RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam announced that Dr. Janice Underwood, former Director of Diversity Initiatives at Old Dominion University, will serve as Virginia’s first-ever Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Governor Northam announced the creation of this senior-level position in May, kicking off an extensive candidate selection process that involved numerous state agencies, stakeholders, and highly-qualified applicants.
“I am committed to making Virginia more equitable and inclusive, and that starts with my administration and our state government,” said Governor Northam. “Dr. Underwood’s background as an educator, leader and collaborator, as well as her experience promoting inclusive policies and directing a variety of diversity initiatives, make her the perfect person to fill this role. I’m thrilled to welcome Dr. Underwood to our administration, and I look forward to having her as a partner in this important work.”
As the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Dr. Underwood will develop a sustainable framework to promote inclusive practices across Virginia state government; implement a measurable, strategic plan to address systemic inequities in state government practices; and facilitate ways to turn feedback from state employees, external stakeholders, and community leaders into concrete equity policy.
“I am deeply honored to serve the Commonwealth in this inaugural position,” said Dr. Underwood. “As I embark on this role I will be relying on my many personal and professional experiences as a teacher, an educational researcher, a parent and wife, and a diversity leader. I am dedicated to working with Virginians to promote lasting, institutional change at all levels of state government, and I look forward to working closely with Governor Northam and the rest of his administration to make the Commonwealth more diverse, equitable, and inclusive for all who live here.”
Dr. Janice Underwood earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Hampton University in 1998 (B.A. Psychology) and 2002 (M.A. Learning and Behavior Disorders), respectively. In 2015, she earned her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Old Dominion University (ODU), where her research focused on culturally relevant pedagogy.
Prior to her appointment, Dr. Underwood served as Old Dominion University’s Director of Diversity Initiatives and as the chair of the President’s Task Force on Inclusive Excellence. Dr. Underwood previously served as the Executive Director and Co-Principal Investigator for the ODU Teacher in Residence master’s program, a collaborative partnership between ODU, Norfolk Public Schools and Newport News Public schools. Dr. Underwood also served for a number of years as a national board certified teacher for students with exceptionalities, and has extensive expertise in the cultural contexts of our public education system.
In these roles, Dr. Underwood has worked to create inclusive work and learning environments, and has collaborated with outside groups—such as the Virginia Community College System, the Chesapeake Public Library, and more—on professional development related to racial and cultural diversity.
AG Herring takes further steps to crackdown on price gouging
~ Herring has sent warning letters to 42 businesses about which Virginians have complained ~
RICHMOND (March 31, 2020) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring has taken further actions to crack down on price gouging in Virginia by sending warning letters to certain businesses about which Virginians have complained. The letters inform the businesses that they are the subject of a price-gouging complaint, ask for documentation pertaining to the complaint, and advise the businesses to immediately stop any illegal price gouging practices. So far, Attorney General Herring’s Consumer Protection Section has sent 42 letters to businesses in response to complaints made by Virginians.
“It is unfortunate that businesses will take advantage of a situation like a public health crisis to try and make more money off of necessary goods like hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, face masks, or water,” said Attorney General Herring. “My office and I take price gouging complaints very seriously and I hope that these letters will send a strong message to businesses across Virginia that price gouging will not be tolerated here.”
The letters explain that the Office of the Attorney General has the authority to investigate possible violations of Virginia’s Post-Disaster Anti-Price Gouging Act and to bring enforcement actions to enjoin violations, seek restitution for affected consumers, and recover civil penalties, attorney’s fees, and expenses. The letters seek certain documentation from the businesses regarding their pricing practices before and after Governor Ralph Northam’s declaration of a state of emergency on March 12, 2020. Importantly, the letters warn the businesses that the failure to cease and desist from engaging in any unlawful price gouging may be considered evidence of a willful violation for purposes of an award of civil penalties under the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.
Governor Ralph Northam’s declaration of a state of emergency triggered Virginia’s Post-Disaster Anti-Price Gouging Act, which prohibits a supplier from charging “unconscionable prices” for “necessary goods and services” during the thirty-day period following a declared state of emergency. Items and services covered by these protections include but are not limited to water, ice, food, cleaning products, hand sanitizers, medicines, personal protective gear and more. The basic test for determining if a price is unconscionable is whether the post-disaster price grossly exceeds the price charged for the same or similar goods or services during the ten days immediately prior to the disaster.
Additionally, last week Attorney General Herring joined 32 attorneys general in urging Amazon, Facebook, eBay, Walmart, and Craigslist to more rigorously monitor price gouging practices by online sellers who are using their services.
Suspected violations of Virginia’s Anti-Price Gouging Act should be reported to Attorney General Herring’s Consumer Protection Section for investigation, as violations are enforceable by the Office of the Attorney General through the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.
Consumers can contact Attorney General Herring’s Consumer Protection Section for information or file a complaint:
Governor Northam COVID-19 update briefing – March 30, 2020
Governor Northam issues statewide stay at home order
Governor Ralph Northam today, March 30, 2020, issued a statewide Stay at Home order to protect the health and safety of Virginians and mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. The executive order takes effect immediately and will remain in place until June 10, 2020, unless amended or rescinded by a further executive order.
The order directs all Virginians to stay home except in extremely limited circumstances. Individuals may leave their residence for allowable travel, including to seek medical attention, work, care for family or household members, obtain goods and services like groceries, prescriptions, and others as outlined in Executive Order Fifty-Three, and engage in outdoor activity with strict social distancing requirements.
The executive order also directs all Virginia institutions of higher education to stop in-person classes and instruction. Private campgrounds must close for short-term stays, and beaches will be closed statewide except for fishing and exercise.
“We are in a public health crisis, and we need everyone to take this seriously and act responsibly,” said Governor Northam. “Our message to Virginians is clear: stay home. We know this virus spreads primarily through human-to-human contact, and that’s why it’s so important that people follow this order and practice social distancing. I’m deeply grateful to everyone for their cooperation during this unprecedented and difficult time.”
Last week, Governor Northam issued Executive Order Fifty-Three closing certain non-essential businesses, prohibiting public gatherings of more than 10 people, and directing all K-12 schools to remain closed for the rest of the academic year. A Frequently Asked Questions guide about Executive Order Fifty-Three can be found here.
For the latest information about the COVID-19 outbreak, visit virginia.gov/coronavirus or CDC.gov/coronavirus.
Governor Northam COVID-19 update briefing – March 27, 2020
Virginia U.S. Attorneys issue statement on Virginia recommendations regarding medical prescriptions during COVID-19 pandemic
On Wednesday, March 25, 2020, Virginia Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver, in response to a surge in demand of potential treatments for COVID-19 for drugs commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, HIV, lupus, malaria, and bacterial infections, reminded physicians and pharmacists that these life-sustaining medications should only be dispensed under specified limited circumstances based on legitimate medical need. Dr. Oliver also warned against improper dispensing and potential hoarding of these medications.
On March 27, 2020, U.S. Attorneys Thomas Cullen and Zach Terwilliger issued a statement confirming that federal prosecutors are aware of Dr. Oliver’s warnings regarding this increased demand and potentially improper behavior by physicians and other health-care providers who may be improperly prescribing these drugs to themselves, their families, and others without a legitimate medical purpose. The U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia, as part of their joint COVID-19 Fraud Task Force, will be closely monitoring this disturbing trend and are prepared to investigate potential violations of federal and state law committed by any individuals or entities, including physicians, dentists, and other healthcare providers, related to these prescription drugs.
“At a time when many doctors, nurses, and first responders are risking their health and personal safety to treat those affected by the coronavirus, it is incredibly disturbing that a selfish minority in that field may be undermining these valiant efforts by prescribing outside legitimate medical practice,” said U.S. Attorney Cullen. “We will work closely with our federal, state, and local partners to identify unscrupulous physicians and other health-care providers who are putting their own well-being ahead of those with a true medical need and hold them accountable under the law.”
“Our office is committed to protecting the public at this critical time, including Virginians who rely on life-sustaining prescription drugs,” said U.S. Attorney Terwilliger. “We will act swiftly in coordination with our law enforcement partners to safeguard these critical medications for those who need them against healthcare providers who improperly dispense them.”
If you believe you have been a victim of fraud, or need more information about COVID-19, please visit: https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdva/covid-19-fraud
For more information from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, please visit: https://www.justice.gov/usao-edva
To report fraud directly to the FBI, please visit their website at https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx
Governor Northam encourages Virginians to complete 2020 Census online amid COVID-19 outbreak
RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today encouraged Virginians to complete the 2020 Census online as the country works to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus or COVID-19. This week, households across Virginia began receiving invitations from the U.S. Census Bureau to complete the 2020 Census. For the first time ever, individuals are able to complete their forms online, via phone, or mail. The statewide virtual Week of Action from Friday, March 27 to Thursday, April 2 will highlight Census Day on April 1, and encourage Virginians to participate in the 2020 Census.
“Though many Virginians are focused on COVID-19, it is still crucial that everyone takes time to complete the 2020 Census, which can be done quickly and easily online,” said Governor Northam. “Counting every person in the Commonwealth will ensure that we receive our portion of the more than $675 billion in federal funding that will be allocated to states for important programs, from Medicaid to school breakfasts.”
By last Friday, an estimated 140 million households had received an invitation from the U.S. Census Bureau to complete the 2020 Census. To date, approximately 18.6 million households have responded to the Census. Though data collection continues, the U.S. Census Bureau has modified some of its field operations during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Today, Governor Northam also announced a Virtual Statewide Week of Action, which includes Census Day on Wednesday, April 1. From Friday, March 27 through Thursday, April 2, Virginians are encouraged to virtually promote the 2020 Census and “Determine Your Decade: YOUR Representation. YOUR Community Funding. YOUR Civic Duty.”
A full list of events is located below:
Friday, March 27 – Sunday, March 29 | Interfaith Engagement
Faith Leaders and communities are encouraged to commit to being a faith partner through the following efforts:
- Religious Teachings: Incorporate Census messaging into a virtual sermon, lesson, litany, or other teachings. This is an opportunity to preach or teach on the importance of being counted in the 2020 Census.
- Announcement or Presentation: Allow a member of the U.S. Census Bureau, Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, Virginia Complete Count Commission, or a local Complete Count Committee to virtually connect with your congregation and provide a Census-related message.
- Video Messaging: Share a Census-related video message with your congregation via email or through social media channels.
- Social Media: Encourage parishioners to follow @CountOnVirginia on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for Census-related updates. Leverage your own social media and that of your congregants to spread the word about the 2020 Census.
- Digital Platforms: Work with local media to share key messages about the upcoming Census. You may consider writing an op-ed or being interviewed by a local reporter.
- Text Messaging: Encourage parishioners to text PLEDGE or CENSO to (804) 203-0393 for Census updates and reminders.
Monday, March 30 | Social Media Monday
Virginians can “Get Social on Media Monday” by following Virginia’s Census engagement efforts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Virginians are also invited to participate in a Twitter chat about what’s at stake in the 2020 Census. Questions can be tweeted to @CountOnVirginia. Promote the Census using the hashtags #Census2020, #VACompleteCount, and #CountOnVirginia. Additionally, individuals are encouraged to change their Facebook profile picture frames to promote the Census.
Tuesday, March 31 | Text It Tuesday: Pledge to be Counted
The Northam administration has partnered with CommunityConnect Labs to use mobile messaging to connect with hard-to-reach populations. Virginians are encouraged to “Pledge to be Counted” by texting the word “PLEDGE” or “CENSO” (Español) to the number for their respective locality. Participants will receive a digital pledge card that can be shared on social media. Standard text messaging data rates may apply.
Valley: (540) 235-5155
Northern: (703) 684-0007 or (571) 200-0828
Coastal: (757) 210-3232
Southside: (434) 201-4884
Southwest: (276) 218-8138
Central: (804) 203-0393
Wednesday, April 1 | Spread the Word Wednesday
Since 1930, Census Day has been observed on April 1. By this date, all households will have received an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. Organizations are encouraged to send electronic correspondence to subscribers promoting the 2020 Census and sharing instructions for how individuals can complete the Census online, by phone, or by mail.
Thursday, April 2 | Townhall Thursday
Organizations are encouraged to host virtual townhalls via Facebook Live, Google Hangouts, and other platforms to promote the 2020 Census.
“It’s important that we come together as a community to determine our decade and be counted in the 2020 Census,” Secretary of the Commonwealth Kelly Thomasson. “Taking 10 minutes to complete our Census questionnaires online will help our communities for the next 10 years.”
How to Complete the 2020 Census Online
- To respond online, go to 2020census.gov. The online form is available in English and 12 other languages. Additionally, video guides showing people how to complete the online questionnaire are available in English and 59 other languages.
- A sample 2020 Census questionnaire is available here.
About the Virginia Complete Count Commission
On December 18, 2018, Governor Northam signed Executive Order Twenty-Seven establishing the Virginia Complete Count Commission. The purpose of the Commission is to improve participation and representation of all Virginians in the 2020 Census. The Commission facilitates the sharing of ideas and community resources regarding the 2020 Census and serves as a conduit between the Commonwealth and the United States Census Bureau.
The Virginia Complete Count Commission serves as a trusted voice and resource to educate, empower, and engage all communities for the purpose of ensuring that everyone who lives in the Commonwealth of Virginia is counted in the 2020 Census.