Saturday, August 8, 2020

Special Saturday Edition

August 8, 2020
Top of the News

Virginia Supreme Court temporarily halts evictions

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

A sharply divided Virginia Supreme Court on Friday granted Gov. Ralph Northam's request for a statewide moratorium on evictions, extending protections for another month. As state and federal measures against evictions expired last month, Northam (D) asked the court in a letter to suspend evictions through early September to give the state time to come up with a legislative solution.

Canadian dies after being held in U.S. immigration detention centre with COVID-19 outbreak

By TU THANH HA, Globe and Mail

A 72-year-old Canadian has died in hospital after he was held for nearly three months in a U.S. immigration detention centre that had a major COVID-19 outbreak. James Hill had been in custody at the privately run detention centre in Virginia operated on behalf of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Farmville Detention Center has made headlines because hundreds of detainees have been infected with the novel coronavirus, amid complaints of overcrowding and poor sanitation.

Bedford County Public Schools remains optimistic about in-person reopening plan

By JAMEY CROSS, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

As school divisions locally and across the state shift to remote learning to begin the upcoming school year, Bedford County Public Schools is moving forward with plans for in-person learning. Division staff reported to the school board at its Thursday meeting that the division is pursuing the reopening plan administrators released in July, which prioritizes in-person learning for its youngest students and mainly remote instruction for older students.

One-day surge in reported COVID-19 cases attributed to data backlog

By KATE MASTERS, Virginia Mercury

A surge of new COVID-19 cases on Virginia's daily dashboard was attributed to a data backlog earlier this week. The Virginia Department of Health registered 2,015 new cases on Friday — a significant increase from the state's typical numbers, which have largely hovered between 900 and 1,300 daily reported infections since the beginning of August. VDH spokeswoman Maria Reppas said the error originated with the department's "system-managed flow" of data, which queues pending cases before reporting them publicly.

Testing continues in SW Va., positivity above state average

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

Concern over COVID-19 isn't taking a vacation during the dog days of summer. On Friday, nurses encased in blue medical gowns, gloves, masks and plastic face shields greeted a steady stream of patients at the city health department's drive-up testing site. Wait times were brief as each nasal swab test took but a few seconds, specimens were sealed into a plastic biohazard bag and the driver pulled away.

Liberty U's Falwell takes leave after social media uproar

By SARAH RANKIN, Associated Press

Jerry Falwell Jr. took an indefinite leave of absence Friday as the leader of Liberty University, one of the nation's top evangelical Christian colleges, days after apologizing for a social media post that caused an uproar even among fellow conservatives. The private university in Lynchburg, Virginia, gave no reason for Falwell's departure in a one-sentence announcement Friday afternoon.

Alexandria remembers a young lynching victim

By PATRICIA SULLIVAN, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Benjamin Thomas was just 16 when he was accused in 1899 of trying to assault an 8-year-old White girl who lived next door to him. Thrown in the basement jail of the Alexandria, Va., police station, he heard a crowd bashing through the wooden doors, overpowering the guards, breaking through the iron cell doors and calling his name. The Black teenager hid, either in a fish barrel or a hole. But the mob found him. They threw a rope around his neck and arm and dragged him over rough cobblestones to a lamppost near City Hall.

The Full Report
45 articles, 20 publications


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.


Virginia Republicans to elect party leader as losses mount

By JUSTIN MATTINGLY, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Facing a decade-long drought in statewide elections, Virginia Republicans will decide next week on a party chairman for the next four years....In the last three election cycles the GOP has lost control of the state Senate and the House of Delegates and the majority in the state's congressional delegation, thanks in part to an anti-Trump wave.


Company explains 'major error' that led to half-million erroneous ballot applications in Virginia


The company that printed a half-million incorrect absentee ballot applications for people in Virginia apologized for its "major error," saying the mistake was made because someone "incorrectly aligned a spreadsheet" that matched voters with their local registrar's offices. "We are keenly aware of the seriousness of this mistake," said Jonathan Shapiro, CEO of Smith-Edwards-Dunlap Co.

Good declined to participate in debate, per Webb

Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Bob Good, the Republican candidate for Virginia's 5th District congressional seat, has declined to participate in the first scheduled debate, according to his opponent. In a news release Friday, Democratic candidate Dr. Cameron Webb said that Good had declined to participate in a debate hosted by Piedmont Virginia Community College and CBS19.


Virginia Supreme Court grants eviction moratorium

Associated Press

The Virginia Supreme Court has granted a request from Gov. Ralph Northam to suspend judicial proceedings related to evictions for tenants who can't pay rent. The court ruled 4-3 on Friday to grant a moratorium on evictions through Sept. 7 as the state grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.

Virginia Supreme Court extends eviction ban until Sept. 7

By MEL LEONOR, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The Virginia Supreme Court on Friday approved a request from Gov. Ralph Northam to extend a statewide moratorium on evictions until Sept. 7, as thousands of cases remain pending in Virginia. The court was split 4-3 on the decision. The majority ruled that the pandemic may "substantially endanger" or "impede" tenants' ability to defend themselves in court.

Virginia Supreme Court declares another ban on evictions at Northam's request

By MARIE ALBIGES, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Evictions hearings will be suspended again starting Monday, the Virginia Supreme Court declared Friday. Thousands of Virginians were scheduled to go to court for unpaid rent, just one consequence of the coronavirus pandemic that upended the state's economic stability and forced people out of jobs. As unemployment rates rose, tenants struggled to make their monthly housing payments, and a previous eviction moratorium ended in June.

Virginia inmate, at odds with prison officials and white supremacist gang, fears for his life

By FRANK GREEN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

A state inmate contends his life is in danger after acting as an informant for the Virginia Department of Corrections against the Aryan Brotherhood, a violent white supremacist prison gang. In a pending federal suit and in an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch this week, Joshua Wayne Phelps alleges the gang has placed a statewide KOS, or "kill on sight," order against him and that the department of corrections will not place him in protective custody or move him to another state.


House committee seeks records in coronavirus outbreak inside Virginia immigrant detention center

By ANTONIO OLIVIO, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

The House Committee on Homeland Security on Friday asked for records related to a widespread outbreak of the novel coronavirus inside a Virginia immigration detention center after a 72-year-old detainee there died while hospitalized with the disease earlier this week. Also on Friday, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's office said the nation's top public health agency has agreed to conduct widespread coronavirus testing at the facility located in Farmville.


Jobless residents wait for Congress to deliver relief

By KARRI PEIFER AND MICHAEL MARTZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

It's been about a month since Melanie Bianco first learned she would be losing her job. Now, she's unemployed, frustrated and fed up as she waits for Congress to strike a deal to extend jobless benefits as her mortgage and student loans hang in the balance. The 30-year-old North Richmond resident spent the past seven years planning corporate and group travel for a Richmond-based travel management firm.

The pandemic made telemedicine essential, but will virtual care continue?

By ELIZABETH BELL, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The VCU Massey Cancer Center looked for ways to continuously care for patients while keeping them out of the hospital or clinics during the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of setting up multiple face-to-face appointments to monitor cancer patients, VCU doctors used mobile testing services to collect blood samples at patients' homes and video calls to discuss the results.

Survey: A fifth of Virginia military families say they don't have reliable food access

By KATHERINE HAFNER, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Nearly a fifth of active military families in Virginia say they can't reliably afford enough food — and many even experience longer term hunger, according to a survey conducted by the Military Family Advisory Network. Most of those families are concentrated in the Hampton Roads area, the nonprofit said.

Richmond area's hotel occupancy and tax collections down significantly

By GREGORY J. GILLIGAN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The coronavirus pandemic continues to take a toll on the local and national hospitality industry. Occupancy levels at hotels in the Richmond region fell 40.3% in June compared with the same month a year ago as fewer business and leisure travelers stayed in area hotels and motels, according to data from STR Inc., a lodging industry research firm that is a division of CoStar Group.

Amazon facility opens in Prince George

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

A new Amazon fulfillment center has opened in Prince George, bringing 150 jobs to the area. Amazon leaders welcomed new team members on Tuesday, August 4 with a morning of training and activities. The first item shipped from the new facility - Dog and puppy potty training pads.

Virginia-based Contractor Embedded Software in Apps to Track Phones

By BYRON TAU, Wall Street Journal (Subscription Required)

A small U.S. company with ties to the U.S. defense and intelligence communities has embedded its software in numerous mobile apps, allowing it to track the movements of hundreds of millions of mobile phones world-wide, according to interviews and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Anomaly Six LLC a Virginia-based company founded by two U.S. military veterans with a background in intelligence, said in marketing material it is able to draw location data from more than 500 mobile applications, in part through its own software development kit, or SDK, that is embedded directly in some of the apps.


Mary Washington to start with three weeks of remote learning

By ANDREW CAIN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

The University of Mary Washington plans to start classes with remote learning for the first three weeks of the fall semester, commencing Aug. 24. Students who will be on campus from Sept. 10 through Nov. 20 and commuting students who signed up for a fall dining plan will be eligible for refunds.

At-home COVID-19 tests: W&M expects students to stick to the 'honor code'

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

William & Mary plans to welcome back its students for the fall semester during the coronavirus but with some requirements. One of them is having students test themselves for COVID-19 prior to coming to campus. . . . All students are required to take the test, which is paid for by the university at no charge to students. But how will William & Mary ensure the credibility of each test? The answer: By giving students the benefit of the doubt and relying on the university's honor code.

UVA Wise will delay fall semester start

By STAFF REPORT, Coalfield Progress

The University of Virginia's College at Wise announced Monday that it will delay the start of the fall 2020 semester by two weeks and will mail at-home COVID-19 test kits to students before they arrive on campus. Classes will now begin on Aug. 26 instead of Aug. 12, and residential students who have not yet returned to Wise will wait until Aug. 19 for their staggered and prescheduled move in to campus housing.

After racy photo, Falwell takes leave from Liberty U.

By SARAH PULLIAM BAILEY, SUSAN SVRLUGA AND JOE HEIM, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Jerry Falwell Jr., an early and prominent supporter of President Trump, will take a leave of absence from leading Liberty University after posting a provocative photo to social media that drew widespread criticism, including from other evangelical leaders. The school issued a brief statement Friday afternoon saying that the executive committee of Liberty's board of trustees met earlier that day and requested that Falwell take an indefinite leave. That committee of eight people includes Falwell, according to the school's website. Falwell's brother, Jonathan Falwell, is also on the board of trustees.

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. taking leave of absence

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

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. is taking an indefinite leave of absence starting immediately, the university announced Friday. In a statement, the university said Falwell agreed to step aside after the executive committee of Liberty's Board of Trustees requested he take a leave of absence. The university's one-sentence announcement gave no reason for Falwell's departure, but the move comes two days after Falwell apologized for posting — and quickly deleting — a photo on Instagram showing him with his pants partially unzipped and his arm around a woman with her pants also partially unzipped.

Roanoke College appoints independent investigator to review sexual misconduct response

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

Roanoke College has retained a Richmond-based attorney to conduct a third-party investigation into whether the college's former Title IX coordinator improperly responded to students' sexual misconduct complaints. Karen Michael will immediately begin an eight-week investigation into the allegations against Dean of Students Brian Chisom, who until 2018 was the college's Title IX coordinator.


Data backlog pushes Friday spike in statewide COVID-19 cases

By STAFF REPORT, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The Virginia Department of Health reported Friday that the statewide total for COVID-19 cases is 97,882 — an increase of 2,015 from the 95,867 reported Thursday. That spike is due to a two-day backlog of information that should have been reported Wednesday and Thursday, combined with Friday's normal count, the health department said. It caught the issue late Thursday, the result of a "system performance configuration."

Virginia sets record for coronavirus infections after tech problem causes backlog

By DANA HEDGPETH, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Virginia's seven-day average coronavirus caseload surged to near-record levels Friday as the state reported a backlog of infections that should have been counted over two previous days. The 2,015 new daily infections marked the state's highest daily total but included numbers that should have been reported Wednesday and Thursday. Distributing the cases among recent days still lifted Virginia's seven-day average caseload to 1,142 — second only to a record set May 31.

Virginia continues to grapple with testing delays as public officials seek workarounds

By MEL LEONOR, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

As public activity steadily rises and the bustling fall season nears for schools and businesses, lengthy waits for COVID-19 testing continue to plague Virginia....The source of the delays for publicly available testing rests with shortages at national labs, but health officials in Virginia are pursuing workarounds to abate the impact of the impact of the delays. They include a new multi-state agreement to negotiate the purchase of quicker tests, guidance to labs to batch tests for low-risk groups and a new app to help notify people who may have been exposed to the virus.

Local virus cases up among 20-somethings; outbreaks reported at Caroline school and Stafford care facility

By CATHY DYSON, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Friday's report from the Rappahannock Area Health District showed an even bigger daily increase in COVID-19 cases than the day before, as another school has been impacted, more young people are testing positive and another long-term care facility is dealing with an outbreak.

District on track for another record month of virus cases

By NOLAN STOUT, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Ahead of the return of University of Virginia students, Central Virginia is on track for another record month of coronavirus cases as health officials say residents continue to flout social distancing recommendations. The first seven days of August have seen 189 new cases of the coronavirus in the Thomas Jefferson Health District, roughly 38% more than the record set in the first week of July.

Outbreaks lead to increased cases, deaths in and around Lynchburg

By RACHEL MAHONEY, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

Coronavirus outbreaks in nursing homes, churches and other settings continue to spread COVID-19 to residents in Central Virginia. Data from the Virginia Department of Health indicates since March, there have been 13 outbreaks in the Central Virginia Health District, which includes Lynchburg and the surrounding counties. Of those, five outbreaks have been at long-term care facilities, seven have been at congregate settings and one has been in a healthcare setting.

Roanoke looks for ways to reach Hispanic residents to help curb spread of COVID-19

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

Roanoke and public health officials Wednesday met with leaders of the city's Hispanic community to figure out ways to spread information about the coronavirus. The disease had disproportionately affected Latinos in both Roanoke and Virginia. The Virginia Department of Health has race and ethnicity data for only about half of the city's 973 COVID-19 cases.

Va. group homes for adults with disabilities feel 'forgotten'

By JESSICA CONTRERA, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

The letter to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam warned of a crisis within a crisis: The industry built to support adults with developmental disabilities was being financially crushed by the pandemic. Day programs had been shuttered for months. Group homes had sunk hundreds of thousands into attempts to keep their residents from contracting the novel coronavirus. A coalition of service providers, desperate for personal protective equipment and other supports, hoped to alert the governor to their increasingly desperate situation.

For the second time, Virginia erroneously reports coronavirus death of a child

By MOSS BRENNAN, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

The Virginia Department of Health reported the death of a child age 9 or younger Friday morning, but in the afternoon, a spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Health said it was a typographical error. VDH provided no additional information beyond saying the error had been corrected. No children in Virginia have died from the coronavirus.

72-year-old Canadian man dies in ICE custody after being held at Farmville Detention Center

By SABRINA MORENO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

A 72-year-old Canadian in custody at an immigration detention center in Farmville - the site of the largest coronavirus outbreak in a U.S. immigration facility - has died. ICE spokeswoman Kaitlyn Pote said the 72-year-old died Wednesday night in a Virginia hospital but said more information is not available at this time, including whether the death was COVID-related.


State panel recommends moving Lee statue from U.S. Capitol to history museum in Richmond

By ANDREW CAIN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

A state panel on Friday unanimously recommended that Virginia's statue of Robert E. Lee at the U.S. Capitol be moved to the Virginia Museum of History & Culture in Richmond. Historian Ed Ayers, former president of the University of Richmond, made the motion to ask whether the museum wants to take ownership of the statue.

City's Confederate statues now up for disposal

By JEREMY M. LAZARUS, Richmond Free Press

Let the disposal begin. The Richmond City Council on Monday set in motion a plan to finally rid Richmond of most of the city-owned statues and icons of Confederate traitors, although surprisingly, not all. As expected, the council voted 9-0 to approve the permanent removal of the Confederate statues and to start the process to receive bids for 10 of the 12 items under city control.

Marching home? Confederate monument foe works with Stuart descendant to send statue to general's birthplace

By MICHAEL MARTZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Richmond City Councilman Michael Jones may seem an unlikely ally for the great-great-grandson of Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart, but they share a common goal of finding a new home outside of the city for a Confederate monument that no longer stands over Stuart Circle on Monument Avenue. Jones is an African American minister from South Richmond who has led the council effort to remove Confederate statues in the city.

As protests at Robert E. Lee statue continue, nearby residents live in constant state of unrest

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

During the past two months, the block surrounding the Robert E. Lee statue has transformed into ground zero for Richmond's racial justice protests. Anywhere from a half dozen to hundreds of visitors have occupied the grassy circle and the nearby median strips 24 hours a day, blanketing the statue's base in graffiti and filling the air with noise, including gunfire.


Data Centers Only Bright Spot in Loudoun Tax Revenue Forecast

By RENSS GREENE, Loudoun Now

Less than a month into the fiscal year, as is customary, supervisors on the county finance committee and county staff members have begun work on the next annual county budget—one that will be shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic's impacts on the economy and tax collections. The county government's main sources of funding—real estate and personal property tax revenues—could both see significant dips as the county and country navigate the pandemic's fallout. In particular, said Chief of Staff Caleb Weitz, commercial real estate values could be vulnerable.

County early-voting system will cost up to $300,000

By DON DEL ROSSO, Fauquier Now

Making it easier for people to vote comes with a price. Fauquier's board of supervisors on Thursday, Aug. 13, will decide whether to designate two county-owned buildings — the Bealeton Depot and the Vint Hill Community Center — as early in-person absentee voting "satellite" polling places for the Nov. 3 presidential and congressional elections. County Administrator County Administrator Paul S. McCulla put the effort's start-up expenses at about $300,000.

How the Virginia Citizens Defense League won in Rappahannock County

By RACHEL NEEDHAM, Rappahannock News (Metered Paywall)

Gun owners in Rappahannock County can sleep well at night knowing for a fact that their Board of Supervisors plans to leave their firearms in peace. On Monday night upwards of forty Rappahannock residents attended the evening session in support of a measure colloquially known as the "No Local Gun Control" resolution. At least fifteen people in attendance — including some county employees — were not wearing masks, despite Virginia Executive Order 63 mandating that face coverings must be worn indoors at public events.

Charlottesville's stop-and-frisk data largely unchanged by pandemic

By NOLAN STOUT, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

The Charlottesville Police Department's use of what it calls "investigative detentions" was at an all-time low in June after reaching a six-month high in May. The coronavirus pandemic doesn't seem to have had much overall impact on the department's use of the practice, commonly called stop-and-frisk, although it is changing the neighborhood encounters.

Sheriff walks out on supervisors during questions about budget overages

By RANDY ARRINGTON, Page Valley News

Neither side thinks the other understands. Both sides are calling for better communication. And both blame the other for the confusion and not dealing with the reoccurring problem. The same drama has played out for four of the last five years between the Page County Board of Supervisors and Sheriff Chad Cubbage. The sheriff has consistently gone over budget for four of the five budget cycles since being elected in 2015, while the supervisors continue to repeatedly request the sheriff to deal with budget shortfalls sooner and make adjustments, rather than simply reporting a deficit at the end of the fiscal year.

Lawyers guild says Floyd Courthouse's Confederate monument sends wrong message

By MIKE GANGLOFF, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

A small local lawyer's group connected to a long history of civil rights activism took aim Friday at the Confederate monument at the Floyd County Courthouse, calling it a symbol of unfair treatment for Black and other defendants of color — and urging defense attorneys to try to move their cases out of the county. The Southwest Virginia Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild released a statement saying that the statue of a Confederate soldier outside the courthouse's front entrance "sends a message that equal justice under the law will not be administered."

Hillsville's Labor Day Flea Market and Gun Show canceled for first time in its 53-year history

By TONIA MOXLEY, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Sandra Terry reckons there's a first time for everything. And this year it's the first time in more than 50 years that Hillsville's Grover King VFW Post 1115 won't sponsor the annual Labor Day Flea Market and Gun Show. "This would have been the 53rd year," Terry said. "This is the first time it's been canceled." And the town is in an uproar over it.

'Now it's in the hands of the citizens:': Casino question officially on November ballot

By CALEB AYERS, Danville Register & Bee

There have not been any formal surveys or polling surrounding the question of a casino done by the city, but Councilman Lee Vogler and Danville Mayor Alonzo Jones said most of the feedback they've heard has been very positive. "I've heard from just very very small numbers of people that were … apprehensive about it," Vogler said.



No going back

Richmond Free Press Editorial

Confederates don't go easy. When the recent surge began to remove the Monument Avenue statues that tragically honor traitors to our nation and racist slavers who sought to deny our humanity, there was no doubt the blowback would come. We point to recent events in Richmond and Hanover County as examples.


Schapiro: Stoney's path to second term might not be that bumpy

By JEFF E. SCHAPIRO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

In the West End and in Westover Hills, red-brick neighborhoods where Mayor Levar Stoney has more than his share of critics, yard signs are popping up for Kim Gray and Justin Griffin. Alexsis Rodgers, aiming to harness youthful, progressive hostility for Stoney, is a constant presence on Twitter.

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