily. The number of doses of vaccine administered shown on the vaccine dashboard will always lag the actual number of doses administered. Other important FAQs on the VDH Social Bubble, Vaccination FAQs and COVID-19 FAQs can be found at https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/