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COVID-19 in Virginia
VaNews
July 3, 2020
Top of the News

Weekly unemployment claims in Virginia rise for first time since April

By KIMBERLY PIERCEALL, Inside Business

The number of out-of-work Virginians filing new claims for unemployment rose for the first time after the number had dropped week-over-week for 11 consecutive weeks. The Virginia Employment Commission reported that 31,955 claims for unemployment were filed the week ending June 27, the highest number in more than a month and 6,662 more than the prior week.


Virginia Beach encourages residents to be safe after the number of young adult COVID-19 patients spikes

By SALEEN MARTIN, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

More people below the age of 30 are contracting COVID-19, according to the Virginia Beach Department of Public Health. And health officials hoped Thursday that highlighting that fact might lead more young people to take social distancing seriously. “We all have to take responsibility for the protection of ourselves and others,” said Dr. Demetria Lindsay, health director for Norfolk and Virginia Beach.


More than 1,500 Va. inmates tested positive for COVID-19, but officials say relatively few are ill

By FRANK GREEN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

More than 1,500 of Virginia's 29,000 prison inmates have been infected with COVID-19, but officials say roughly nine out of ten had no symptoms and almost all are now believed virus free. The Virginia Department of Corrections had tested 22,538 inmates for the virus as of Tuesday as part of a large-scale "point prevalence" testing program.


Three more pieces of Confederate iconography come down in Richmond

By ALI SULLIVAN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

In the city’s latest move to rid itself of widespread Confederate iconography, crews hauled away a bronze statue of naval commander Matthew Fontaine Maury and two cannons on Monument Avenue on Thursday. The sculptures are the latest to fall since Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney skirted the advice of the interim city attorney and invoked emergency mayoral powers to remove the statue of Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson on Wednesday.


Fewer foot patrols at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront amid concerns over officer safety, chief says

By ALISSA SKELTON, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Virginia Beach police are scaling back foot patrols at the Oceanfront amid manpower issues and concerns over officer safety. During a special session Thursday of City Council, Interim Police Chief Anthony Zucaro said he had significantly increased the presence of officers in the resort area since May 31 when police and protesters clashed on Atlantic Avenue and teargas was deployed to disperse the crowd.


Hampton University announces classes will remain online for fall semester

By JESSICA NOLTE, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Hampton University announced Thursday that it will continue only offering remote instruction for the fall semester. In a letter, University President William Harvey said he’d previously communicated that there were plans to reopen the campus in the fall but that the “COVID-19 situation has changed drastically.”


FedEx calls on Redskins to change name following investors’ demands on sponsors

By LIZ CLARKE, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

FedEx on Thursday became the first major corporate backer of the Washington Redskins to call on the team to change its name, the most significant development yet amid mounting financial and political pressure on team owner Daniel Snyder in the long-running controversy. In a one-sentence statement issued Thursday afternoon, Memphis-based FedEx said, “We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name.”

The Full Report
52 articles, 31 publications

FROM VPAP

VPAP Visual In June, COVID-19 Trended Younger

The Virginia Public Access Project

In the first three months, people under age 30 accounted for 25 percent of all confirmed COVID-19 cases in Virginia. In June, the share of young people jumped to 35 percent. Virginia Department of Health data shows, however, that only 2 percent of people under 30 get sick enough to require hospitalization.


From VPAP Maps, Timeline of COVID-19 in Virginia

The Virginia Public Access Project

Our COVID-19 dashboard makes it easy to track the latest available data for tests performed, infections, deaths and hospital capacity. There's a filter for each city and county, plus an exclusive per-capita ZIP Code map. Updated each morning around 10:00 am.

STATE GOVERNMENT

Regulators approve Dominion’s green energy plan but cut a mostly coal-fired plant from its portfolio

By SARAH VOGELSONG, Virginia Mercury

State regulators on Thursday approved a proposal by Dominion Energy to sell customers exclusively renewable energy, a move that will largely trigger the closure of Virginia’s small renewable electricity market. Despite sharp criticism from environmental and renewable energy groups as well as large companies like Walmart, the green tariff proposal, known as Rider TRG, was found by the State Corporation Commission to be “just and reasonable and in the public interest.”


Virginia program looks to help new teachers as state works to address teacher shortage

By JUSTIN MATTINGLY, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Virginia is launching a program aimed at helping new teachers. The Virginia Department of Education is partnering with James Madison University's College of Education to create a program, dubbed the "Virginia New Teacher Support Program," to give coaching and professional development to first- and second-year teachers.


Virginia could require teachers to be certified in African American history

By JUSTIN MATTINGLY, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Amid calls for racial justice, Virginia is set to consider requiring teachers to get a certificate in African American history. The Commission on African American History Education, a group Gov. Ralph Northam assembled last year, is making the recommendation in its upcoming report, Secretary of Education Atif Qarni said in an interview.


Virginia to provide more than $10.3M in aid to support affordable housing

By DEAN MIRSHAHI, WFXR

More than $10.3 million in loans will be given to 14 organizations across Virginia in order to help create or preserve 790 affordable housing units for low-income residents, Gov. Ralph Northam announced Thursday. A release from the governor’s office states that the Affordable and Special Needs Housing (ASNH) loans will support new construction and rehabilitation of the housing units.


Gun advocates say new background check law is unconstitutional

By MAGDALA LOUISSAINT, WSLS

Lynchburg has become the new battleground to challenge gun laws in the Commonwealth. On Thursday, gun rights advocates fought the new background check law, which went into effect on July 1st. The lawsuit is different from the last one with Gov. Ralph Northam in April because he’s not mentioned in it. The complaint is against the superintendent of the Virginia Department of State Police, who will be responsible for enforcing this new background check law.


Advocates Say New Marijuana Laws Don’t Go Far Enough

By BEN PAVIOUR, WCVE

A new law that took effect Wednesday decriminalizes possession of a small amount of marijuana. But some advocates say it’s time to remove all penalties, due to their disproportionate impact on Black Virginians. Black residents make up about 20 percent of the state population. But they accounted for almost half of Virginia’s first-time marijuana possession arrests between 2007 and 2016, according to a 2017 study by the State Crime Commission.


Petersburg gets new judge, new top prosecutor

By SEAN JONES, Progress Index (Metered paywall - 10 articles a month)

The 11th District’s newest judge will take her seat at the bench Wednesday for the first time since the General Assembly appointed her in March. Cheryl J. Wilson was recognized for the leap into judgeship after serving for 26 years in the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, three of those as the top prosecutor. She becomes the district’s first Black female judge and will preside over the Juvenile and Domestic Relations court, replacing Judge Valentine W. Southall Jr.

CONGRESS

House passes ‘landmark’ broadband funding, with Spanberger push for faster internet

By CLINT SCHEMMER, Culpeper Star Exponent (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Rep. Abigail Spanberger’s push to bolster high-speed internet access in communities across the country got the green light Wednesday evening from the U.S. House of Representatives. By a vote of 233 to 188, the chamber passed a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill, the Moving America Forward Act, which includes the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act that Spanberger helped introduce last week.

ECONOMY/BUSINESS

FedEx calls for the Redskins to change their name; Nike pulls team gear from website

By MICHAEL PHILLIPS, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

The heat got turned up Thursday afternoon in the debate over the Washington Redskins team name. Discussion has simmered for years, but none of the team's major sponsors had called for a change. That changed with a statement Thursday from FedEx, which read: "We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name."


‘The Cloud’ could be coming to York County as officials work to land $60 million data center

By DAVE RESS, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

One of Hampton Roads’ most historic corners is looking to jump into one of the hottest business innovations – York County is looking to land a $60 million data center. T-Rex Ventures LLC, a Delaware limited liability company, wants to build a data center at the York River Commerce Center, according to York County Board of Supervisors’ records.


Restaurant Owners Question Industry-Specific Regulations

By IAN MUNRO, Daily News Record (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The day before most of the state entered Phase 3 of its reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Ralph Northam said that restaurants would still not be allowed to serve guests at their bars in a reversal that changed local restaurant owners’ calculations. Donna Finnigan, owner of Finnigan’s Cove Seafood Bar in Harrisonburg, said the COVID-19 rules for restaurants have inconsistencies that do not make sense.


Fleetwood Homes in Rocky Mount to expand, add 60 jobs

By MIKE ALLEN, Franklin News-Post

A modular home building business plans to expand its Franklin County facility and add 60 jobs. Fleetwood Homes will make a $2.1 million renovation that includes purchasing $700,000 in new equipment, according to a Thursday statement from Gov. Ralph Northam’s office.


More Self-Employed Workers Are Filing For Unemployment Benefits In Maryland And Virginia

By ALLY SCHWEITZER, DCist

Thousands more self-employed people — including contractors and gig workers — filed for unemployment benefits in Maryland and Virginia last week, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Labor. In Maryland, 8,914 individuals filed new claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), a new program created under the national CARES Act. An additional 3,595 workers in Virginia did the same. In contrast, D.C.’s PUA numbers dipped slightly, down 206 claims from the prior week.

TRANSPORTATION

Residents voice concerns about lost homes, environmental impact of proposed Va. 28 bypass

By DANIEL BERTI, Prince William Times

A July 14 public hearing has been set for a $300 million bypass project that aims to improve traffic on the Va. 28 corridor. But some residents whose homes will be impacted are raising concerns the new road will not receive the level of environmental scrutiny once promised. A federal environmental review, which was expected to be completed this year, is no longer necessary because the bypass won’t need federal funding.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Virginia Ready launches new job training program with community colleges, bonuses

By JEREMY M. LAZARUS, Richmond Free Press

Get trained for a high-paying job, network with companies that are seeking to fill thousands of vacant positions and earn a $1,000 bonus. That’s the promise of a new Virginia Ready, that launched Monday. With support from Gov. Ralph S. Northam, Virginia Ready is joining with the state community college system’s Fast Forward initiative that strives to get people trained in six- to 12-week programs.


Liberty University to devote entirety of federal coronavirus aid to student grants

By RICHARD CHUMNEY, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

Liberty University will spend all of the more than $15 million the institution received in federal coronavirus aid on emergency grants for residential students. More than 14,000 residential students were enrolled at Liberty last year.

CORONAVIRUS

New COVID-19 cases rise slightly on Peninsula as Virginia gradually reopens

By DAVE RESS, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

Three weeks after Gov. Ralph Northam said it’s OK for Virginians to sit down inside restaurants and head back to the gym, new coronavirus cases in the state’s first hot spot — the Peninsula — are on the rise again. The rolling seven day average of new cases on the Peninsula stands at just over 25 a day, up from about 13 when most of the state, including Hampton Roads, moved into Northam eased stay-at-home directives, a Daily Press analysis of Virginia Department of Health data shows.


Statewide COVID-19 cases increase by 532, positive rate for tests is at 6%

By STAFF REPORT, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

The Virginia Department of Health reported Thursday that the statewide total for COVID-19 cases is 63,735 — an increase of 532 from the 63,203 reported yesterday. The 63,735 cases consist of 61,039 confirmed cases and 2,696 probable cases.


Racial disparities in COVID-19 cases in Dan River Region less stark than statewide numbers

By CALEB AYERS, Danville Register & Bee

There is a disproportionate number of COVID-19 cases among Latinos and Black people in the Pittsylvania-Danville Health District, but the discrepancy is not nearly as stark as what is happening across the rest of the state, Virginia Department of Health data shows.


West Piedmont District now has 100 cases in past week

By STAFF REPORT, Martinsville Bulletin (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Eight more cases of COVID-19 were announced Thursday in the West Piedmont Health District, marking an even 100 in the past week. Most of those — 73 cases — occurred Thursday through Monday. Nancy Bell, spokesperson for the district, revealed the new cases in an email late Thursday afternoon.


Epidemiologist says there are limits to daily COVID data

By MAX THORNBERRY, Northern Virginia Daily

As Virginians have grown accustomed to checking the Virginia Department of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard daily, epidemiologists continue to remind everyone that the data – while as up-to-date as possible – is more accurately reflecting what was happening in the commonwealth weeks ago. During a webinar hosted by the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonprofit data aggregator, Em Stevens, an epidemiologist with the VDH, said the data is helpful for situational awareness but isn’t meant to inform daily decision making.


Virginia's home health aides look for state relief in coronavirus crisis

By MICHAEL MARTZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Joyce Barnes has become sick before by caring for someone who was carrying a communicable disease without anyone knowing it - a bacterial infection that put her in the hospital last year. The coronavirus pandemic has raised the stakes for Barnes, 61, who cares for Medicaid patients in their homes but doesn't have health insurance or paid sick leave or hazard pay to care for herself if she contracts COVID-19.


Protests in Richmond haven't contributed to a rise in COVID-19 cases

By STAFF REPORT, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

The hundreds of protesters who have taken to Richmond’s streets every day for more than a month have toppled two police chiefs, forced concessions from the mayor and persuaded the city to clear Monument Avenue of its Confederate statues. But the initial fear that the large gatherings could fuel a spike in COVID-19 cases hasn’t become a reality in Richmond and other cities around the nation.


Groups unite with goal of making sure everyone in Martinsville, Henry County has and wears a mask

By AMIE KNOWLES, Martinsville Bulletin (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

A group of government and business organizations are uniting their voices in an effort to persuade you to do one thing in the fight against COVID-19: Wear. A. Mask. The concept isn’t difficult to grasp, but a lot people can be observed maskless, even in Martinsville and Henry County, which formed a regional coronavirus hot spot only a few weeks ago.

VIRGINIA OTHER

Richmond removes second Confederate statue, of Matthew Fontaine Maury

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

The former capital of the Confederacy removed a second Confederate monument Thursday morning, taking just over an hour to dismantle and lower the statue of Navy officer and oceanographer Matthew Fontaine Maury. “This is the day. The time has come,” said Joseph Ball, 69, a retired history teacher taking in the scene with his 2-year-old grandson, Thomas, and dozens of others along Richmond’s iconic Monument Avenue.


Descendant of Confederate officer Maury ‘glad’ statue was removed in Richmond

By MIKE MURILLO, WTOP

As the statue of Confederate naval officer Matthew Fontaine Maury came down Thursday in Richmond, Virginia, one of his descendants heartily supported the removal. “I was glad they took the statue down,” Matthew Dean Maury, of Bethesda, Maryland, told WTOP. Dean Maury, 68, said Fontaine Maury is his great uncle, seven generations back.


Stonewall Jackson's great-great-grandson: 'I'm very much cheering on from afar'

By K. BURNELL EVANS, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

In Denton, Texas, 1,300 miles away from where a crowd was gathered to watch the removal of the Stonewall Jackson statue, Jackson’s great-great-grandson’s phone was buzzing with text messages from friends watching workers saw off the base of the statue. “I’m very much cheering on from afar,” said William Jackson “Jack” Christian, a lecturer in the English department at the University of North Texas who was home with his 3-week-old daughter on Wednesday when he heard the news.


Monument removal will cost the city $1.8 million - this group wants to raise the money to spare the budget

By JOHANNA ALONSO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Removing a total of 11 Confederate statues is slated to cost the city $1.8 million, according to Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney. But spending so much money on what some view as a symbolic gesture — money that could be put towards education, public housing or healthcare — could be viewed as a controversial use of city resources. That’s why Shannon Harton, a local Realtor, decided to start The Fund to Move the Monuments, an initiative to raise money to reimburse the city for the cost of the monuments’ removal.


Robert E. Lee statue becomes epicenter of protest movement

By DENISE LAVOIE, Associated Press

Just a little over a month ago, the area around Richmond’s iconic statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee was as quiet and sedate as the statue itself. But since the May 25 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the area has been transformed into a bustling hub of activity for demonstrators protesting against police brutality and racism.


Judge who issued Lee Monument injunction removes himself from the case

By MICHAEL SCHWARTZ, Richmond BizSense

Another Richmond Circuit Court judge has been removed from one of the two lawsuits seeking to stop the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue on Monument Avenue – and this time it’s the judge who lives in the neighborhood. Judge Bradley Cavedo on Wednesday recused himself from a deed dispute filed last month by William C. Gregory, who claims to be a descendant of the family that sold the land on which the Lee Monument sits to the state in the late 1800s.


Fate of Charlottesville statues still awaits court decisions

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

As Richmond removed several Confederate monuments this week, Charlottesville officials say they are prevented from doing the same until the Supreme Court of Virginia determines whether it will hear an appeal of a 2017 lawsuit.


Chesapeake Bay’s blue crab populations are healthy, report finds

By DAVE RESS, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

The bay’s blue crabs aren’t being over-harvested and the population isn’t depleted, which means there’s no need for significant changes in how many watermen catch, the Chesapeake Bay Program’s annual Blue Crab Advisory Report said. Although crab numbers declined from 594 million last year to 405 million this year, that’s in line with natural variation, according to the report, which was released Wednesday.


Study: Mercury widespread in Chesapeake Bay headwaters fish

By JEREMY COX, Eastern Shore News (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Nearly half of all gamefish in freshwater lakes, streams and rivers in the Chesapeake Bay watershed may be unsafe to eat because of high levels of mercury, a new study suggests. In the first study to examine mercury across a spectrum of fish in the six-state region, scientists found that the pollutant remains prevalent in the environment in its most toxic form despite years of declining mercury emissions.

LOCAL

Arlington Public Schools to Require Masks, Daily Health Checks in Schools This Fall

ArlNow

Nearly 1,000 people have signed an online petition calling on Arlington Public Schools to require masks for in-person instruction in the fall. They’re in luck: that’s precisely what APS is planning to do. “Moving forward we will be requiring all staff and students to wear face coverings while in school and at work as medically appropriate,” Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán said in a presentation on Wednesday, adding that APS based its mask policy on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control.


Alexandria Council prohibits guns on city property

By MISSY SCHROTT, Alexandria Times

City council unanimously adopted an ordinance that bans firearms on city property at the public hearing held on Saturday. The ordinance was made possible by a new state law adopted during the Virginia General Assembly’s 2020 session that permits localities to regulate firearms in public spaces. The ordinance and state law will both go into effect on July 1. Alexandria is the first jurisdiction in Virginia to adopt such an ordinance under the new law, according to a city news release.


For students of Unity Reed High School, the name change is just a start

By ANGELA ROBERTS, Prince William Times

In the three years Shane Goodson has attended what is now Unity Reed High School, the irony that the school was named for a Confederate general wasn't lost on him: Goodson is biracial and far more of his classmates are Black, Hispanic or Asian than are white. Still, when he’d talk about the school’s name with his friends, they always reached a consensus: So many students had already filtered through the school and graduated with “Stonewall Jackson High School” written on their diplomas. Why would the name change now?


Airbnbs are now legal and regulated in Richmond

By ALI SULLIVAN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Short-term rental regulations in Richmond went into effect Wednesday. The finalized regulations come after nearly five years of discussion and study. Prior to the regulations' implementation, city code prohibited residential rentals offered for a period of fewer than 30 consecutive days. Still, in March 2018, 749 unique short-term rental units were active within the city.


Onley Mayor Takes to Court His Beef With Town Council Over Censure

By CAROL VAUGHN, Eastern Shore Post

Onley’s mayor and attorneys representing the town appeared in Accomack General District Court Tuesday, where a judge presiding via videoconference heard testimony and arguments about an injunction Mayor Matthew Hart filed against the town council after it voted to censure him in June.


Board chair resigns amid discord on school reopening plan

By CLARE MITZEL, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

Unusual public dissent, and an allegation that Republican politics are driving a push to widen Roanoke County’s school reopening plan, led to the abrupt resignation from the chairman’s role of board member Don Butzer. School administrators’ proposed return-to-school plan calls for daily instruction for pre-K through second grade and twice-weekly in-person instruction, supplemented by remote learning, for third through 12th graders.


Roanoke County community voices opinions about return to school

By CLAIRE MITZEL, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

Dueling perspectives reigned during Thursday’s Roanoke County School Board public comment period, as parents, teachers and students shared opinions about how they think schools should reopen. Well over 200 people attended Thursday’s meeting, which was moved to Northside High School’s auditorium to accommodate a larger crowd, though not everyone fit inside due to social distancing.


Republican group facing internal strife

By TERRY BEIGIE, Greene County Record

The newly elected chairman of the Greene County Republican Committee (GCRC) faces questions about membership, organization and access after a pair of fractious meetings last week. A core question is the number of verified members of the committee and the fact that without a meeting for four months, the committee could be deemed dysfunctional by the 5th District unit, according to state bylaws.


Town approves 380% tax hike

By JOHN BRUCE, Highland Recorder (Subscription required)

Crumbling infrastructure and neglected maintenance. After more than a decade, the Monterey Town Council stopped kicking the can down the road last week. Council approved a 380 percent real estate tax increase, from 10 to 48 cents per $100 assessed value. Also approved was a 300 percent increase in personal property tax, from 35 cents to $1.40 per $100 assessed value. The actions followed a June 4 public hearing at which there was no public comment.

 

EDITORIALS

State police use of cars draws ire

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

How ironic that a Charlottesville march in support of “defunding” the police should, in fact, be partly policed by state troopers decked out in riot gear — seemingly illustrating one of critics’ general complaints about overpolicing. And how embarrassing for some of Charlottesville’s top officials not to know anything about those troopers’ use of city vehicles.


The monuments come down

Roanoke Times Editorial (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

There stands Jackson like a stone wall! Not anymore, at least not on Richmond’s Monument Avenue. Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney ordered the remaining Confederate monuments the city owns to come down on Wednesday. By day’s end, Jackson was down and Matthew Fontaine Maury followed Thursday with Jeb Stuart coming down next.


Relatively good news about the Bay

Free Lance-Star Editorial (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

A study released last month brings relatively good news for those interested in the rehabilitation of the Chesapeake Bay. The dead zone, whose name needs no explanation, is slightly smaller than the long-term average. “Only” 11 percent of the Bay’s total volume (12.2 cubic miles) is off-limits to most aquatic life. In July, the zone is expected to rise to 16 percent.


Exercise caution as reopening process continues

Daily Press Editorial (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

On Tuesday evening, as the commonwealth prepared to enter phase three of the “Forward Virginia” reopening plan, Gov. Ralph Northam moved to prohibit restaurants from allowing patrons to gather in bar areas. It demonstrates the perilous predicament, in Virginia and elsewhere, of trying to reopen while also keeping the virus at bay. It’s a reminder that people acting smartly and cautiously remain the best defense against this disease — and the best hope of getting the economy functioning again.

COLUMNISTS

Lohmann: Confederate soldiers almost used this Richmond bell for bullets; Wednesday it rang in a new era on Monument

By BILL LOHMANN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

As the crowd of onlookers swelled outside First Baptist Church on Wednesday afternoon to watch the historic removal of the nearby Stonewall Jackson statue, the Rev. Jim Somerville, the church’s pastor, retreated into the quiet of the sanctuary to record a service to be shared online Sunday. “Just as we were finishing up, one of my staff members said to me, ‘Is it OK if we ring the bell when this thing comes off the pedestal?’” Somerville recalled. “I thought for about a half-second and said, ‘Yes!’

OP-ED

Armstrong: The cost of Virginia solar

By JIM ARMSTRONG, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

The General Assembly recently passed legislation making zero carbon power a goal to be reached by 2050. Let’s see how Virginia might try to reach it’s goal. Significant wind power offshore is 10 years away but solar could be deployed in a few years. So we should concentrate on it now.

Armstrong is a Professor Emeritus of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech.


Leslie: Death penalty repeal is essential to racial healing

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

To watch a police officer crush the life out of George Floyd’s body, while other officers stood by complicit, is a chilling reminder that the racial terror of Black Americans never ends. The recent murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks and too many others disturbingly are similar to the thousands of documented lynchings that occurred in the United States, from the Reconstruction era through World War II.

Kristina Leslie is a public defender in Maryland and the president of Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

THE FRIDAY READ

This Maryland man was a sanitation worker. Now he is accepted to Harvard Law School.

By SYDNEY PAGE, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

For three years, Rehan Staton awoke before sunrise. He would dress in his neon-yellow uniform about 4 a.m. and head to Bates Trucking & Trash Removal in Bladensburg, Md. He spent his mornings hauling trash and cleaning dumpsters, then went to class at the University of Maryland.