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Wittman's Weekly: Virginians Helping Virginians

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Washington, April 18, 2020 | comments
It is undeniable, COVID-19 has upended our everyday lives and has left an indelible mark on our nation. It has impacted our health, economy, response systems, communities, and relationships. During this difficult time, millions of Americans have stepped up and put extraordinary examples of patriotism on display. A few weeks ago, I put out a call for stories of companies, small businesses, organizations, or individuals who have gone above and beyond during this time of crisis – here are their stories:

Gary and Karen in Gloucester: Gary and Karen own two restaurants - Scoot's Barbecue and Olivia's In The Village. Obviously, facing weeks, possibly months of social distancing because of the coronavirus, they needed to figure out how to keep their restaurants afloat. They understood that it was going to be tough to get people in the restaurant, so they felt like coming up with a family pack menu, things like chicken parmesan with pasta or hamburger steaks with mashed potatoes or meat loaf. They intentionally kept the prices low. With the discount, their hope was that the customer would then feel more comfortable possibly leaving a little extra tip that went towards the server. They said it has been incredible. They have had people coming in not leaving just an extra $10, but they're leaving an extra $20, an extra $40, an extra $50. They said, “We just bet on our community, honestly, and we won the bet.”

James Ballenger in Mechanicsville: James of Ballenger Motorsports realized he had access to supply markets that could be used to make Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) products.  He turned a small high performing Motorsports business in Mechanicsville into a producer of masks and shields for medical care providers and first responders. He has four, 3D printers printing 24/7 to make face shields, and he invested his own money to buy the supplies to make these PPE. He has volunteers deliver to local hospital and others in need. 

Foode, Fredericksburg Restaurant: Foode is allowing locals to “grocery shop” from their pantry.  They’re online ordering menu includes all their menu items, as well as other essentials like butter, sugar, chicken, vegetables, bread, etc. They also are willing to deliver to save folks, especially medically fragile individuals, trips to the grocery store.

DuPont in Richmond: The 1,800 workers at the Dupont facility in Richmond are working overtime to produce additional Tyvek® for use in durable protective garments used by healthcare workers to combat Coronavirus. This facility is producing 30 times more than traditional volume to combat the current outbreak and shipping them all across the country.

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Health System: VCU has started administering an independently developed COVID-19 test for inpatients during a pilot program. The in-house test will significantly reduce wait times for results, and in turn will reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection in the community. Testing during the pilot phase will be mostly available to patients requiring hospitalization who present severe symptoms of COVID-19, and is dependent on supply.

We salute these heroes who show that in challenging moments, our country works together.

I want to continue telling stories like this! If your company, small business, or organization, or one that you know of, has retooled or repurposed a facility to assist in the COVID-19 response, has engaged in community outreach and support, or has gone “above and beyond” in service to our community during these trying times, you can email their story to our specific inbox: VA01SuccessStories@mail.house.gov.

Our nation has faced difficult times before in our history. The way we were able to overcome all of those hard times was together, as a community.
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