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COVID-19 in Virginia
VaNews
October 20, 2020
Top of the News

Northam orders independent investigation of VMI's culture

By CLAIRE MITZEL, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Gov. Ralph Northam on Monday ordered an independent investigation of the Virginia Military Institute after Black cadets and alumni spoke out against racism they endured while attending the public military college. A third party will review VMI’s “culture, policies, practices, and equity in disciplinary procedures” and share preliminary results by the end of the calendar year, Northam wrote to the college’s board of visitors.


Arguments heard over Lee statue’s removal

By GREGORY S. SCHNEIDER, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

The Civil War itself seemed to be on trial Monday in the former capital of the Confederacy, as a circuit court judge heard arguments in a lawsuit challenging Gov. Ralph Northam's effort to take down the statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue and lawyers debated the root causes of the nation's most divisive conflict. The suit was brought by a small group of local residents and hinges, in part, on a deed the state legislature accepted in 1889 promising to protect the memorial forever.


William & Mary reinstates 3 women’s sports to avoid Title IX lawsuit

By MARTY O'BRIEN, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Facing the threat of a Title IX lawsuit, William & Mary announced on Monday afternoon that it is reinstating the sports of women’s gymnastics, swimming and volleyball. W&M announced September 3 that those sports, along with four others, would be eliminated at the end of the 2020-21 academic year amid seven-figure athletic department deficits.


Virginia Tech vows effort toward in-person classes in spring

By HENRI GENDREAU, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Virginia Tech said Monday that “every effort will be made” for more in-person classes during a spring 2021 semester to still be altered by COVID-19 precautions. All courses will be online for the first four days of classes, which begin Jan. 19. The university said this will help with a gradual move-in of residential students and orderly COVID-19 surveillance testing.


RPS official says COVID-19 has exacerbated chronic absenteeism

By KENYA HUNTER, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

About 1 in 5 students in Richmond Public Schools are on track to be chronically absent, according to data presented to the Richmond School Board on Monday. As of Oct. 5, 20 days into the school year, 21.2% of students in the school system had missed 10% or more of the school year, up 3 percentage points from last year’s rate. Harry Hughes, RPS’ chief of schools, said much of the data has been driven by 13 elementary schools and one middle school.


Lake businesses go from bust to boom during wild summer of social distancing

By JASON DUNOVANT, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

This past March, Mitchell’s Point Marina co-owner Jeff Prowse was preparing for the worst. He was seriously considering his options, some of which included bankruptcy, due to the possibility no vacationers would be coming this year. Seven months later, he is still reeling from the busiest and most profitable summer he has ever experienced. “It was unprecedented,” Prowse said of this summer’s record number of customers, especially his boat rental business. “Every day was like the Fourth of July.”


Northern Neck Ginger Ale, a Virginia classic, to be discontinued

By KEYRIS MANZANARES, WRIC-TV

Stock up on Northern Neck Ginger Ale while you can! Coca-Cola is discontinuing a number of beverages including, TaB, Diet Coke Feisty Cherry, Coke Life and regional brands Delaware Punch and Northern Neck Ginger Ale.

The Full Report
26 articles, 17 publications

FROM VPAP

VPAP Visual What we know about early voters

The Virginia Public Access Project

Our analysis provides some insights into the age, gender and partisan inclinations of more than 1 million Virginians who already have voted in the November 3 election.


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 10:30 a.m.

EXECUTIVE BRANCH

One state budget done, another one looms just ahead

By MICHAEL MARTZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Virginia will begin working on new revenue estimates for the next state budget before Gov. Ralph Northam can sign the two-year spending plan that the General Assembly adopted last week in a 60-day special session. The Joint Advisory Board of Economists will meet on Nov. 4 to begin the formal process of revising the state's expectations for revenues to pay for spending in the two-year budget that Northam will present to the assembly money committees on Dec. 16.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Virginia lawmakers get mixed reviews on police reform efforts

By NED OLIVER, Virginia Mercury

A special legislative session largely devoted to police reform in Virginia ended Friday with law enforcement groups sounding more comfortable with the package of bills that passed than activists who had been pushing for sweeping change following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. “At the end of the day, we didn’t make out so bad,” said John Jones, director of the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association, observing that most of the legislation that worried his members and provoked allegations of anti-police motives was either significantly amended or voted down entirely.


Conservationists want Virginia to let go of balloon releases

By STACY PARKER, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

A symbolic gesture at weddings, graduations and even funerals could soon become an illegal act in Virginia. Releasing balloons into the sky leads to litter in waterways and poses a threat to marine life. And while coastal areas are most affected by balloon trash, Virginia Beach needs the rest of the commonwealth’s support to curb it. “When you release a balloon, you’re littering,” said Mark Swingle, chief of research and conservation for the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach. “They just don’t float away; they come down.”

FEDERAL ELECTIONS

Mark Warner keeps his head down on way to the election

By MARTIN MATISHAK, Politico

Mark Warner is fine with flying below the radar. In his last reelection bid six years ago, the Virginia Democratic senator survived a near-upset by his Republican challenger in a year that flipped the upper chamber to the GOP. This time he's comfortably ahead in the polls, on track to claim the Senate intelligence chair in 2021 — and, for the moment, staying out of the crossfire in Washington's Russia wars.


Deputies will step up polling place patrols on Election Day

By EVAN GOODENOW, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Local elections officials and police say voter intimidation won’t be tolerated at the polls. There haven’t been any complaints locally since early voting in Virginia began on Sept. 18, and authorities want to keep it that way. Clarke County Sheriff Tony Roper and Frederick County Sheriff Lenny Millholland said they have been in contact with the voter registrars in their jurisdictions and that deputies will be doing extra patrols at the polls on Election Day, which is Nov. 3. In the past, Millholland said deputies primarily focused on parking enforcement, with no intimidation reported.

STATE GOVERNMENT

Virginia jobless claims falling, but still significantly higher than same time last year

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

Since March, more than 1.3 million unemployment claims have been filed with the Virginia Employment Commission, keeping that agency at a constant, full throttle since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Over 92 percent of those claims have been paid,” said Joyce Fogg, communications manager at the VEC. “That’s pretty good.”

TRANSPORTATION

Alexandria’s DASH adds electric buses to fleet

By LUKE LUKERT, WTOP

If you’re waiting for a DASH bus in Alexandria, Virginia, you might not hear that familiar loud groan approaching the stop. That’s because your bus might be sporting a quiet electric motor. On Monday, the city’s DASH bus system unveiled new zero-emission electric buses, a first for the transit system that has used diesel and hybrid engines.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Northam calls for VMI investigation

By IAN SHAPIRA, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) ordered an investigation into the culture at the Virginia Military Institute on Monday after Black cadets and alumni described relentless racism at the nation’s oldest state-supported military college. The governor, who graduated in VMI’s Class of 1981, co-wrote a letter to the college’s Board of Visitors informing it that the state will fund an independent probe into the school’s treatment of its Black students.


W&M reinstates women’s sports teams to comply with Title IX

By JULIA MARSIGLIANO, Williamsburg-Yorktown Daily (Metered paywall - 3 articles per month)

William & Mary has reinstated women’s swimming, gymnastics and volleyballs teams after being threatened with a Title IX lawsuit. The university announced the decision to the student-athletes via Zoom Monday. “This is a major victory for gender equity, everyone at William & Mary, and all who care about fairness and the law,” Arthur Bryant, attorney at Bailey & Glasser LLP, who represented the women’s sports teams, said in a prepared statement.


U.Va seeks to enforce its tightened COVID-19 restrictions

By LUKE STONE, Cavalier Daily

Students have had to adapt to a new normal in all facets of University life, from classes and clubs mostly operating over Zoom to watching home football games from a social distance at Klockner Field. Social gatherings have been forced to adjust, too. While there are still students packing into bars and restaurants on the Corner, the pandemic has meant that more students are choosing to take their gatherings outside this fall, whether to the Lawn, University-provided tents at Observatory Hill or the Old Dorms Quad.


Video appears to show lack of masks, social distancing at bar near University of Virginia

By MAX MARCILLA, NBC 29

It’s been less than a month since the University of Virginia implemented a restriction on gatherings. That restriction was five people and was upped to 10 last week. But even with that increase, that policy may have been publically violated. Videos and photos shared with NBC29 showed there may not be full compliance.

CORONAVIRUS

Virginia COVID-19 cases rise by 690 and deaths by 24 from Sunday

Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The Virginia Department of Health reported Monday that the statewide total for COVID-19 cases is 166,828, an increase of 690 from Sunday. The 166,828 cases consist of 156,439 confirmed cases and 10,389 probable cases.

VIRGINIA OTHER

Richmond judge in Lee statue case says ruling expected in 7 to 10 days

By ERIC KOLENICH, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The trial to determine the fate of the Robert E. Lee statue on Monument Avenue was held Monday in a Richmond courtroom, and it became a wide-ranging discussion on the causes of the Civil War and race relations for the past 160 years. Gov. Ralph Northam called for the 130-year-old statue to be dismantled June 4, but a lawsuit seeks to keep it standing. Circuit Judge W. Reilly Marchant said he expects to issue his ruling in seven to 10 days.


Richmond judge hasn’t yet ruled after Robert E. Lee statue trial

By SARAH RANKIN, Associated Press

A judge heard hours of arguments and witness testimony Monday but did not immediately issue a ruling in a lawsuit seeking to prevent Virginia’s governor from removing an enormous statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Richmond. “It’s a very difficult case. It’s a difficult case for our city, it’s a difficult case for the nation,” Richmond Circuit Court Judge W. Reilly Marchant said.


Front Royal group wants Confederate statue voted off courthouse lawn

By MELISSA HOWELL, WTOP

Residents in Front Royal, Virginia, came together Sunday for a discussion about the future of a Confederate statue outside the courthouse. Historians were among those on the panel discussion to help voters decide whether to remove and relocate Front Royal’s Confederate statue.


Buckingham’s next environmental fight? Maybe gold mining.

By SARAH VOGELSONG, Virginia Mercury

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is dead. So what’s next for Buckingham County? Gold, apparently. This month, plans by a Canadian gold mining company to extract the valuable commodity from thousands of acres of land in Buckingham surfaced, setting off a wave of alarm in a community that fought five years to keep a natural gas pipeline from being built through their corner of Central Virginia.

LOCAL

APS Presents Return to School Plan Based on Student Need

By JO DEVOE, ArlNow

Depending on local health conditions, Arlington Public Schools students who opt for hybrid instruction could start entering classrooms between the end of October and mid-January. The staggered return times, along with more details about the school system’s preparations, were announced on Friday during a town hall for parents with Superintendent Francisco Durán and his staff.


Richmond planners delay vote on turning medians into parks near Lee Statue

By C. SUAREZ ROJAS, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The Richmond Planning Commission decided Monday to delay its vote on a proposal that would restrict nighttime protests and public traffic on medians near the statue of Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue. The measure is supported by several civic associations concerned about the ongoing demonstrations and related activities that began in May around the Confederate monument.


Mayor says it's 'Halloween as usual' in Martinsville

By BILL WYATT, Martinsville Bulletin (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The CDC is specifically warning the public to avoid traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door to door this year in order to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. But Martinsville Mayor Kathy Lawson announced during Tuesday's City Council meeting that it was "Halloween as usual" in the city of Martinsville.


Bristol, Tennessee leaders taking wait-and-see approach to possible effects of proposed casino

By DAVID MCGEE, Bristol Herald Courier (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

Residents and leaders of Bristol, Tennessee are among those awaiting the outcome of a Virginia referendum that could bring a proposed Hard Rock hotel and casino resort to the Twin City....The rear corner of the mall property lies a few hundred feet from the Tennessee border and the completed complex is forecast to attract up to 4 million annual visitors — but Tennesseans have no voice in the process. At this point, Bristol, Tennessee leaders are taking a wait-and-see approach.

 

EDITORIALS

Three questions about next year's redistricting

Roanoke Times Editorial (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Benjamin Franklin once observed that the only certain things in life are death and taxes. Here’s one more: Next year, prompted by the census results, we’ll get new legislative lines for General Assembly and congressional districts. We don’t know yet who will be drawing those lines. That depends on what Virginia voters decide about the proposed constitutional amendment on this fall’s ballot.


COVID fear caused many 'excess deaths'

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

There is a tendency among some to believe that the grim COVID-19 death numbers in Virginia and the United States aren’t accurate. They’re right. The numbers are misleading. Things are worse than we thought. A macabre statistic called “excess deaths” tells how many people in a certain area are expected to die over a certain period, based on historical data.


Second COVID wave requires renewed vigilance in Virginia

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

Data from across the United States suggests the nation is on the cusp of another surge of coronavirus infections, the anticipated “second wave” that health officials have warned of since the pandemic began. While Virginia has reduced most of its metrics since posting some worrisome numbers around Labor Day, this is a critical hour for the commonwealth, one that demands vigilance.

OP-ED

Stuart: Amendment 1 is the only way to fair, nonpartisan redistricting

By SEN. RICHARD H. STUART, published in Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

I voted for and support the Redistricting Reform Constitutional Amendment (Question #1) on the November ballot. I believe it’s the only chance for a fair, nonpartisan, and independent redistricting process moving forward.

Stuart represents the 28th District in the Senate of Virginia.