A Message from Virginia Chamber President & CEO, Barry DuVal
All regions of the Commonwealth have been in Phase Three of Governor Northam’s “Forward Virginia” plan for almost two weeks and I continue to be impressed by the ingenuity of the business community to do everything possible to maintain the stream of commerce, while keeping the health and safety of Virginians as their top priority. A comprehensive summary of the Phase Three guidelines can be found below.
Yesterday, Governor Northam announced that Virginia ended fiscal year 2020 with a deficit of roughly $236.5 million. A budget shortfall was anticipated due to the impact of COVID-19, but the Governor has expressed that the end of the year revenue report reflects a smaller deficit than what was originally expected. Secretary Layne stated that this, in part, can be attributed to Virginia’s significant number of contractors and federal employees. Additionally, the Secretary referenced the flexibility of many Virginia workers who quickly transitioned to telecommuting in the early days of the outbreak as another reason. Below you will find additional information on preliminary analysis from the full report.
The Safety and Health Codes Board of the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry met for the third time earlier this week to continue the process of reviewing new emergency regulations that will set out additional requirements for Virginia employers related to workplace safety due to COVID-19. They were unable to complete the reviewal process during this meeting, so an additional meeting has been set for July 15 to conclude their discussions. The Board has made adjustments to the originally proposed standards throughout the last three meetings, and a list of amendments the Board has agreed to thus far can be found below.
Currently, the Safety and Health Codes Board are still holding to a July 15 effective date, however, given the additional meeting scheduled on this date, we are hopeful that the Board will seek a delay in the effective date to allow for employers to get up to speed with any revisions. The most up-to-date publicly available version can be found here.
The Virginia Chamber submitted a comment letter to the Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry and the Safety and Health Codes Board as part of the public comment process to voice our strong concerns about placing additional burdens on Virginia businesses and inconsistencies with federal regulations within the proposed standards. For details on each of the Board’s meetings, visit the DOLI website here.
This week, the Virginia Chamber is pleased to recognize AT&T for its continued support of communities across the Commonwealth and nation during COVID-19.
AT&T has been investing in Virginia for more than a century. From 2017-2019, the company invested nearly $700 million in its networks in Virginia to expand coverage and improve connectivity in more communities. During this extraordinary time, AT&T also has stepped up for customers and communities across the Commonwealth in many ways. The company offered relief to customers, bonuses for its front-line employees and contributions to a variety of organizations to help them meet their missions.
To support distance learning, for example, AT&T has created a new $10 million Distance Learning and Family Connections Fund to ensure students, families, and teachers across the nation have the tools and resources they need to successfully transition to at-home learning. AT&T also launched programs for first responders, medical personnel, and other Virginians most effected by COVID-19, including providing meals to first responders; helping with child care for front line workers; and supporting programs that serve victims of domestic violence, among other initiatives statewide. I commend AT&T for their significant efforts and encourage you to learn more about this week’s “Member Spotlight” below.
Member Spotlight: AT&T
In addition to the information highlighted above, AT&T has also supported organizations that connect students with meaningful mentorships, virtually. In June, AT&T began their Summer Learning Academy, which is an online self-paced certificate program designed to assist with professional development for college students impacted by COVID-19.
Additional AT&T Community Efforts in Virginia include:
- Contributed $25,000 to Mason and Partners (MAP) Clinics (a network of 10 no-cost bridge health care clinics supported by the College of Health and Human Services at George Mason University) to support increased tele-health in underserved communities in Virginia
- Contributed $10,000 to Safe Harbor, an organization in Richmond committed to supporting survivors of sexual and domestic violence and human trafficking, as the current pandemic has made their work more vital than ever.
- Contributed $50,000 to Child Care Aware of Virginia (CCAOVA) to allow them to purchase PPE equipment and other supplies for the child-care professionals working at the more than 200 childcare programs set up for essential workers during COVID-19.
- A $10,000 contribution to Journey House helps the organization serve Virginians with substance-abuse and addiction challenges which were exacerbated during the current crisis.
- A contribution to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington help the provide child care for first responders at the The Hylton Boys & Girls Club in Woodbridge, VA.