Where to help and get help and how to cope
Coronavirus Resources for Washington County Families
Compiled and updated daily by your neighbors at
WIN - Washington County Independent Neighbors.

Physical distancing is working; transmission of Covid-19 has slowed. WIN created a chart (using Johns Hopkins Univ. data) tracking the up-to-date Washington County and Southwest Va. rate of new infection.
Here are two links with other detailed information, comparing our county to the nation:
Scroll to the 2nd U.S. map to see, by county, where the virus is spreading most rapidly.
In the spirit of community, Washington County Independent Neighbors (WIN) - your neighbors - offer these resources for family and community health, preservation, and rebuilding. We salute our healthcare providers, first responders, grocery employees and all other essential workers.
Coronavirus drive through testing - Washington Co. - May 6
Mount Rogers Health District is offering drive-thru testing for COVID-19 at the Washington County Health Department will offer testing at its office, 15068 Lee Highway, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., May 6. Appointment slots are limited. You must be pre-screened and scheduled for an appointment; call 276-676-5604. Patients approved for testing will get an appointment time, a testing number and/or an emailed authorization letter. People who do not have access to email should bring a valid ID to their testing site. Wear a cloth face covering to your appointment.
Virginia Coronavirus Update
Virginia economic, employment, utility, transportation/DMV, childcare, education, courts and jails, and other information, in addition to health updates.
Virginia Department of Health

Updates and maps the toll of the coronavirus across Virginia.

Offers up-to-date information about what to do & how. Gov. Northam is lifting a ban on elective surgeries May 1.

The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association (VHHA) launched a new online data dashboard to provide up-to-date statistics on the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations across the Commonwealth, ventilator usage, current hospital bed availability, and metrics on the number of hospitals experiencing challenges obtaining or replenishing critical inventories of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other needed medical supplies.

Elective in-patient and out-patient surgeries and dental procedures are now permitted in Virginia.

Hospital emergency rooms are open and safe. If you or someone in your family is experiencing a medical emergency, don't hesitate, call 911.

The Mount Rogers health district also needs volunteers for the VDH Medical Reserve Corps. They can use both medical and non-medical volunteers. For more details scroll down to the volunteer section.

A recent article about volunteering for the Medical Reserve Corps.
Gov. Ralph Northam issues "Stay at Home" executive order
Gov. Northam's March 30th "Stay at Home" order directs Virginians to stay home !! except for getting food, supplies, medical care, to go to work, to care for others, and to get fresh air and exercise until June 10th. No public or private gatherings of 10 or more people anywhere or any time. Maintain 6 foot physical distancing. The order offers guidance for religious services.
Business Closures
On April 15, Governor Ralph Northam reported that social distancing is working, and because of that, the state is flattening the curve of COVID-19. He also said Virginians efforts are working to slow the virus so that hospitals and other healthcare facilities can keep up. That means accepting the new normal of wearing face masks, working from home if possible and continuing to maintain physical distancing.

Consequently, the governor extended, until May 7th, his executive order that closed entertainment, recreational services, non-essential businesses, businesses that cannot maintain physical distancing, and gathering of 10 or more people. Read the executive order for details.
Closed for the rest of the year, "at least." Standardized testing suspended for this school year. Here's a parent resource guide for enhancing children's education while at home. Beginning April 13, Blue Ridge Public TV launched "VA TV Classroom". They will broadcast teacher lessons on televisions across Virginia. Special education and student services for students with disabilities - info from the Va. Dept. of Education.
May open for carryout, curbside and deliveries only, for at least 30 days.
Forward Virginia: A Blueprint for Easing Public Health Restrictions
Governor Northam announces conditions for Phase 1 of his plan to ease COVID-19 restrictions:
• The percentage of positive tests, as well as hospitalizations, to move downward over 14 days.
• Increased testing and tracing.Enough hospital beds & intensive care capacity.
• Increasing & sustainable supply of PPE.

Phase 1 will still contain important restrictions and guidance including:
• Some businesses re-opening with strict safety restrictions.
• Continued social distancing.
• Continued teleworking.
• Face coverings continually recommended in public.
Cataloging all U.S. government activities related to coronavirus. From actions on health and safety to travel, immigration, and transportation to education.
Updates on Washington County office closures, solid waste schedule changes, voting and voter registration and more.
Family Care, Illness and Prevention
Here's information and a video from the Center for Disease Control showing proper method to prevent virus spread.

Social Distancing - your best chance to stay well and keep our community health services from being overwhelmed. Here's how to do it right. At this link, you can see how Washington Co. and all Virginia localities are doing carrying out social distancing, (not well as of April 23).
Here is why social distancing must be maintained over what seems a long time and here's how it can slow and stop the frightful math of viral infection.

Face Coverings - Center for Disease Control advises use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as a voluntary public health measure. The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators - in short supply and reserved for hospital personnel and first responders. Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing. Face mask FAQs from the CDC.

Feeling Sick?

If you are not feeling well or feel you have been exposed to COVID-19, consult with your Primary Care Physician or:
* Ballad Health's Nurse Connect: 833.822.5523
* Washington County Health Department: 276.676.5604
* Many insurers are offering telemedicine with no copayments.

Drive-through Testing for COVID-19 Virus:

Ballad Health Remote Testing Sites: Please call 833-822-5523 to be screened if you are concerned you may be ill with COVID-19. This Ballad Health Nurse Connect line is active 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

East Tennessee State University COVID-19 testing, Johnson City, TN, is offering drive-through coronavirus testing for pre-screened and pre-registered patients only.

Pre-registration is required for testing via the ETSU Health coronavirus hotline at (423-433-6110) from 8 a.m.-3 p.m.. The site will be open in the clinic parking lot Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the ETSU Health testing site, located at 325 North State of Franklin Rd. in Johnson City, TN. Registration is unavailable at the site, and the number of tests will be limited in the opening period.

Dialysis Patients: Special COVID-19 information

Possible PRESCRIPTION DRUG COST RELIEF: Pfizer RxPathways connects eligible patients to a range of assistance programs that offer insurance support, co-pay help, and medicines for free or at a savings. One of these programs provides eligible patients with their Pfizer medicines for free.

SICK LEAVE: The U.S. CARES ACT establishes paid leave for employees to stay home to take care of their child or if they are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus. An employee laid off on March 1, 2020 or later, and subsequently rehired by the same employer, is eligible for paid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, so long as the employee was employed for at least 30 of the last 60 calendar days prior to layoff. Talk to your employer.

Highlands Community Services is offering current clients tele-health mental health counseling. HCS offices are closed, but Crisis Services are always available; call 276 525-1557 and press 7, 8:30 am-5:00 pm. After hours, call 1 866 589-0269. Access points to additional mental health services are listed here.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255, or the Disaster Distress Helpline, 1-800-985-5990.

Abuse Alternatives 24-hr. Hotline: 423-764-2287 or 800-987-6499, TTY/Hearing Impaired: 423-652-9750

How to Talk to Children about the coronavirus.

Support for Child Development The COVID-19 and Early Childhood Development Resource Guide from the Harvard University Center on the Developing Child is packed with resources and ideas. This guide provides insight and recommendations on how to navigate child development in these challenging times, featuring an assortment of vetted COVID-19 Resources on a range of issues from child care, to housing, to health care and medical information. "The Ultimate Parent Guide to Education and Activity Resources."

For Grandparents & others - to keep contact with kids, not in your household. You share a screen with the children. Caribu has a library of books you can read together and simple games to play together. It's like Facetime and it FREE!

Fun ideas for families.

Donate Blood: We are facing a shortage of blood donations. Marsh Regional Blood Center continues to seek donations at mobile sites across region that are open and safe.


Dial 2-1-1 for emergency "safety net" help in Virginia

Emergency SNAP & TANF Benefits: Emergency SNAP benefits will be issued to 225,000 households on April 16. Work requirements for SNAP families have been waived. Families receiving TANF can apply for a one-time emergency benefit of $500 to help meet their needs.

USDA Commodity Food Program: Seniors over 60, participating in the USDA Commodity Food Program, are no longer required to sign for the food they receive. Additionally, participants are able to receive 2 boxes every other month rather than one box monthly, to minimize physical contact.

Women Infant & Children Program - WIC: Applicants and WIC participants no longer must come into the clinic to enroll or re-enroll or to pick up their WIC EBT cards or paper coupons; Virginia has also deferred certain requirements used to determine nutritional risk. The program will permit appropriate substitutes for the types and amounts of certain WIC-prescribed foods if their availability is limited.

Safe Grocery Shopping Tips: Grocery shopping is one of the hardest times to maintain social distancing. This video offers six tips for staying safe while grocery shopping. Most chain grocery stores offer pick-up and delivery services. You order the products you want online, pay with a credit or debit card, and select whether you want to pick up your groceries at a drive-up point at a time of your choosing for free or a fee of about $5 -- think of it as a fee for saving you shopping time -- or have your groceries delivered (for a larger fee, varying according to your location).
At home, unpack your bags with disposable gloves and wipe down product surfaces before putting them in the refrigerator. Non-perishables can be set aside for several days (until any coronavirus on packaging dies) or wiped down for more immediate use. This video shows a grocery unpacking protocol.

Tips for Take Out: keep surface sanitization and social distancing in mind: 1. Take a few minutes to create a safe food environment for when the food arrives by cleaning any surfaces it will touch.
2. Pay (and tip) in advance to minimize person-to-person interaction with the driver or restaurant takeout clerk.
3. Ask the driver to leave the food at the doorstep. Wait until the driver is at least 6 feet away before picking up the food.
4. Remove the food from the takeout containers, and dispose of them properly.
5. After disposing packaging, wash your hands thoroughly.
6.Wipe counters and other surfaces where you unpacked the food.

Abingdon Farmers Market is offering curbside pickup for orders made directly to farmers in advance. For a list of farm contact info scroll down here. The Glade Spring Farmers Market is scheduled to open May 23rd and is working on an order and pick-up process

Faith In Action provides food to 800-900 families every month. They are responding to much higher needs as people are laid off of work. They offer Financial Crisis Assistance to people in need and Neighbor to Neighbor assistance for paying electric bills.
Much of their operating funding comes from their thrift store which they've had to close. They need our help with monetary donations, which can be made online at: https://www.abingdonfaithinaction.com/ or mailed to: Abingdon Faith in Action, PO Box 2419, Abingdon, VA 24210
They are accepting non-perishable food and personal items and mentioned needing saltine crackers and diapers, particularly size large. Donations can be dropped off at their physical location behind St. John Lutheran Church: 798 Hillman Hwy. NE, Abingdon, VA 24210 Phone: (276) 628-4813

Feeding Southwest Virginia
is providing hot meals Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays from 10am-1pm - take away only - at their Abingdon Distribution Center. They operate a mobile food pantry that has 13 different drop-offs in communities throughout southwest Virginia Non-perishable food can be dropped off at their office located near Domino's Pizza at Exit 17: Abingdon Distribution Center, 21452 Gravel Lake Road, Abingdon, VA 24211. Phone: (276) 628-9266.

Washington County Public Schools are closed but are offering breakfast and lunch for pick-up to families with children. Call your child's school for daily meal delivery if unable to pick up. They will feed any child under 18 years years old, including those not yet in school. Please see the press release.

Abingdon Community Center has cancelled all of their events, including Bingo, a fundraiser that pays for the Meals-on-Wheels program. They report that they will continue to offer this needed service with new protocols in place. If you are younger, healthy and considered lower-risk for contracting COVID-19, consider volunteering to deliver meals. Many of their volunteers are older and we can help protect them by assisting in this way. Monetary donations can be dropped off or made online.

District Three Government Co-operative: Home Delivered Meals and Senior Medical Transportation will continue operations with extra precautions, such as wellness check calls, before the driver arrives at the home.

Glade Spring Senior Center operates a food pantry. They package and deliver food in the community on the third Monday of the month. The food pantry is open on the third Wednesday of each month. They are in need of two large freezers. If you are able to assist with this, contact Jerry Ferguson at 276-356-1151. Donations can be made to: Town Square Food Ministries, Box 338, Glade Spring, VA.

Area Restaurants Open for Take Out - call the restaurant to check, this is a March 20th list.

Utilities: On March 12th, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring filed an emergency petition with the State Corporation Commission to prevent utility disconnections for non-payment and suspend late charges for as long as Virginia is in a state of emergency. Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency also on March 12th. Gov. Northam ordered that utilities stop shut off services at least through June 10th.

See Faith in Action (above) for help with utility bills.



Dial 2-1-1 for emergency "safety net" help in Virginia

Unemployment Compensation Expansion: The new Federal U.S. CARES Act allows part-time employees and self-employed persons (who may not have paid into unemployment compensation) to receive unemployment benefits for the first time under the temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program through the end of 2020. Gig workers like Uber drivers, freelancers, and contract workers should also be eligible for benefits, if they are unable to work because of COVID-19. Unemployment funds for laid-off/furloughed workers: Supporting our Workforce: "Frequently asked Questions for Workers Regarding COVID-19" document can be found here. Unemployment funds for laid-off/furloughed workers: Supporting our Workforce: "Frequently asked Questions for Workers Regarding COVID-19" document can be found here.

Virginia implemented the provision of the new Federal U.S. CARES Act (bailout bill), which adds $600 per week from the federal government on top of whatever base amount a worker receives from the state. That boosted payment will last for four months. The legislation also adds 13 weeks of additional unemployment insurance.

File a claim for unemployment compensation at the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) website or call 1-866-832-2363, 8:15 am to 4:30 pm, Monday - Friday, and Saturday between 9:00 am-1:00 pm. You will likely receive quicker determination of benefits applying on-line, because VEC call centers are currently overwhelmed. The unemployment application website has been improved to accommodate the higher number of people filing for claims.

Virginia Employment Commission is waiving the waiting a week requirement for all new initial claims. In addition, VEC will be waiving the work search requirements for all claimants. Virginians who have experienced job or income loss as a result of the coronavirus crisis are encouraged to file an application for unemployment insurance using the VEC's online portal; select "Lack of Work" as your reason for separation. Please note, recipients will be required to access the portal each week to claim their unemployment insurance payment. Here are detailed instructions for individuals applying for unemployment insurance benefits due to COVID-19. FAQ on unemployment benefits.

The VEC directs, "no claim for unemployment insurance may be filed or processed until an actual lay off from employment has occurred, or until there has been an actual reduction in hours. When filing your claim for unemployment benefits, please be sure to check the reason for separation as Lack of Work/Lay off. If you will be filing because of a reduction in hours, you will not receive benefits unless your gross earnings are less than your weekly unemployment benefit amount."

For those receiving unemployment compensation, Governor Northam directed that the one week waiting period and the requirement to conduct a weekly job search both be suspended. Questions? workforce@governor.virginia.gov. The VEC's Virginia Workforce Connection connects with potential employers, search for jobs, find training opportunities, and research wage data along with industry and occupational trends.

Document your attempts to file your claim: Note date and time you called, how long you waited, the name of any person you spoke with. Online, take screenshots of the website. This evidence might eventually help you collect benefits dating back to when you first attempted to file for them. If your claim is denied, you can appeal. Contact legal aid advocates who can help you through the process at low or no cost. Call your local elected official or local media to let them know how the process isn't working.

If you have applied for unemployment insurance compensation, you must file a claim weekly with the VEC to continue being paid. The VEC recommends filing claims on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday of each week. To complete and submit a weekly claim payment request, call 1-800-897-5630 or visit vec.virginia.gov

Loan & Bill Payment Delay: Deferment of Rent, Mortgage, College Loans, Credit Cards, and Utility Bills: Don't just stop paying your bills! Call your lending institution, landlord, utility (including internet) to ask for delay ("forbearance") of your payment due date, if you need to do so because of loss of employment or income. The new U.S. CARES Act directs lenders holding federally-backed mortgages to suspend borrowers' payments for up to 12 months if they have lost income because of the coronavirus outbreak. This order covers the vast majority of existing mortgages. Typically, lenders are deferring loans for three months, payback is over 12 months waiving late fees. To qualify, you need to have suffered a financial hardship related to the coronavirus outbreak that makes you unable to meet basic living expenses. (This includes lost work because of all the business shutdowns. You don't need to have fallen ill or be caring for a sick family member.) Gov. Northam ordered that borrowers, who have federal mortgage loans through the Virginia Housing Department Authority (VHDA), may request up to three months payment deferral if they can demonstrate need because of COVID-19. These payments will be reimbursed over 12 months with late fees waived.

The U.S. Cares law also applies to renters whose landlords received federally-backed mortgages (most landlords).The CARES Act also suspends foreclosure and foreclosure-related eviction. (Contact legal aid advocates, which supplies a wealth of info about tenants' and mortgage payers' rights. ) The Virginia General Assembly also approved a 60-day grace period for those facing eviction, proposed by Gov. Northam, along with limits on late fees charged by landlords. Here's a list of new laws, effective July 1, which help tenants in Virginia.

You may also negotiate forbearance on credit card debt and utility bills by calling your creditor, though these are not covered by the CARES Act. Many lenders say they are offering similar assistance for numerous other types of loans. Banks may offer assistance including refunds on fees, deferred payments, with no negative credit bureau reporting, to include deposit accounts, credit cards, mortgages, auto loans and small business loans.

Federal student loans will automatically have their interest rates set to 0% for six months. Additionally, borrowers do not have to make payments during that six-month period. Borrowers should log on to their student loan servicer's website to access their account. From there, they should see that there is no payment due. If the system is still showing a payment due, contact the servicer to confirm that a payment is not required.

Payment Relief for Virginia Student Loan Borrowers: Virginia has secured relief options for more than 200,000 Virginians with privately held student loans, through the CARES Act - debt relief details and cooperating creditors.

Economic Impact Payment - U.S. CoronaVirus Relief (CARES Act): Enacted the last week of March, this new law directs that single people earning incomes below $75,000 will receive as much as $1,200 in an Economic Impact cash payment. Married couples would get $2,400, and parents would receive $500 for each child under age 17. Payments would be phased out beyond those income limits, and people making more than $99,000 will not be eligible at all. It will likely be weeks before the stimulus relief hits people's bank accounts, according to experts. People who do not have direct deposit information on file with the Internal Revenue Service may have to wait up to 20 weeks (from April 2nd) to receive cash payments. Nonfilers in 2018, including recent college graduates, and those who didn't file 2018 taxes because they had no obligation, must hurry up and file a return for 2019 to be included in the distribution.

Social Security beneficiaries do NOT have to file a return to receive Economic Impact Payment.The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service announced late April 2nd that Social Security beneficiaries, not typically required to file tax returns, will not need to file an abbreviated tax return to receive an Economic Impact Payment. Instead, payments will be automatically deposited into their bank accounts. If direct deposit doesn't include the Direct Express debit cards, that means unbanked Social Security beneficiaries will be forced to figure out how to cash their checks - not an easy task when shelter in place orders are in effect. Some financial experts are hopeful the Federal government will utilize the Direct Express debit cards. But no one knows for sure yet if it will.

If You Lose Your Health Insurance there are some options. One is to pay out of pocket to keep your old benefits through what's knows as COBRA, but that can be expensive. You are eligible by special open enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace to purchase insurance under the Affordable Care Act. You may be eligible for government aid in purchasing insurance.

Check with Washington Co. Department of Social Services to see whether your family qualifies for Medicaid. Also, losing your job is considered a life event that enables you to enroll in your state-level health care exchange system set up under the Affordable Care Act.

Virginia Health Insurance Companies' Updates: The Virginia Association of Health Plans (VAHP) maintains a summary of individual health insurance company responses to COVID-19 in Virginia.


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