This week, I discuss the leak of the Supreme Court draft opinion on Roe v. Wade, provide information about preventing the spread of COVID-19, share exciting updates on trails in the Metro Richmond Region, reflect on community events, and express gratitude to our Commonwealth’s teachers. Thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter and for staying informed.
Roe v. Wade
This week, something unprecedented occurred: according to a draft opinion of the Supreme Court, the intent of a majority of the justices is to overturn nearly five decades of reproductive freedom and privacy rights in the United States. This is disturbing news for millions of Americans across the country, the majority of whom support abortion access, but what does the opinion mean for Virginians?
According to the Supreme Court draft opinion, abortion access is to be determined on a state-by-state basis. State law and state legislatures will determine women’s rights, rather than the United States Constitution. In Virginia, we have strong protections for women in place, thanks to the efforts of the 2020 General Assembly, when a Democratic-majority in both the House and the Senate made women’s rights a critical priority. During the 2020 Session, the General Assembly passed the Virginia Reproductive Health Protection Act, which repealed medically unnecessary barriers to abortion care such as ultrasound requirements and a 24-hour waiting period. This legislation secured safe and accessible abortion rights for Virginians. Most importantly, abortion will continue to be legal in Virginia, regardless of the ruling by the Supreme Court. In 2020, I was proud to support this bill and will continue to fight to protect reproductive healthcare for all Virginians.
However, we know that the Supreme Court’s draft opinion creates massive disparities for women and families across the country. Many states have laws that criminalize healthcare procedures that are often medically necessary. In some states, women experiencing ectopic pregnancies and pregnancies that have tragically resulted in fetal death within the womb will not be able to receive medical treatment. The results can be horrific, and women’s healthcare providers will be legally bound to watch their patients suffer and possibly die. We have the responsibility to take action, both in Virginia and at the federal level.
Across the country, we are seeing a steady rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, and the test positivity rate in Virginia has risen above 10% for the first time since February. Fortunately, the COVID-19 community levels in Powhatan, Chesterfield, and the City of Richmond are low. To continue to keep community spread low, prevent hospitalizations, and save lives, it’s important to get vaccinated, test when exposed to COVID or feel unwell, and wear masks in appropriate settings. Here is information about vaccines, testing, and acquiring PPE throughout the district:
Chesterfield and Powhatan: Vaccines are available at the Community Vaccination Center (CVC) located at the Rockwood Vaccination Clinic at 10161 Hull Street Road in Midlothian. Appointments are available at vase.vdh.virginia.gov; "23112" should be entered into the zip code search bar.
Additional information is available at the CDC vaccine portal and the Virginia Department of Health Vaccinate Virginia website. Information regarding eligibility for boosters is available through this tool from the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Vaccines are safe, effective, accessible, and free, and we each have the collective responsibility to protect ourselves and our communities.
Community Testing Sites, At-Home Tests, & Quarantine Guidance
Individuals who are experiencing symptoms can get tested at a number of different community testing sites in Central Virginia. Information is available on the VDH Testing homepage, which also filters locations for free testing, Spanish language accessibility, and pediatric testing capabilities. The Test-to-Treat locator is an online tool that shows all-inclusive locations for testing, medical visits, and medication to treat COVID-19. Free tests are still available through COVIDTests.gov. White House officials have stated that every home in the United States is eligible to order two sets of four free at-home rapid antigen tests. Families can now order second sets if necessary by calling 1-800-232-0233.
Individuals who have tested positive should use the Virginia Department of Health’s isolation and quarantine calculator.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
According to the CDC, people with COVID symptoms, those who receive a positive test result, or those exposed to someone with COVID-19 should wear a mask. Additional guidance for all SD-10 localities is available here.
Masks offer varying protection: a cloth mask may be comfortable, but it provides the least protection. Disposable surgical masks, KN95s, and N95s offer greater protection. In-depth mask guidance can be found on the CDC website. Information about free N95 respirators is also available through the CDC’s ‘Find Free Masks’ tool.
Trails in Central Virginia
I am delighted to share that this past Tuesday, Chesterfield County’s Parks and Recreation and Transportation Department unveiled a new multi-use connector trail located at 5201 Ridgedale Parkway in the Dale District. The Stratton Park Connector Trail is a paved half-mile long, 10-foot wide trail suitable for pedestrians and bicyclists. This project was made possible by the Commonwealth Transportation Board and the Richmond Regional Transportation Planning Organization.
This evening, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (VDOT) will be hosting a community meeting at the Hilton Garden Inn - Southpark located at 800 Southpark Boulevard to share more information about the planning and progress of the Fall Line Trail. Once the 43 mile trail is complete, it will course through seven localities: Ashland, Hanover, Henrico, Richmond, Chesterfield, Colonial Heights, and Petersburg. This project will serve as a connector, not only between localities, but also to businesses, schools, institutions of higher education, and outdoor recreation. Individuals interested in attending tonight’s community meeting can register here.
Community Events This Week
On Saturday, I had the opportunity to join members of the Chesterfield County Democratic Committee (CCDC) in welcoming Senator Mark Warner back to Chesterfield County. He discussed the bipartisan infrastructure efforts—once in a generation investments in our country and our Commonwealth—and highlighted the leadership of the United States on the world stage as democratic principles are under attack within authoritarian regimes.
On Monday, after praying alongside community members at the Islamic Center of Virginia (ICVA) in Richmond, I traveled to the White House on Monday for an Eid celebration, joining others from across the country to honor religious freedom in the United States. President Biden and First Lady Dr. Biden delivered powerful messages on the ideals of religious plurality and inclusivity.
On Monday evening, Delegate Schuyler VanValkenburg and I attended the Reynolds Community College IT Student Showcase. This year’s project centered on designing an application system for managing community college internships for employers, students, and faculty. I enjoyed listening to the presentations that displayed effective team collaboration, showcased students’ skills, and highlighted all that they learned under the guidance of Reynolds faculty.
During the 2022 Session, I was honored to patron Senate Joint Resolution 106 celebrating the life of Jay Stegmaier, a beloved public servant and County Administrator for Chesterfield. Alongside county and state leaders, we presented the resolution to his family, honoring Jay’s memory.
The Virginia Retired Teachers Association (VRTA) invited me to give a legislative debrief on the 2022 Session. Our retired teachers continue to be active public servants, helping to mentor new teachers, volunteering in schools, and working with legislators on behalf of students and educators.
I appreciated the opportunity to join Indiaspora on Wednesday evening for the Spring Evening in Washington DC event. Assistant Secretary Donald Lu and former US Ambassador to India Richard Verma shared their thoughts on a variety of national and international concerns. Their thoughtful approaches to diplomacy provided helpful perspectives on global issues.
Teacher Appreciation Week
This week, we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week and show our gratitude for the work of dedicated educators. Here’s how constituents in SD-10 can participate:
Richmond Public Schools asks students, family, and alumni to submit messages of gratitude and support for RPS educators throughout the week. To participate, record a 30 second video and send the recording to firstname.lastname@example.org. Select videos will be posted on the RPS social media pages.
Chesterfield County Public Schools is showcasing their students’ appreciation for educators with videos on their Facebook page.
The Powhatan High School Jazz Band performed for the recently announced Teachers of the Year. The video of the concert is available here.
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: