I hope that everyone had a great Fourth of July holiday weekend. Because of the holiday, we took a small break from delivering our weekly newsletter last Thursday. This week, I share a few reflections on the Fourth of July holiday, talk about an upcoming event with Congressman Andy Kim, extend congratulations to Sheriff Vanessa Crawford of Petersburg, share information on testing and treatment for monkeypox (MPV), provide an update on the DMV’s Mileage Choice Program, commemorate Disability Pride Month, and share a few community events from this week. Thank you for taking the time to read the newsletter and for staying informed.
The Fourth of July
The July 4th celebrations are always among my favorites. As a naturalized citizen myself, I especially appreciate the opportunities to celebrate our newest Americans as they take that special oath of citizenship and join us as citizens of the Commonwealth and of this country. This past week, the Richmond-area naturalization ceremony followed long standing traditions and was held at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture. More than 50 new citizens and their families participated in the event.
I had a very special 4th of July this year, as my family and I made a long-anticipated cross-country road trip across ten states to reach the Pacific Northwest. This trip felt restorative and so very illuminating. We were able to experience the vast distances and the immense beauty of the country’s changing landscapes. We encountered so many unique and wonderful people along the way: a newly-arrived Turkish family getting their start with a restaurant in Dayton, Ohio; the hardworking, immigrant community of Somali farmers in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; the small town residents of poet Carl Sandburg’s childhood home in Galesburg, Illinois; the incredible ranchers of Montana; and so many more. Along the way, through the sweeping Great Plains, the Black Hills and the Badland, and through the breathtaking Cascade Mountains, we remembered with deep respect the indigeneous peoples of North America, acknowledging their presence on the land long before the arrival of others from throughout the world.
The Cascade Mountains of Washington
The Statue of Dignity of Earth and Sky, in South Dakota. According to the artist Dale Lamphere, she “represents the courage, perseverance, and wisdom of the Lakota & Dakota cultures”; the values of an entire people, not an individual portrait.
VAAPIC Event with Congressman Andy Kim
On Tuesday, July 19, I and the other members of the recently-established Virginia Asian American and Pacific Islander Caucus (VAAPIC) will host an event in Alexandria, Virginia. Our honored guest for the evening is Congressman Andy Kim. As the first Democratic member of Congress of Korean descent, Congressman Kim has served as an inspiration to members of the AAPI community across the country. Throughout his tenure in Congress and throughout his career in public service, Congressman Kim has confronted issues such as prescription drug affordability, combating police misconduct and racial biases in policing, and aiding military members and their families.
Details about the event are available here. Delegates Mark Keam, Kathy Tran, Suhas Subramanyam, Kelly Convirs Fowler, Irene Shin, and I invite you to join us for this special evening.
To stay up-to-date on VAAPIC news, legislation, and events, join the VAAPIC mailing list.
Congratulations to Sheriff Crawford
I am delighted to share that the National Sheriff’s Association named Petersburg Sheriff Vanessa Crawford as the 2022 Ferris E. Lucas Sheriff of the Year. Congratulations to Sheriff Crawford on this outstanding national recognition.
Over the past sixteen years, Sheriff Crawford has served Petersburg with dedication, commitment, and strong community engagement. She served as Vice Chair of the Small and Rural Law Enforcement Executives Association and maintained leadership of The Virginia Association of Local Elected Constitutional Officers. She is the first woman to be elected sheriff in Petersburg, and she is now the first woman and first African-American to be recognized nationally with the Ferris E. Lucas Sheriff of the Year award. Sheriff Crawford is truly a breaker of glass ceilings.
Information about the Monkeypox Virus
Monkeypox (MPV) is gaining attention in the Commonwealth as cases continue to climb throughout the country. As of July 12, the Virginia Department of Health has confirmed 30 cases. Currently, risk of infection is considered low, but it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of MPV, as well as be aware of the efforts to combat MPV.
MPV is a contagious virus that can be transmitted through contact with bodily fluids, lesions on the skin, respiratory droplets, and by contaminated objects. Anyone can contract and spread the virus; transmission is not limited to a particular population or group. People with MPV may exhibit flu-like symptoms including fever, chills, and exhaustion followed by the development of rashes across the body. Individuals exhibiting symptoms are encouraged to contact their healthcare provider.
Testing, Vaccinations, & Treatment
The Biden-Harris Administration recently announced a nation-wide plan of action in response to the MPV outbreak. The administration has expedited production of MPV tests since the beginning of the outbreak and is currently producing approximately 10,000 tests a week. The CDC anticipates additional commercial laboratories will come online in the coming days, and monkeypox testing capacity will continue to increase throughout the month of July. Similarly, HHS is expected to distribute nearly 250,000 vaccines to communities in need in the following weeks. Currently, no specific treatment is approved for MPV. Most individuals who contract the virus recover without any special treatment; however, because MPV is related to smallpox, antiviral medication used to treat smallpox might be beneficial for those suffering from severe disease.
Further information is available from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Update: Mileage Choice Program is Live!
In April, my office sent out information regarding the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles’ (DMV) new Mileage Choice Program. The application is officially live and over 1,100 Virginia drivers have already joined the program. This voluntary program allows drivers to pay their highway use fee on a per-mile basis rather than a single payment at the time of vehicle registration. This provides a great opportunity for those who drive less to save more money. For those drivers who join the program and then drive more miles than expected, the standard annual fee is the highest payment cap. Those interested in learning more can visit the DMV’s Mileage Choice Program, and those wishing to join the program can sign up here.
Disability Pride Month
July is Disability Pride Month, commemorating the 32nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. Since its passage, cities and localities across the country have recognized July as a month to honor the diversity, value, and contributions of those in the disability community and celebrate the community.. Disability Pride is about the reclamation of visibility in public spaces where people with disabilities have historically been excluded. As a member of the Virginia Disability Commission, I continue to advocate for Virginians with disabilities.
Community Events This Week
On Tuesday, my staff and I had the privilege of attending the Commonwealth History Fund inaugural grant awards ceremony. Twelve organizations across the Commonwealth were awarded grant funding to support vital projects that seek to tell a fuller story of Virginia’s history. I especially congratulate the Richmond Public Library Fund and Richmond Hill for collectively receiving $65,000 in awards. The Richmond Public Library Fund will use its grant to support the Richmond Public Library in creating a thorough record of Richmond neighborhoods through eight additional library branches.
The Richmond Hill team will use its grant to preserve and interpret the Enslaved House at Richmond Hill for students, descendants and the public.
Yesterday, I toured the trauma center and intensive care units with healthcare teams and administrators at Chippenham Hospital. The teams highlighted the care, compassion, and treatment resources available for those suffering traumatic injuries. Chippenham’s Level I Trauma Center has 36 beds dedicated for burn patients and also offers Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) which is especially critical to wound healing for diabetic patients suffering traumatic limb injuries caused by the disease.
Connecting With My Office
My staff continue to hold meetings with constituents via Zoom or by phone. You can sign up for a meeting with either of my staff members with our easy scheduling app: