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COVID-19 in Virginia
VaNews
May 25, 2020
Top of the News

Northam faces criticism for Virginia Beach visit without a mask

By MARK ROBINSON, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

After urging Virginians to wear masks when in public, Gov. Ralph Northam acknowledged he should have worn one himself while visiting Virginia Beach on Saturday. Photos circulating on social media showed Northam, a Democrat, without a face covering on while visiting the oceanfront over the Memorial Day weekend. He stood in close proximity to several beachgoers for photos, breaking social distancing. Republicans criticized Northam, a physician, for not practicing the public health precautions he has asked residents to follow.


D.C.-area residents weigh safety against stay-at-home fatigue

By EMILY DAVIES, PETER JAMISON AND JESSICA CONTRERA, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

The residents and restaurateurs of the District’s 14th Street corridor could hear the change before they saw it. As Memorial Day weekend began, the sounds of foot traffic, laughing — of people enjoying a Friday night “out” — grew louder. Lucas King, 30, held his boyfriend’s hand and skipped down the street, hopping between bars offering cocktails to go. “We want to celebrate summer,” said King, 30, as he adjusted the bandanna he uses as a face mask. “We want to get out, we want to socialize, and this is the best we can get.” No restrictions have been lifted in the District, and only a few have been lifted in the surrounding suburbs, but already, residents across the region are easing the limits they had placed on themselves.


As Virginia reopens, who will care for returning workers' kids?

By ADELE UPHAUS–CONNER, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Parents going back to work as Virginia reopens may have trouble finding care for their children. Child care providers are considered essential personnel per Virginia’s COVID-19 directives, yet a drop in enrollment has meant more than half of child care programs in Fredericksburg and Stafford, Spotsylvania and King George counties have closed since the coronavirus outbreak in early March.


D.C. region will have enough testing and tracing capacity by July to contain coronavirus, officials say

By ROBERT MCCARTNEY, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

The Washington region is just weeks from having enough testing equipment, laboratory capacity and contact tracers to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, assuming the public cooperates, officials said. Despite having one of the highest rates in the country of people testing positive for the infection, the region is expected to achieve its desired capacity to conduct testing and tracing in June or early July, according to public health officials in the District, Maryland and Virginia.


Virginia scientists track virus mutations

By LUANNE RIFE, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

When the virus that causes COVID-19 entered Virginia in March, scientists at the state lab wanted to determine whether it was traveling into the commonwealth from different places around the globe. ...So far the sequencing team at the Virginia Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services have identified five divergent clusters of the virus.


26,000 Virginians have tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies

By MEL LEONOR, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

There was fatigue and, oddly, the loss of her sense of taste and smell. Patricia Lyons of Richmond now knows both as telltale signs of a COVID-19 infection, but back in early March, when so little was known about the virus, the symptoms were no reason for alarm.


With closures, drug court staffers forced to scramble to keep up with clients

By TYLER HAMMEL, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

The coronavirus pandemic has reshaped virtually every aspect of community life, including how substance abuse treatment programs and the criminal justice system function. The Charlottesville-Albemarle Adult Drug Treatment Court, an alternative justice program facilitated and run primarily by Offender Aid and Restoration, was faced with a difficult situation: how to hold its participants accountable while also keeping them at a safe social distance.

The Full Report
41 articles, 19 publications

FROM VPAP

VPAP Visual Lobbying by the Numbers

The Virginia Public Access Project

The switch from Republican to Democratic control wasn't the only big change at the 2020 General Assembly. An analysis shows a growing percentage of lobbyists this year were working the halls of power in Richmond for the first time. Here's a look back at the lobbyists who registered in Virginia for 2019-20 and the organizations they represented.


From VPAP Maps, Timeline of COVID-19 in Virginia

The Virginia Public Access Project

Data from the Virginia Department of Health includes a timeline of when COVID-19 cases were confirmed, a statewide map showing the number of cases and deaths by locality and per-capita cases by ZIP Code. VPAP has added daily hospital utilization numbers from the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association. Updated each morning before 11:00 am.

EXECUTIVE BRANCH

Gov. Northam slammed for mingling in Virginia Beach crowds without a mask

By LAURA VOZZELLA, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Gov. Ralph Northam (D), slammed on social media over the weekend after he was photographed maskless and mingling with visitors in Virginia Beach, acknowledged Sunday that he should have been carrying a face mask in case he ended up in a crowd.


Governor draws criticism for mask-less beach visit

Associated Press

Gov. Ralph Northam has repeatedly urged Virginia residents to cover their faces in public during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Democrat didn’t heed his own plea when he posed mask-less for photographs alongside residents during a weekend beach visit.


Northam checks on Oceanfront during beach’s opening weekend

By ELISHA SAUERS, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

As Gov. Ralph Northam strode up the boardwalk with a small entourage Saturday afternoon, he stopped to say hello to patrons at picnic tables outside Waterman’s Surfside Grille. The weather was warm, barely tipping into the 80s, and only a few clouds blotted the sunny sky. He was pleased with what he saw.


With Virginia Beach open, why are other beaches closed for Memorial Day weekend?

By PETER DUJARDIN, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Gov. Ralph Northam announced earlier this week that the state’s largest recreational beach — the Virginia Beach Oceanfront — would open up for Memorial Day weekend. But the governor kept other beaches statewide — including popular local spots in Hampton, Norfolk and Yorktown — mostly closed for the traditional beach season kickoff.

STATE GOVERNMENT

$644 million in federal coronavirus aid is headed to Virginia cities and counties

By MARIE ALBIGES, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Cities and counties across Virginia are set to receive millions of dollars in federal funds thanks to the stimulus package Congress passed last month. As part of the CARES Act, $150 billion was allocated to state, local, territorial and tribal governments across the country to cover expenses directly related to responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Virginia got about $3.1 billion and decided to give half to localities with fewer than 500,000 people.

ECONOMY/BUSINESS

Colonial Williamsburg Foundation selling off properties

By WILFORD KALE, Virginia Gazette (Metered Paywall - 4 Articles per Month)

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation currently has nine properties either within the Williamsburg city limits or adjacent to it for sale at prices totaling $2,874,000. Seven of the properties within the Williamsburg city limits are zoned residential, while two properties along Pocahontas Trail (York Street) are located in James City County and zoned commercial.


Nursery sales soar during the coronavirus pandemic

By DON DEL ROSSO, Fauquier Now

The Warrenton hardware store’s plant sales went through the roof in April. Rankin’s True Value Hardware Manager Kent Rankin attributes last month’s approximately 41-percent increase in plant and seed packet sales revenue compared with April 2019 to the coronavirus pandemic.


Lynchburg-area tourism industry hit hard by coronavirus pandemic

By RACHEL SMITH, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

Lynchburg tourism and hotel officials say the coronavirus pandemic has led to a steep drop in visits to the Hill City — and a steep loss of revenue those visitors would have brought — but they remain optimistic about a recovery on the horizon.

HIGHER EDUCATION

W&M announces SAT, ACT test-optional admission pilot

By CORTNEY WILL, Williamsburg-Yorktown Daily (Metered paywall - 3 articles per month)

William & Mary will make standardized test scores optional for undergraduate applicants in the 2020-2021 admission cycle under a new three-year pilot program. . . . The pilot responds immediately to difficulties high school students are facing in scheduling the standardized tests, which were widely canceled in the spring and summer and are not planned to resume until August.


UVa employees endure furloughs as hospital wrestles 'precarious' financials

By ALLISON WRABEL, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

In a video call earlier this month, executive staff with the University of Virginia Health System gave employees more information around the potentially “precarious” financials of the institution. Last month, the UVa Medical Center announced pay cuts and furloughs as it saw surgeries and clinical visits drop by 70% and 90%, respectively, following Gov. Ralph Northam’s order halting elective procedures. The changes led to a projected deficit of $85 million a month.


At ECPI, some students are back on campus

By MATT JONES, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

Every student and employee who comes to ECPI University’s Newport News campus goes through the same process. They’re required to use hand sanitizer, wear a mask, go through a quick screening questionnaire with an employee and stand in front of a thermal imaging camera to see if they have a fever.

CORONAVIRUS

Spike in D.C. numbers, crowds at Maryland, Virginia beaches and boardwalks renew coronavirus concerns

By JOE HEIM, REBECCA TAN, LAURA VOZZELLA AND JULIE ZAUZMER, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

As the total number of coronavirus infections in the Washington region topped 90,000 Sunday and fatalities hit 3,880, a one-day spike in the District’s numbers raised questions about whether it can begin reopening as expected on Friday. And social media ­images of a crowded Ocean City boardwalk and an unmasked Virginia governor mingling with beachgoers had many wondering whether safety guidelines meant to contain the disease were being taken seriously enough.


Roughly 500 new coronavirus cases and 12 more deaths reported, state health officials say

By PETER COUTU, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Virginia reported another 500 coronavirus cases, bringing the state’s total to 36,244, according to the latest data from the state health department. At least 1,171 people have died from the virus, with 12 deaths being reported overnight. The number of new cases is the fewest reported since April 19, and it comes as Virginia reported roughly 11,600 viral tests overnight.


Health officials say northern Virginia has met several metrics needed to move into phase one of reopening

By NATHANIEL CLINE, Loudoun Times

Northern Virginia may soon have business restrictions partially lifted amid the COVID-19 outbreak. On Sunday, regional health experts told chief elected officials that northern Virginia has met many of the criteria needed to move into the first phase of the commonwealth’s reopening plan, according to Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large). The health officials determined that the region has met four of the six threshold metrics needed to transition to the first phase.


Fairfax Co. coronavirus testing reached capacity early Saturday

By DAN FRIEDELL, WTOP

One of two free coronavirus testing events organized by Fairfax County’s health department and the Virginia Department of Health this weekend closed early Saturday after capacity was reached by 12:45 p.m. The event at Annandale High School was scheduled to last until 6 p.m., but people were being turned away and told to come back on Sunday to a similar event at Bailey’s Elementary School in Bailey’s Crossroads.


Local 'strike team' in place to deal with virus spread in nursing homes

By CATHY DYSON, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

A local “strike team” has been assembled to try to prevent COVID-19 from running rampant through Fredericksburg-area nursing homes—and to deal with outbreaks when they occur. Dr. Donald Stern, acting director of the Rappahannock Area Health District, last month called together a group of community partners that includes the National Guard, Mary Washington Healthcare, local emergency managers and first responders in an effort to stem the tide of deaths in long-term care facilities.


White House goal on testing nursing homes unmet

By ALAN SUDERMAN, Associated Press

Nearly two weeks ago the White House urged governors to ensure that every nursing home resident and staff member be tested for the coronavirus within 14 days. It’s not going to happen. A review by The Associated Press found that at least half of the states are not going to meet White House’s deadline and some aren’t even bothering to try.


Virginia Struggles With Testing: ‘There’s Not Nearly Enough Supply’

By BRAD KUTNER, Courthouse News Service

When asked about the coronavirus in the healthcare facility where he works, Tim Wellington remembers one story in particular; when one family came in member-by-member and each passed away in the course of a few weeks. “This disease is a family killer,” Wellington, a pseudonym used because they feared reprisal, said. “One person will be symptomatic before the others.” “If they had had access to testing, who knows what could have happened,” he added.


Angry? Resentful? Feeling guilty? Psych footprint of pandemic is huge

By JOANNE KIMBERLIN, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

We’ve lost things we can’t replace — priceless moments with no chance for a do-over. Like holding a just-born grandchild. Or a dying husband’s hand. The logical side of our brain knows why. Understands it’s no one’s fault. The other part still stews. Anger, resentment, guilt. That’s a psychological price of a pandemic — perhaps larger than the disease itself.

VIRGINIA OTHER

Botetourt project changes part of wind industry's move toward taller turbines

By LAURENCE HAMMACK, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

If wind turbines are allowed to tower up to 680 feet into the sky from a Botetourt County mountaintop, they would be higher than the tallest ones currently in the United States.

LOCAL

Charlottesville officials to start discussions on removal of Confederate statues

By NOLAN STOUT, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Charlottesville officials are preparing to begin discussions about removing the two Confederate statues that were at the heart of the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally. In an April email, City Manager Tarron Richardson indicated that he wants to hold so-called 2-2-1 meetings with the City Council in June to discuss the removal of the statues. The Daily Progress obtained the email through a request under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.


Loudoun Supervisors Launch Already Controversial Gun Law Review

By RENSS GREENE, Loudoun Now

Loudoun County supervisors have approved a review of some of Virginia’s new gun laws with an eye towards those that affect local government, setting up what will be a difficult conversation when the report comes to them in the fall. Most gun laws are a state or federal matter, with Loudoun granted limited authority to regulate firearms, mostly extending to defining the populated areas where shooting is prohibited.


Montgomery officials: Broadband issue needs to be solved

By YANN RANAIVO, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

Expanding the availability of high-speed internet should continue during the COVID-19 pandemic, Montgomery County officials say. “It’s created a sense of urgency. It’s made it even more obvious. When you have all these school kids who have to take their entire lessons at home on chromebooks … you got to have broadband to do that,” county Board of Supervisors Chairman Steve Fijalkowski said.


Richmond-area churches seeing higher-than-normal attendance online

By ALI ROCKETT, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

While church doors have partially opened for the past two weeks in most of Virginia, many faith leaders have enjoyed an uptick in participation in online services and are looking for ways to retain that interest. Richmond couple April and Rick Greenwood each lead their respective Episcopal churches on Sundays, though their homilies haven’t been delivered from their sanctuaries for some time because of closures due to COVID-19.


Reopened churches happy with response, but many in Fredericksburg area remain wary

By JAMES SCOTT BARON, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Churches in the Fredericksburg area that have reopened say they are happy with the initial response, but the doors to most places of worship in the region are still closed as parishioners and clergy remain leery of COVID-19’s consequences.


Many churches in Roanoke area not ready to reopen just yet

By TAD DICKENS, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

While this Sunday marks the second one since Virginia eased restriction for on-site church services, many places of worship in the Roanoke area are not yet ready to reopen. An informal survey by The Roanoke Times of about four dozen places of worship showed that about 30 still had no immediate plan to fill their pews.


Dan River Region churches were thrust into electronic minstering

By CALEB AYERS, Danville Register & Bee

Thrust into the technology pulpit by the coronavirus, Dan River Region churches embraced new electronic means of ministering that many religious leaders say will become part of their mainstream offerings when in-person worship resumes.

 

EDITORIALS

Health of the Chesapeake may go to court

Daily Progress Editorial (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Many local stormwater and surface water requirements are adopted with an eye toward reducing pollution — not only in rivers such as the James and the Rivanna, but all the way to the Chesapeake Bay. So local readers should be interested in a Virginia plan to join suit against Pennsylvania and New York for not doing their share in protecting the bay.


Budget challenges abound as localities tackle COVID-19 effects

Virginian-Pilot Editorial (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Actions by President Donald Trump and Gov. Ralph Northam have defined the coronavirus response thus far, earning the close scrutiny of the public as the federal and state governments worked to slow the rate of infection and keep people safe. As the pandemic stretches on, however, attention has rightly turned to local governments, which are weighing decisions — particularly about finances and budgets — that promise lasting effects on their communities and the people who live here.


Rename bases for American heroes — not racist traitors

New York Times Editorial (Metered Paywall - 1 to 2 articles a month)

...The officials who named a military base in Virginia for a profoundly dishonorable Confederate general, George Pickett, must have been willfully blind to a voluminous record demonstrating his unworthiness. In addition to being accused of cowardice at the pivotal battle at Gettysburg, the incompetent, self-regarding Pickett faced a war crimes investigation for the executions of 22 Union soldiers at Kinston, N.C., near the end of the war.

OP-ED

Wodicka: Eliminating antiquated sales tax exemptions

By CHRIS WODICKA, published in Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

The latest monthly revenue report from Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne shows that state revenues are coming in more slowly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Once the revenue situation becomes clearer, the governor is expected to call a special session later this summer or fall for state lawmakers to take further action on Virginia's next two-year budget, which begins on July 1. At that point, the governor likely will have shared a revised revenue forecast.

Wodicka is a policy analyst for the Richmond-based Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis, which provides analyses of fiscal and economic issues.


Hopkins: Remembering our fallen heroes

By CARLOS HOPKINS, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Memorial Day is the one day each year we set aside to honor our heroes who died in defense of our country and our commonwealth. Such a day inevitably also calls for recognition of our veterans, active duty service members, guardsmen, reservists and family members. All of them have answered the call of their country to defend the freedoms we enjoy each and every day.

Carlos Hopkins serves as Virginia’s secretary of veterans and defense affairs, the state’s top official for coordinating state and federal resources to support Virginia’s veteran community and liaison with federal defense facilities.


Proctor: Community revitalization as a catalyst for conservation in the Clinch River Valley

By NICK PROCTOR, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

To conserve an environment is to conserve a community; to conserve a community is to conserve an environment. So, let’s collaborate with our communities! Our nation is in the midst of a development trend where customers, travelers, and residents alike deliberatively seek authentic, distinctive experiences, both cultural and natural.

Proctor is the Project Manager at the Community Design Assistance Center and adjunct professor in the Leadership and Social Change Residential College, both at Virginia Tech.


Brostom, Goodwin, Landry and Zahurancik: Clean energy is key to Virginia's economic recovery

By THOMAS BROSTROM, MARK GOODWIN, LOGAN LANDRY ANDJOHN ZAHURANCIK, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

Nearly 17 million Americans are now unemployed because of the economic crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic. No state is immune from the devastation created by this virus, including Virginia. Just like it is taking all of us to unite to defeat the virus, we will all have to come together to rebuild the Commonwealth’s economy.

Brostrom is the President of Orsted North America, based in Boston. Goodwin is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Apex Clean Energy. Landry is the Chief Executive Officer of Sigora Solar. Zahurancik is the Chief Operating Officer of Fluence.


Rock: Navy’s service extends to COVID-19 crisis

By REAR ADM. CHARLES ROCK, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

When Dr. Francis Evans had a chance to retire from Naval Medical Center Portsmouth in March after working for 44 years as an emergency physician, he chose not to. Why? The coronavirus was quickly spreading; our nation was in need. In a story shared across the Navy, Evans told his children “there is no honor in leaving the battle.” Evans answered the call just like so many others in our Navy family in Hampton Roads have the past few months.

Rock is the commander, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic, headquartered in Norfolk. Rock commands 14 major Navy installations across 20 states, including five major Navy installations in Hampton Roads.


Thomas: Small businesses need our support now more than ever

By NANCY THOMAS, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Serving as community stewards, small businesses represent the local heartbeat. With a finger on the neighborhood pulse and an ear to the ground, their impact is profound. Local businesses create job opportunities and growth, infusing dollars into the local economy that help sustain vital services. In times of need and tragedy, they often are the first to step up.

Thomas is president and CEO of Retail Merchants Association.


DuVal: Advancing the commonwealth during COVID-19

By BARRY DUVAL, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

This Memorial Day weekend, we remember those who answered the call and made the ultimate sacrifice to defend the individual rights and freedoms we hold so dear as citizens of the greatest nation on Earth. We honor the men and women in the armed services for their contributions to preserving our nation’s freedoms. At this time in our history, we are fighting a new enemy, a pandemic that threatens the very lives of our citizens and our economy.

DuVal is president and CEO of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce.


McKay, Palchik and Glasner: Metro’s summer surprise: No Silver lining

By JEFFREY C. MCKAY, DALIA PALCHIK AND SOL GLASNER, published in Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Tysons’s evolving urbanism and role as Fairfax County’s economic engine are directly tied to the opening in 2014 of Metro’s Silver Line — five station stops between the region’s international airport gateway and the nation’s capital. A laboratory for transit-oriented urban development, Tysons has solidified its position as a major regional employment center while transforming into the 24/7 “live, work, play” environment envisioned by Fairfax in its 2010 Comprehensive Plan.

Jeffrey C. McKay is chairman of the Fairfax Board of Supervisors. Dalia Palchik is supervisor of the Fairfax County Providence District. Sol Glasner is president and chief executive of the Tysons Partnership.


Rozell: Northam stumbles through a crisis that should have made him a rock star

By MARK J. ROZELL, published in Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

What a missed opportunity. That’s the undeniable conclusion after watching Gov. Ralph Northam (D), the only governor in the nation who is a doctor, shamble through Virginia’s response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, a crisis that should have been right in his sweet spot.

Mark J. Rozell is the dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, where he holds the Ruth D. and John T. Hazel chair in public policy.