Roanoke, Virginia – Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 100 million people have been infected with the virus, according to the New York Times COVID-19 tracker. In the same period, nearly 1.1 million Americans have died due to complications caused by the virus. In Virginia, there have been more than 2.1 million cases, or 25,324 infections per 100,000 people, while 22,655 Virginians have died as a result of the virus.
Health experts are confident that the number of cases will remain relatively low this winter and that no significant surge is expected like last year or the year before. This winter’s forecast is based on decent vaccination rates and people who have developed immunity against the virus through recovery. Currently, 75% of Virginia residents are fully vaccinated, which is higher than the national average of 68%.
People are getting used to living with the virus, and the majority now think of COVID-19 as something closer to the flu than a dangerous disease. The country reopened, and everything seems to be getting back to normal. During the Thanksgiving weekend, shopping malls and stores were filled with customers, and that’s pretty much the confirmation we needed that people will celebrate this year’s holidays like they used to before the pandemic.
In order to fight the growing number of cases and prevent the spread of the virus, federal and state leaders have imposed strict pandemic measures that have lasted for months and sometimes for years. In some cases, those who were not compliant with the measures were fined, but this is now over, at least in Virginia. According to a press release from the Governor’s office earlier this week, Governor Glenn Youngkin has issued an Executive Order directing enforcement agencies, boards, and commissions to report all fines, fees, and suspensions related to COVID-19 shutdown violations.
Per the Executive Order, all the agencies and state departments involved in the process are required to halt collection and enforcement actions from now on. In addition, Virginia residents and businesses that paid “unjust COVID-19 fines and fees” since the fines were imposed will have their fines reduced and some of the money paid refunded. Governor Youngkin tasked the Secretary of Finance with developing a reimbursement process with all the agencies and departments that have been involved in the process over the years.
Just when everyone thought that people and businesses would recover from the pandemic because the country finally reopened, the highest inflation in decades and skyrocketing prices have slowed down the recovery process. With the executive order in place, Governor Youngkin aims to help everyone overcome these difficult times.
“I am today requiring a statewide review of COVID-19 related penalties imposed by the Northam administration. The fact that businesses are still dealing with COVID-19 related penalties and fines is infuriating. Livelihoods are on the line,” said Youngkin this week. “In the previous administration, we saw our government shut down businesses, close our schools, and separate us from each other. While we can’t undo the damage done during the Northam administration, we are taking action going forward to end COVID-era draconian overreach.”
“I look forward to working with the General Assembly to address this, forgive COVID fines and fees and restore licenses that were unjustly suspended,” Youngkin continued.