By LAURA VOZZELLA, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)
Gov. Ralph Northam, laying out plans Friday for next week's special session of the General Assembly, said the state can avoid slashing critical services and laying off workers as it addresses the health, economic and racial issues that have upended the state budget and filled the streets of the capital city with protests. Northam (D) unveiled a package of legislation in response to the coronavirus pandemic and the civil unrest sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody in May.
With the COVID-19 pandemic closing businesses and driving unemployment to record levels, past due payments to Virginia utilities topped $184 million as of June 30 this summer. The total, provided in a letter from the State Corporation Commission to House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax, and Senate President Pro Tempore Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, had been requested by 58 lawmakers from both sides of the aisle in early June.
A northern Virginia prosecutor who says her county's judges are infringing on her discretion to dismiss charges and enter plea bargains is asking the state Supreme Court to intervene on her behalf. Arlington County Commonwealth's Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti filed a petition Friday asking the court for a relief from a policy imposed by the county's four Circuit Court judges.
By CATHY DYSON, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
Mary Washington Healthcare made an "urgent change" to procedures Thursday because it doesn't have enough supplies to perform COVID-19 tests on every patient admitted to its hospitals. Instead, only inpatients showing virus symptoms, being placed in nursing homes or rehabilitation facilities or admitted to Snowden at Fredericksburg will be tested for the virus in-house, according to an update from Dr. Christopher Newman, chief medical officer of MWHC.
By MICHAEL MARTZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)
While protests over police treatment of Blacks raged in Richmond in early June, Cheryl said she "felt like an invisible person" in management meetings at Morningside at Bellgrade, an assisted living facility in Chesterfield County that had been ravaged by a COVID-19 outbreak during the spring. Cheryl, a Henrico County resident who does not want to be identified by her real name because she has begun a new job with another long-term-care facility, is an African American registered nurse who had worked her way up the ranks in a long-term-care hierarchy that is dominated by people of color on the bottom rungs and whites at the top.
By KATHERINE KNOTT, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)
... Louisa County Public Schools on Thursday became the first school division in the area to bring students back into the school buildings — exactly six months after Gov. Ralph Northam ordered schools to close amid a surging pandemic. The first day of school was preceded by months of planning to safely reopen.
By WAYNE EPPS JR., Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)
After multiple positive COVID-19 tests at the track, Colonial Downs has canceled the remainder of its 2020 meet. Colonial Downs announced the decision Friday evening, stating that it was made in an abundance of caution, and because of the recent test results. The decision comes in the aftermath of race cancellations Tuesday and Wednesday, after it emerged that jockey Trevor McCarthy tested positive for the coronavirus. McCarthy was tested Tuesday.
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.
By MICHAEL MARTZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)
Gov. Ralph Northam expects Virginia to receive up to $2.7 billion less in revenues than previously projected for the two-year state budget because of the recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic, but he expects to avoid laying off state employees or cutting essential public services. Northam is preparing to lay out the new revenue forecast for the General Assembly when it convenes in special session on Tuesday.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's is looking to block evictions until next spring, boost spending on high-speed internet access for students learning virtually and set aside $1 million for the safe removal of a towering statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The Northam administration released details Friday of the governor's priorities for next week's special session, where lawmakers will take up the state's budget while addressing criminal justice issues and other matters.
By MARIE ALBIGES, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)
A special session originally intended only for lawmakers to amend a state budget upended by economic turmoil will now be the stage for a political debate over how liberal criminal justice reform policies should be in Virginia, and how much power the governor has during emergencies. The start of the General Assembly's special session Tuesday will be markedly different from its last one in April, when the coronavirus had just begun to make its mark on Virginia, surpassing 10,000 positive cases. There are now more than 104,000 confirmed or probable cases, and 2,370 people had died as of Friday.
By MEL LEONOR, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)
Virginia lawmakers will convene on Tuesday for a high-pressure special session dedicated to confronting the impact of COVID-19 on the state, and reacting to calls for police and criminal justice reform. Democratic lawmakers, who control the House and the Senate, will enter the session with loose consensus on policies they hope will curb excessive use of force by police, including greater accountability for officers and departments.
By DAVID MCGEE, Bristol Herald Courier (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)
Two Southwest Virginia lawmakers differed Friday about the level of bipartisan support for police reform legislation proposed for the upcoming special session of the General Assembly. Gov. Ralph Northam called the General Assembly back into session next week to revisit the biennial budget amid COVID-19 and to take up police issues in the wake of widespread protests and rioting over the deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, at the hands of law enforcement.
On Friday, Virginia lawmakers were days away from a special session on police and criminal justice reform, and the Virginia State Conference of the NAACP is pushing for specific changes. NAACP leaders said they want public access to records on use of force data, officer complaints and discipline, and the firing and rehiring of police officers with a history of misconduct.
By EVAN GOODENOW, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
For proponents of Virginia's special legislative session on criminal justice reform, it's a long overdue chance to police the police and change a system that disproportionately punishes Black and Latino people. 'We know that African-Americans and Virginians of color experience the criminal justice system differently at every level, from policing though prosecution and into re-entry. It is documented and undeniable," state Attorney General Mark R. Herring said in a news release outlining proposals.
By AMY FRIEDENBERGER, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
Roanoke Valley legislators are backing Roanoke attorney Melissa Friedman for a vacancy on the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, but it's unclear if the General Assembly will hold judicial elections at the upcoming special session. A seat on the bench in the 23rd Judicial District, which covers Roanoke, Roanoke County and Salem, opened after the General Assembly elevated Judge Onzlee Ware to the Roanoke Circuit Court earlier this year.
The U.S. Postal Service sent a letter to the commissioner of Virginia's Department of Elections, along with the majority of the country's election officials, warning that not all mail-in ballots for the November election are guaranteed to arrive in time. In the letter, which 8News obtained, the Postal Service's general counsel and executive vice president, Thomas J. Marshall, lays out the issues that could prevent ballots submitted near the deadline from being counted.
In the face of reorganization and cutbacks in the U.S. Postal Service, and the admission by President Donald Trump in a Fox Business Network interview that he is seeking to cut the post office's funding to prevent mail-in voting, the Loudoun County Democratic Committee on Thursday held a forum on both voting and the mail.
By PATRICIA SULLIVAN, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)
An elected town council member in Strasburg, Va., who also is chairman of the 6th Congressional District's Republican Committee admitted this week that he posted, then removed, a sexually offensive meme targeted at Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), hours after presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden chose her as his running mate. John Massoud told the Strasburg mayor and town manager he posted the meme Tuesday night, then took it down Wednesday morning after he "received some flak."
The Virginia Parole Board remains under fire for releasing some convicted killers before their sentences were up during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of those released brutally attacked Mark Brinkley's 78-year-old grandmother Bessie Rountree in her Suffolk home in 1979. She was confronted, forced into a car, forced to drive, returned to the home — where she was robbed of $10 — raped, and attacked with a knife.
By FRANK GREEN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)
U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson on Friday dismissed an appeal by a death row inmate who murdered a police officer who attempted to stop and question him. Thomas Alexander Porter, 44, one of only two remaining Virginia death row inmates, was convicted of the Oct. 28, 2005, capital murder of Stanley Reaves, of the Norfolk Police Department, who witnesses said was shot, fell to the ground and was then shot twice more.
For more than 40 years, Fauquier had a designated circuit court judge who presided in Warrenton and handled cases in neighboring Rappahannock County. That arrangement ended last November, when Judge Jeffrey W. Parker retired after 18-1/2 years on the bench.
By DAVE RESS, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)
Virginia won't go ahead with an earlier plan to let anglers keep trophy-sized striped bass, citing increasing concerns about overfishing. The Virginia Marine Fisheries Commission had planned to let anglers keep single fish larger than the legal limit of 36 inches. The idea was to let anglers buy one tag a year to allow them to keep one of those large stripers.
By BILL WYATT, Martinsville Bulletin (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith said he considers broadband a necessity in the coronavirus-plagued communities he serves and says those needs are enormous. Griffith (R-Salem), whose Ninth Congressional District includes western Henry County, Martinsville and Patrick County, took an hour out of his day Friday morning to speak with the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce via Zoom to update the local business community on happenings in Washington as they affect the area.
By JOHN REID BLACKWELL, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)
The wireless carrier company T-Mobile is planning to relocate its Henrico County customer service center to another site in the county and hire up to 500 additional employees. The company is planning to move what it calls its "customer experience center" from its current location at 100 Westgate Parkway in western Henrico into the former Sam's Club building at 4571 S. Laburnum Ave. in the White Oak Village shopping center in eastern Henrico.
By ELISHA SAUERS, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)
Sentara Healthcare is selling off its nursing homes, including five facilities in Hampton Roads, for an undisclosed price to an Ohio-based long-term care company. The sale, which is expected to close Nov. 1, will put Sentara out of the senior living business, divesting its Life Care division to Saber Healthcare Group, a for-profit nursing home chain that operates over 120 centers nationally.
By DAVID MCGEE, Bristol Herald Courier (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)
Ballad Health expects to lose money during the current fiscal year due to COVID-19 and other external factors, Chairman and CEO Alan Levine said Friday. Earlier this week, the regional health care system announced its net operating income for the previous fiscal year was down 48% compared to the previous year after elective procedures were stopped, some urgent care and diagnostic centers were temporarily closed, and access was limited to and fewer visited the emergency departments and used other services due to the pandemic.
By ANDREW BEATON AND CARA LOMBARDO, Wall Street Journal (Subscription Required)
The minority partners of Washington's NFL team are pressuring Dan Snyder to sell the franchise, according to people familiar with the matter, amid a growing fight inside a team facing controversy on multiple fronts. Mr. Snyder, the team's 55-year-old billionaire owner, has no intention to sell his majority stake in the team, the people said. A recent legal filing by Mr. Snyder suggests that at least one of the minority partners has attempted to leak defamatory information against him.
By AMY POULTER, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)
For more than 30 years, Andrea Latham and her husband, Steve, have owned an ice sculpture business. Ever attended a large convention, holiday party, baby shower or wedding with a massive frozen work of art anywhere in the commonwealth? Chances are that sculpture came from the Lathams' Virginia Beach warehouse.
Tiny Town Golf, a longtime miniature golf course on Arnett Boulevard, was closed for several years before Charlie Royster purchased it and reopened it during the summer of 2018. Just a few months later, much of the course was destroyed by Tropical Storm Michael, forcing the family to rebuild again. "We had to rebuild, we had to get all the mud and stuff up ... it was just a nightmare," said Manager Mitch Taylor. The miniature golf course reopened in April 2019, but was forced to close down yet again less than a year later for a different reason: COVID-19.
By SCOTT SHENK, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
A rift has developed between officials on a committee that handles the Fredericksburg region's transportation planning, and city officials think it is connected to a proposed Department of Veterans Affairs medical center the federal government hopes to build in the area. Fredericksburg City Councilman Matt Kelly, a longtime member of the policy committee of the Fredericksburg Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, said on Thursday that members representing Stafford and Spotsylvania counties "have gone off the deep end."
By HENRI GENDREAU, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
Parents pushed cartloads of mattress pads and mirrors up sidewalks as their children lugged fans and toiletries. "This is the experience," one mother shrugged of the college move-in process, but "with a mask." Virginia Tech students began trickling onto campus on Friday, the first day of a move-in process spread over 10 days to reduce congestion that could quicken the spread of COVID-19.
By ALEX PERRY, Virginia Gazette (Metered Paywall - 4 Articles per Month)
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of incoming William & Mary students spent this week on something typical for this time of year: moving into dorms. William & Mary students began their return to campus with COVID-19 safety in mind. Students will move in over the course of three days, instead of the single, bustling move-in day that traditionally marks the beginning of each fall semester.
By KENYA HUNTER, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)
Savannah Gross, a theater major at Virginia Commonwealth University, sat outside on Thursday, unmasked but socially distant, in a campus courtyard with two of her friends. In the week since moving into her apartment, she had been told that her archaeology class didn't have enough space to safely socially distance and a contact tracer had been in touch with her after a COVID-19 scare with her roommate. "It just seems like no one really knows how to handle it," said Gross, whose roommate tested negative for the virus.
By JOHN O'CONNOR, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)
Students must pass a test unrelated to academic proficiency before they can call the University of Richmond campus home this school year. Their first stop upon arrival to UR is a concourse in Robins Stadium, where COVID-19 testing is being conducted. Students occupying on-campus housing must bring thermometers and monitor their temperatures each morning prior to leaving their rooms.
By STAFF REPORT, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)
Christopher Newport University says it is aware that an off-campus student has reported a case of COVID-19. The school in Newport News said on Twitter that the case has not been confirmed, but "the student has been isolated and appropriate steps have been taken to identify and quarantine others who may have been in contact with the student."
By ANNA MEROD, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
When Shenandoah University students return to campus next week they will be tested on-site for COVID-19. Nearly 1,000 students are moving back onto campus beginning Tuesday, SU announced in a statement on Friday. Students will not be charged for the tests, which are available through a partnership with NEXT Molecular Analytics.
By STAFF REPORT, Bristol Herald Courier (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)
More than 200 people moved onto the Emory & Henry College campus Friday to begin the new school year — one uniquely affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The college kicked off the Weekend of Welcome by allowing a limited number of new students to move into their residence halls.
Jerry Falwell Jr. has been toppled, at least temporarily, from the presidency of evangelical Liberty University, but whether he will break permanently with the Christian institution that is synonymous with his family name is another matter. Falwell apologized after posting a vacation photo that showed him with his pants unzipped and his arm high around the waist of his wife's pregnant assistant. The image was enough to push the 58-year-old attorney with a tendency toward divisive behavior into an indefinite leave of absence.
On a Monday night in late March, Calum Best, then a senior at Liberty University, received an unexpected call from an unknown number. Best picked up his phone. The caller was Scott Lamb, a senior vice president who handles communications at the evangelical Virginia college. Lamb informed Best that he was looping in fellow senior Derek Rockey to listen. Best was confused and worried that he had messed up somehow at his on-campus job, where Rockey was his boss.
By MOSS BRENNAN, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)
The Virginia Department of Health reported 1,216 new coronavirus cases Friday, bringing the state's tally to 104,838. At least 2,370 Virginians have died from the virus as of Friday morning, up seven from Thursday.
By BRYAN MCKENZIE, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)
Central Virginians are successfully slowing the spread of COVID-19 even as the number of cases increases, according to statistics from the Virginia Department of Health and the Thomas Jefferson Health District. Although the number of cases increased in the district this week from 1,894 on Aug. 7 to 2,067 on Friday, the percentage of positive results on virus tests given during the week, known as the positivity rate, remained at 5.6%, according to health department figures.
By LUANNE RIFE, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
Virginia's mental health agency planned Friday to send information to the state psychiatric hospitals advising them that staff who test positive for COVID-19 should stay home. The guidance follows an email with contradictory advice sent from the Southern Virginia Mental Health Institute to its staff.
By GREGORY J. GILLIGAN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)
Multiple employees at the Target store at 11290 W. Broad St. in the Short Pump area of western Henrico County have tested positive for the coronavirus, the chain confirmed Friday. Target declined to say how many employees tested positive. The chain also did not identify the workers or their jobs at the store or say when they tested positive.
By MARK ROBINSON, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)
As COVID-19 cases continue to spread in Richmond, the city has launched an initiative to make it easier for residents to get masks, free of charge. Beginning Friday, residents can visit one of about 50 locations in the city to pick up free, disposable face masks. Certain qualifying organizations, too, can request the masks in bulk from the city. The initiative, called the Richmond Mask Distribution Network, is intended to make it easier for people to comply with a statewide mask mandate meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Facing a tight deadline and a global pandemic, state biologists swooped in to preserve Virginia's largest colony of nesting seabirds. They hauled in tons of white sand. They removed trees and brush that would have prevented the birds from keeping their customary 360-degree lookout. They played bird calls on a continuous loop. They put out decoys. And they waited.
By CHRIS SUAREZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)
Before Henrico Schools announced the temporary closure of Varina High School this week because of two confirmed cases of COVID-19 there, school officials warned several employees and student families that they may have been exposed to the disease at three other schools. School officials directed them to self-quarantine or take precaution, but the division did not inform the general public or the communities of J.R. Tucker High School and Tuckahoe Middle School when employees at each school tested positive.
By JOHN-HENRY DOUCETTE, Princess Anne Independent News
On a Saturday this past month, one of two candidates to become the chairperson of the Republican Party of Virginia Beach met with supporters at Mom's Kitchen, a restaurant in a strip mall on Holland Road. It was two days before a scheduled vote that brought hundreds of people out to choose their local party leadership in a big election year for the city committee.
By JOSH REYES, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)
Through various government programs, Newport News has received $36.2 million in support funding during the coronavirus pandemic. Most of the money — about $31.3 million — comes from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act and started coming in in March. City officials said they have until the end of the year to spend the money.
By EVAN GOODENOW, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
Local prosecutors are cautiously optimistic about Tuesday's special legislative session on criminal justice reform, although the area public defender said big changes are long overdue. "Our system is focused on incarceration and punishment and places far too little resources on treatment and rehabilitation," Timothy S. Coyne, area public defender, said in an email. "We can and must do better as a society."
By ALICIA PETSKA, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
The Roanoke City Jail launched mass testing for all 389 inmates in its care Friday after facing a string of COVID-19 diagnoses. The widespread testing was recommended by the health department after 14 staffers and four inmates tested positive for the novel coronavirus, officials said.
By JOSH JANNEY, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
The Frederick County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution Wednesday night saying it will not expand or add any gun restrictions in the county. Legislation passed by the Virginia General Assembly that went into effect July 1 gives localities the authority to adopt ordinances prohibiting the possession, carrying, or transportation of firearms and ammunition in local government buildings and parks and community centers owned or operated by the locality.
Roanoke Times Editorial (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
The General Assembly returns to Richmond on Tuesday for a special session. Democrats are there to enact police reform and other social justice legislation in the wake of the George Floyd killing. Republicans are there to talk about the budget and limiting the power of the governor to issue emergency orders. The police and budget issues aren't very interesting because they break down along predictable partisan lines. The question about gubernatorial power, though, is far more intriguing because while it begins as a partisan question, it's really far more complicated.
Roanoke Times Editorial (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
This month we mark the 100th anniversary of one of the landmark events in American history — the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that gave women the right to vote. Before we celebrate that, and honor the suffragettes who made this happen, we'd be remiss if we didn't point out a few inconvenient and embarrassing facts. First, Virginia was one of the states most adamantly opposed to allowing women to vote.
Washington Post Editorial (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)
Virginia's General Assembly will gather for a special session next week. After months of sustained protests against police brutality and structural racism, the mandate is clear: It must enact meaningful policing reform worthy of the moment. Criminal justice reform is one of two priorities for the special session. The other is to adopt a final budget, a task that was put on hold earlier this year when the coronavirus pandemic wrought havoc on revenue projections.
By JAKE BARNETT, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
On Feb. 23rd, 2020. Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was jogging near Glynn County, Georgia, when he was murdered by two white men who had been following him. It took three months for the video to be released, and only then were the suspects of his murder apprehended.
Barnett is a Salem native and a 2016 graduate of Salem High School. He is a senior in the Clinical Neuroscience program at Virginia Tech.
By MOLLY MCSHANE, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
When schools closed for in-person instruction in March, I, like many others, immediately felt panicked: how could our society meet the needs of the Commonwealth's most vulnerable children, children with significant disabilities? Many severely autistic students are already regressing into behaviors that can harm themselves or others.
McShane is Director of Child Advocacy Pro Bono Project, at UVA Law School & Board Chair, Virginia Institute of Autism. She lives in Charlottesville.
By CLAIRE HEDBERG, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)
When state lawmakers meet this August in the Siegel Center at Virginia Commonwealth University, I hope they hear the voices of Virginia's public elementary, middle and high school students, some of whom have aspirations to walk into that very building as college students. I am a rising sophomore at Open High School and I have been a Richmond Public Schools (RPS) student almost my entire life. I have attended schools that couldn't even employ a full-time nurse. Schools where the insulation falls out of the walls. Schools where you had to wear your winter coat in classrooms because the heating didn't work.
Claire Hedberg is a rising sophomore at Open High School in Richmond
By EMILY GRIFFEY, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)
All too often, I hear friends and community leaders tell stories of their struggles to protect their staff from illness or help meet the needs of families at their child care program, school or community resource agency. Every time, I find myself saying, "I'm sorry to hear that the system has failed our kids once again." It usually is followed by a heavy sigh and me racking my brain thinking of ways to help.
Emily Griffey is the policy director for Voices for Virginia's Children, the commonwealth's only independent, multi-issue child policy and advocacy organization.
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