Local Commentary

Delegate Marcus Simon’s Richmond Report

There have been quite few updates to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and the Governor’s Executive Orders related to the pandemic in the past week. So, I wanted to take this opportunity to share some of those details.

Last Week, the Virginia Department of Health announced that vaccine providers in Virginia may begin vaccinating those aged 12-15. This announcement follows the federal approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for use in adolescents yesterday. You can read the full release on Virginia Department of Health’s website.

I have heard from some folks who have had trouble with appointments they scheduled in anticipation of this announcement. The good news is that the Tysons Community Vaccination Center began accepting adolescent appointments and walk-ins on May 14. The Inova-Stonebridge Vaccination Center is also vaccinating this age group effective immediately. Parents or guardians can schedule appointments through the Fairfax County Health Department and Inova MyChart, respectively. Several local grocery stores and pharmacies will be following suit.

Fairfax County also posted a blog post with this information. Vaccinating children in the 12-15 age group is a critical step towards achieving herd immunity and will help to keep our schools healthy places to learn. A joint letter from Health Department Director Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu and Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) Superintendent Dr. Scott Brabrand went out to the FCPS community, encouraging families to take advantage of the numerous vaccine opportunities available. The County is also working with FCPS to hold immunization clinics in select Title 1 schools in coming weeks. As I get more information on this, I’ll be sure to share it.

Some additional updates on the vaccination progress in Virginia and updated public health guidelines are below.
Vaccination Progress

As of May 19, 7,615,246 Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Virginia with an average of over 45,000 doses administered daily. Nearly 3.5 million Virginians are fully vaccinated (40.6% of the population) and 4,397,890 Virginians have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

You can find available vaccination appointments on the CDC’s Vaccine Finder website (www.vaccines.gov), which also allows you to choose locations based on which vaccine you prefer.

Updated CDC Guidance for Vaccinated Individuals

The CDC has provided updated guidance for people who have been fully vaccinated. They also recently announced that if you’re fully vaccinated, you do not need to wear a mask – indoors or outdoors, in most settings. Please keep in mind that immuno-compromised individuals should consult their healthcare providers regarding these guidelines.

Key mask wearing updates as of May 14:

Exceptions include public transit, health care facilities, and congregate settings. Anyone who is not yet vaccinated is strongly encouraged to wear masks in all settings.

Employees who work in certain business sectors — including restaurants, retail, fitness, personal care, and entertainment — must continue to wear masks unless fully vaccinated, consistent with CDC guidelines.

Masks continue to be required in K-12 settings, given low rates of vaccination among children.

Businesses retain the ability to require masks in their establishments if they choose to, and individuals continue to be permitted to wear masks if they choose to.

People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last required dose of vaccine.

Updated Public Health Guidelines

With the release of the CDC’s updated guidelines, Governor Northam has amended Virginia’s public health guidelines outlined in Executive Order 72 accordingly.

Updated guidelines for specific business sectors can be found on the Governor’s website. Virginia will ease all distancing and capacity restrictions on Friday, May 28, two weeks earlier than planned.