How Virginia spends remaining coronavirus relief funds provided through the federal CARES Act has become a point of contention between Gov. Ralph Northam and the General Assembly — now in the final stretch of finalizing a two-year budget plan amid a special session that's lasted for nearly two months. Looming in the minds of many legislators is a Dec. 30 deadline set out in the federal stimulus bill — the date by which states are expected to spend the money they received.
Last week, Virginia Senate Minority Leader Tommy Norment, R-James City, stood to try to extract a promise from Democratic leaders. Since the Senate was solidly behind the bipartisan redistricting commission voters will weigh in on next month, Norment asked, would Senate Democrats be willing to fight for it in budget negotiations with their counterparts in the House of Delegates?
By PATRICK WILSON, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)
When Democrats campaigned for the Virginia legislature last year, they took aim at the state's largest power broker: Dominion Energy. The electric utility's clout was legendary in the state Capitol, where it doled out millions in campaign contributions and employed an army of lobbyists who helped write energy policy for decades. The result was soaring electricity bills and an energy grid heavily reliant on fossil fuels.
This article was produced in partnership with the ProPublica Local Reporting Network.
By LAURA VOZZELLA, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)
It was not yet 7 a.m. and the leader of the free world, still hospitalized with the coronavirus, was thinking about Virginia, an increasingly blue state where his campaign hasn't been willing to bankroll ads on TV. "Virginia Voters! Your Governor wants to obliterate your Second Amendment. I have stopped him," President Trump declared Monday at 6:45 a.m., in his third tweet of the day from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
By HANNAH NATANSON, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)
The famed — and feared — admissions test at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, a prestigious magnet school in Northern Virginia, is no more. The Fairfax County Public Schools Board on Thursday night gave the green light to a proposal, submitted by Superintendent Scott Brabrand, that eliminates the test and the $100 application fee, long staples of the admissions process at Thomas Jefferson.
By ELISHA SAUERS, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)
The average time Virginians stay in a hospital with the coronavirus is about two weeks, but some have gone over 75 days before being discharged, a new data analysis shows. The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association released statewide details and trends about people being treated for COVID-19 during a press briefing Thursday.
Following a revival held at Emmanuel Bible Church September 20-23, multiple attendees including the Pastor and his wife tested positive for Covid-19. Pastor Todd Childers made the following statement this week. "We feel as though the spread began either Monday or Tuesday evening.
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 CLAIRE MITZEL, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
Virginia school divisions will receive $220 million of additional funding toward operating schools during the COVID-19 pandemic from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Recovery and Economic Security Act, Gov. Ralph Northam announced Thursday. Approximately $12.4 million will go to school divisions in the Roanoke and New River valleys.
By MICHAEL MARTZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)
Gov. Ralph Northam will distribute $220 million in federal emergency aid to local school divisions across Virginia, including about $27 million in the four biggest localities in the Richmond area, as the state ramps up efforts to spend money provided under the CARES Act to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The money for K-12 schools has been expected for more than three weeks, but Northam increased the amount from $159 to $175 per pupil, or an additional $20 million, as divisions get better estimates of enrollment in a school year defined by uncertainty because of the public health challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
By AMY FRIEDENBERGER, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
As the General Assembly works toward developing a final revised budget, lawmakers are facing pressure from cable companies over two sentences tucked within a budget bill aimed at expanding broadband in rural Virginia. The House of Delegates passed its budget bill last week that included a proposal for a pilot program for municipal broadband authorities to compete with the private sector for state grants to provide high-speed internet in hard-to-reach areas.
President Donald Trump alleged on Thursday that Virginia Governor Ralph Northam supported the execution of babies under the guise of late-term abortions. Trump has emphasized his Christian faith during his re-election campaign, reaching out to pro-life groups for support. During speeches at campaign events, Trump has said that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden would ban religion if he were elected. Biden did endorse Northam's 2017 campaign for governor.
Fifth District Republican Congressional candidate Bob Good has submitted a new financial disclosure report to the U.S. House of Representatives Office of the Clerk reflecting financial assets worth up to $1.6 million after initially reporting no assets and no unearned income. Good's new financial report included nine additional pages of financial assets not disclosed in the initial filing.
New federal paperwork filed by Republican Congressional hopeful Bob Good shows he owned at least $250,000 in assets that have not previously been disclosed in similar state filings. An amended financial disclosure form filed by Good on Monday shows he owned securities in various retirement accounts worth between $257,000 and $1.8 million as of November 30, 2019. It also showed between $30,000 and $100,000 in student loans to pay for his children's college education.
By GORDON RAGO, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)
Before he led the raucous crowd in prayer, Leon Benjamin, red USA hat in hand, said President Donald Trump's impending arrival at the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport last week was a sign. "A wave is about to hit Virginia, and Virginia is about to turn red again!" Benjamin said into the microphone, drawing applause and cheers from the large crowd gathered on the tarmac to hear Trump speak.
Less than one month before Election Day, WAVY-TV 10 is checking the political pulse of someone you may have not heard from in a few years. For 6 years, Republican Congressman Scott Rigell represented the people of Virginia Beach, Norfolk, parts of the Peninsula, and the Eastern Shore. Rigell is now watching from the sidelines while traveling the country in an RV with his wife.
Congressman Morgan Griffith has been working in Virginia politics for more than two decades. As Griffith wraps up his tenth year in his congressional seat, he is setting new priorities focusing on the people in Virginia's 9th District. "Everybody has a calling and something that they love doing. I love trying to solve problems," said Griffith.
Accomack County's voter registrar responded to concerns some voters have voiced about early voting and the electoral board. Voter Registrar Patricia White in a Sept. 29 email said 1,519 people had voted in person and the office had mailed out 2,177 ballots by that date, less than two weeks after early voting began Sept. 18.
By ANDREW CAIN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)
In December, a state commission will recommend a noted Virginian to the General Assembly to honor with a statue at the U.S. Capitol, replacing that of Robert E. Lee. The Commission for Historical Statues in the U.S. Capitol decided during a virtual meeting Thursday to invite children in Virginia's schools — public and private — to add their voices to the discussion about who Virginia should honor.
The Virginia Manufacturers Association is suing Virginia's Department of Environmental Quality and State Air Pollution Control Board over the state's revision of regulations that will allow it to join a regional cap-and-invest market for carbon. The suit, filed in Richmond Circuit Court Oct. 2, says DEQ followed an incorrect process in revising an existing carbon trading rule as well as claiming the new rule is "unlawful" and the association's members will be adversely affected by it.
By KIMBERLY PIERCEALL, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)
Nearly 11,000 Virginians filed a first-time unemployment claim last week, an increase of 1,466 people compared with the prior week, according to weekly data released Thursday by the Virginia Employment Commission. The agency said 10,843 new claims were filed during the week ending Oct. 3.
The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits dipped last week to a still-high 840,000, evidence that layoffs remain elevated seven months into the pandemic recession. . . . In Virginia, initial jobless claims rose 15.6%, or 1,466 claimants, from the previous week, the Virginia Employment Commission reported Thursday. The number of initial claims stood at 10,843 for the week that ended Oct. 3.
By JOSH REYES, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)
Jefferson Lab in Newport News is on the leading edge of nuclear physics while also providing educational resources and opportunities for schools and university researchers. The facility also is an important employer and has a major economic impact in the region. Beyond physics, local economists see lots of potential.
By JOHN REID BLACKWELL, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)
The social media company Facebook said it has now invested about $1 billion in its eastern Henrico County data center that became operational this summer. Facebook first announced plans to open the data center in White Oak Technology Park in 2017. It is one of eight data centers that the company now operates in the United States to serve its online traffic, with five more data centers in development.
By KIMBERLY PIERCEALL, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)
A Virginia Beach-based maker of disposable face masks and surgical masks plans to create 180 jobs and spend $5.3 million to buy equipment that will allow it to produce more of the personal protective equipment that is in high demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic. PremiumEstore LLC at 2601 Reliance Dr., primarily an e-cigarette distributor since 2008, pivoted to PPE production in March, when it began operating as Premium-PPE and producing AmeriShield branded masks.
By DAVID HALL, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)
On a typical fall Saturday when Old Dominion's football team is home, Perfectly Frank on Monarch Way is teeming with blue-and-white-clad fans eager to get their bellies full and root on the Monarchs. Energetic patrons crowd the counter and fill the dining room tables as others wait to take their places. Tarah Morris and her staff sling hot dogs, burgers, breakfast sandwiches and other items from the restaurant's diverse menu as pregame excitement builds.
Metro's Board of Directors is beginning to formulate its budget for July 2021 through June 2022, and so far it is filled with uncertainties and question marks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. How soon will schools return? Will workers be allowed and more inclined to work from home? If they do go back to the office and traffic isn't bad, will they just opt to drive? Those are some of the scenarios the transit agency is currently working through. But board members agreed on Thursday that Metro should plan for the worst-case scenario: Ridership won't return to pre-COVID levels for years.
The Class of 2024 is comprised of 3,785 students, the lowest number of enrolled students since the 2016 admissions cycle and the most diverse class in the University's history. Wes Hester, deputy University spokesperson and director of media relations, said that the University is excited to welcome the Class of 2024 during what has been a challenging year. "To do this and meet enrollment targets during such challenging times is remarkable, and speaks to the value and respect that an education from U.Va. carries," Hester said.
By JULIA MARSIGLIANO, Williamsburg-Yorktown Daily (Metered paywall - 3 articles per month)
William & Mary alumni have joined together to demand the seven sports teams cut by the university to be reinstated or else…no more funding. The Pledge Not To Donate, signed by mostly college alumni and parents, had a list of demands, too.
By JESSICA NOLTE, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)
Old Dominion University reported a coronavirus outbreak Thursday night in one of its residence halls. "We want to make you aware that our COVID-19 testing has identified what could be the beginning of an uptick in positive results among symptomatic and asymptomatic students who live on campus," an alert from the university said.
By ROBYN SIDERSKY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)
The state Department of Health reported 1,844 coronavirus cases Thursday, more than three times as many as the day before. It was the second-highest case count for one day since the pandemic began. But state officials had a simple explanation: Wednesday's numbers weren't actually as good as they seemed.
By STAFF REPORT, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)
The Virginia Department of Health reported Thursday that the statewide total for COVID-19 cases is 155,535 — an increase of 1,844 from the 153,691 reported Wednesday. The VDH dashboard noted Thursday that the increase in cases includes 689 that should have been reported on Wednesday.
From January to June this year, Virginia's oldest hospitalized COVID-19 patient was 103. But there were also 46 coronavirus hospitalizations among children younger than five out of a total of 22,508, according to new data from the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association — including infants under the age of one. With the exception of a few outliers, the data analysis — presented by the association during a Thursday webinar — highlights much of what's already known about the virus, which disproportionately impacts older patients and those with underlying health conditions.
By LOLA FADULU, ERIN COX, GREGORY S. SCHNEIDER AND RACHEL CHASON, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)
The average number of new daily coronavirus infections across the greater Washington region reached a 19-day high Thursday as local health officials sent an open letter urging people connected to a White House outbreak to get tested. Despite the rise, officials have cautioned that there's no evidence of widespread ties to the Sept. 26 Rose Garden event suspected of being at the center of the outbreak. An infection spike stemming from a reporting issue Thursday lifted the number of confirmed cases in D.C., Virginia and Maryland above 300,000 since the start of the pandemic.
While some areas of the Culpeper Medical Center have seen less traffic than usual, hospital President Donna Staton said the delivery room will be busy with a looming baby boom stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. "There is going to be a COVID boom of babies in the spring. We're already starting to see that," she recently told the Culpeper County Board of Supervisors. Staton explained the hospital is projecting 70-plus births in both January and February compared to the average of about 45.
By JUSTIN JOUVENAL, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)
Officials said a coronavirus outbreak has sickened more than a dozen workers and residents at Fairfax County's Juvenile Detention Center, prompting questions from staff members about the precautions taken against the virus and how its spread was handled. Eight workers and six juveniles have tested positive for the coronavirus at the Fairfax City facility since Sept. 29, officials said, making it one of the worst known outbreaks at a local youth center since March.
The area is suddenly seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases. According to Piedmont Health District Director Dr. H. Robert Nash, many local counties have seen a small jump in cases this week, with attributions to the jump ranging from community spread to local colleges to religious events.
A renewed virus outbreak at Baskerville Correctional Center has driven up Mecklenburg County's COVID-19 caseload and placed the county in the highest risk category for the pandemic. Mecklenburg went from orange to red over the weekend, according to the risk scale developed by the Harvard Global Health Institute, after 60 new cases of the virus were confirmed by the state health department between Friday and Sunday.
A second outbreak of COVID-19 has surfaced at Chase City Health and Rehab. The initial outbreak at the nursing home occurred in May but abated within a month. The second outbreak began in September. The latest reporting by the Virginia Department of Health suggests at least 13 new positive test results have been confirmed among individuals affiliated with Chase City Health and Rehab.
Gun sales in Virginia this year have skyrocketed, breaking a record set in 2016 in just nine months. Data from the Virginia Firearms Transaction Center, which has tracked mandatory background checks on buyers since 1990, shows estimated firearm sales have spiked in 2020, a year rocked by the global pandemic and protests across the country.
By RYAN MURPHY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)
Part of the granite face of the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial that towers over Brambleton Avenue has come loose and may pose a risk to drivers. From the street, a panel near the very top of the monument could be seen to be missing on Thursday.
The Loudoun County School Board and administration, and the Board of Supervisors issued "An Apology to the Black Community of Loudoun County," last month for some of the ways county officials fought against desegregation in the Virginia county in the 1950s and 1960s. Now, the NAACP Loudoun Branch has authored "Proposed Terms of Conciliation," that it hopes "works toward moving forward" by "building an institutionalized system equity in a meaningful way that gets to the heart" of addressing systemic racism.
By LAURENCE HAMMACK, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
Segments of steel pipe stockpiled along the path of a natural gas pipeline, exposed to the elements for two years while lawsuits delayed construction, pose no risk to the surrounding air, soil or water, a federal agency has concluded. In a report released Thursday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission addressed concerns that have been raised about the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
Arlington Public Schools is seeing a sharp decline in enrollment this year as families cope with remote learning during the pandemic. From September 2019 to September 2020, PreK-12 enrollment fell from 28,020 to 26,895 — a 4% drop — according to APS' official Sept. 30 count. That's an even bigger drop than the preliminary numbers at the beginning of September, which showed enrollment of 27,109. The drop comes after years of enrollment growth.
The Alexandria City Council has voted to keep in place the pedestrian-only restaurant zone in Old Town through March 2021. The 100 block of King Street near the Potomac River and waterfront park of the Northern Virginia city has restaurant seating on the sidewalks and along the road where cars typically would park. A broad corridor down the center of the road is open for walkers and social distancing.
Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) Superintendent Dr. Gregory Hutchings has enrolled one of his two children in Bishop Ireton, a private Catholic high school in Alexandria that operates under a hybrid learning model, in contrast to ACPS's entirely virtual model. A hybrid model includes virtual and in-person instruction. The high school sophomore transferred to Bishop Ireton after attending the Minnie Howard campus of T.C. Williams last year as a freshman.
Prince William County's still high COVID-19 numbers and the logistical hurdles involved with returning students to schools during the pandemic will keep the majority of local students learning virtually until at least early 2021, Superintendent Steven Walts told the school board Wednesday.
By KENYA HUNTER, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)
Uncertainty lingered Thursday as Henrico County school officials heard their most detailed briefing to date on COVID-19 ahead of an Oct. 22 decision on whether to bring more students into classrooms. The Central Virginia region is at what health experts deem a moderate burden for transmission of the virus, which has claimed 220 lives and infected at least 5,659 people in Henrico, state data shows.
By ALISSA SKELTON, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)
The Health Department has recommended that the City Council and Planning Commission no longer hold public meetings at City Hall for the foreseeable future due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Suite 5 at the Virginia Beach Convention Center will be the new meeting place so everyone will have enough room to space out, the city announced on Thursday. The change comes a few days after Councilman John Moss announced he tested positive for COVID-19.
By SARA GREGORY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)
Portsmouth students won't return to the classroom in 2020. Superintendent Elie Bracy gave the board an option to bring back students in pre-K through third grade starting Nov. 16, but didn't make a recommendation. The board unanimously said it preferred to err on the side of caution and wait until 2021.
By MATT JONES, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)
Superintendent Jeffery Smith said in a school board meeting Wednesday that, at the request of board members, Hampton City Schools students won't return to classrooms this quarter. The district hasn't established a specific timeline for return yet. Several neighboring districts, including Newport News and York County, have started to bring some students back or plan to do so this month.
By LISA VERNON SPARKS, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)
The good news about Hampton's finances some seven months into a pandemic: the city has a fat cushion in its savings account, thanks to some bountiful years. The bad news: Hampton is feeling a pinch because some funding sources - such as lodging and admissions taxes - are suffering, according to a report city finance director Karl Daughtrey gave the Hampton City Council last month.
By NOOR ADATIA, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)
After leaving the House of Delegates more than a year ago, Gordon Helsel is running unopposed for another stint as mayor of Poquoson. "It's time for me to come back," Helsel, now 73, said. "I look forward to serving the citizens of the community — always have and always will."
By KATHERINE KNOTT, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)
Albemarle County School Board voted 4-3 late Thursday night to start in-person classes for preschoolers through third-graders starting Nov. 9. The vote came after more than two hours of discussion about schools Superintendent Matt Haas's recommendation to move to Stage Three of the division's reopening plan. Parents have until Oct. 16 to decide whether to send their kids to school or stick with online classes.
By DAVID MCGEE, Bristol Herald Courier (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)
The Bristol Virginia GOP announced today it is cancelling a "Back the Blue" rally originally planned for Oct. 10 due to concerns about violence. In a written statement, Chairman Jacob Holmes explained the decision. "After much deliberation, we have come to the decision to cancel the Bristol VA/TN Backs the Blue event. We wholeheartedly support our law enforcement officers, and wish to ensure that we are not possibly putting them in harm's way," according to the statement.
Roanoke Times Editorial (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
Blacksburg Mayor Leslie Hager-Smith said she didn't have any comment on Virginia Tech reaching its goal of enrolling 30,000 undergraduates three years ahead of schedule. We, however, do. Blacksburg is understandably not completely thrilled about Tech hitting the goal — or even, necessarily, having this goal.
Free Lance-Star Editorial (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
The Virginia Retirement System, which provides retirement benefits for hundreds of thousands of teachers, state judges, police officers, firefighters and other government employees throughout the commonwealth, reported a dismal 1.4 percent rate of return on its investment portfolio in fiscal year 2020. VRS Board Chairman O'Kelly McWilliams tried to put a brave face on the fact that 1.4 percent is well below the 6.7 percent goal the system needs to meet its pension obligations—which it met last fiscal year, according to its 2019 annual report.
Virginian-Pilot Editorial (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)
Gov. Ralph Northam, take Del. Mark Sickles up on his offer. Reach for the veto pen. Do not be shy. "It's the role of the legislature to set spending priorities," Sickles, D-Fairfax told the Richmond Times-Dispatch in an interview with veteran reporter Michael Martz. "Of course, he can veto any item not to his liking."
Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)
They served our country with valor, defending the liberty and protecting the freedoms we often take for granted. Yet some members of the military suffer debilitating injuries during the course of their service, posing challenges to both them and their families. There's a way that Virginians can show their appreciation for those veterans who become permanently disabled: by supporting Amendment 2 during this year's election.
Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)
Enter the home of a student attending school virtually, or a parent juggling a job and child care. Visit a small business that cannot engage with customers online. Talk to a farmer who is unable to use the latest technology to care for crops. Meet a patient driving long distances to receive care because telehealth is out of the question. Watch as Virginians reset wireless hot spots 10 times a day, rejoin Zoom meetings after missing a critical exchange or can't pay a bill because of $70 in data overage fees.
Washington Post Editorial (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)
In 12 years on Capitol Hill, Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) has staked a legitimate claim as one of the more effective, constructive and genuinely bipartisan lawmakers in Congress. In a place where grandstanding, pandering and interparty venom are nearly normal, Mr. Warner is frequently the grown-up in the room, a measured and substantive Democrat who has forged partnerships with key Republican colleagues. Virginians would do well to reelect him this year to a third term in the Senate, and we endorse him.
By JOE BARON, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)
On a late summer evening as we were returning from a community event, my wife Jennifer began scrolling through social media and reading some entries aloud to me. Quickly, we became frustrated and saddened about how easily so many people seem to spread hateful and hurtful messages. Often, those messages are spread online, but the dialogue recently seems to be moving onto city streets and into neighborhoods, too.
By EILEEN FILLER-CORN AND DAN HELMER, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)
This election, voters across Virginia face important choices. We know there are sharp divisions on the direction of our country, but as you cast your ballot, regardless of your party, we hope you will vote "yes" on Question 2, the Motor Vehicle Property Tax Exemption for Disabled Veterans Amendment. So many throughout Virginia served their country in the armed services and many — while in service to our nation — suffered injuries they will deal with for the rest of their lives.
Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax, is the speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates and represents the 41st District. Helmer, D-Fairfax, is an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran who represents Virginia's 40th District in the House of Delegates
By KATHERINE HAFNER, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)
Phoenix Browne worked hard for his brand new lawnmower this summer. Over about a month, the Chesapeake 12-year-old cut grass in yard after yard — 50 in all — around Hampton Roads, battling the heat and humidity. And he did it all for free.
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