Virginia’s permanent COVID-19 workplace safety and health rules take effect January 27, 2021, after Governor Northam approved the standard adopted by the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry’s Safety and Health Codes Board last week. The standards mandate appropriate personal protective equipment, sanitation, social distancing, infectious disease preparedness, and response plans, record keeping, training, and hazard communications in workplaces across the Commonwealth.
“While the end of this pandemic is finally in sight, the virus is still spreading, including several highly contagious variants, and now is not the time to let up on preventative measures,” said Governor Northam. “I am grateful to the many businesses and organizations who have been with us throughout this process and continue to take the necessary steps to operate safely. These standards will reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure and protect the health and safety of Virginia workers, consumers, and communities as we move our Commonwealth forward together.”
In the absence of a federal standard, Virginia took action last year to create the nation’s first emergency temporary workplace safety and health requirements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The permanent standards align closely with the emergency temporary rules adopted in July and are intended to slow the transmission of COVID-19 and protect Virginia workers. The temporary standards were effective for six months and the Board worked to make them permanent through the process defined in state law. These workplace safety requirements will remain effective throughout the pandemic. The Board will reconvene within 14 days of the expiration of Governor Northam’s COVID-19 emergency declaration to determine whether there is a continued need for the standard.
“No Virginia worker should have to weigh their family’s economic security against their physical safety,” said Chief Workforce Development Advisor Megan Healy. “These permanent standards provide workers with essential recourse if faced with this untenable decision while giving businesses a clear understanding of the steps they must take to maintain a safe working environment.”
In addition to requiring all public-facing employees to wear masks, the standards ensure ready access to hand sanitizer and the regular cleaning of common workspaces. Employers must train employees on COVID-19 safety and develop infectious disease and preparedness response plans. The new permanent regulations include guidelines for returning to work and communicating about employees who test positive and potential exposures. The Virginia Department of Labor and Industry will enforce the permanent standard.
After receiving a complaint, the Department works with the employer to be compliant with no further investigation. If serious concerns arise in the fact-finding interviews or the Department receives multiple complaints, a formal investigation will be launched. The Department has received over 13,000 complaints around workplace safety due to COVID-19, with 100 needing full investigation due to serious concerns and 27 employers being cited.
“These scientifically based standards will help keep Virginia’s workers and their families safe during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Department of Labor and Industry Commissioner Ray Davenport. “We look forward to working together with the business and labor communities to achieve compliance and safe workplaces across the Commonwealth.”
At least six other states have adopted comprehensive COVID-19 workplace safety standards in the months since Virginia’s first-in-the-nation emergency temporary standard went into effect. On January 21, President Biden signed an executive order directing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue guidance for employers on keeping workers safe and preventing COVID-19 exposure by March 15.
The final permanent standard can be found here. Infectious disease preparedness and response plan templates and training guides are available at doli.virginia.gov. Workers who feel unsafe in their workplace can file a formal complaint with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration here.
Rotary Club of Front Royal announces registration for Doc Smith food baskets
The Rotary Club of Front Royal in a partnership with the Department of Social Services is excited to announce the registration for Doc Smith food baskets and coats for kids for those in our community in need.
The Doc Smith program has been a long-standing program in Front Royal. It was originated by Edgar C. Smith, Chief of Police in 1916, who was most commonly referred to as Doc Smith. The program was named after him based on his continued service to the needy.
Requests for baskets can be found at Department of Social Services, First Baptist Church, online at frontroyalpres.org and various locations around town.
The baskets are free of charge and contain food for the holidays. Deadline for requests is November 12, 2021.
Valley Health welcomes its first system-wide Chief Nursing Executive
Theresa L. Trivette, DNP, RN, CENP, joined Valley Health last week as its first Chief Nursing Executive (CNE), assuming responsibility for leadership of all nursing functions across the organization, advancing patient experience efforts, and collaborating in quality and patient safety initiatives.
“We are excited to welcome Theresa to the Valley Health Executive Leadership Team,” said Mark Nantz, Valley Health President and CEO. “Her engagement on our system leadership team will be valuable as we make decisions that impact our staff, patients and the community we serve. Theresa has an encouraging, data-driven leadership style, proven ability to communicate and collaborate across interdisciplinary teams, and a genuine passion for ensuring safe, high-quality patient care that will be an asset as we focus on providing best-in-class patient experience in all of our inpatient and outpatient settings.”
Most recently, Trivette served as chief nursing officer for Ballad Health in the Kingsport, TN, market. She has more than 20 years of experience in nursing leadership, and has a proven record of improving quality of care and patient experience for both large and small health care organizations, including Advent Health and Wake Forest Baptist Health. She has extensive experience in quality improvement, and is a Certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt (CLSSBB), the highest level of proficiency for this collaborative method of process improvement and organizational change.
“I am honored to serve Valley Health in this new role as the chief nurse executive,” said Trivette. “I will work to assure consistent patient care practices and standards, and educate and mentor nursing staff and nursing leadership across our system. We will establish a vision and strategy together with our clinical and support colleagues to deliver exceptional patient experiences and outcomes. My immediate goal is to do everything possible to support the tireless efforts of the Valley Health care teams during this pandemic while creating a vision for the future as we continue to focus on clinical excellence.”
Trivette earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice from the Medical University of South Carolina, a master’s degree in nursing administration from Gardner-Webb University, a bachelor’s degree in health care management and project management from the University of Maryland, and an associate’s degree in nursing from the College of Southern Maryland. She is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives and holds the Certified in Executive Nursing Practice (CENP) credential from the American Organization of Nurse Leaders.
Trivette serves as senior examiner on the board of examiners for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s highest recognition awarded to organizations for performance excellence. She holds collaborative faculty and advisory positions on several university and college of nursing program councils in Florida and Tennessee.
Trivette and her husband, Scott, look forward to making their new home in the region and discovering all the area has to offer.
Valley Health is a nonprofit health system serving a population of more than 500,000 in the Northern Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, the Eastern Panhandle and Potomac Highlands of West Virginia, and western Maryland. As a healthcare provider, employer, and community partner, Valley Health is committed to improving the health of the region. The system includes six hospitals, more than 60 medical practices and Urgent Care centers, outpatient rehabilitation and fitness, medical transport, long-term care, and home health. www.valleyhealthlink.com
VDOT: Warren County Traffic alert for October 18 – 22, 2021
The following is a list of highway work that may affect traffic in Warren County during the coming weeks. Scheduled work is subject to change due to inclement weather and material supplies. Motorists are advised to watch for slow-moving tractors during mowing operations. When traveling through a work zone, be alert to periodic changes in traffic patterns and lane closures.
*NEW* or *UPDATE* indicates a new or revised entry since last week’s report.
Vegetation management may take place district-wide on various routes. Motorists are reminded to use extreme caution when traveling through work zones.
Traffic alerts and traveler information can be obtained by dialing 511. Traffic alerts and traveler information also are available at www.511Virginia.org.
The VDOT Customer Service Center can assist with reporting road hazards, asking transportation questions, or getting information related to Virginia’s roads. Call 800-FOR- ROAD (800-367-7623) or use its mobile-friendly website at my.vdot.virginia.gov. Agents are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Front Royal Main Street eatery changes ‘Yappy Hour’ day from Friday to Monday, updates menu
One of Main Street’s popular restaurants recently underwent a name and menu change and also switched the day it devotes to “Yappy Hour.”
During the past couple of years, ViNoVa owner Rachel Failmezger and executive chef Chris Kenworthy featured a tapas menu similar to a Spanish favorite, now moving along to an Italian-Mediterranean style of cooking and changing its long-running “Yappy Hour” from Friday evenings to Mondays (4-6 p.m.). Restaurant hours of operation also have been amended, noon to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday (closed Tuesday) and noon to midnight Friday and Saturday.
The restaurant’s new name retains its original “ViNoVa” with the added words “Mediterranean Bistro.” The property seats about 50 and each Friday, off and on for the past decade, has helped donate thousands of dollars to the Humane Society of Warren County’s Julia Wagner Animal Shelter.
Rachel, noting differing (earlier) eating habits since the pandemic struck, suggests closing earlier than 2 a.m. better meets the needs of an expanded staff and earlier diners, as would the changed menu.
“Overall, we will be more flexible, more accommodating,” Rachel opined in a recent interview as nearby regular customers appeared to be in agreement with the menu changes. “Whatever restaurants did two years ago, they cannot do today. It’s a new age for us,” she said, mentioning that the entrees will be larger, and there will be an emphasis on lunches, particularly the quick “take out” type featuring the “Viva Bowl” in which you choose your own ingredients for an affordable $9 “to go!”
Something to remember by early birds at the Bistro: beer and wine prices are staggered starting at $3 per glass for a beer at 3 p.m., rising to $4 at 4 p.m. and then on to $5 at 5 p.m. for the rest of the evening.
Linden man arrested, charged for child abuse
On October 12, 2021, at approximately 8:20pm, Warren County Sheriff’s Office received a call about an 8-year-old juvenile walking on Freezeland Road, Linden, Virginia. The caller stated the juvenile advised them they were running away from home due to being abused by their father. Deputies responded to 78 Lookout Point Way, Linden, Virginia, where the juvenile resides to perform a welfare check. Upon arrival deputies spoke with Matthew Steven Lewis, the juvenile’s father, and made contact with the juvenile. During the welfare check, deputies observed that the juvenile had sustained multiple injuries. Deputies had Warren County Fire & Rescue respond to the residence, and the juvenile was transported to Warren Memorial Hospital for further treatment.
After the initial investigation Matthew Steven Lewis was placed under arrest for Domestic Assault (M), Child Endangerment (F), and Strangulation (F). Matthew Steven Lewis was held without bond at RSW Regional Jail, preliminary hearing is set for November 4, 2021.
Warren County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank Front Royal Police Department, Virginia State Police, and Warren County Department of Social Services for their assistance.
Social Security announces 5.9 percent benefit increase for 2022
Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for approximately 70 million Americans will increase 5.9 percent in 2022, the Social Security Administration announced today.
The 5.9 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 64 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2022. Increased payments to approximately 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 30, 2021. (Note: some people receive both Social Security and SSI benefits). The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Some other adjustments that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages. Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $147,000 from $142,800.
Social Security and SSI beneficiaries are normally notified by mail starting in early December about their new benefit amount. Most people who receive Social Security payments will be able to view their COLA notice online through their personal my Social Security account. People may create or access their my Social Security account online at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.
Information about Medicare changes for 2022, when announced, will be available at www.medicare.gov. For Social Security beneficiaries receiving Medicare, Social Security will not be able to compute their new benefit amount until after the Medicare premium amounts for 2022 are announced. Final 2022 benefit amounts will be communicated to beneficiaries in December through the mailed COLA notice and my Social Security’s Message Center.
The Social Security Act provides for how the COLA is calculated. To read more, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/cola.