Hala Ayala and Elizabeth Guzmán were among the first Latina representatives elected to the state legislature during the wave of Democratic victories in 2017. Ayala and Guzmán ran for office to provide diversity in state government that more accurately represents the population in Prince William County where a quarter of residents are Latino; almost 25% are Black and nearly 10% are Asian, according to the U.S. Census.
Ayala was born in Alexandria to a Salvadorian father and Irish-Lebanese mother. Before becoming a state delegate, she volunteered for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and founded the Prince William Chapter of the National Organization for Women. She also was vice president of the organization at the state level. Ayala defeated eight-year incumbent Republican Rich Anderson to represent District 51 in Virginia’s House of Delegates.
Ayala said she first considered running for lieutenant governor in 2019 to be a bridge-builder. She said she has seen the societal divide in America grow this year because of COVID-19 and knew she could do more. Before becoming involved in politics, Ayala worked in national security, where she said settling disagreements and being a bridge builder is part of the job.
A self-described politician and activist, Ayala said she has always championed equality.
“My work with Prince William NOW was about bringing people together, which I’ve always tried to do,” Ayala said. “You may not like what I say, but at least you know you are seen, you are heard and you are welcomed.”
Ayala is also an advocate for improving Medicaid, which she credits with saving her son, who has autism.
“We need a healthcare system that is inclusive of our economy and works for every family, especially now, as Virginia deals with the pandemic,” she said.
In the upcoming General Assembly session, Ayala said she plans to introduce legislation providing hazard pay for essential workers, defining broadband as critical infrastructure, and improving schools.
‘A matter of representation’
Guzmán immigrated to the United States from Peru and settled in Northern Virginia. She worked three jobs to afford a one-bedroom apartment before earning a master’s degree in public administration and social work and becoming a social worker.
Guzmán defeated eight-term Republican incumbent Del. Scott Lingamfelter in 2017 for the 31st District seat. She ran on a platform of improving public education, raising the minimum wage and expanding Medicaid.
Guzmán said her decision to run for the state legislature was a matter of representation, and that Lingamfelter was not a good representation of the diverse constituents in Eastern Prince William.
Guzman said that because of her background she was able to champion historic legislation this year.
“It was because of the communities that I represent,” Guzmán said. “It was about the struggles that I had as a first-generation immigrant.”
Guzmán was tapped to co-chair Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign in Virginia with fellow Prince William Del. Lee Carter.
Guzmán said she’s passionate about investing more into the state’s public education, including more counselors in schools and more resources for special education and remote learning. Guzmán said she was surprised to discover education issues and legislation that would improve “quality of life” were seen as partisan in the chamber.
“It didn’t matter how well I could make my case or how prepared I would be with data and facts, it was all about the party,” Guzmán said. “My intention was to serve all Virginians, not only those who voted for me.”
As a member of the Prince William-Manassas Regional Jail Board, Guzmán had a hand in getting Prince William County to end its agreement to work with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to pursue and detain immigrants who entered the country without legal permission. Guzmán said that Prince William was no safer statistically than nearby localities without the program, and ICE made the county’s immigrant community feel less safe and more hesitant to report a crime they were the victim of, such as a robbery or domestic violence for fear of being deported.
“The vision for Virginia should be a place where diversity is embraced and not disrespected,” Guzmán said. “It should be a place where people feel safe, and feeling safe means that you should be comfortable calling the police when there is a crime regardless of your immigration status.”
Guzmán said she has heard from constituents that health care and access to higher education are important issues.
“Your credit score or your eligibility for a loan should not define whether you should go to college,” Guzmán said. “If you have good grades, if you’re a good citizen, you should have the opportunity to go to college, and college affordability is definitely what young voters want.”
Other Democrats running for lieutenant governor include Paul Goldman, former chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia; Sean Perryman, president of Fairfax County NAACP; Roanoke Del. Sam Rasoul and Xavier Warren, a sports agent. Across the aisle are businessmen Puneet Ahluwalia and Lance Allen, Virginia Beach Del. Glenn Davis, who will make his second run for the seat, and former Fairfax Del. Tim Hugo.
By Will Gonzalez
Capital News Service
Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.
Biden signs new orders to fight Coronavirus
WHITE HOUSE – Total deaths from the coronavirus pandemic in the United States ”will likely top 500,000 next month,” President Joe Biden warned Thursday, as he explained his government’s plan to curb the toll the disease has been taking on Americans.
Biden, in the White House Roosevelt Room, held up his 198-page plan in front of a group of reporters, flanked by Vice President Kamala Harris and his top medical adviser on the coronavirus, Dr. Anthony Fauci, before signing 10 executive orders related to it.
The president’s goal is to vaccinate 100 million Americans within the next 100 days. Some 100 federally supported community vaccination centers are to open across the country within the next month.
“This will be one of the greatest operational challenges our nation has ever undertaken,” noted Biden.
After he signed the orders, which include requiring international travelers heading to the United States to produce proof of a negative COVID-19 test, Biden was asked by a reporter if his goal of 100 million shots in 100 days is high enough.
“When I announced it, you all said it’s not possible. Come on, give me a break, man,” the president responded testily. “It’s a good start — 100 million.”
Fauci later told reporters during a White House briefing that “it’s quite a reasonable goal.”
Sixteen million Americans have been inoculated so far — fewer than the 20 million that health officials in the administration of former President Donald Trump had promised to have vaccinated by the end of December.
During the past year of his predecessor’s administration, Biden said, ”we couldn’t rely on the federal government to act with the urgency and focus and coordination we needed.”
Biden said “the tragic cost of that failure” has been thousands of deaths per day and more than 24 million Americans infected with the coronavirus.
The pandemic has killed more than 409,000 Americans, the most reported by any country, according to Johns Hopkins University.
To protect travelers, Biden is mandating mask-wearing in airports and on certain types of public transportation, including many trains, airplanes, maritime vessels and intercity buses. On Wednesday after assuming power, he also ordered mandatory face mask-wearing on U.S. government property.
The orders Biden signed on Thursday are buttressed by his request to Congress for $1.9 trillion in new coronavirus relief aid.
“This crisis is dire and requires immediate action,” Psaki told reporters.
Trump, who frequently sought to play down the severity of COVID-19, left much of the pandemic planning to individual states, which has resulted in a patchwork of policies across the country.
That led to widely varying decisions on school and business closings and restrictions, and whether to require people to wear face masks.
State governments have been complaining they are not getting enough vaccine doses, even as the national government has expanded the categories of people eligible for the shots.
Starting next month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is to make vaccines available to local pharmacies. Currently, most shots have been administered at local government centers or given to the elderly at nursing homes.
Guidance on schools
And the federal government’s departments of education and health are to “provide guidance on safe reopening and operating for schools, child care providers and institutions of higher education,” according to the White House, which says ”science will be paramount” in decision-making.
Federal agencies are to collect data about the closing and reopening of schools so that officials can better understand the impact on families with low incomes, students of color, English-language learners, students with disabilities, and others.
Biden’s new orders on his first full day in office come after he told the World Health Organization that he would reverse Trump’s withdrawal from the agency.
“America’s withdrawal from the world stage and retreat from the World Health Organization has impeded progress on the global COVID-19 response and left the United States and the world more vulnerable to future pandemics,” the White House said.
VOA’s Ken Bredemeier contributed to this report.
Trump flies to Florida as Biden inaugurated
WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA – In the fleeting minutes before the inauguration of his successor, Donald Trump was able to enjoy the perquisites of the presidency for a last time — an escorted motorcade moving slowly through the streets of Palm Beach, Florida, as he waved from behind the windows of an armored vehicle to hundreds of supporters waving banners, cheering his name and some urging him to run again in 2024.
Trump was accompanied home by the now-former first lady Melania Trump, a small number of still-loyal aides, and a dozen members of the White House press corps, which he had collectively during his tenure derided as “fake news” and “enemies of the people.”
The motorcade pulled through the gates of the Mar-a-Lago estate less than 30 minutes before Trump lost the powers of the presidency.
After leaving the White House for a final time, Trump arrived early Wednesday at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on the Marine One helicopter. He was greeted by the tune of “Hail to the Chief” played by a military band, a 21-gun salute, and an invited crowd of about 200 people.
There, for just under 10 minutes, he addressed supporters — a more subdued, casual, and condensed version of the stump speech from his frequent Make America Great Again rallies that he had hoped would win him reelection last year.
“I wish the new administration great luck and great success. I think they’ll have great success,” said Trump without referring to President Joe Biden by name.
Trump, who had been criticized for downplaying the coronavirus pandemic, made a rare mention of the “incredible people and families who suffered so gravely” from COVID-19, referring to it as “the China virus.”
The 45th U.S. president promised to “be back in some form” and then concluded his remarks by telling the cheering crowd, “have a good life. We will see you soon.”
The Trumps then climbed the steps to Air Force One and turned around to wave several times, before departing for Florida.
Trump, as was the norm for four years, broke with tradition until the very end, not only avoiding Biden’s inauguration but still refusing to utter the name of the Democratic Party nominee who was victorious in November’s election.
At the moment Biden took the oath of office as new president just before noon at the heavily fortified U.S. Capitol building, Trump was 1,400 kilometers to the south, already inside his Mar-a-Lago mansion, a frequent warm weather retreat during his presidency.
Before he touched down in Florida, Air Force One did a low altitude flyover of the Florida coast to give the Trump family onboard an aerial view of Mar-a-Lago.
Trump’s presidency ended in shambles. In its waning days, Trump was impeached a second time, the latter after the House of Representatives, including 10 Republicans, charged him with insurrection. Trump, even out of office, will face trial in the Senate soon.
In a January 6th speech on the Ellipse, with the White House in the background, he exhorted supporters at a Stop the Steal rally to march on the Capitol where lawmakers, led by Vice President Mike Pence, were counting the electoral votes to finalize Biden’s victory.
The mayhem caused deaths, injuries, and damage resulting in federal charges against more than 100 people — an event many Democrats and others have characterized as an attempted coup.
That event has weakened Trump’s grip on the Republican Party as many of its key politicians ask themselves whether the former president will help or hurt them in Congressional elections now less than two years away.
In a Gallup poll released this week, Trump departs with a 34% approval rating, the low point of a presidency that already had the weakest average favorability rating of any since the survey began in the 1940s.
Yet he remains popular among Republican voters, with an 82% approval rating. Despite condemnation from some of his party’s lawmakers and even members of his Cabinet who resigned in protest over his post-election rhetoric, Trump is the current front-runner should he choose to run again for president in 2024.
Trump’s business partners, from golf tournament partners to banks, are shunning him and he may struggle to remain a billionaire between now and the next presidential election. He has been silenced on social media and could face a slew of legal charges in New York and other states.
In his wake, he leaves behind a pandemic whose global spread he has blamed on China. The infectious disease has killed more than 400,000 people in the United States, far more than any other country has reported.
In the final year of his presidency, Trump himself was hospitalized after becoming infected by the coronavirus. Opinion polls indicate a majority of Americans believe his administration’s response made the pandemic worse.
Trump’s supporters point to positives achieved by the 45th president, including destruction of the Islamic State caliphate, normalization of the Middle East, criminal justice reform, and speeding approval of generic drugs.
Delaware man facing multiple charges after I-81 pursuit
A New Castle, DE, man is behind bars on multiple charges after he fled law enforcement Sunday, January 10, 2021. Virginia State Police have charged Marquez D. Adams, 27, in Shenandoah County with one felony count of eluding law enforcement, one count of reckless driving by speed, one count of reckless driving failure to maintain control, one count of driving with a revoked license, and one count of driving with a phone in hand.
State Police initiated the traffic stop at approximately 7:50 p.m. as a 2002 BMW 330CI was traveling South on Interstate 81 at the 286 mile-marker in Shenandoah County. The violation was for speeding, as the BMW was driving 100 mph in a posted 70 mph zone.
The pursuit continued onto Rt. 42 in Woodstock, Rt. 11 in Edinburg, and in Mount Jackson before ending back on I-81 South. The BMW eventually ran off the left side of the roadway causing it to collide with a State Police patrol car before being contained on the right shoulder on I-81 at the 263-mile-marker. The driver, Adams, was taken into custody and transported to RSW Regional Jail and held without bond.
No troopers were injured during the course of the pursuit.
The pursuit reached speeds of up to 130 mph.
Marie Washington of Warrenton named Top 10 Criminal Defense Attorneys for 2020
Marie Washington, Esq. of Warrenton, Virginia has been named Top 10 Criminal Defense Attorneys for 2020 by Attorney & Practice Magazine. Attorney and Practice Magazine Top 10 award is an achievement reserved for only those lawyers who have demonstrated the highest degree of excellence in his or her area of law. Because of our stringent standards, less than 1% of attorneys nationwide will receive this invitation for membership, subscription and list inclusion which is published on www.attorneyandpractice.com as well as our quarterly magazine.
Our list recognizes the significant achievements of those lawyers whose practice elevates the standards of their State’s Bar as well as provided a benchmark for other practitioners. Our list encompasses industry leaders who have been featured on networks such as ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, FOX, the New York Times, The Washington Post, Time and Newsweek.
Today at Fauquier Health; 2021 year in review
In healthcare, each day is filled with new discoveries and new possibilities. We embrace this spirit at Fauquier Health. We are inspired every day to deliver amazing care to our community, and we are constantly evolving and striving to find new ways to support the health and wellbeing of all the people we serve in Fauquier, Culpeper, Rappahannock and other surrounding counties.
Last year was full of unprecedented challenges. These challenges greatly impacted our hospital, our frontline healthcare workers and first responders, and those living in our communities. Together, we faced loss and sacrifice. It is during challenging times like these that it is important to focus on the positive by celebrating the accomplishments and achievements.
Even though last year we all were stretched beyond comprehensible limits, we held onto hope for a brighter future. That hope enabled us to identify strength within and find opportunity for growth. In 2020, Fauquier Health expanded the services we provide by welcoming several new physicians and providers to our hospital family including a certified nurse midwife, a neurologist, three interventional radiologists to establish full time coverage, and a new OB/GYN provider. With these new additions, our medical staff has grown to more than 200 providers strong. This vibrant community is one of extraordinary talent and passion for elevating the quality of care available to the region.
This growing medical staff has allowed us to expand important services regionally. Last year, we expanded our women’s health program through a new midwifery program, we expanded upon our surgical weight loss and bariatric program, and improved upon our ability to offer minimally-invasive robotic surgery with our new DaVinci Xi robot and dedicated Globus ExcelsiusGPS Spine robot for spine surgery. Our cardiac catheterization lab, which opened in 2019, saw a tremendous 125% growth in volume. We understand every minute matters in the case of an emergency, so having the abilities to provide lifesaving operations locally is instrumental for the health needs of our community. We have fully moved all cancer, hematology, and infusion services into the new Cancer Center facility to provide care through the latest advances in technology and combined with comfort for a patient centered approach. All of these programs continue to grow and accept new patients.
In addition to adding new programs and services, we have enhanced our efforts in the areas of patient safety and quality. Fauquier Health has achieved reaccreditation by the Commission on Cancer, Joint Commission re-accreditation for Advanced Primary Stroke Center and Lab, as well as reaccreditation for Chest Pain by the American College of Cardiology all in the year of 2020.
All of this great work could not have been accomplished without our extraordinary team. We are grateful for our providers, nurses, clinical staff and all of our hospital, practice and long-term care employees, who are on the front lines providing high-quality care for our patients with fortitude, grace and compassion. We also appreciate the outpouring of encouragement and support we have received from our community partners and the community at large – the parades, meals, donations of PPE and other supplies have meant the world. Thank you for recognizing and supporting our healthcare heroes.
As we start a new year, we remain focused on safeguarding our community from the effects of this pandemic and expanding access to care. Fauquier Health is proud to partner with our local health department to support vaccination efforts and curb the spread of this dreadful virus in our communities. We look forward to expanding services and programs as we continue to recruit new clinicians, invest in facility and technology upgrades and partner with local organizations and community partners.
In closing, we are proud of our history of caring for our region and are proud of our many accomplishments, but it’s a new day at Fauquier Health, and we are looking ahead with our commitment to the future. It’s why we’re here, providing a range of services to help our family, friends and neighbors be their best. We have the experience and resources to meet the unique and evolving health care needs of our community, close to home.
Thank you for your continued support as we advance our mission of Making Communities while building a health system our communities can count on today and for generations to come.
Chad Melton, CEO
Steve Wojcik, Board Chairman
Fauquier Health recognized for excellence with ACC Chest Pain Center Accreditation
The American College of Cardiology has recognized Fauquier Health for its demonstrated expertise and commitment in treating patients with chest pain. Fauquier Health was awarded Chest Pain Center Accreditation in December based on a rigorous evaluation of the staff’s ability to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients who may be experiencing a heart attack.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 730,000 Americans suffer a heart attack each year. The most common symptom of a heart attack for both men and women is chest pain or discomfort. However, women are more likely to have atypical symptoms. Other heart attack symptoms include, but are not limited to, tingling or discomfort in one or both arms, back, shoulder, neck or jaw, shortness of breath, cold sweat, unusual tiredness, heartburn-like feeling, nausea or vomiting, sudden dizziness and fainting.
Hospitals that have earned ACC Chest Pain Center Accreditation have proven exceptional competency in treating patients with heart attack symptoms. They have streamlined their systems from admission to evaluation to diagnosis and treatment all the way through to appropriate post-discharge care and recommendations and assistance in patient lifestyle changes.
“Fauquier Health has demonstrated its commitment to providing Fauquier County with excellent heart care,” said Phillip D. Levy, MD, FACC, chair of the ACC Accreditation Management Board. “ACC Accreditation Services is proud to award Fauquier Health with Chest Pain Center Accreditation.”
Hospitals receiving Chest Pain Center Accreditation from the ACC must take part in a multi-faceted clinical process that involves: completing a gap analysis; examining variances of care, developing an action plan; a rigorous review; and monitoring for sustained success. Improved methods and strategies of caring for patients include streamlining processes, implementing of guidelines and standards, and adopting best practices in the care of patients experiencing the signs and symptoms of a heart attack. Facilities that achieve accreditation meet or exceed an array of stringent criteria and have organized a team of doctors, nurses, clinicians, and other administrative staff that earnestly support the efforts leading to better patient education and improved patient outcomes.
Erin Steele, Cardiac Cath Lab Manager and Chest Pain Coordinator, commented on what this means, “Thanks to the hard work, dedication, and collaborative efforts of our team, Fauquier Health is proud to be an Accredited Chest Pain Center by the American College of Cardiology. Over the last several years, our hospital system has invested in improving the cardiovascular health of our community through the addition of advanced technology, opening a new cardiac catheterization lab, and implementing processes to ensure our patients benefit from evidence-based best practices in the evaluation and treatment of acute coronary syndrome.”
The ACC offers U.S. and international hospitals like Fauquier Health access to a comprehensive suite of cardiac accreditation services designed to optimize patient outcomes and improve hospital financial performance. These services are focused on all aspects of cardiac care, including emergency treatment of heart attacks.
About Fauquier Health
Fauquier Health is a community health system dedicated to high-quality, patient-centered care in a unique environment that considers the multiple facets of healing and respects the individuality of each and every patient. Located at 500 Hospital Drive in Warrenton, Virginia, Fauquier Health serves the residents of Fauquier and several surrounding counties. It comprises: Fauquier Hospital, a fully-accredited, 97-bed hospital; Fauquier Health Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, a 113-bed long-term care and rehabilitation facility; the Villa at Suffield Meadows, an assisted living facility; the Wound Health Center and a medically supervised Wellness Center offering health and wellness programs. Fauquier Health also operates nine physician’s offices, including primary care and specialties. More information on Fauquier Health is available online at FauquierHealth.org or by calling 540-316-5000.
About the American College of Cardiology
The American College of Cardiology envisions a world where innovation and knowledge optimize cardiovascular care and outcomes. As the professional home for the entire cardiovascular care team, the mission of the College and its more than 52,000 members is to transform cardiovascular care and to improve heart health. The ACC bestows credentials upon cardiovascular professionals who meet stringent qualifications and leads in the formation of health policy, standards and guidelines. The College also provides professional medical education, disseminates cardiovascular research through its world-renowned JACC Journals, operates national registries to measure and improve care, and offers cardiovascular accreditation to hospitals and institutions. For more, visit acc.org.
For more information about ACC Accreditation Services, visit accreditation.acc.org, or call toll-free 1-877-271-4176.