Warner visits Loudoun, offering vaccine help for India –and broadband help for Loudoun: ‘Don’t miss this window’

By Valerie Cury

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) started off May 21 by going to Alexandria to discuss affordable child care. He then visited Indian-American community leaders in Ashburn at Celebrations by Rupa Vira Restaurant to offer COVID-19 help to India, and finished up at the Loudoun County Public School Administration to talk about broadband support for Loudoun.

The event in Alexandria focused on how the COVID crisis has affected child care providers and educators.

The American Rescue Plan provides nearly $800 million in funding to help Virginians afford childhood care and education. The law includes nearly $306 million for Virginia Child Care and Development Block Grants, nearly $490 million for Virginia Child Care Stabilization Grants, as well as $16.5 million for Virginia Head Start programs to help support operating costs, Personal Protective Equipment, and tuition assistance for struggling families.

The Plan also includes an expansion of the child-tax and dependent credit, which would make Virginia families eligible to receive up to $4,000 in tax credits for one child and $8,000 for two or more children.

Warner was joined by Del. Suhas Subramanyam (D-87) an Vinai K. Thummalapally, the former U.S. Ambassador to Belize, as well as community and business leaders, to discuss how the U.S. can best support India during the COVID crisis. Business and community leaders said it is important to identify areas in need and get the vaccinations distributed as soon as possible. The big request was vaccine, vaccine, vaccine—and that would help get to herd immunity. Warner said, “We’ve had this challenge about how to distribute vaccines.”  But he confirmed the administration is working on a plan, and the U.S. will be sending vaccines to India as soon as possible.t

‘Don’t miss this window’

Warner then went to Loudoun to meet with the Loudoun County Public School Administration. He was joined by Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-10),Acting Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, the Loudoun Broadband Alliance, Catoctin Supervisor Caleb Kershner’s Chief of Staff Stacy Carey, and various community leaders to discuss how the area can best take advantage of the new programs available through the American Rescue Plan to expand broadband access and services.

Part of the plan includes $17 billion in funding to increase affordability and access to broadband, as well as $10 billion in the Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund to help communities expand access to high-speed internet.

Warner said that Virginia has a budget surplus this year, and $4.3 billion has not be allocated yet. He said there is $222 million allocated for broadband.

The lack of internet in western Loudoun is a big challenge. Rep. Wexton said that when she has visited western Loudoun farms to purchase products, she has seen staff walk all over the room to get a decent connection to complete a transaction. “It’s not lost on me that we need broadband … not just rural areas … also poorer zip codes can’t afford it.”

Harriet Wegmeyer, owner of Wegmeyer Farms, said it’s a challenge because broadband is not accessible where she is located.

Stacy Carey said, “Our businesses are suffering. We have a very critical issue now.”

Warner said, “This is more than a passing interest to me.” He pointed out that Loudoun County is the internet capital of the world and still there are challenges. “In 2021, we know that high-speed internet is a necessity … If you don’t have it, you are up a creek,” he said.

Warner urged everyone to “have a plan of action for every community … Don’t miss this window.”

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