Produced live on Thursday, May 21, 2020

As Virginia starts to reopen businesses and public spaces, we know that you have questions about what’s next. 8News and the Virginia Department of Health partnered to help.

An expert panel from Virginia’s Health Equity Task Force answered your questions live online on Thursday, May 21, 2020, during our statewide digital special.


Our expert panel answered your important questions about:

  • Unemployment
  • Resources for families
  • Who should wear masks?
  • COVID-19 testing
  • COVID-19 and the effect on children and schools
  • Who should be tested and why?


  • Dr. Janice Underwood, Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, Officer of Governor Ralph S. Northam
  • Sable K. Nelson, JD, Acting Director, Office of Health Equity Division Director, Multicultural Health and Community Engagement (VDEM)
  • Dr. Ebony J. Hilton, Critical Care and Anesthesiology
  • Mayor Deanna Reed, Mayor of Harrisonburg
  • Dr. Cecilia Barbosa, Health Committee Chair, VA Latino Advisory Board


Virginia Department of Health

COVID-19 Resources

Family Emotional/Financial/Nutrition Support Programs

Health Care Assistance/Insurance

Small Business/Unemployment Resources:

Websites of Statewide Non-Profit Organizations


Employers of all sizes that face closure orders or suffer economic hardship due to COVID-19 are incentivized to keep employees on the payroll through a 50% credit on up to $10,000 of wages paid or incurred from March 13, 2020 through December 31, 2020.


The Paycheck Protection Program established by the CARES Act, is implemented by the Small Business Administration with support from the Department of the Treasury.  This program provides small businesses with funds to pay up to 8 weeks of payroll costs including benefits. Funds can also be used to pay interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities.

Assistance to Workers and their Families:

The CARES Act provides for Economic Impact Payments to American households of up to $1,200 per adult for individuals whose income was less than $99,000 (or $198,000 for joint filers) and $500 per child under 17 years old – or up to $3,400 for a family of four.

Additionally, the IRS will use the information on the Form SSA-1099 and Form RRB-1099 to generate $1,200 Economic Impact Payments to Social Security recipients who did not file tax returns in 2018 or 2019. Recipients will receive these payments as a direct deposit or by paper check, just as they would normally receive their benefits.

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is a loan designed to provide direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. The program is for any small business with less than 500 employees affected by COVID-19. Lenders may begin processing loan applications as soon as today, April 3, 2020.


The CARES Act provides increased benefits for workers collecting unemployment insurance by $600 for claims effective March 29th until July 31st.  This provision is the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program.  Payments to eligible claimants will be made automatically in conjunction with their weekly claim.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) under the CARES Act

The CARES Act includes a provision that provides for up to an additional 13 weeks of regular/traditional unemployment insurance benefits to those who have exhausted their eligibility. This provision will apply to claims with a benefit year ending date on or after July 6, 2019.

To be eligible for a week of PEUC an individual must:

  • Have exhausted all rights to regular compensation under the applicable state or Federal law with respect to the applicable benefit year;
  • Have no rights to regular compensation with respect to a week under such law or any other state or Federal UC law;
  • Certify that he or she is not receiving compensation with respect to such week under the UC law of Canada; and be able to work, available to work, and actively seeking work. (flexibility will be considered for this requirement given the circumstances surrounding COVID-19)

The Virginia Employment Commission is working to establish this new enhancement to the unemployment insurance program. We will notify claimants who are potentially eligible for PEUC benefits based on their previous unemployment insurance claim. There are some facts surrounding the PEUC program that should be noted:

  • The first payable week under PEUC is the week beginning March 29, 2020 and ending April 4, 2020. (Additional information concerning the process to claim the PEUC benefits will be forthcoming soon.)
  • The federal pandemic unemployment compensation (FPUC) program will automatically add an additional $600 to the weekly benefit amount under the PEUC claim.
  • The last payable week of PEUC will be the week ending December 26, 2020.
  • The last payable week of FPUC (the additional $600 supplement) will be the week ending July 25, 2020.
  • The PEUC & FPUC benefits are taxable.

Disponible en Espanol


The special, “COVID-19 and Health Equity in Virginia: You Ask, We Answer,” is supported by the Virginia Health Equity Work Group, Virginia Deptartment of Health and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

The Commonwealth of Virginia is committed to serving all of Virginia and places a priority on education and outreach to vulnerable communities. To help achieve that goal, the Health Equity Task Force and Working Group are priority stakeholders in Virginia’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak across the commonwealth.  The Task Force is led by Dr. Underwood and the Working Group is chaired by Sable K. Nelson.

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