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Increasing COVID cases place stress on hospital staff

By LUANNE RIFE, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Within days, Virginia’s hospitals likely will be caring for the highest number yet of COVID-19 patients and further risking the physical and mental health of fatigued caregivers. On Nov. 1, the seven-day moving average in Virginia for hospital patients with the virus was just above 1,000. By mid-month it has climbed to 1,250, and within 10 days it stood at 1,516. That was Wednesday, Thanksgiving Eve, the day when all across the state and country people ignored public health warnings and traveled to spend the holiday with families.

VaNews November 27, 2020

The Algernourne Oak, Fort Monroe’s nearly 500-year-old tree, gets a little TLC

By LISA VERNON SPARKS, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

Rhonda Williams clasped her hands and with a mix of angst and hope she watched as experts tended to one of the oldest living things on Fort Monroe — the Algernourne Oak. The experts nimbly scaled the massive ancient oak on a gusty Monday morning to determine the best ways to preserve and protect the near 500-year-old tree.

VaNews November 27, 2020

Retailers plan for a holiday selling season like no other

By GREGORY J. GILLIGAN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Black Friday, traditionally the kickoff of the holiday selling season, is going to be a lot different this year. Most national chains that had opened on Thanksgiving Day for the past several years to get a jump-start on sales are closed this year on turkey day. Even retail giant Walmart won’t open on Thursday — the first time it has closed on that day since the 1980s.

VaNews November 27, 2020

COVID testing positivity rate remains high

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

Over the past seven days, one person in five from this region tested for COVID-19 is positive for the virus as of Thanksgiving Ballad Health reported. Testing positivity stood at 19% across Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, among the highest rates in either state, as the virus continues sweeping through the region. The last time the average positivity climbed this high more than a week ago, local hospitals reached record levels of inpatients.

VaNews November 27, 2020

Richmond-area Christmas tree sellers brace themselves for a busy season

By ABBY CHURCH, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Christmas came to Strange’s around the same time it normally does, but customers were eager to see the holidays sooner. “We were getting phone calls in July, beginning of July, ‘When are you gonna have your trees up?’” said Heidi Oistad, the sales floor manager for Strange’s Florists, Greenhouse and Garden Centers in Short Pump. “The artificial ones. It was like, it’s July. It’s only July.”

VaNews November 27, 2020

Lame duck's pardoned turkeys will not be Hokie-bound

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

Amid the swan song of a lame duck administration, you can chalk up another norm that’s been busted: The presidential turkeys are avoiding the Hokie Bird this year. Since 2016, turkeys pardoned by the U.S. president for Thanksgiving have gone home to roost at Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus. Bread and Butter (2019) and Peas and Carrots (2018) remain alive and well at Gobblers Rest, a squat, white livestock pavilion off Plantation Road.

VaNews November 27, 2020

After stern warnings on COVID-19 rules, Tech, RU issue few suspensions

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

College campuses have largely emptied of students who have returned home for a Thanksgiving break that will transition to online classes for the rest of fall. But a handful of students in the New River Valley faced unexpected departures a bit earlier. This semester, about 20 students across Virginia Tech and Radford University were suspended for violating public health rules aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

VaNews November 27, 2020

Luria urges House to include contract poultry growers in COVID-19 relief

By KELLY POWERS, Eastern Shore News (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Congresswoman Elaine Luria wrote to Congressional leadership this week, calling for COVID-19 relief for contract poultry growers. In her Nov. 23 letter, Virginia's 2nd District congresswoman said these contract farmers slipped through the cracks in previous relief efforts.

VaNews November 27, 2020

Virginia’s new redistricting commission prepares to take applications from the public

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

Beginning Monday, Virginians will have a month to apply for one of eight public seats on the state's new redistricting commission, which has begun its work with a panel of retired judges setting out plans for the application process. Eight lawmakers will be named to the commission next week by General Assembly leaders.

VaNews November 27, 2020

Emory & Henry student teachers fill in as substitutes for Washington County schools

By CAROLYN R. WILSON, Washington County News

A shortage of substitute teachers due to the pandemic has prompted education students at Emory & Henry College students to help fill a need in local classrooms. Madison McFarlane, a senior at the college, said she is getting some additional teaching experience by substituting at Washington County Public Schools this semester. “I feel like this is a great time in my life to help out now that I have some experience teaching. It’s also a great opportunity to serve the community,” said the senior, who will graduate after the spring semester in 2021.

VaNews November 27, 2020