April 2020

  1. Quarantine Recipe: Chicken Parmesan

    Everybody seems to love Italian-American Food. When you have finally had your fill of making basic spaghetti, though, try something a bit different. It still has the same basic spaghetti for the pasta, but it is topped with a crispy, breaded and fried chicken cutlet that is, in turn, topped with Mozzarella Cheese and Marinara Sauce.

    You can use your favorite jarred sauce or make homemade sauce. If you want this quickly, jarred sauce is one of the keys.  Honestly, the most difficult part of this dish is timing the pasta to be finished when the chicken is ready, and that can be avoided by keeping the chicken warm until the pasta is ready.


    Ingredients:

    4 (4 to 5 ounce) Chicken Cutlets

    3/4 cup All Purpose Flour

    1/2 teaspoon each Salt, Pepper and Italian Seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon Garlic (granulated or powder)

    2 Large Eggs, Beaten

    1/2 teaspoon each Salt, Pepper and Italian Seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon Garlic (granulated or powder)

    1 cup Panko Crumbs

    1/2 teaspoon each Salt, Pepper and Italian Seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon Garlic (granulated or powder)

    Oil for Frying

    Pasta Sauce-jarred or homemade

    Mozzarella Cheese, Sliced if Fresh, Shredded if Block

    Pasta, cooked according to package directions

    Difficulty: Moderate. Shopping Needed for Average Household: None.

    Pre-planning needed: Thaw Chicken.

    Prep Time: 15 Minutes, Cook Time: 20 Minutes

    Yeild: 4 Servings

    1. Prepare oven for broiling.

    2. Set up a breading station. Place the flour and seasonings on one paper plate, beat the egg and seasonings in a glass or disposable foil pie plate, and put the panko and seasonings on another paper plate.

    3. Bread the chicken cutlets in the flour, then the egg and then the crumbs. Place on a wire rack.

    4. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat until hot enough to make a few bread crumbs sizzle. Preheat the broiler at the same time. Fry the chicken cutlets until cooked through. Remove to a broiler save pan and top with a genrous spoonfull of each of sauce and cheese.

    5. Broil until cheese is melted, bubbly and begins to brown slightly. Remove from broiler and let rest.

    6.  Prepare 4 plates with portions of pasta and sauce, top pasta with cutlets. Serve with garlic bread and vegetable of choice or tossed salad.

    To submit your own recipe, send it to news@emporianews.com. Recipes may be for any meal or any course. While you may include your own reccomendations for side dishes and wine, please remember to include a brief introduction to the recipe (which I have left off of this first one). This paragraph or two can eplain to readers where you first had the dish, or if it is a family tradition and a favorite of a certain family member. You may also relate any happy memories related to your recipe-is it your annual birthday meal? Reader submitted recipes will be credited to the reader, and you may include a photograph if you like. If your recipe is from a cookbook or website, please send the publication information for attribution.

  2. Reopen Virginia Protesters Bombard Capitol With Honks

    By Chip Lauterbach, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND, Va. -- Horns blared and flags waved from vehicle windows as hundreds of Virginians converged Wednesday on Capitol Square to protest restrictions implemented by Gov. Ralph Northam during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Protesters reiterated the message of similar demonstrations taking place in state capitals across the country. The groups hope to influence governors and lawmakers to scale back strict social distancing guidelines and allow businesses and churches to reopen.

    “At first we were compliant,” said protester David Decker. “Now it seems like it’s being forced upon us more and more, and we’re absolutely sick of it.”

    Many protesters said they disagree that liquor stores are considered an essential business, while many smaller businesses were ordered to close.

    “I am against any policy that gives liberty to a corporation over the citizens,” said Jeffery Torres. “Corporations get their interests served while the interests of citizens get ignored.”

    A small group of around 20 people -- some brought the entire family -- gathered near the Capitol Square entrance. Few wore masks or observed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s suggested social distancing recommendation of 6 feet of space.

    Virginia imposed strict social distancing guidelines in late March. Northam issued a series of executive orders closing nonessential businesses and outlining which businesses could remain open. The stay at home order was later extended until June 10. Restaurants closed dining rooms and shifted to carry-out and delivery only. Recreational and entertainment facilities were shuttered, along with beauty salons, spas, massage parlors and other nonessential establishments. Essential businesses such as grocery and convenience stores, pharmacies, pet and feed stores, electronic and hardware retailers and banks can remain open.

    The Virginia Department of Health reports approximately 10,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the commonwealth as of Wednesday. Northam and health officials maintain that social distancing is keeping cases from skyrocketing.

    Unemployment claims have had a dizzying ascent, with the Virginia Employment Commission reporting on April 16 that 410,762 claims were filed since March 21. 

    The event was not without counter protesters, among them Dr. Erich Bruhn, a surgeon from Winchester. Bruhn wore a facemask and carried a sign that read, “You have no right to put us all at risk, go home.”

    “I came out here today to tell the other side that the majority of people do not agree with this,” Bruhn said. “We want the economy to open up, but it is just too soon according to most scientists.”

    As the interview with Bruhn was wrapping up, a female protester leaned out of her car window and shouted at Bruhn, “How long are we supposed to stay inside?”

    Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, who has announced her intent to run for governor next year, voiced support for the rally. 

    “There will be a number of people at this rally, and it has been well publicized,” Chase said during a Facebook livestream. “I think it sends a great message to the governor to reopen Virginia in a smart, wise way.” 

    Protesters drove around the Capitol perimeter honking their horns for three hours. The event coincided with the General Assembly reconvening to respond to Northam’s vetoes and amendments. The House of Delegates, which met under a tent on Capitol grounds, was bombarded by the ongoing ruckus. There were no incidents of violence reported, though one Capitol police officer joked he had a headache from all the noise.

  3. Governor Northam Acts to Ensure Liability Protections for Healthcare Workers

    Executive order reinforces statutory liability protections for healthcare providers during COVID-19 emergency

    RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today signed Executive Order Sixty, which reinforces certain existing statutory liability protections for Virginia healthcare workers. Due to COVID-19, public and private healthcare providers are operating with limited resources and may be forced to serve patients outside of conventional standards of care.

    “Virginia’s healthcare workers are heroes,” said Governor Northam. “We must ensure that they can continue to provide high-quality and compassionate care during this tremendously challenging time.” 

    Virginia’s code offers protections for healthcare workers and first responders in cases of emergency. This order clarifies that these statues protect healthcare workers operating during the COVID-19 crisis. Nothing in this order prevents liability in the case of gross negligence or willful misconduct.

    The full text of Executive Order Sixty is available here.

  4. "Where Did Spring Go?"

    Now everywhere the greenery
    far as the eye can see
    yet where did the spring go
    would someone please tell me.
     
    Yes spring time with the yet cool nights
    though signs that summers coming soon
    it could be brisk in early morn
    but quite warmed up by noon.
     
    The trees were shedding all old leaves
    and piles were raked where e're you'd go
    yet I being from the Midwest
    would wait til the wind did blow.
     
    Now I know the neighbors were shouting
    though it wasn't really at me
    I feel they were just excited
    at all the new leaves they'd see.
     
    Yes springtime I did really miss
    after waiting for a year
    lets hope when winter next is gone
    that springtime will appear.
     
                             - Roy E. Schepp
  5. Quarantine Recipe: Taco Soup

    It really doesn't get much easier than this for a "Taco Tuesday." This evening is supposed to be a bit chilly, so this wuick soup would be the perfect warm up.

     


    Ingredients:

    1 pound Ground Beef

    2 cups Water

    1/2 cup diced Green Bell Pepper

    1 (16 ounce) jar Picante Sauce or Salsa

    1 (14-16 ounce) can Pinto Beans

    1 (15 ounce) Tomato Sauce

    1 can Yellow Corn with Red and Green Bell Peppers undrained

    1 14 &1/2 ounce) can stewed tomatoes, undrained

    Tortilla Strips, Sour Cream, Shredded Cheese

    Difficulty: Easy. Shopping Needed for Average Household: None.

    Pre-planning needed: Thaw Ground Beef.

    Prep Time: 11 Minutes, Cook Time: 18 Minutes

    Yeild: 12 Servings

    1. Brown ground beef in a Dutch oven or large pot. When beef is  no longer pink, drain and return to pot.

    2. Add all of the remaining ingredients with the exception of the garnishes and bring to a boil.

    3. Reduce heat and simmer for 12 minutes, stirring occassionally,

    4. Serce, garnished with the tortilla strips, sour cream and shredded cheese.

    To submit your own recipe, send it to news@emporianews.com. Recipes may be for any meal or any course. While you may include your own reccomendations for side dishes and wine, please remember to include a brief introduction to the recipe (which I have left off of this first one). This paragraph or two can eplain to readers where you first had the dish, or if it is a family tradition and a favorite of a certain family member. You may also relate any happy memories related to your recipe-is it your annual birthday meal? Reader submitted recipes will be credited to the reader, and you may include a photograph if you like. If your recipe is from a cookbook or website, please send the publication information for attribution.

  6. WARNER, KAINE APPLAUD MORE THAN $1.8 MILLION IN FUNDING FOR RURAL VIRGINIA HOSPITALS

    WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) applauded $1,854,974 in federal funding through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to assist the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) in supporting rural hospitals across the Commonwealth as they combat the COVID-19 crisis. The federal funding was made possible through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which allocated $150 million to assist hospitals funded through the Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program (SHIP) respond to this public health emergency.

    “Hospitals everywhere are being squeezed during this pandemic, but those in rural areas face an additional set of challenges as they strive to make the most of limited resources to treat patients and fight this crisis,” said the Senators. “We are very pleased to see this funding go towards helping rural hospitals in Virginia keep their doors open to the community and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

    Per the CARES Act, this flexible funding can be used to expand testing and laboratory services as well as to purchase of personal protective equipment to minimize COVID-19 exposure. 

    The funding was awarded through the Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program (SHIP) which helps states support rural hospitals with 49 beds or fewer. SHIP allows small rural hospitals to become or join accountable care organizations (ACOs), participate in shared savings programs, and purchase health information technology (hardware and software), equipment, and/or training to comply with quality improvement activities such as advancing patient care information, promoting interoperability, and payment bundling.

  7. Supplemental Security Income Recipients, Act Now – Go to IRS.gov – A Message from Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul

    Action Needed for People Receiving SSI with Dependents and Who Do Not File Tax Returns to Receive $500 Per Child Payment

    “Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients who don’t file tax returns will start receiving their automatic Economic Impact Payments directly from the Treasury Department in early May.  People receiving SSI benefits who did not file 2018 or 2019 taxes, and have qualifying children under age 17, however, should not wait for their automatic $1,200 individual payment.  They should immediately go to the IRS’s webpage at www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here and visit the Non-Filers: Enter Your Information section to provide their information.  SSI recipients who have dependent children and did not file 2018 or 2019 taxes need to act by Tuesday, May 5, in order to receive additional payments for their eligible children quickly. 

    By taking this proactive step to enter information on the IRS website about them and their qualifying children, they will also receive the $500 per dependent child payment in addition to their $1,200 individual payment.  If people in this group do not provide their information to the IRS soon, their payment at this time will be $1,200 only.  They would then be required to file a tax year 2020 tax return to obtain the additional $500 per eligible child.

    I urge SSI recipients with qualifying children and who do not normally file taxes to take action now.  Immediately go to IRS.gov so that you will receive the full amount of the Economic Impact Payments you and your family are eligible for.

    Lastly, a word of caution.  Be aware of scams related to the Economic Impact Payments. There is no fee required to receive these payments.  Don’t be fooled.

    Visit the agency’s COVID-19 web page at www.socialsecurity.gov/coronavirus/ for important information and updates.”

    Click here to view the IRS press release about this important issue.

  8. Governor Northam Unveils Blueprint for Easing Public Health Restrictions

    ‘Forward Virginia’ blueprint informed by diverse health and business stakeholders, includes testing, tracing, and PPE priorities

    RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today presented the “Forward Virginia” blueprint, which will help guide the Commonwealth on when to safely begin easing public health restrictions. The blueprint includes a phased approach that is grounded in the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and has specific goals to contain the spread of the virus through increased testing, personal protective equipment and supplies, and medical capacity.

    “We will move forward, but in a way that prioritizes public health and builds public confidence,” said Governor Northam. “Businesses know that customers will return only when they feel that it is safe to do so. Our blueprint for the path forward is data-driven and provides clear guidance, so Virginians will know what to expect and understand how we will decide to when to lift certain public health restrictions.”

    Virginia is looking at a wide range of public health data. The Governor emphasized that key indicators will include a 14-day downward trend in confirmed cases as a percentage of overall tests and in reduced COVID-19 hospitalizations. While hospitalization rates have largely stabilized in the Commonwealth, confirmed cases continue to rise.

    The Forward Virginia blueprint includes the following priorities:

    TESTING AND TRACING

    To ensure the continued safety of Virginians, the Commonwealth aims to test at least 10,000 individuals per day. Karen Remley, former Commissioner of Health and current co-chair of Virginia’s Testing Work Group, outlined a four stage approach to meet this goal prior to safe reopening. The expanded testing plan includes hiring contact tracers, who will support local health departments in identifying individuals who may be exposed to COVID-19 and helping them self-isolate.

    PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT

    Personal protective equipment (PPE) is critical to ramping up testing, ensuring the safety of healthcare staff, and expanding the medical workforce. Virginia’s PPE pipeline is improving, and hospitals are successfully managing their supplies. The Governor cautioned that safely easing restrictions will require an ongoing stable PPE supply chain across all sectors of healthcare, and ensuring that the supply is regularly replenished.

    Virginia has ordered 17.4 million N95 masks, 8.3 million surgical masks, 17.1 million gloves, 1.7 million gowns, and 1 million face shields. This includes a contract signed jointly with Maryland and the District of Columbia for 5 million N95 masks.

    Governor Northam announced that a second shipment from Northfield Medical Manufacturing is scheduled to arrive today and will be promptly distributed. The latest shipment includes 3 million nitrile exam gloves, 100,000 N95 masks, 500,000 3-ply procedure masks, and 40,000 isolation gowns.

    HOSPITAL CAPACITY AND STAFF

    Hospitalizations and ICU admissions are largely stable across Virginia, even as case counts continue to rise. To ensure continued capacity as Virginia move towards “Phase One” of easing restrictions, Governor Northam yesterday extended the ban on elective surgeries through May 1 and expanded the ability of physicians’ assistants and nurse practitioners with two or more years of clinical experience to practice without a collaborative agreement.

    The Virginia Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) continues to recruit and deploy medical and non-medical volunteers to bolster the work of local health departments, hospitals, and healthcare providers. The MRC currently has over 16,500 trained volunteers, more than halfway to Virginia’s goal of 30,000.

    PHASE ONE OF EASING RESTRICTIONS

    Governor Northam outlined key benchmarks Virginians can expect in the first phase, which will begin no sooner than two weeks from now to allow for a 14-day downward trend in confirmed COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

    Phase one includes continued social distancing, teleworking, limits on travel and public gatherings, and recommended use of face coverings. Any easing of restrictions will be informed by public health experts, members of the Governor’s COVID-19 Business Task Force, state and local officials, and other stakeholders.

    The Commonwealth is developing two sets of guidance: one with broad based recommendations for all businesses, and another with industry specific recommendations for public-facing businesses like restaurants and non-essential retail. The guidance will be provided to businesses in early May.

    The slides from today’s presentation are available here.

  9. Quarantine Recipe: Three Cup Chicken

    Like all really good food, there is a legend behind this dish. The way the story from the Song Dynasty goes is that a national treasure of China was captured by the invading forces of Kublai Kahn and torutured for four years. Before the execution of the prisoner, named Wen Tianxiang, a sympathetic warden made him this dish using the few meager ingredients that were at hand.

    Speaking from experience, you are not likely to find Thai Basil in Emporia, and every time I look for Italian Basil here, no grocer in town has any-you may consider them optional if you cannot find them.

     


    Ingredients:

    1/3 c Dry Sherry

    1/3 c Soy Sauce

    1 Tbsp Brown Sugar

    1 & 1/2 lbs Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs, large pieces of fat removed and cut into 1 & 1/2 inch pieces

    3 Tbsp Vegetable Oil

    2 inch piece of Ginger, peeled and sliced into thin half moons

    6 Scallions, sliced thinly, white and green portions in different dishes

    12 clives Garlic, pelled and cut in half

    1/2 to 3/4 Dried Chili Flakes

    1 teaspoon Corn Starch

    1 teaspoon Water

    1 bunch Thai or Italian Basil

    1 Tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil

    Difficulty: Easy. Shopping Needed for Average Household: None.

    Pre-planning needed: Thaw Chicken.

    Prep Time: 15 Minutes, Cook Time: 20 Minutes

    Yeild: 4 Servings

    1.  Marinade chicken in sherry, soy sauce and brown sugar for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

    2. Cook ginger and garlic in 3 tablespoons oil over medium to medium high heat until golden brown but not burned, about 10 minutes.

    3. Add chicken AND marinade and simmer for 10 minutes.

    4. Add scallion whites and simmer for an additional to minutes until chicken thighs are cooked through.

    5. Mix corn starch and water together. Make a well in the center of the skillet and pour the corn starch slurry into the well. Cook until thickened.

    6. Add the basil leaves (if using), scallion greens, drizzle the toasted sesame oil over the top and serve.

    Suggested sides: Steamed White Rice and Stir Fried Vegetables

    To submit your own recipe, send it to news@emporianews.com. Recipes may be for any meal or any course. While you may include your own reccomendations for side dishes and wine, please remember to include a brief introduction to the recipe (which I have left off of this first one). This paragraph or two can eplain to readers where you first had the dish, or if it is a family tradition and a favorite of a certain family member. You may also relate any happy memories related to your recipe-is it your annual birthday meal? Reader submitted recipes will be credited to the reader, and you may include a photograph if you like. If your recipe is from a cookbook or website, please send the publication information for attribution.

  10. "Twin Sisters" Sharing Upcoming Milesone

    On May 15, 2020, the ‘twin sisters’ will celebrate a milestone birthday, turning 90 years old.  Margaret Walker Dilworth and Annie Ruth Kirk Clarke were born during the Great Depression and during a different time in history in the United States of America.

    Mrs. Dilworth tells the story that they were born twins but since they were of different races, she was given to a black family to raise and Mrs. Clarke was raised by a white family.  She laughs as she tells how they reunited while attending Brunswick High School basketball games during the years of Bryant Stith’s coaching career.  Stith is married to the former Barbara Dilworth, daughter of Margaret. 

    Stith, who played in the National Basketball Association for ten years, calls the ladies ‘twin grandmas’.” 

    At the games, the ladies had special seating, first bench behind the scorer’s table.  No one dared take those seats as overseen by then high school principal Mark Harrison.  His endearing term for the ladies was ‘brown sugar and white sugar.’ The two, some of the oldest fans, saw Brunswick through back-to-back-to-back State Championships in basketball. 

    Mrs. Clarke was born at home near Dundas in Lunenburg County to Hinda and Luther Kirk.  Her sister, Virginia Kirk, was celebrating her fourth birthday on May 15 when sister Annie Ruth arrived.  As the story goes, Virginia wanted strawberry shortcake, not a sister.  Growing up on a tobacco farm during the Depression, she received a driver’s license at age 14 and graduated Valedictorian of Kenbridge High School after 11 grades.  She moved to Lawrenceville to work for the Brunswick Health Department, met Lloyd Clarke who ran Clarke’s Department Store with his family and they married and ran the store together until his death. They are parents to three children. 

    Mrs. Dilworth was born at home in Petersburg, Virginia to Corrine and James Edward Walker as the oldest of three.  She graduated from Peabody High School and she was given the opportunity to study to become a Licensed Practical Nurse at the South Hill Hospital where she was one of three blacks in the program.  She served the Commonwealth of Virginia for 25 years at Central State Hospital in Petersburg.  She had nine children, a daughter raised by her aunt, and later seven boys and a girl with her husband Robert “Bob” Dilworth who  she married in 1950. 

    This year’s celebration the twins will not be able to physically get together due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  In year’s past, there have been some great celebrations including an elaborate dinner at Mrs. Dilworth’s house given by her children.  One year, the ladies celebrated a night out to dinner at Nottoway Restaurant and all those dining  that night sang them Happy Birthday.  Mrs. Clarke is currently living at The Envoy of Lawrenceville and visitors are prohibited due the Covid-19 Virus.   Mrs. Dilworth spends time at her home in Lawrenceville or in Norfolk with her daughter. 

    Since connecting at the basketball games and realizing the common birthday, the ladies spent much time together, on the telephone or visiting.  Mrs. Dilworth makes a mean sweet potato pie and often brought one over to her twin.  Mrs. Dilworth has continued to visit at the nursing home when able also. 

    The beauty of their friendship is evident if you see them together or in the photos that have been taken over the years, they are such friends and share so much love.  It shows when they are together.

    As the saying goes, “There are friends, and there is family, and then there are friends who become family.”

  11. Robert Russa Moton Museum Launches New Website with Digital Resources

    Farmville - April 20. The Robert Russa Moton Museum is launching its new MotonMuseum.org website today offering a selection of digital resources about local civil rights history. The new site is a key tool for strengthening the visitor experience and provides assets to learn and teach about Moton and its community. 

    “The new website has been in the planning for a while, but it’s becoming even more relevant in the times of COVID-19 when educators and homeschooling parents rely on digital resources to teach their students and children about the Civil Rights Movement,” explains Managing Director Cameron Patterson. 

    Resources include photography and videos, digital editions of the Moton Storytellers magazines, and a selection of external digital resources related to the local, regional, and national civil rights movement. 

    “We encourage people to explore the website for home lessons. While there are many resources about civil rights history in America, we’re the only ones offering a local perspective. This creates a different connection for students and increases the interest in learning,” says Cainan Townsed, director of education & public programs.

    Future digital resources that the museum is working on include a Moton interview series highlighting the work of classroom educators and authors on the frontline of sharing the Moton story along with Moton storytellers who experienced first hand Prince Edward County’s fight for educational equality. The Museum is also launching Moton Mailbag, a weekly listener show that allows individuals to submit questions and receive answers on topics related to civil rights history and other historical content. 

    In addition to learning resources, the website has a modern and engaging approach, is visually appealing and mobile friendly. It also meets the standards of accessibility for visually impaired readers. 

    To learn more, go to MotonMuseum.org.

  12. ‘Never really off the clock’: Bringing the Newsroom Home During COVID-19

    Marc Davis, sports director at NBC12, is working remotely and has adapted to working from home and using the social distancing guidelines while doing his job.

    By Noah Fleischman, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND, Va. -- Marc Davis closes his laptop in his one-bedroom apartment and turns on the television. His day at work is over, but his work mind hasn’t shut off. His office for the time being, like many in America, is in the kitchen.

    Davis, the sports director at NBC 12 (WWBT-TV) in Richmond, said on a normal day when he’s not at work he checks his phone periodically just to keep an eye on the developing news. Now, since he’s working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, separating work and home has become more difficult.

    “The days feel longer,” Davis said. “You can’t really separate that work space from home space.”

    His station started telework almost five weeks ago and Davis found ways to take his mind off work: putting the phone down across the room and playing a game of MLB The Show or spending time with his girlfriend.

    “I’ve just been making sure that I get the time to myself when I’m not working,” Davis said. “Just kind of tune out work for a little bit instead of constantly looking at my phone or Twitter or something like that.”

    Davis is like many other reporters in Virginia and around the nation working from home during the coronavirus outbreak. Wayne Epps Jr., the Virginia Commonwealth University sports beat writer for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, has worked from home for the past month.

    Epps said the transition has been smooth, partly because he’s used to working remotely from games.

    “The fortunate thing for me and some other writers is that we did work from home or away from the office [at arenas, for example] often anyway, so we already had everything we needed to work from home,” Epps wrote in a Twitter direct message.

    Epps has conducted all of his interviews over the phone or used Zoom to respect the social distancing guidelines.

    Since sports ground to a halt, reporters have come up with creative stories and segments. Davis has covered sports angles in the coronavirus stories. When Home Team Grill in Richmond closed due to the pandemic, Davis used it as a way to show how the NCAA men’s basketball tournaments help drive local business.

    “As a sports guy, you’ve got to be able to adjust and be flexible and show that you can do different things and different types of journalism,” Davis said.

    Epps and the Richmond Times-Dispatch sports department have chronicled different sports rivalries in Virginia since there are no games occurring.

    After returning to Richmond from Brooklyn, New York, where he was covering the Atlantic 10 men’s basketball tournament, Davis jumped in to help the news department with its coronavirus coverage.

    Davis hadn’t covered non-sports news in years, but he used his experience as a news photographer from his first year in the television business.

    “You’re dealing with different topics, different things, people who may be a little more sensitive to the topic you’re talking about,” Davis said. “There’s a lot we do in sports that can also apply to news as well.”

    Davis made news packages for two weeks, helping with the coronavirus coverage. Then, he went back to making sports packages, but tied them back to the coronavirus, including how coronavirus has impacted a local gym.

    Davis follows guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control, and conducts most interviews through video conferencing applications such as Zoom or FaceTime. Davis said he wasn’t fond of virtual interviews before the COVID-19 pandemic, opting to do his interviews in person.

    Now, he leaves it up to the interview subject to decide if they want to do it online or in person.

    “I will do whatever makes you comfortable,” Davis said. “It’s probably going to change the ways I have when it goes back to normal, being open [to virtual interviews].”

    Davis said he conducted five interviews using video conferencing in a week alone.

    Davis doesn’t know when things will return to normal and he can return back to his desk, but for now he’s working to balance work and home life.

    “We work in a business that you never really turn off,” Davis said. “Stories are always happening, there’s always things to keep an eye on. You might get home, but you’re never really all the way off the clock.”

  13. Quarantine Recipe: Sunday Roast Chicken

    It is never too early to start thingking about what you will cook for Sunday Dinner (or supper). 


    Ingredients:

    1 Lemon, zested and cut in half

    1/2 medium onion

    1/2 c butter, softened, divided

    3 cloves Garlic, minced

    2 teaspoons Fresh Thyme, Leaves and Stems

    1 & 1/2 teaspoon each Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

    1 cup Chicken Broth

    1/2 cup Dry White Wine

    2 tablespoons All Purpose Flour

    2 tablespoons Butter

    Difficulty: Moderate. Shopping Needed for Average Household: Short List: Whole Chicken, Garlic Cloves.

    Pre-planning needed: None.

    Prep Time: 20 Minutes, Cook Time: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

    Yeild: 4 Servings with leftovers

    1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

    2.  Mix half of the butter with the lemon zest, one half teaspoon each of the salt and pepper, the garlic and thyme leaves. Starting at the neck end begin gently loosening the skin from the flesh of the breast, drunsticks and thighs. Do not detatch the skin completely and be careful to not tear the skin. Gently rub the butter mixture on the under the skin.

    3.  Replace the skin over the flesh of the chicken and rub the remaining butter onto the skin. Season the skin with one half teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Squeeze the juice of one half of the lemon over the chicken.

    4.  Place the thyme stems, onion half and both the squeezed and unsqeezed lemon halves in the cavity of the chicken. Season with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and freshly ground black pepper.

    5.  Tie the leg ends together and tuck the wings under the body of the chicken. Spray the rack and roasting pan with cooking spray and place the chicken on the rack.

    6.  Roast at 450 for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 400 and continue to roast for 55 minutes or until an instant read thermometer inserted in the thigh reads 180 degrees. Baste chicken with drippings occassionally and rotate chicken in oven to promote even browining. If necessary, cover with foil to prevent over browning. When done, remove chicken to a platter, loosely covered with foil, to keep warm.

    7.  While chicken roasts, mixt together the 2 tablespoons all purpose flour and 2 tablespoons flour. Deglaze the roasting pan with the chicken broth and white wine, scraping up the browned pits off of the bottom and sides of the pan. When the mixture in the roasting pan comes to a boil, begin adding the flour/butter mixture, bit-by-bit until the sauce is thickened to your liking.

     

    Suggested sides: Green Beans, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy.

    To submit your own recipe, send it to news@emporianews.com. Recipes may be for any meal or any course. While you may include your own reccomendations for side dishes and wine, please remember to include a brief introduction to the recipe (which I have left off of this first one). This paragraph or two can eplain to readers where you first had the dish, or if it is a family tradition and a favorite of a certain family member. You may also relate any happy memories related to your recipe-is it your annual birthday meal? Reader submitted recipes will be credited to the reader, and you may include a photograph if you like. If your recipe is from a cookbook or website, please send the publication information for attribution.

  14. Governor Northam Extends Ban on Elective Surgeries, Closure of DMV Offices

    Virginia State Police also directed to take additional administrative action under expanded executive directive

    RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today extended the current ban on elective surgeries by one week, until May 1, and the closure of Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) public-facing offices by two weeks, until May 11. Virginia State Police are directed to continue suspending the enforcement of motor vehicle inspections and take several additional measures through July 31.

    The ban on elective surgeries will continue while the Governor and State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA continue to evaluate, in conjunction with hospitals and other medical facilities, how to safely ease restrictions on non-essential medical procedures, and the availability of personal protective equipment.

    “My top priority is protecting public health, and that includes ensuring that our frontline medical staff have the equipment they need to stay safe as they treat Virginians who are sick,” said Governor Northam. “We have increased our supply of PPE, but before we allow elective surgeries to resume, we must first be assured that the doctors, nurses, and medical staff who are fighting this virus or conducting emergency surgeries have the necessary supplies. We are working with medical facilities on plans to ensure that we can resume elective surgeries safely and responsibly.”

    The public health emergency order does not apply to any procedure if the delay would cause harm to a patient. The order also does not apply to outpatient visits in hospital-based clinics, family planning services, or emergency needs. The full text of Public Health Emergency Order Two as amended is available here. View the Frequently Asked Questions Guide here.

    Hospitals continue to treat emergency patients and perform essential surgeries, and Virginians should feel safe going to hospitals if they are experiencing a medical emergency, such as a heart attack. Governor Northam also amended Executive Order Fifty-Seven to allow licensed physician’s assistants with two or more years of clinical experience to practice without a collaborative agreement. The text of the amended executive order is available here.

    Governor Northam also extended Executive Directive Seven, which closed Virginia’s 75 DMV offices and its mobile units to the public and extended the validity of driver’s licenses and vehicle credentials that were due to expire. Today’s action decrees that those credentials will be valid through July 31. Virginians who need to renew a license or vehicle registration are encouraged to do so online. Read the full text of Executive Directive Seven here.

    Governor Northam expanded Executive Directive Eight, directing the Virginia State Police to suspend enforcement of the time period in which new Virginia residents must get a driver’s license or register their vehicles, the expiration of temporary license plates, and the time period in which temporary residents may operate vehicles with out-of-state plates. This directive continues the suspension of enforcement of motor vehicle inspections by Virginia State Police. While local law enforcement may still issue citations for expired vehicle inspections, Governor Northam encourages them to refrain from doing so during this pandemic. The directive is in effect until July 31. Read the full text of Executive Directive Eight here.

  15. Some lawmakers view minimum wage delay as lesser of two evils

    By Will Gonzalez, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND, Va -- Labor advocates and Virginia legislators worried the recently passed bill to increase minimum wage might die during the reconvened General Assembly session Wednesday.

    Gov. Ralph Northam’s amendment deferred the start date of the original bill by four months in response to the economic blow dealt to the state from the coronavirus pandemic. The recommendation was one of many made to trim the $135 billion, two-year budget passed in the spring. Republican lawmakers wanted to reject the amendment in order to stall the passage of the bill and have the governor amend it further.

    During the relocated Senate floor session held at the Science Museum of Virginia, Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Rockingham, argued that now is a risky time to consider raising the minimum wage given the COVID-19 crisis. He said the legislature should reject the governor’s recommendation and send the bill back for reconsideration.

    “Voting ‘no’ on this amendment keeps this issue alive,” Obenshain said. “It sends it back to the governor, and the governor has one more chance to do what’s right, not just for businesses, but for workers.”

    Lawmakers who oppose minimum wage increases argued that those working minimum wage jobs in Virginia are young people entering the workforce, not people trying to support families. Other legislators pointed to the essential workers now serving the public from the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak, many of whom make minimum wage. 

    “Quite frankly I find it hard to believe we’ve got people in here who don’t think somebody working full time in any job should earn at least $19,600 a year,” said Senate majority leader Richard Saslaw, D-Fairfax. “There’s no one in here … that would work for that kind of wage. No one.”

    There were impassioned pleas from several House members to accept the recommendation instead of risking the bill being vetoed, though one delegate voiced resentment at having to make the choice. Del. Lee Carter, D-Manassas, said the COVID-19 crisis has spotlit “one of the most glaring contradictions in our economy” -- that workers paid the least are often deemed most essential to society.

    “We are saying to these people ‘you are not worth a pay raise come January,’” Carter said. “I’m not gonna fault anyone that votes ‘yes’ on this, for taking the sure thing four months later rather than taking the chance, but if that’s what we’re gonna do ... I can’t be any part of it.” Carter did not cast a vote on the amendment.

    Del. Elizabeth Guzman, D-Prince William, said that some legislators’ notion that families don’t depend on minimum wage is a myth.

    “I’m glad they acknowledge that there are people in Virginia who cannot live off minimum wage,” Guzman said. “Actually, what they do is they get a second job, or a third job in order to make ends meet.” Guzman immigrated to the U.S. from Peru at the age of 18 and worked three jobs to afford a one bedroom apartment.

    The House of Delegates voted 49-45 to accept Northam’s amendment to their bill. Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax made the tie-breaking Senate vote when its version ended in a 20-20 tie.

    The identical bills, introduced by Sen. Saslaw and Del. Jeion Ward, D-Hampton, originally would have raised the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.50 per hour on Jan. 1, 2021. The governor’s amendment pushes the start to May 1, 2021.

    The wage will then increase to $11 in 2022, $12 in 2023 and by another $1.50 in 2025 and 2026. Every subsequent year the bill is to be re-amended to adjust the minimum wage to reflect the consumer price index.

    Virginia’s cost of living index is very close to the national average, but it ranks in the top four among states where the minimum wage equals the federal rate of $7.25, according to an analysis of data from the Missouri Economic Research and Development Center.

    Anna Scholl, executive director of Progress Virginia, said now is not the time for Virginia to turn its back on low wage workers.

    “We have been fighting for a decade to push for people who are working hard to make ends meet, to support their families and to be able to do so with dignity,” Scholl said. “That’s what raising the minimum wage is about.”

  16. Shirley A. Doyle

    May 3, 1936-April 22, 2020

    Mrs. Shirley A. Doyle, 83, of Emporia, passed away Wednesday, April 22, 2020. She was preceded in death by a daughter, Kathy Doyle. She was a devoted and faithful wife and mother and a faithful member of Zion Baptist Church.

    Mrs. Doyle is survived by her husband of 62 years, William Neal Doyle; daughter, Odette Mitchell; devoted special niece, Amy Sopko (Paul) and family; great-niece, Amanda Helbig (Michael) and great-great nephew, Kason Helbig; nephew, Wayne Moss (Jean) and niece, Barbara Jean Sasser (Hunter); two brothers-in-law, Roy Doyle and Gene Doyle and numerous great-nieces and great-nephews.

    A private graveside will be held Friday at Zion Baptist Church Cemetery.

    In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to a favorite charity.

    Online condolences may be shared with the family at www.owenfh.com.

  17. Quarantine Recipe: Spreads

    Recipe submitted by: Miriam Osburn (thanks Mom!)

    I got this recipe off Food Network and it is easy and versatile. You can add all kinds of ingredients to make it your own. I mix chocolate chips into the dough as well as using them for frosting. I’ve mixed in toffee chips too and then used the reminder as topping on the melted chocolate chips..

    Difficulty: Easy. Shopping Needed for Average Household: None.

    Pre-planning needed: None.

    Prep Time: 5 Minutes, Cook Time: 15-20 Minutes

    Yeild: 12 Servings

    Preheat oven to 350 In a large bowl combine: 1 cup brown sugar 1 cup room temperature butter 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 large egg 2 cup flour 1/4 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 cup chocolate chips After combined, spread on a large cookie sheet almost to the sides of the sheet, leave room for dough to “spread”. Bake 15 - 20 minutes until golden brown. Pull out of oven and sprinkle 1 cup chocolate chips on hot dough, let melt and spread over cookie. Add whatever toppings you want, I’ve used M&M’s, Heath bars, peanut butter cups, etc. The sky is the limit! Let cool in refrigerator then cut into squares or break into pieces an enjoy. This is a perfect for all occasions.

    Adapted from Spreads by Ree Drummond, found on foodnetwork.com.

    To submit your own recipe, send it to news@emporianews.com. Recipes may be for any meal or any course. While you may include your own reccomendations for side dishes and wine, please remember to include a brief introduction to the recipe (which I have left off of this first one). This paragraph or two can eplain to readers where you first had the dish, or if it is a family tradition and a favorite of a certain family member. You may also relate any happy memories related to your recipe-is it your annual birthday meal? Reader submitted recipes will be credited to the reader, and you may include a photograph if you like. If your recipe is from a cookbook or website, please send the publication information for attribution.

  18. Greensville Schools to Host Child Find

    Due to COVID-19 and the governor’s mandated state wide school closure Greensville County Public Schools and The Improvement Association joint Child Find Registration will involve online registration and take home packets. All children who are 3 or 4 years old on or before September 30, 2020 and residents of the City of Emporia or Greensville County may register.  Pre-applications will be available online beginning April 24, 2020, on the GES Web Page, GES Facebook page, GCPS Web page, GCPS Facebook Page and GES PTO Facebook Page or you call  (434)634-3748 on Monday-Thursday from     9:00 am -2:00 pm to request an application. Upon completing the pre- application online a packet may be mailed to you.  If you have questions about completing the packet call 434 634-3748.

    Child Find is registration for Head Start or Virginia Preschool Initiative.

    Head Start is a federal preschool program which provides comprehensive services and learning experiences to prepare children for Kindergarten and move families toward self-sufficiency. The program also operates in compliance with IDEA to include children with special needs. All Head Start services are free to children and families.

    The Virginia Preschool Initiative, established in 1995, distributes state funds to schools and community based organizations to provide quality preschool program for at-risk four-year-olds. The program offers full day Pre-kindergarten, parent involvement, child health and social services, and transportation to families with four-year-olds at risk of school failure.

    “At a later date…“ You need an ADD completed Physical Examination your child’s OFFICIAL birth certificate (NOT a hospital certificate), immunization record, PROOF of residency (for example: a current water/electric bill with YOUR name and address) and verification of household income (for example: paystub, W-2, Medicaid card, TANF, SNAP, WIC, SSI).

    If you have questions about completing the packet Contact: Curtis Young (434)634-3748 or Gloria Bynum (434)634-2490 x231

    Tags: 

  19. Social Security Combined Trust Funds Projection Remains the Same Says Board of Trustees

    Projections in 2020 Report Do Not Reflect the Potential Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic

    The Social Security Board of Trustees today released its annual report on the long-term financial status of the Social Security Trust Funds.  The combined asset reserves of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance (OASI and DI) Trust Funds are projected to become depleted in 2035, the same as projected last year, with 79 percent of benefits payable at that time. 

    The OASI Trust Fund is projected to become depleted in 2034, the same as last year’s estimate, with 76 percent of benefits payable at that time.  The DI Trust Fund is estimated to become depleted in 2065, extended 13 years from last year’s estimate of 2052, with 92 percent of benefits still payable.

    In the 2020 Annual Report to Congress, the Trustees announced:

    • The asset reserves of the combined OASI and DI Trust Funds increased by $2.5 billion in 2019 to a total of $2.897 trillion.
    • The total annual cost of the program is projected to exceed total annual income, for the first time since 1982, in 2021 and remain higher throughout the 75-year projection period.  As a result, asset reserves are expected to decline during 2021.  Social Security’s cost has exceeded its non-interest income since 2010.
    • The year when the combined trust fund reserves are projected to become depleted, if Congress does not act before then, is 2035 – the same as last year’s projection.  At that time, there would be sufficient income coming in to pay 79 percent of scheduled benefits.

    “The projections in this year’s report do not reflect the potential effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Social Security program.  Given the uncertainty associated with these impacts, the Trustees believe it is not possible to adjust estimates accurately at this time,” said Andrew Saul, Commissioner of Social Security.  “The duration and severity of the pandemic will affect the estimates presented in this year’s report and the financial status of the program, particularly in the short term.”

    Other highlights of the Trustees Report include:

    • Total income, including interest, to the combined OASI and DI Trust Funds amounted to $1.062 trillion in 2019.  ($944.5 billion from net payroll tax contributions, $36.5 billion from taxation of benefits, and $81 billion in interest)
    • Total expenditures from the combined OASI and DI Trust Funds amounted to $1.059 trillion in 2019.
    • Social Security paid benefits of $1.048 trillion in calendar year 2019.  There were about 64 million beneficiaries at the end of the calendar year.
    • The projected actuarial deficit over the 75-year long-range period is 3.21 percent of taxable payroll – higher than the 2.78 percent projected in last year’s report.
    • During 2019, an estimated 178 million people had earnings covered by Social Security and paid payroll taxes.
    • The cost of $6.4 billion to administer the Social Security program in 2019 was a very low 0.6 percent of total expenditures.
    • The combined Trust Fund asset reserves earned interest at an effective annual rate of 2.8 percent in 2019.

    The Board of Trustees usually comprises six members.  Four serve by virtue of their positions with the federal government: Steven T. Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury and Managing Trustee; Andrew Saul, Commissioner of Social Security; Alex M. Azar II, Secretary of Health and Human Services; and Eugene Scalia, Secretary of Labor.  The two public trustee positions are currently vacant.

    View the 2020 Trustees Report at www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/TR/2020/.

    View an infographic about the program’s long-term financial outlook at www.socialsecurity.gov/policy/social-security-long-term-financial-outlook.html.

  20. Quarantine Recipe: Mustard and Herb Pork Chops

    I don't even remember where I found this recipe or how  long ago. I doubt that there are many pork chop recipes that are simpler. There are no amounts listed, as everything is based on the size of the port chops.


    Ingredients:

    4 Pork Chops

    Whole Grain Mustard

    Fresh or Dried Herb of Choice (try Rosemary, Tarragon or Sage)

    Panko Bread Crumbs

    Difficulty: Easy. Shopping Needed for Average Household: None.

    Pre-planning needed: Thaw Pork Chops.

    Prep Time: 5 Minutes, Cook Time: 15 Minutes

    Yeild: 4 Servings

    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

    2. Spoon out what looks like enough mustard to cover one side of the chops (there is no need to contaminate the entire jar of mustard). Season chops with salt and pepper, coat with a thin but generous coating of the mustard. Top each with herbs to taste and coat with the Panko.

    3. Bake in preheated oven until crumbs are browned and chops are cooked trhough.

    Suggested sides: Green Beans and Oven Roasted Potatoes (wedge potatoes and place in a large plastic bag, add enough olive oil to coat and season with Montreal Steak Seasoning. Roast in a preheated oven alongside the Pork Chops).

    To submit your own recipe, send it to news@emporianews.com. Recipes may be for any meal or any course. While you may include your own reccomendations for side dishes and wine, please remember to include a brief introduction to the recipe (which I have left off of this first one). This paragraph or two can eplain to readers where you first had the dish, or if it is a family tradition and a favorite of a certain family member. You may also relate any happy memories related to your recipe-is it your annual birthday meal? Reader submitted recipes will be credited to the reader, and you may include a photograph if you like. If your recipe is from a cookbook or website, please send the publication information for attribution.

  21. REMINDER: Spring Brings Increased Bear Activity

    Richmond, VA- Springtime provides exciting opportunities for outdoor activities and wildlife viewing. As the winter months leave and spring approaches both people and wild animals are more active, which allows for unique encounters with wildlife. The spring months are a busy time for wildlife; especially black bears as they emerge from their winter dens hungry and in search of an easy meal. During this time of increased activity it is important for homeowners to secure un-natural food sources to reduce bear encounters on their property.

    Natural foods are scarce this time of year, so bears will look for the easiest source of food. Often these sources may be your garbage, compost pile, barbeque grills and pet food stored outside, "The goal is to not make human sources of food easier for a bear to acquire than what nature provides – especially food that is high in fat and calories," said Nelson Lafon, Forest Wildlife Manager for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

    Bears are naturally cautious of humans, but they can overcome their wariness if people reward them with food - intentionally or unintentionally. Although bears may appear sluggish and thin during this time of the year you should never attempt to feed a black bear found on your property. Take the following steps to avoid attracting black bears to your homes

    • Never feed or approach
    • Clean and Secure Attractants including: garbage, food, grills, recycling
    • Remove pet or livestock food from areas accessible to wildlife
    • Take down bird feeders including seed and hummingbird feeders
    • Clean up fallen fruit
    • Avoid storing food in your vehicle

    "By following these steps, people can prevent most problems with bears," said Lafon. "Our staff respond to hundreds of situations involving bears every year, and most are due to these attractants."
    For more information on black bears in Virginia, please visit the DGIF website and learn how you can do your part to keep bears wild: https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/bear/

    If a bear has a visible injury, appears mange-infested, or has been seen in the same location for more than 12 hours, please contact the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Wildlife Conflict Helpline, toll free at 1-855-571-9003 or if after normal business hours your local Sheriff’s office.

  22. REMINDER: IF YOU SEE A BEAR CUB, LEAVE IT ALONE

    Richmond, VA- It is that time of year when black bear cubs and their mothers begin leaving their winter dens and exploring the landscape in search of available food resources. During this time bear cubs can become separated from their mothers for short periods of time. In almost all instances no intervention is necessary and the cubs should be left alone.

    When a female bear with cubs perceives a threat, whether due to barking dogs, people in the area, or otherwise, she will often “tree” her cubs. While the cubs are still very small (normally weighing 5lbs or less) they are adept climbers! The cubs will scamper high into the tree tops and await guidance from their mother on when it is safe to come back down. The female will often leave the area, circling back periodically to check for when she feels the area is secure. If you see cubs in a tree and no female in the area, you should leave the area immediately. The female will return (often at night) and call the cubs back down when she feels there is no immediate threat to her or the cubs. Keeping the area free of disturbance (humans and particularly dogs) is critical for the female to be able to return and collect her cubs.

    It is not uncommon throughout the spring for black bear cubs and their mother to return to their den, particularly during periods of inclement weather. Outdoor recreationists may come across an occupied den site (either in the winter or early spring) and should always leave the site undisturbed. The female may leave the den if startled by someone approaching the area. Do not handle or take the cubs from the den area. Leave the area immediately as the female will often return once the perceived threat is gone. This is also an important reminder to always maintain dogs on a leash when hiking so that they don’t spook a bear from the den, or attempt to pick up the cubs.

    Never attempt to handle or capture a black bear cub found on your property. If the cub has a visible injury, is lethargic, or has been seen in the same location for more than 12 hours, please contact the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Wildlife Conflict Helpline, toll free at 1-855-571-9003 or if after normal business hours your local Sheriff’s office. For more information on black bears in Virginia, please visit the DGIF website and learn how you can do your part to keep bears wild: https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/bear/

  23. USDA Service Centers Open for Business by Phone Appointment Only

    The Greensville County USDA Service Center will continue to be open for business by phone appointment only and field work will continue with appropriate social distancing. While our program delivery staff will continue to come into the office, they will be working with our producers by phone, and using online tools whenever possible.

    USDA Service Centers are encouraging visitors to take precautionary measures to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.  All Service Center visitors wishing to conduct business with the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or any other Service Center agency are required to call to schedule a phone appointment.  

    Farm Service Agency: (434) 634-2462 Extension 2

    Employees may also be contacted by email at the following email addresses:

    Natural Resources Conservation Service: (434) 634-2462 extension 3

    Chowan Basin Soil & Water Conservation District: (434) 634-2462 extension 4

    Employees may also be contacted by email at the following email addresses:

    Online services are available to customers with an eAuth account, which provides access to the farmers.gov portal, various FSA online services and the NRCS Conservation Client Gateway. Through the farmers.gov portal, producers can view USDA farm loan information and payments and view and track certain USDA program applications and payments. On the FSA website, customers with an eAuth account can enroll in certain programs and access maps and farm data through FSAfarm+. Online NRCS services are available to customers through the Conservation Client Gateway where customers can track payments, report completed practices, request conservation assistance, and electronically sign documents. Customers who do not already have an eAuth account can enroll at farmers.gov/sign-in.

    For the most current updates on available services and Service Center status visit farmers.gov/coronavirus. 

  24. Gift of Special Bags Brings a Smile

    Cancer doesn’t care one little bit about COVID-19, so treatment goes on and Penny, Shep & Jonathon Evans, as well as a host of friends, wanted to make that treatment process a little nicer and received a lot of help making that possible.

    Penny Evans has held an event for each of the past several years to benefit cancer patients. She owns Thirty-One Gifts and asked customers and friends to donate so cancer patients at VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital’s Hendrick Cancer & Rehab Center could be blessed with a special bag of goodies.

    Teresa R. Collins, RN, BSN, OCN, Director of Radiation and Medical Oncology at the Solari Radiation Center/Hendrick Cancer Center, said, “A cancer diagnosis is scary and overwhelming for patients, these care bags are a true blessing and provide joy during such a horrible time. The bags provide our patients with a centralized location to keep appointments, information packets, goodies, and personal belongings as they are coming into the center for treatment. Our patients have voiced multiple times how honored they feel to have so many members of the community supporting them through their journey. As caregivers it is extremely heartwarming to see the smiles that these bags bring to their face. Penny and her team of angels are amazing and we are extremely grateful for her continued support of our cancer program through the years.”

    Thanks to generous donors listed below, Evans was able to donate 319 Chemo/Radiation Care Bags to CMH.  “This community is known for its support, especially for cancer patients,” Penny said. “They really did a wonderful job in providing bags for our community.”

    Penny wanted to give special thanks to Touchstone Bank, First Citizens Bank and Dance It Out Dancers for providing some of the contents to fill the bags. Also to all those who donated to make this project a reality are listed below.

    Platinum Donors (10+ bags sponsored)

    • First Christian School 2/6/20 Chapel Collection - In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients Airtec -Judy & Jimmy Newman- In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Bill & Sylvia Solari - In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Fleet & Dennis Roberts - In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Michael & Donna Gregory- In Honor of Donna, my Mom, and Donna's Mom
    • The Pointe Realty Group - In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Lindsey and Jason Dawson - In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients

    Gold Donors (5-9 bags sponsored)

    • Karobway Furniture, Robert Smith-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Michael and Katie Cieslinski-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Michelle & Scott Edmonds -In Honor of Louise Ogburn, Rebecca Laben, Scott Edmonds, & Michelle
    • Edmonds. In Memory of Michelle Roberts Sasser.
    • Marcia, JC, & Jaicee Clary-In Memory of Robert H. Reed, Nancy W. Reed, Hazel Luton, Everette Jones and In Honor of Sandra Stephenson
    • Rozier Termite & Pest Control -In Memory of Aunt Virginia Flinn
    • John & Patty Evans-In Honor of Shelia Paynter

    Silver Donors (2-4 bags sponsored)

    • Pam & Terry McDaniel-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Rosser & Carleen Wells-In Memory of Ann & Donnie Wells and All Cancer Patients
    • Chris & Rebecca Bulluck-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Joyce & Charles Taylor-In Honor and Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Tiffany & Mike Dotti-In Honor of Nana Mabel Pulley and in Memory of Sam Bottoms and Lizzie Bottoms Kathy Sims-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Vera Primm-In Honor of Elizabeth, Tara, and Pops
    • Melinda Walker-In Honor of all survivors. In Memory of those we have lost. In honor of friends /family of Cancer Patients. #NoOneFightsAlone
    • Harold Vaughan-In Memory of Phyllis G. Vaughan
    • Judy & Ed Carroll-In Honor of Ernestine Evans and Sandi Taylor -In Memory of Carolyn Roberts
    • Sharon & Alvin Johnson-In Honor of Shelia Paynter
    • Debbie Moore-In Honor of Shelia Paynter
    • Lynn & Daven Lucy-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Margaret Luongo -In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Chad Vaughan & Gavin Honeycutt -In Memory of Phyllis G. Vaughan and James G. Honeycutt
    • Mary Hardin-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • The Carpenter's House-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Brian's Mechanical, Brian & Tonja Pearce -In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Susan and Steve Creed le-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Sarah Hutson-In Honor of Barbara Moore-Cancer Survivor
    • Tiffany & Jeremy Lynch-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Tim & Sandra Ittner-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Lori Kirkland-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Sybil McFarland-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Mary & Wayne Rawlings-In Memory of Ruth Rawlings
    • Judy Cleaton-In Honor of Mary Carol Kallam
    • Amanda & Brian Calhoun-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Jenny Davis-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Carolyn & Randy Carter-In Memory of Minnie R. Edmonds &Honor of Cha Ion Swanson
    • Exit Town and Lake Realty-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • New To You Consignment, Mary Edmonds-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients Ashley & Adam Lipscomb-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Sheryl & Ricky Thomason-In Memory of Michelle Roberts Sasser & In Honor of Penny Glenn Jean Bagley-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Brittany and Henry Edmonds-In Memory of Joyce Hodges
    • Sheri & Mike Sparkman-In Memory of Nancy Haggerty and Jim Libhart
    • Lynn & Linda Roberts-In Memory of Wanda Jones Beville and Jau Roberts
    • Jannon & Chad Coley-In Memory of Robert Higgins
    • Glenn & Linda Barbour-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Betty & Warren Edwards-In Memory of Marilyn Hudson
    • Angie & Lyn Mills-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Virginia Hall-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Martha & Bobby Overton -In Memory of Carolyn Roberts & In Honor of Sandi Taylor
    • Susan & Mike Moody-In Memory of Charles Hudson & In Honor of Shelia Paynter
    • Jasmine & Todd Cage -In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Niki Shingleton -In Memory of Jennie Spielman & Angie Hepner
    • Candy McAvoy-In Honor of All Cancer Warriors
    • Shannon Crutchfield & Joseph Curtis -In Honor of Aunt Diane Kleis and Sylvia Jones
    • Lisa and Mike Pugh -In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Lisa Graham -In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • CiCi and Robbie Carroll -In Honor of Melinda Walker & Ernestine Evans
    • Terry Daniels -For Robert Lewis Daniels
    • Tanya Baskerville -Memory of Wendy Boyter Jackson & George Baskerville
    • Holly Fadool Painter -In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Jennie Inge -In Memory of Earl Newman & Connie King
    • Dr. Desidero & Genevieve Rimon-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Marianne & Chris Early -In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Ashley and Shawn Hardee -In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Alexa Jackson -In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Susan & Bitty Freeman -In Memory of Eddie Allen & Lois Taylor
    • Jessica & Austin Lafoon -In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Danny Mason -In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients

    Bronze Donors (1 bag sponsored)

    • Nancy & Kell Fleshood-In Honor of Sandy Adcock Taylor
    • Kaye Bagley-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Charles & Ann Butts-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Teri & Troy Walker -In Honor Ernestine Evans
    • Crystal & Chris Murphy-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Tammy & Steve White-In Honor of Eli Newcomb
    • Jane & Mike Allen-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Stacy & Wade Archer-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Tammy and John Manning-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Katherine Crutchfield-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Mitzi and Tracy Powell-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Peggie and Robert Powell-In Memory of "Jack"Burns
    • Todd Jackson -In Memory of Wendy Boyter Jackson
    • Beth & Mickey Smith-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Alicia & Guy Short-In Memory of Michelle Roberts Sasser & In Honor of Sandi Taylor Brenda Curtis-In Memory of Alice Dawson
    • Judy & Chuck Martin-In Memory of Bobby Garrett
    • Jennifer Allman-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Holly & Chris McFarland -In Memory of Earl and Shirley Sasser
    • Candi, Atlas, & Reid Allen-In Memory of Dallas Allen
    • Kris & Scott Walker-In Honor of Our Moms
    • Barbara Moore-In Honor of Sisters-Cancer Survivors Judi Newman & Betsy Quicke Thelma Baird-In Honor of Jimmy Vaughan
    • Ernestine & Billy Evans-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Beverly Edwards-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Janice & Ken Currin -In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Karen Myers-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Carol Ann Chapman-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Kim & Keith Corum-In Memory of Stephanie Kennedy Wilbur
    • Debbie Douglas-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Carri lee Spence-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Patricia Rogers-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Kim & Brent Evans -In Honor of Ernestine Evans
    • Robin & Tim Newton-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Miki Baird-In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Terry & Shep Moss -In Memory of William Henry Wilson
    • Bonnie Jackson -In Memory of Nancy Lucille Thomas
    • Billy and Kathy Coffee -In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Shelley & Chuck Mayer-In Honor of Shelia Paynter
    • Denny & Cathy Hardee-In Memory of David Hawkins, who lost his battle with cancer on 2/9/20
    • Stacy Farrar -In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Lynn and Everette Gibson -In Memory of Lavenia Gibson
    • Nancy Jacobs -In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Shelia and Calvin Paynter -In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Johnna Maurice -In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Tammy Parker -In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Hope & Tommy Zincone -In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Rita & Alvin Parham -In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Susan Lucy-In Memory of Lavenia Gibson
    • Gloria & Carrol Roberts -In Memory of Michelle Roberts Sasser
    • Janet Hayes -In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Carol Barker-In Honor of Shelia Paynter
    • Rose Towell -In Memory of John Towell
    • Sandi & Mark Kidd -In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Lindsey Smith -In Memory of Michelle Roberts Sasser
    • Tina Wells -In Memory of Louise Horne
    • Scott, Devon, Kaisley, & Kyndall -In Memory of Pleas Jackson & Michelle Roberts Sasser & In Honor of Elaine Clary
    • Anita Kallam -In Memory of Greg Upton
    • Helen Gordon -In Memory of Polly Gordon
    • Timi Garcia -In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Donna Wall -In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Elma Wilkinson -In Memory of Terry Callahan & Rusty Callahan
    • Becky Barnes Lewis -In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Betsy & Jimmy Clayton-In Honor of Joyce M. Perkinson
    • Diane & Larry Parker -In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Dottie Collins -In Honor of Teresa Collins and the CMH Oncology Dept.
    • Diana Crowder -In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Kris & Patricia Reed -In Memory of Faye Moseley
    • Debbie Piercy-In Memory Michelle Sasser
    • Vanessa Rudd -In Honor of Shelia Paynter
    • Elaine & Sherman Maitland -In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Aileen Lewis -In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Carrie Poythress -In Memory of Sandy Hamer
    • Crissy Carter -In Memory of Mama, Virginia Clark
    • Joy Hofler -In Honor of Shelia Paynter
    • Candice, Jason, Zoey, & Allie Riggan -In Honor of Mama/Gammy, Shelia Paynter
    • Wendy Pheil -In Honor of JCH
    • Maria Ford - In Honor of Lounell Stallings
    • Angie & Bryant Thomas - In Memory of Maude Thomas
    • Gwen & Steve Hinzman -In Honor of Susan Wilfong
    • Shannon Cunningham- In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Jeanie Troup - In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Jennifer Ellington - In Honor of Laura "Faye" Kniceley
    • Carol & James Johnson - In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Michelle Tanner- In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Debra & Spencer Crowder- In Memory of Bob Hoover
    • Kathryn & Raymond Bokesch - In Memory of Sandy Hamer & Heidi Semivan
    • Carolyn Saylor - In Honor of Shelia Paynter
    • Kim & Chris Brown - In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Brenda Crafton - In Honor of Shelia Paynter
    • Cynthia Oakley- In Honor of Shelia Paynter
    • Sandra Pearce - In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Lindsey Satterwhite, Paynter & Paschal -In Honor of Sherry Orman
    • South Hill Volunteer Fire Dept. Ladies Aux. - In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients Eileen & John Bigley - In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Marjorie Lawson- In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • JoAnn Wells- In Honor of Shelia Paynter
    • Michelle Crowder-In Honor of Melinda Matthews Walker
    • Kristy Hooper- In Honor of Shelia Paynter
    • Joyce Perkinson - In Honor of Shelia Paynter
    • Diane Nichols - In Honor of Shelia Paynter
    • Nichole & David Powell- In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
    • Cheryl Abernathy- In Honor and In Memory of All Cancer Patients
  25. Northam signs bill to regulate ‘Wild West’ CBD market

    By Jeffrey Knight, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND, Va. – Gov. Ralph Northam recently signed a bill that would define hemp extract, such as CBD, as food and usher in state regulations on these products. 

    Senate Bill 918, patroned by Sen. David Marsden, D-Fairfax, will help guide the budding industrial hemp industry in Virginia by regulating facility conditions and requirements for the production of hemp-derived products intended for human consumption. 

    This bill also allows the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to regulate and enforce certain standards for hemp extract, including labeling requirements, identifying contaminants and batch testing.

    Charlotte Wright, a hemp farmer based in Brunswick County and owner of the CBD business Hemp Queenz, said she feels encouraged by Marsden’s bill. 

    “It gives validity to the CBD industry,” Wright said. “Right now, there is no testing required, no labeling, you have no idea what is in it. It’s like the Wild West.” 

    However, Wright is worried about the federal law and said keeping to that level of THC makes it difficult to produce competitive CBD products. 

    Hemp plants can not exceed THC levels of 0.3% or they must be destroyed, which complies with federal standards. THC is the intoxicating component in marijuana. CBD, also found in marijuana and hemp plants, does not cause a high and is used for a wide variety of treatments from anxiety to pain relief, according to a report from the World Health Organization.

    The hemp plant produces significantly low THC levels and high CBD levels, according to the WHO report. Hemp, a relative of the marijuana plant, is used for a variety of things from making fibers to beauty products. CBD also has various applications; it can be used for edibles, oils and oral supplements. 

    “If we go over the limit, we have wasted all of our time and money,” Wright said. “It is ridiculous to argue over seven-tenths of a percent when any hemp farmer can easily grow a crop that is under 1% total THC. You can’t easily grow a crop that is under 0.3%.”

    Wright said the longer the hemp plant grows, the more CBD and THC it produces. A higher CBD percentage will make the product more valuable.

    “To get those relevant CBD percentages up over 13% or 14%, you have to leave it in longer, the longer you leave the plant in the ground, that THC number creeps up,” Wright said. “After all is said and done, that seven-tenths of a percent isn’t going to impair anyone anyway.” 

    Since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp has been removed from the definition of marijuana and taken out of the Controlled Substances Act. Hemp can currently be grown, processed and distributed by licensed individuals in most states. 

    However, under the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, it is illegal to add CBD or hemp products to food or market them as a dietary supplement. 

    Currently, the only pharmaceutical drug containing CBD that has been approved by the FDA is Epidiolex, which treats two rare, severe forms of epilepsy in young children. There are no over-the-counter CBD products that are approved by the FDA. 

    “If the FDA does not start approving CBD products people are going to take them without regulation,” said Kyle Shreve, executive director of the Virginia Agribusiness Council. “That’s what the bill says, we are going to treat them like they are approved by the FDA so we can start regulating them.”

    Shreve said it’s important to add another viable cash crop for agribusiness in the state. 

    “Right now we are losing tobacco and dairy farms in the commonwealth, so it is another opportunity for Virginia producers to diversify and grow something that would help sustain their business,” Shreve said. 

    During the 2019 growing season, approximately 1,200 registered industrial hemp growers planted around 2,200 acres of hemp in Virginia, according to Erin Williams, VDACS senior policy analyst. As of April 10, there were 1,280 active industrial hemp grower registrations, 357 processor and 219 dealer registrations. 

    “I think it has a strong future,” Marsden said about the hemp industry in Virginia. “We just need to regulate it and hold other states to our standards.”

    Marsden said over-the-counter CBD products like those sold at gas stations or convenience stores might not have CBD in them at all and could contain harmful ingredients. 

    “We can’t have inferior products coming in from other states,” Marsden said. “We are going to try to do a good job with this stuff and it is up to VDACS to make sure other states don’t ruin our market with crap.”

    Three bills were signed by the governor recently regulating industrial hemp in Virginia. One of those bills, House Bill 962, introduced by Del. Daniel Marshall III, R-Danville, regulates smokable hemp products for those over 21 and allows the sale of these products in vending machines. 

    The governor also approved SB 1015 which protects certain people involved with the state’s medical cannabis program expected to begin this year. SB 2 and HB 972 decriminalize possession of certain amounts of marijuana and allows for the expungement of a prior misdemeanor offense. Northam recommended changes to the decriminalization bill that would still need to be approved when lawmakers reconvene on April 22. One recommendation is to move the deadline for a legislation study back to 2021 and another proposes that a marijuana violation occurring during the operation of a commercial vehicle would be included on the driver’s Department of Motor Vehicles record.

  26. Act Now – Go to IRS.gov – A Message from Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul

    Action Needed for Social Security Beneficiaries with Dependents and Who Do Not File Tax Returns to Receive $500 Per Child Payment

     “Social Security beneficiaries and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients who don’t file tax returns will start receiving their automatic Economic Impact Payments directly from the Treasury Department soon.  People receiving benefits who did not file 2018 or 2019 taxes, and have qualifying children under age 17, however, should not wait for their automatic $1,200 individual payment.  They should immediately go to the IRS’s webpage at www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here and visit the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here section to provide their information.  Social Security retirement, survivors, and disability insurance beneficiaries with dependent children and who did not file 2018 or 2019 taxes need to act by Wednesday, April 22, in order to receive additional payments for their eligible children quickly.  SSI recipients need to take this action by later this month; a specific date will be available soon.

    By taking this proactive step to enter information on the IRS website about them and their qualifying children, they will also receive the $500 per dependent child payment in addition to their $1,200 individual payment.  If beneficiaries in this group do not provide their information to the IRS soon, their payment at this time will be $1,200.  People would then be required to file a tax year 2020 tax return to obtain the additional $500 per eligible child.

    I urge Social Security and SSI recipients with qualifying children who do not normally file taxes to take action now.  Immediately go to IRS.gov so that you will receive the full amount of the Economic Impact Payments you and your family are eligible for.

    People with Direct Express debit cards who enter information at the IRS’s website should complete all of the mandatory questions, but they may leave the bank account information section blank as Treasury already has their Direct Express information on file.

    Additionally, any new beneficiaries since January 1, 2020, of either Social Security or SSI benefits, who did not file a tax return for 2018 or 2019, will also need to go to the IRS’s Non-Filers website to enter their information as they will not receive automatic payments from Treasury.”

  27. Quarantine Recipe: Scampi with Angel Hair

    While I am not a big seafood person, I do still love Scampi. The flavor of shrimp, shallots and garlic in butter and wine just works. If you don't eat seafood, it works with chicken. I have been making this recipe since I bought the Southern California Beach Recipe Cookbook, written by Joan and Carl Stromquist in 1996. According to a note in the spine on the front end paper, I paid $17.95 for this book and bought it at a wonderful little cook's shop called "The Wooden Spoon" on Union Avenue in Pueblo, Colorado.  The shop is still open under the name "Seabel's" name, even though the Branch Inn blew up a few years ago and destoryed several buildings in the Union Avenue Historic District.

    As far as I can remember, I bought this book just for this recipe. My note in the end paper spine only specify when ans where I bought the book and how much I paid. I have a list of recipes written on the inside of the front cover, too.

    I have heavily modified this recipe over the years, and am including the modified version here.

     


    Ingredients:

    1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter

    2 Tbsp Olive Oil

    16 Cloves Garlic, finely chopped

    4 tsp Parsley, finely chopped

    4 Shallots, finely chopped

    1/2 C Scallions, finely chopped

    24 Large Shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed

    1/4 tsp Paprika

    1/8 tsp each salt and pepper

    1/2 C Dry White Wine

    1 Tbsp Lemon Juice

    1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter

    1/2 Pound Angel Hair Pasta or Whole Wheat Thin Spaghetti

    1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter

    1 Lemon, cut into 4 wedges

    Difficulty: Moderate. Shopping Needed for Average Household: Short List-most likely garlic, shallots, parsley, scallions and shrimp.

    Pre-planning needed: Thaw Shrimp.

    Prep Time: 20 Minutes, Cook Time: 20 Minutes

    Yeild: 4 Servings (6 Shrimp per serving)

    1. Marinade the shrimp in the wine, lemon juice and half of the garlic for 30 minutes. Drain through a mesh strainer to reserve the solids and liquids separately. Start a pot of water boiling for the pasta, and cook the pasta in the background as you prepare the main part of the recipe.

    2.  In a large skillet, over medium high heat, melt the 1 Tbsp butter and heat the oil. When the butter is melted and the oil hot, add the remaining garlic, shallots, parsley and scallions and saute for 3-4 until the garlic is limp but not yet browned.

    3. Add the Shrimp and garlic from the marinade, paprika, salt and pepper. Gently stir the shrimp for 2-3 minutes until the shrimp is half cooked.

    4. Add the wine and lemon juice and simmer until the sauce is reduced by half. Remove the shrimp as they finish cooking (they will turn pink, do not let them over cook or they will get tough) and allow the sauce to finish reducing. When the wacue has reduced by half wisk in 1 Tbsp butter to enrich and thicken the sauce slightly.

    5. Gently toss the cooked pasta with the remaining butter and divide among 4 plates. Top each serving of pasta with 6 shrimp and pour 1/4 of the sauce over each plate. Serve with a lemon wedge on each plate.

    If you substitute Chicken for the Shrimp: Cut chicken breasts or thighs into bite size pieces, do not drain the marinade and increase the cooking time as needed to ensure that the chicken pieces cook through.

    Suggested sides: Sauteed Asparagus.

    To submit your own recipe, send it to news@emporianews.com. Recipes may be for any meal or any course. While you may include your own reccomendations for side dishes and wine, please remember to include a brief introduction to the recipe (which I have left off of this first one). This paragraph or two can eplain to readers where you first had the dish, or if it is a family tradition and a favorite of a certain family member. You may also relate any happy memories related to your recipe-is it your annual birthday meal? Reader submitted recipes will be credited to the reader, and you may include a photograph if you like. If your recipe is from a cookbook or website, please send the publication information for attribution.

  28. Quarantine Recipe: Garlic Chicken

    4 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast Halves
    ½ Cup All-Purpose Flour
    ¼ Cup Butter or Olive Oil
    4 Large Cloves Garlic, Minced (About 2 Tablespoons)
    1 Cup Apple Juice
    2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
    ½ Teaspoon Black Pepper

    Difficulty: Easy. Shopping Needed for Average Household: None. Pre-planning needed: Thaw Chicken.

    Prep Time: 3 Minutes, Cook Time: 18 Minutes

    Yeild: 4 Servings

    1.      Melt Butter or heat Olive Oil in large skillet over medium heat.
     

    2.       Dredge Chicken in flour and cook in melted butter or heated oil with minced garlic until chicken is done (4-5 minutes on each side), remove from skillet and keep warm.
     

    3.       Add apple and lemon juices to skillet with the black pepper.
     

    4.       Boil, uncovered, for 4 minutes or until reduced to one-half cup.
     

    5.       Pour Sauce over chicken and serve immediately.
     

    Suggested sides: Oven Roasted Broccoli and Brown Rice

    To submit your own recipe, send it to news@emporianews.com. Recipes may be for any meal or any course. While you may include your own reccomendations for side dishes and wine, please remember to include a brief introduction to the recipe (which I have left off of this first one). This paragraph or two can eplain to readers where you first had the dish, or if it is a family tradition and a favorite of a certain family member. You may also relate any happy memories related to your recipe-is it your annual birthday meal? Reader submitted recipes will be credited to the reader, and you may include a photograph if you like. If your recipe is from a cookbook, please send the publication information for attribution.
     

  29. An Open Letter from Richmond-Area Health Systems: Collaboration is Key to Address COVID-19

    “We are all in this together” has never been truer than it is right now in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. In the Richmond area, this means a shared feeling of sacrifice, resilience and endurance. For the region’s major health care providers, it also means our commitment to work together to serve you – our community – and advance the care of all of our patients.

    Bon Secours, HCA Virginia, and VCU Health are pledging our partnership during this difficult time to serve the greater Richmond area as we navigate the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19. We have been working together over the past weeks to share information and our health system’s predictive analytics models and to build a collaborative forecast tool that is allowing us to align our treatment efforts, expected surge volumes, resource needs, and our plans to address the curve when it reaches its apex.

    Our hospitals are also partnering with local and state health and emergency management departments and Governor Northam to speak with one voice and to work as a unified team to face this threat. Our strength is in our shared mission to protect lives, care for the stricken, and work together to face this virus head on using our best scientists, clinicians, and resources.

    Our health care teams and administrations are working together. We are supporting one another. We are sharing in the sacrifice—with thousands of our health care workers risking their own health and welfare to protect yours. We will remain steadfast in that commitment for the weeks to come until this COVID-19 threat has eased for everyone.

    We cannot do this alone. We need your help. This is not a threat that can be solely tackled within the four walls of a hospital. Success is in our collective hands – yours and ours. Here is what we need you to do:

    • True social distancing. Stay home. Keep your contacts to only immediate family members within your household.
    • Wash your hands. Often.
    • Follow directions from emergency managers and elected officials.
    • If you must go out, only do so for medical care, to buy provisions for a week or more at a time, or for essential work duties. And wear a face mask.

    We hope that you will follow these guidelines so we do not have to see you in any one of our area hospitals because you have fallen ill with COVID-19. We don’t want to treat more COVID-19 patients than necessary, and we certainly do not want to add to the stark tallies of those in our Commonwealth who have fallen ill to this virus or lost their lives.

    Our hospital systems remain devoted to this community, and we are prepared to care for you and your loved ones if you need us. This is what has allowed us all to play a vital part in keeping our friends and neighbors safe and in good health for decades. We will continue that mission through this crisis and beyond. We are far stronger working together as hospitals and as a community than we could ever be alone.

    Sincerely,

    Faraaz Yousuf, President, Bon Secours Richmond Market

    Tim McManus, President, HCA Healthcare Capital Division

    Melinda Hancock, Chief Administrative & Financial Officer, VCU Health

  30. How Va. grocery stores practice safety amid coronavirus, sales uptick

    By Zach Armstrong, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia grocery stores have increased efforts to keep stores clean and safe while they remain open to provide essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    Gov. Ralph Northam issued a stay-at-home order as coronavirus cases quickly multiplied in the commonwealth. Grocery stores, considered essential businesses without restrictions, are implementing new service measures as sales spike during the coronavirus outbreak.

     Kroger is cleaning commonly used areas multiple times an hour including cashier stations, self-checkouts, credit card terminals, conveyor belts and food service counters. Beginning April 7, Kroger will limit the number of customers to 50% of the building code's calculated capacity to allow for proper physical distancing in stores and also plans to add plexiglass. 

    Ellwood Thompson’s, a natural food market in Richmond, has upped cleaning practices, closed the salad, hot bar and dining room, and places wax paper throughout the store where there are shared surfaces.The store also provides customers with hand sanitizer stations through the store and no outside food containers are allowed. 

    “We are sanitizing all bathrooms, door handles and every touchpoint each hour,” wrote Colin Beirne, marketing director at Ellwood Thompon’s in an email response. Food Lion announced that by the end of the week plexiglass shields at customer service, register and pharmacy counters will be installed at all locations.

    Many grocery stores are attempting to prioritize those most vulnerable to the coronavirus. Food Lion, Ellwood Thompson’s, Publix and all Mid-Atlantic Kroger locations have allowed customers above the age of 60 or who are immunocompromised to exclusively shop when stores are cleanest and least crowded. 

    “Protecting our most vulnerable neighbors is important to us, so special hours are being reserved for this group,” said Food Lion President Meg Ham in a statement to customers. “These special shopping hours will remain in effect until further notice.”

    Not all food markets are reserving certain hours for vulnerable demographics. Wegmans, a grocery store with several locations in Virginia, explained on its website that the elderly are not the only population susceptible to the virus. The company said it doesn’t believe it's a good idea to put highly susceptible people together in one location. 

    “There are many wonderful people and community services in every market who can serve as a resource for those who fall in these susceptible populations,” Wegmans stated. “Any customer requiring additional assistance accessing our products or services should visit the service desk.”

    Wegmans takes precautions such as markers on the floor to instruct shoppers where to stand for proper social distancing and the checkout belts are sanitized between each customer. 

    Stores have modified the hours of operation to allow additional time for cleaning and restocking. Ellwood Thompson’s, Publix, and Harris Teeter now close at 8 p.m., Kroger and Wegmans close at 10 p.m. and Food Lion locations close based on regional curfews that may be implemented. 

    Retail food markets are expected to gain substantial revenue from lifestyle changes related to COVID-19. Karen Short, managing director at British multinational investment bank Barclays PLC, told Winsight Grocery Business that between $61 billion and $118 billion is projected to shift from restaurants to grocery stores during the second quarter of 2020. 

    Grocery retailers are adding tens of thousands of new employees nationwide. Kroger announced in late March that they hired 23,500 new workers with plans to hire an additional 20,000 in coming weeks.

    Grocery store employees have been deemed as essential workers during the pandemic. As demand for their services rises and food retail revenue increases, many grocery store workers have been offered additional benefits. 

    Wegmans boosted employee hourly pay rate $2 through March and April. Harris Teeter, which has several locations across Virginia, is offering employees a one-time bonus of $300 for every full-time associate along with a $2 per hour wage increase for its employees through April 21. Kroger workers will be receiving an extra $2 per hour for hours worked March 29 through April 18 in addition to $25 for groceries.

    Efforts have also been taken to protect workers from contracting COVID-19. Harris Teeter has provided protective shields at counters and requires customers with reusable bags to pack their own items. At Food Lion, workers may choose to wear protective face masks. Kroger is expecting to give their employees gloves and face masks for protection by the end of the week.

    Restaurants are permitted to remain open for takeout, delivery or drive-thru services. Other establishments have come up with creative ways to continue sales. Breweries are doing home delivery and some farmer's markets are accepting pre-orders for weekend pickup.

    Non-essential businesses can remain open as long as they adhere to social distancing guidelines of a 10 patron limit. The stay-at-home order is effective until June 10. Failing to comply is a Class 1 misdemeanor.

  31. Dorothy Parrish Moseley

    August 19, 1942-April 16, 2020

    Dorothy Parrish Moseley, 77, passed away on Thursday, April 16, 2020. She was born in Greensville County, VA, and was a retired employee of BB&T Bank. She was preceded in death by her father, Jesse Hubert Parrish, Sr. She is survived by her mother Lavinia N. Parrish, husband, Frank N. Moseley, brother, Jesse Hubert Parrish, Jr. (Patsy), Nieces, Christine P. Johnson (Mike), Michelle P. Crane (Ed), along with numerous great-nieces and nephews.

    A private graveside service will be held Sunday, April 19, 2020 at Independence United Methodist Church Cemetery.

    Online condolences may be made to www.echolsfuneralhome.com

  32. Governor Northam Announces Expansion of ‘Virtual Virginia’ to Support Distance Learning During School Closures

    New resources available for K-12 schools and teachers

    RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced a dramatic expansion of Virtual Virginia, the Virginia Department of Education’s existing online learning system, to allow every teacher in the Commonwealth to host virtual classes while schools are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. These resources include a platform that enables all Virginia public school teachers to share lessons and activities with their students through June 30.

    “While there is no perfect substitute for in-person classroom instruction, this is an unprecedented public health crisis and we must do everything we can to ensure all children have equitable learning opportunities,”  said Governor Northam . “I want to thank our educators, school administrators, and superintendents for their extraordinary efforts to keep students connected and learning. The expansion of Virtual Virginia will help ensure that the closure of schools and interruption of formal instruction this spring does not lead to a widening of achievement gaps.”

    Virtual Virginia will expand its offerings to include elementary and middle school content as an option for students to learn content missed this spring. Courses will begin in May and the new course content will be available to any school division that enrolls students and teachers in the program, at no cost to the division.

    Virtual Virginia content can be loaded onto devices for use by students in homes without sufficient internet access to support online learning. The expansion does not affect the more than 6,000 students already enrolled in one or more of Virtual Virginia’s 81 high school-level courses.

    “The expansion of Virtual Virginia will provide additional options for school divisions to present the instruction and content that they are unable to provide this spring in traditional classroom settings,”  said Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane . “Access to the Virtual Virginia platform will be especially helpful for teachers and students in school divisions without robust distance learning systems.”

    The expansion of Virtual Virginia is the third major action the Commonwealth has taken within the last week to mitigate the impact of school closures on students.

    Today, Monday, April 13, marks the launch of “VA TV Classroom” by four Virginia public media stations. Blue Ridge PBS, VPM, WETA, and WHRO Public Media worked closely with the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) to create the programming to provide teacher-led, on-air instruction aligned with the Commonwealth’s academic standards for students who are unable to access other distance learning options.

    In an effort to support Virginia educators, VDOE established the Continuity for Learning (C4L) Task Force consisting of more than 120 teachers, leaders, and collaborating educational partners across Virginia. Working with the C4L Task Force, VDOE launched Virginia Learns Anywhere, a hub of resources and recommendations to reinforce much-needed structure while also empowering individual teachers to support students in learning remotely. The C4L Task Force encourages divisions to develop and implement continuous learning plans in partnership with local county health departments, families, staff, and local boards of education.

    Virginia Learns Anywhere includes a guidance document for teachers and schools on providing equitable learning opportunities for students and preventing the widening of achievement gaps and meet the social and emotional needs of students while schools are closed. Sample instructional modules cover essential knowledge and skills for all content areas and grade levels and provide recommendations on integrating the skills and attributes known as the “5 C’s” (critical thinking, creative thinking, communication, collaboration and citizenship) into distance learning.

    A comprehensive list of resources, guidance, and support documents for K-12 public schools in Virginia during the COVID-19 school closures is available here. Find answers to frequently asked questions here.

  33. Governor Northam Signs New Laws to Support Virginia Workers

    RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam has signed nearly two dozen new laws to support working Virginians, including legislation to combat worker misclassification and wage theft, ban workplace discrimination, and prohibit non-compete covenants for low-wage workers.

    The Governor proposes to increase the minimum wage starting May 1, 2021, and to advance prevailing wage, collective bargaining, and project labor agreement legislation then as well. This will ensure workers get the support they need while allowing greater economic certainty in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “Every Virginian deserves access to a safe and well-paying job,” said Governor Northam. “These new laws will support workers and help our economy rebound as quickly as possible from COVID-19. I am grateful for the General Assembly’s ongoing partnership as we address these critical issues.”

    In addition, Governor Northam is proposing amendments to prohibit apprenticeship discrimination on the basis of gender identity and to create a work-sharing program to support workers impacted by COVID-19.

    Governor Northam signed the following bills:

    Combatting Worker Misclassification

    • House Bill 1407 and Senate Bill 744, sponsored by Delegate Jeion Ward and Senator Jeremey McPike, respectively, authorize the Department of Taxation to oversee investigations into suspected cases of worker misclassification and levy penalties as appropriate. A 2012 report of the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) estimated that at least 214,000 Virginians were misclassified as “independent contractors” by their employers.

    • House Bill 984 and Senate Bill 894, sponsored by Delegate Karrie Delaney and Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw, respectively, create a private cause of action for a misclassified worker to bring civil action for damages against his or her employer.

    • House Bill 1199 and Senate Bill 662, sponsored by Delegate Kathy Tran and Senator Jennifer Boysko, respectively, protect employees or independent contractors who report misclassification from employer retaliation. Employers that are found to have engaged in retaliatory action will be subject to a civil penalty up to the value of the employee’s lost wages.

    • House Bill 1646, sponsored by Delegate Paul Krizek, requires contractors to properly classify all workers as employees or independent contractors. This law gives the Board of Contractors the ability to sanction contractors who are found to have intentionally misclassified workers.

    Banning Workplace Discrimination

    • House Bill 827 and Senate Bill 712, sponsored by Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy and Senator Jennifer McClellan, respectively, protect workers from discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. This law prohibits pregnancy discrimination, requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnancy and childbirth, and creates a private cause of action for workplace pregnancy discrimination.

    • House Bill 1049, sponsored by Delegate Mark Levine, prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in a number of areas of law, including employment, public contracting, and apprenticeship programs.

    Combatting Wage Theft

    • House Bill 123, sponsored by Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy, creates a private cause of action for workers to recover unpaid wages lost to wage theft. If a court finds an employer has knowingly failed to pay an employee’s wages, the court may award the employee reasonable attorneys’ fees in addition to triple the amount of wages due.

    • Senate Bill 838, sponsored by Senator Adam Ebbin, creates a private cause of action for workers to recover unpaid wages. Additionally, this new law makes general contractors liable and subject to penalty for wage theft, under certain conditions. 

    • House Bill 336 and Senate Bill 49, sponsored by Delegate Marcia Price and Senator Lionell Spruill, respectively, give the Department of Labor and Industry expanded authority in investigating wage theft complaints.  

    • House Bill 337 and Senate Bill 48, sponsored by Delegate Marcia Price and Senator Lionell Spruill, respectively, protect employees who report wage theft or institute proceedings against their employer from retaliation.  

    Additional Worker Protections

    • House Bill 330 and Senate Bill 480, sponsored by Delegate Schuyler VanValkenburg and Senator Bill DeSteph, respectively, prohibit employers from entering into a non-compete contract with any of their low-wage employees. This new law also creates a private cause of action for a low-wage employee to bring a lawsuit against an employer who tries to enforce a non-compete covenant.

    • House Bill 798, sponsored by Delegate Karrie Delaney, protects workers from retaliation from their employer for reporting violations or suspected violations of state law.

    • House Bill 1201 and Senate Bill 380, sponsored by Delegate Kathy Tran and Senator Jeremy McPike, respectively, allow localities to include criteria in their “invitation to bid” to determine whether a bidder who is not prequalified by the Virginia Department of Transportation is a responsible bidder. This new law will support workers and help local contractors find the best trained and safest workers for their projects.

    Governor Northam proposes amendments to these bills: 

    • Senate Bill 548, sponsored by Senator John Edwards, addresses qualifications for unemployment insurance. In light of the current economic crisis, Governor Northam amended this legislation to authorize a work-sharing program in Virginia. Work-sharing programs can help businesses avoid laying off their employees by permitting them to reduce their employees’ hours and allow affected employees to collect reduced unemployment benefits in the form of short-time compensation. The federal CARES Act offers funding incentives for states to build work-sharing programs of this sort.

    • House Bill 1252, sponsored by Delegate Don Scott, prohibits a sponsor of a registered apprenticeship program from discriminating against an apprentice or applicant on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age (if older than 40), genetic information, or disability. Governor Northam amended this legislation to also include protections from discrimination on the basis of gender identity. 

    • House Bill 395 and Senate Bill 7, sponsored by Delegate Jeion Ward and Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw, respectively, raise the minimum wage. Under the Governor’s amendments, the minimum wage would increase beginning May 1, 2021. 

    • House Bill 833 and Senate Bill 8, sponsored by Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy and Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw, respectively, address payment of “prevailing wages” by contractors doing business with certain government bodies. Under the Governor’s amendments, this law would take effect May 1, 2021.

    • House Bill 582 and Senate Bill 939, sponsored by Delegate Elizabeth Guzman and Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw, respectively, permit localities to enter into collective bargaining agreements with local employees. Under the Governor’s amendments, this law would take effect May 1, 2021.

    • House Bill 358 and Senate Bill 182, sponsored by Delegate Alfonso Lopez and Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw, respectively, authorize state and local bodies to require project labor agreements for construction, manufacture, maintenance, or operation of public works. Under the Governor’s amendments, this law would take effect May 1, 2021.




     

  34. Coronavirus fund distributes more than $1 million in grants to Central Virginia organizations

    By Rodney Robinson, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND, Va. -- Funds are being released from a collective, $4.2 million pool intended to help groups provide resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Twenty-five regional organizations are receiving more than $1.1 million in grants. The grantees fall under four categories: safety net clinics, food access organizations, housing and education. 

    The pool of money was created through a partnership between the Community Foundation and the Emergency Management Alliance of Central Virginia, a group of professionals that aims to help local residents dealing with disasters, according to the organizations’ sites. The fund, dubbed the Central Virginia COVID-19 Response Fund, was activated in March with an initial gift from the Community Foundation, a Richmond-based organization that manages more than 1,000 charitable funds. 

    The fund has raised more than $4.2 million to date from foundations, businesses and individuals across the region, the partners said. An advisory committee will review and distribute grants from the fund on a rolling basis. 

    The fund is currently focused on providing support for those most likely to contract the virus or those whose health could be further compromised because of barriers to food access, healthcare or stable shelter. 

    “We are currently targeting those on the frontline that need to pivot and adapt quickly to an ever-increasing demand for their services,” Scott Blackwell, chief community engagement officer at the Community Foundation, said in a news release

    The groups came together in September 2018 to create a disaster relief fund, according to Sherrie Armstrong, president and CEO for the Community Foundation. With the fund already in place, the two groups activated the COVID-19 response in March and began raising money. 

    Organizations receiving grants in the food access category include FeedMore, Neighborhood Resource Center and Sacred Heart Center. The FeedMore funding will support staffing at the organization’s community kitchen, while Sacred Heart Center’s money will provide food, baby formula, hygiene supplies and other necessities. 

    Health related organizations receiving aid include Daily Planet Health Services, Jewish Family Services, Richmond Academy of Medicine and YWCA of Richmond. The grants will help with a range of causes, ranging from the production of protective face masks for essential workers to support for a COVID-19 testing site for homeless individuals.

     Richmond Public Schools’ grant will go toward the purchase of 10,000 Chromebooks for students who need them to access education while schools are closed. Armstrong predicted that the RPS funding will ensure “that everyone has access to the internet and technology with everything that’s going on.”

    The United Way of Greater Richmond and Petersburg is providing $100,000 in matching dollars to incentivize new donations made through United Way’s website. The organization was involved in the early conversations of where a fund “might live,” according to James Taylor, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Richmond and Petersburg. As needs continued to grow in Central Virginia, United Way wanted to be “good partners” to help in relief efforts.

    “As the response began from a fundraising standpoint, it became clear that the needs were going to continue to grow,” Tayor said. 

     There are 6,171 COVID-19 cases in Virginia as of April 14. There have been 154 deaths and 978 hospitalizations, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

    The relief is designed to be flexible and to complement other resources and responses at the national, state and local levels, organizers said. 

    The fund is not taking formal applications, but nonprofits and public agencies can share their needs through this form, according to the Community Foundation’s site. Individuals seeking help are encouraged to call 211 or visit 211Virginia.org for a curated list of local social services.

  35. Contactless Easter Egg Hunt

    By Jean Cobb, Riparian Woman's Club Treasurer

    It all started with a post on Facebook.  The Wednesday before Easter, I was looking at Facebook and happened to see an ad mentioning the City of Colonial Heights was having an Easter Egg Hunt for the children of the city. The post said people were putting an Easter egg on their front door.

    I started to think our City is a lot smaller than Colonial Heights and maybe we could have an egg hunt, too.  I quickly emailed my club members (Riparian Woman’s Club) and asked if they thought we could sponsor an egg hunt, but we needed to act quickly because Easter was only a few days away.  The Riparians endorsed the project, and we decided to donate a nominal amount for prizes.  I then placed a post on Facebook asking the community to get involved. Businesses were also invited to participate. Three people quickly asked to share the post and it took off! From Wednesday evening until Friday night people were emailing and sending messages via FB Messenger they wanted to participate, and they were getting their neighbors, parents, and grandparents to participate. I needed people to contact me so I would know how many Easter eggs were in the hunt, and which neighborhoods were involved.  In all, we had 115 eggs for children to find.

    Parents contacted me telling me how excited their children were to be able to go on an Easter egg hunt this year. I think the parents were just as excited, and a number of adults contacted me saying they were going egg hunting, too. I learned that during the hunt, people were sitting on their front porches waving at passersby.

    The Community Easter Egg Hunt was held Saturday and Sunday by families riding around town looking for Easter eggs.  They emailed or sent messages as to their children’s names, ages, and how many eggs they found. All in all, I believe this project was a success.  I would like to thank everyone who participated in this project for our community.

    Lastly, one person contacted me saying she wanted to donate the prize money because she supports the club work of the Riparian Woman’s Club and wanted to support her community. We would like to thank this generous benefactor.

    Winners of the Easter Egg Hunt:

    1st Prize:  Makinley (age 4) and Maggie (age 8) Barnes, who found all 115 eggs. (Bracey Barnes, mother)

    2nd  Prize:  Emma (age 5) and Norman (age 3) Jessee, who found 119 eggs. (Sarah Jessee, mother)

    3rd Prize: Lenleigh Cifers (age 11) and Aubree Seward (age 6), who found 106 and 103 eggs, respectively. (Shannon Seward, mother)

    4th Prize: Lucy (age 13) and Vance (age 7) Watson, who found 101 eggs. (Troy and Diane Watson, parents)

  36. Governor Northam, University of Virginia Biocomplexity Institute, RAND Corporation Present Infectious Disease Modeling on Impact of COVID-19 Mitigations in Virginia

    Modeling suggests social distancing efforts have slowed the spread of the virus in the Commonwealth

    RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam, in partnership with researchers from the University of Virginia’s Biocomplexity Institute and the nonprofit RAND Corporation, released new infectious disease modeling on the impact of COVID-19 mitigations in Virginia.

    Current models presented during a briefing held yesterday show that social distancing efforts beginning in mid-March have paused the growth of the COVID-19 epidemic in the Commonwealth. While data and testing remain limited, current trends suggest that Virginia’s statewide hospital bed capacity will be sufficient in the immediate future.

    “We are proud to be working with some of the top minds in the country on these projections,” said Governor Northam. “While the data is limited, we can draw a few key conclusions: First, social distancing is important, and it’s working in Virginia. Second, while we continue to work closely with our hospital systems and other health care partners to prepare for a potential surge in acute cases, we are optimistic about our statewide hospital bed capacity. Finally, it’s clear we need to be responsible about how we ease restrictions, so we can keep Virginians safe and protect public health.” 

    “From the beginning, Governor Northam has made it clear that everything we do must be grounded in science, public health expertise, and data,” said Secretary of Health and Human Resources Daniel Carey, M.D. “These models change every day, but we can use various models to help inform a range of outcomes we may be facing so we can make sure that Virginia is ready for all possible scenarios. Like every other state and many other countries, we are preparing for how we can move forward in a way that does not trigger another medical surge.”

    Key takeaways from infectious disease models developed by the UVA Biocomplexity Institute include:

    • Current social distancing efforts starting March 15 have paused the growth of the epidemic in the Commonwealth of Virginia. In this scenario, “paused” growth means that the rate of new cases is holding steady rather than increasing.

    • Current trends suggest that Virginia’s statewide hospital bed capacity will be sufficient in the near future.

    • Lifting social distancing restrictions too soon can quickly lead to a second wave.

    To understand the impact of COVID-19 mitigations in Virginia, the UVA Biocomplexity Institute developed a model of the pandemic that incorporates disease dynamics such as transmissibility and incubation period as well as population density and social behavior. The Institute modeled five potential scenarios, exploring slowing growth vs. pausing growth with social distancing in place until April 30 and June 10 compared to no mitigation.  

    “Currently, it appears as if the Commonwealth of Virginia is tracking with the pause scenario, which means that the residents of Virginia are doing an excellent job with mitigation,” said Bryan Lewis, Research Associate Professor for the Network Systems Science and Advanced Computing division for the Institute. “Even without perfect projections, we can confidently draw conclusions. We know that social distancing is working and lifting restrictions too early can lead to a second surge. We will continue to improve our models as more data become available. We plan to incorporate outcomes specific by age, integrate the role of seasonality, and analyze mitigation techniques such as a Test-Trace-Isolate approach.”

    The UVA Biocomplexity Institute has been on the forefront of epidemic modeling and mitigation since 2002, supporting the U.S. federal government and other countries through several epidemics, including planning for H5N1, the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, the MERS outbreak of 2012, and the Ebola outbreaks of 2014 and 2019. Institute researchers have worked in partnership with U.S. government agencies since early 2020 to inform evidence-based decision making for the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    “Several groups have produced models to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic might progress and to explore potential policy options,” said Carter Price, a senior mathematician at the RAND Corporation. “Each of these models has strengths and weakness, and they are likely to evolve as more and better data become available. We are helping the leadership of the Commonwealth of Virginia assess the different models so that policy can be made with the best available information.”

    Additional information, including slides from yesterday’s briefing are available here. The full video of the briefing is posted here.

  37. Governor Northam Signs Sweeping New Laws to Expand Access to Voting

    Legislation expands early voting, makes Election Day a state holiday

    RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam has signed landmark new laws to repeal Virginia’s voter ID law, make Election Day a state holiday in Virginia, and expand access to early voting.

    “Voting is a fundamental right, and these new laws strengthen our democracy by making it easier to cast a ballot, not harder,” said Governor Northam. “No matter who you are or where you live in Virginia, your voice deserves to be heard. I’m proud to sign these bills into law.”

    Governor Northam signed these bills:

    • House Bill 1 and Senate Bill 111, sponsored by House Majority Leader Charniele Herring and Senator Janet Howell, respectively, allow early voting 45 days prior to an election without a stated excuse. Virginia currently requires voters who wish to vote absentee to provide the state with a reason, from an approved list, why they are unable to vote on Election Day.

    • House Bill 19 and Senate Bill 65, sponsored by Delegate Joe Lindsey and Senator Mamie Locke, respectively, remove the requirement that voters show a photo ID prior to casting a ballot. Voter ID laws disenfranchise individuals who may not have access to photo identification, and disproportionately impact low-income individuals, racial and ethnic minorities, the elderly, and individuals with disabilities.  

    • House Bill 108 and Senate Bill 601, sponsored by Delegate Joe Lindsey and Senator Louise Lucas, respectively, make Election Day a state holiday, which will help ensure every Virginian has the time and opportunity to cast their ballot. In order to maintain the same number of state holidays, this measure repeals the current Lee-Jackson Day holiday, established over 100 years ago to honor Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.

    • House Bill 235 and Senate Bill 219, sponsored by Delegate Joshua Cole and Senator David Marsden, respectively, implement automatic voter registration for individuals accessing service at a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office or the DMV website.

    • House Bill 1678, sponsored by Delegate Joe Lindsey, extends in-person polling hours from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM.

    “We need more access to the ballot box, not less,” said Senator Louise Lucas. “I am so proud to be a part of new laws that expand access to voting and make our Commonwealth more representative of the people we serve. Today is an historic day.”

    “Our democracy relies on equal access to the ballot box,” said House Majority Leader Charniele Herring. “I’m grateful to the Governor for his partnership in breaking down barriers to voting, and ensuring all Virginians have the opportunity to exercise this fundamental right.”

    “Virginia’s photo ID law was designed to make it more difficult to vote,” said Delegate Joe Lindsey. “It is past time we repealed this law, and I’m grateful to the Governor for helping us get it done.”

  38. Donor Buys State Police Meals, 100 More for Those in Need

    Last week, state police was contacted about a donor wishing to buy meals for all the Troopers in Area 35/Emporia.  It was asked if it would be okay if we delivered those donated meals to members of the community less fortunate than us.  The donor was so moved by the gesture that she decided to purchase 100 more meals in addition to the 21 for us to deliver.  That challenge was gladly accepted by the men and women working this area. 

    Trooper T.S. Session quickly began putting her Crime Prevention contacts to work and developed a list of people in need within the community.  The list tried to focus on children and elderly within the Emporia/Greensville County area. 

    Meanwhile, Bojangles in Emporia began putting a plan in place to prepare the food to be delivered. 

    Friday morning (April 10), Area 35 and Safety Division Troopers converged on Bojangles and split into small groups - armed with the proper personal protection equipment (PPE) & social distancing - to start the delivery process.  In addition to the meals, goodie bags were put together for the kids that included crayons, coloring books, pencils and VSP Junior Trooper stickers.  Also, each food order was given a card with the quote, “In a world where you can be anything, be kind” to remind everyone to take care of one another.

    In the end, everyone was overjoyed and a few tears were shed (from the Troopers and the people!)  And most importantly, everyone had a meal.

    Sergeant S.A. Jackson, Sergeant M.A. Hernandez, Master Trooper C.D. Tucker (Sex Offender Investigative Unit), Trooper T.S. Session and Trooper M.T. Mann (l to r)

    Trooper J.M. Balek, Trooper R.A. Vaughan, First Sergeant B.E.J. Jones, Senior Trooper W.K. Sasser (Safety Division Area 65) and Trooper L.W. Milyko (Safety Division Area 65) (l to r)

  39. Va. governor signs $50 per month insulin cap

    By Will Gonzalez, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND, Va. -- Gov. Ralph Northam recently signed a bill to cap the costs of prescription insulin copays at $50 per month, one of the lowest caps in the country.

    House Bill 66, sponsored by Del. Lee Carter, D-Manassas, originally aimed to cap the costs of prescription insulin copays at $30 per month. By the time the bill passed the Senate, the cap was amended to $50 per month. 

    Cheers and applause roared through the chamber when the bill seemed poised to unanimously pass the House, until a lone delegate changed their vote and groans replaced the cheers. But they still had something to celebrate ––Virginia will have the country’s fourth lowest insulin cap.

    “For people that have diabetes, they tend to be on anywhere from five to eight medications. So even if they have good health insurance, paying copays anywhere from $5 or $10 per prescription adds up very quickly,” said Evan Sisson, professor at the VCU School of Pharmacy and vice-chairperson of the Virginia Diabetes Council. “So to be able to cap [insulin] is a huge benefit for patients.”

     The Virginia Department of Health estimated in 2017 that 631,194 or 9% of Virginians have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. 

    The bill prohibits health insurance providers from charging a copay over $50 for a one-month supply, or from allowing or requiring a pharmacy to charge any more. The bill incorporates HB 1403, which was introduced by Del. James A. Leftwich, R-Chesapeake, and shares the same wording as Carter’s bill, but the copay amount was capped at $100.

    “This bill is aimed at providing relief for those folks who have health insurance but can’t afford to use it, that is a vast swath of Virginia's population,” Carter said during a Senate committee hearing. 

    Insulin prices have risen so much in recent years that some diabetics have resorted to rationing their insulin or traveling to Canada where the drug is much cheaper. According to Sisson, for someone with diabetes, especially Type 2, a lack of insulin can lead to major complications, and even be a matter of life or death.

    “What the body does is it kicks into looking for other sources of energy other than glucose, and it starts to produce more fat,” Sisson said. “If you have more fat floating in the bloodstream, then you end up with more hardening of the arteries of atherosclerosis. What that means is you have higher blood pressure, and higher risk of heart attack or stroke.” 

    According to the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, approximately 30 million Americans suffer from diabetes, with that number increasing by about 1.5 million every year.

    Prior to the advent of insulin in the 1920s, someone diagnosed with diabetes was expected to die in a matter of months, with restrictive dieting extending that to as long as a couple of years. When Canadian researchers completed the development of insulin in 1922, they sold the patent to the University of Toronto for $1, hoping that everyone who was affected by diabetes would be able to benefit from the life-saving drug. 

    Since then, the price has constantly increased, dramatically so over the past few decades. In 2009, a 10 milliliter vial of insulin cost between $90 and $100. Today, that same vial will cost between $250 and $300, even though little about the drug has changed.

    When HB 66 was sent to the governor only two other states in the U.S. had hard caps for insulin copays. The first to introduce one was Colorado in May 2019, and the second was Illinois in January, both states have their caps at $100 per month. 

    In March, governors of six other states signed legislation capping the price of insulin. New Mexico, Utah and Maine set their caps lower than Virginia’s at $25, $30 and $35, respectively. West Virginia, Washington and New York will set caps at $100.

    The new cost in Virginia will be reflected in insurance plans starting Jan. 1, 2021, coinciding with plans purchased during the next round of open enrollment, Carter wrote on Twitter. He added, “The fact that it had to be done this way is a reflection of how generally screwed up our healthcare system is.”

  40. Virginia Uses Genetic Technology to Combat COVID-19

    ~State public health laboratory is one of the first in the nation to do this work~

    RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that the Department of General Services’ (DGS) Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS) is one of the first public health labs in the nation to use genetic technology to help public health officials better understand and track the scope of the COVID-19 pandemic to strengthen prevention and response efforts.

    DCLS is using next-generation sequencing to genetically decode some Virginia samples that contain the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19. Looking at this genetic fingerprint can help public health officials track how the virus is changing and provide insights into how it is being transmitted.

    “Advances in genetic sequencing allow us to track and analyze COVID-19 better than previous outbreaks,” said Governor Northam. “This innovative technology, combined with the work of our public health laboratory and epidemiologists around the Commonwealth, will help us understand the virus, how it spreads, and how it may change. And that will give us more tools to fight it.”

    DCLS is working alongside the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and international public health and university partners using specialized lab equipment and computer software to piece together the genetic makeup of the virus found in COVID-19 patients. DCLS is working collaboratively to create a library that stores the information of not only the positive samples it identifies, but also those tested at private facilities, healthcare systems, and universities in Virginia.

    Hidden in the genetic makeup of the virus are clues to its origin. Soon after the virus appeared in China, scientists used sequencing to tease out its genetic information and made that information available to the international public health community. As the virus travels from one person to another, it makes copies of itself and sometimes makes small genetic changes called mutations. Scientists can read these mutations like a road map, tracing how cases are related.

    Next-generation sequencing generates enormous amounts of data, which is analyzed by specialized bioinformaticians at DCLS. The lab shares the data with public health officials and uploads it to GISAID, an online repository where genomic data it is openly available to epidemiologists and virologists around the globe. Nextstrain, an online resource for scientists to visually track the genomics of the virus, creates diagrams that favor family trees showing the evolutionary relationships between different samples collected throughout the world.

    “This genetic fingerprint gives us tremendous insight into this novel virus, helping us understand where Virginia cases originated and how they are being transmitted in our communities,” said DCLS Director Dr. Denise Toney. “Providing this information in real-time is unbelievably valuable for public health officials as they determine how to reduce the impact of COVID-19 in our communities.”

    In Virginia, the sequences uploaded so far show evidence of multiple introductions of the virus into Virginia communities, suggesting that the emergence of COVID-19 is due to multiple distinct events. This is suggested by looking at the similarity of the virus in Virginia to the virus sequences obtained from Asian and European patients. There is also clear indication of person-to-person spread within suspected COVID-19 outbreaks.

    “Epidemiologists at the Virginia Department of Health can use these data during investigations of outbreaks in nursing homes and other settings to determine whether all of the cases originated from the same source or multiple sources,” said Virginia State Epidemiologist Dr. Lilian Peake.

    For more information, visit the DGS website at dgs.virginia.gov, including this Next-Generation Sequencing in Virginia document that explains more about how DCLS is using genetic technology to combat COVID-19 in Virginia.

  41. James “Jimmie” Edward Phelps

    June 9, 1927-April 8, 2020

    James “Jimmie” Edward Phelps, 92, passed away Wednesday, April 8, 2020 at his home in Hayes, Virginia. He was preceded in death by his parents, Edward Everard and Virginia Kanipe Phelps and his son, Randolph “Randy’ Phelps.

    Mr. Phelps is survived by his wife, Peggy Faris Phelps; daughter, Pamela Harrell; step-daughter, Sharon Acree (Bruce); grandchildren, Abbey H. Webb (Jared), Tommy Harrell (Lee), Craig Phelps (Mary Lou), Chad Phelps (Shannon), step-grandsons, Andrew Acree (Nicole) and Scott Acree; great-grandchildren, Madison Phelps, Cameron Phelps, Dallas Phelps, Savannah Phelps, Riley Webb, Regan Webb, Broady Webb and Kristin and Bryson Harrell; sister, Frances “Pam” Darden and a number of nieces and nephews.

    He was a member of Grace Anglican Church in Purdy, Virginia where he was on the Vestry and served in many other capacities over the years. Jimmie served his country in the Army Air Corps from August 1944 to January 1947 in World War II. He loved flying his own plane having his private airstrip in his back yard. He loved the Boy Scouts of America and started the Purdy Boy Scouts now known as Troop 232 which exists to this day. He served as Commissioner on the Greensville-Emporia Airport for 38 years. He served actively on the Greensville Rescue Squad as an EMT. Jimmie retired from Johns-Manville Corporation and Georgia-Pacific Corporation with a total service of 47 years. Proficient in both electrical and mechanical work, he became Plant Engineer. He enjoyed traveling and with his wife, Peggy, took many trips to Europe. He was a talented man and had many interests, enjoying flying as well as sailing his boat on the Chesapeake Bay most of all. His dream was to build a home on Sarah Creek where his sailboat was docked near the Yorktown, Virginia Marina. He accomplished this. He loved his Yorkie dog, Joye who stayed by his side during his entire illness.

    Graveside services will be private. A memorial service will be scheduled at a later date.

    In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to Grace Anglican Church.

    Online condolences may be shared with the family at www.owenfh.com.

  42. Becoming Essential: Southside Virginia Community College Graduates Fill Indispensable Roles

    Alberta, VA: Across the Commonwealth of Virginia, people are adapting to new routines as a result of social distancing and other precautions aimed at halting the spread of the coronavirus. Governor Ralph Northam has asked people to stay at home, and he issued an Executive Order closing non-essential businesses. As a result, many workplaces are empty.

    Businesses considered essential are still operating, and Southside Virginia Community College (SVCC) is proud that so many of its graduates are faithfully serving the local community by filling essential roles. These dedicated men and women are keeping supply lines open, medical facilities functioning, and information flowing. They include graduates from SVCC’s health programs, including nurses (RNs and LPNs), nurse aids, paramedics, and phlebotomists. They include truck drivers who bring food to local grocery stores and diesel technicians who keep the trucks running. They include Information Technology (IT) workers who keep channels of communication open and permit work-at-home solutions. They include power line workers who keep the electricity flowing, as well as electricians and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) technicians who respond to emergencies. They also include Administration of Justice graduates, who include law enforcement personnel, correctional facility staff members, and other public safety officers.

    To keep the education and training pipeline for these vital positions uninterrupted, SVCC itself has had to adapt. In March, the College began moving all classes to online and other alternative settings. In addition, Governor’s School students and other dually enrolled high school students moved to complete their studies via virtual classes.

    “Our SVCC faculty and staff are working with our students transitioning to alternative modes of instruction while maintaining our standards of educational excellence,” said Dr. Quentin R. Johnson, SVCC President. “Be assured, SVCC is open—virtually! Faculty and staff are communicating and assisting students to complete class requirements for our spring semester.  Our student services staff is accommodating all students by phone, internet, text messaging, and our website in order to answer any questions, alleviate concerns, and to assist with summer registration.”

    SVCC, an open-door institution that is part of the Virginia Community College System, provides higher education opportunities to a diverse student body. Its 4,200-square-mile service region, the largest community college jurisdiction within Virginia, spans ten counties in south-central Virginia. Seated classes are typically held at two main campuses, five off-campus centers, and numerous other satellite sites. During the current coronavirus crisis, distance learning technologies are being used to provide instruction through the college’s existing and expanded online environment. Registration for summer classes is now open. Visit Southside.edu for more information.

  43. Jean Fitchett Clarke

    June 9, 1933-April 6, 2020

    Jean Fitchett Clarke, 86, of Emporia, VA, passed away on April 6, 2020. She was preceded in death by her beloved husband of 56 years, L.C. Clarke, two daughters, Pat Clarke, and Debbie Marshall and one grandson, Philip Marshall. Survivors include grandsons, Steven Selph and his wife Getra, Clarke Weeks and his wife Shannon, Andrew Marshall and great grandson Cole Weeks. Jean retired from the VA Department of Corrections where she served as Operations Officer for Greensville Correctional Center. A graveside service will be held at Matthews Chapel United Methodist Church. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be sent to Monumental United Methodist Church, 300 Reese St. Emporia, VA, 23847, where she was a lifelong member.

    Online condolences may be made at www.echolsfuneralhome.com

  44. “Keep Both Eyes Open”

    Well it is the time of giving
    And of the taking too
    There’s so many requests for helping out
    What ever can we do?
     
    Now one can usually spot the needy
    Or a damsel in distress
    Yet at times before contributing
    It is good to second guess.
     
    Each day we see some make attempt
    To ply finds for a need
    Still so many of them overlap
    And at this one should heed.
     
    Why don’t the secondary groups
    Join the initial one in force
    They could still have many wagons
    But the need of just one horse.
     
    You’ll find there are a lot of groups
    All willing to help out
    Still check out what each will provide
    Then you can donate without a doubt!
     
                             - Roy E. Schepp
  45. Workers urge Northam to sign minimum wage bill

    By Ada Romano, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND, Va. -- Workers and advocates are urging Gov. Ralph Northam to sign a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $9.50 at the start of next year. The General Assembly will reconvene on April 22, and lawmakers will reevaluate recently passed legislation as the state’s economy takes a blow and unemployment climbs during the COVID-19 outbreak.

    Northam and state leaders anticipate the state’s economy will suffer a major hit from the coronavirus outbreak. Northam didn’t respond directly whether he is considering delaying the increase in minimum wage when asked at a recent press conference. 

    “There are a number of pieces of legislation that we are looking at regarding our business environment, and I haven’t made any definite decisions, but we are talking to the patrons of those pieces of legislation,” Northam said. The governor said he will “make a decision in the best interest of Virginia and the best interest of our economy.”

    Workers on the front lines of essential businesses continue to serve the public during the COVID-19 outbreak, including many workers who earn minimum wage–currently $7.25 in Virginia. 

    Employees at a Virginia Kroger grocery store and Amazon distribution center recently tested positive for the coronavirus. Many essential workers have asked for an increase in pay to reflect the increased need for their services and the elevated risks they take while working. 

    Anna Scholl, executive director of Progress Virginia, an advocacy organization, said that raising the minimum wage is necessary to allow these workers to raise their families with dignity. 

    “That’s especially true now when grocery store workers, delivery drivers, home health aids and so many more are going to work for low wages and putting themselves at risk of getting sick so that we can stay home and healthy,” Scholl said in a press release. 

    The group is asking Northam to sign House Bill 395 into law without amendments or delays that would water down the bill. HB 395 would raise the minimum wage to $9.50 in 2021, $11 in 2022 and $12 in 2023. The minimum wage could go up to $15 by 2026, if approved by the General Assembly. 

    Some essential workers also argue that they are not being provided adequate protective gear and supplies to keep them safe from the coronavirus, another reason they are pushing for guaranteed wage increase.

    Lisa Harris works at Kroger in Mechanicsville and is a member of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. She has been with Kroger for 13 years and said in a press conference organized by Progress Virginia that she would benefit directly from HB 395. She is urging Northam to sign the bill with no weakening amendments. 

    “I find it fascinating how fast grocery store workers like me have gone from being considered unskilled labor to being recognized as essential personnel,” Harris said. 

    She compared workers dealing directly with an increasingly infected public to being on the front lines like first responders and said “it would be nice to be paid accordingly.” 

    Harris said Kroger is not observing the proper social distancing recommendation of 6 feet or providing workers with personal protective equipment. She said the staff is required to wipe down the self checkout scanners and screens every half hour but argues that this is impossible with the influx of customers visiting the store. Harris said the staff is given Windex to clean equipment and not a proper disinfectant. The company has given full-time workers a $300 bonus and part-time workers a $150 pay boost, but that’s not enough money, Harris said. 

    “It means barely being able to support myself, it means making tough decisions about whether to pay a bill or skip a meal, it means calling on my family members to help me as I’m attempting to be a fully enfranchised 31-year old,” Harris said. 

    Allison McGee, corporate affairs manager for Kroger, said the grocery chain provided all hourly workers with a $2 pay increase for hours worked March 29 through April 18. McGee also stated that all Kroger stores in the Richmond area have been provided with Environmental Protection Agency-registered disinfectants to wipe down counters and cash registers. She said employees are required to wipe down surfaces frequently and extra hand sanitizer bottles have been provided at each checkout station.

    “As far as PPE, we are encouraging our associates to wear protective masks and gloves, and we’re working hard to secure these resources for our associates,” McGee stated in an email. “Supply has started to arrive for our associates, and we anticipate all locations having personal protective equipment within the next several weeks.”

    Kroger said on its website that they want healthcare workers to get a hold of protective gear before they can properly distribute it to their workers. For now employees have limited access to such PPE and are encouraged to use their own.

    Beginning April 7, Kroger will also start to limit the number of customers to 50% of the building code's calculated capacity to allow for proper physical distancing in stores, the company announced this week.

    Michael Cassidy, executive director of The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis, said that the coronavirus is a reminder many essential workers are also minimum wage workers. 

    “These individuals are providing a vital service to us right now and they deserve more than $7.25 an hour,” Cassidy said.

    Cassidy said if the minimum wage increase were to go into effect in January, it would help 46,000 healthcare workers, 100,00 retail workers and over 100,000 restaurant and service industry workers. He said this would allow people to buy more and contribute to businesses and the economy as a whole. 

    “That’s important because consumer spending is the foundation of our economy, it’s about 72% of Virginia’s gross domestic product,” Cassidy said. 

    Del. Danica Roem said in a tweet that she is extremely disappointed to see groups advocating for bills like HB 395 to be watered down or delayed. 

    “We’re $1.50/hr behind West Virginia right now,” Roem tweeted. “You don’t see an uprising of West Virginian business leaders demanding the government lower their minimum wage to match ours.” 

    Cassidy said history shows that increasing the minimum wage during a recession has been successful in bringing the economy back.
    HB 395 is currently pending signature by Northam with a deadline of April 11.

  46. Governor Northam Announces Additional Actions Providing Relief for Restaurants and Distilleries Impacted by COVID-19 Pandemic

    ~Executive directive defers collection of annual fees for ABC-issued licenses and permits, allows delivery of mixed beverages~

    RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today issued an executive directive authorizing the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC) to defer annual fees for licenses and permits that would be up for renewal through June. The Governor also directed the Virginia ABC to allow establishments with mixed beverage licenses, such as restaurants and distilleries, to sell mixed beverages through takeout or delivery, effective at midnight Thursday.

    Under the Governor’s executive directive, the Virginia ABC will defer the collection of license renewal fees for 90 days from original expiration date for establishments with licenses expiring in March, April, May, and June. Any penalties that would normally be associated with the late payment of such fees will be waived. If a business loses their license, they would have to go back through the application process, which takes at least 30 days. This deferral will allow more than 6,000 licensed retail, wholesale and manufacturing businesses to reopen and conduct business more quickly once the crisis is passed. An estimated $4.5 million in payments will be deferred.

    “This unprecedented health crisis has had a tremendous impact on businesses across the Commonwealth, and restaurants have been hit especially hard,” said Governor Northam. “Allowing restaurants and distilleries that remain open to sell mixed beverages with takeout or delivery orders will help them augment their revenue streams, so they can continue serving their customers and employing Virginians. These actions will give establishments with mixed beverage licenses greater flexibility to operate while their dining rooms are closed.”

    Many Virginia restaurants have pivoted from dine-in establishments to a combination of takeout, delivery, or makeshift drive-thrus in an effort to maintain operations amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. These establishments often rely on alcohol sales to meet profit margins, and this temporary privilege will support restaurants that have lost a substantial stream of revenue from the sale of mixed beverages, and distilleries that have been unable to provide their products to the public and suffered financial losses.

    “These deferrals will allow businesses to continue to operate without concern over choosing between keeping an employee or renewing a license,” said Virginia ABC Chief Executive Officer Travis Hill. “Without this relief, some closed businesses would be in the position of paying a fee for a license they can’t exercise or risk losing their license. Virginia ABC is committed to supporting retailers, restaurants and their employees during this pandemic.”

    Earlier this week, Virginia ABC announced temporary in-state direct to consumer shipping privileges for local distilleries to provide industry members both small and large with a mechanism to get their product to consumers.

    On March 20, Virginia ABC adjusted licensing regulations to permit businesses with only on-premise licenses to exercise off-premise privileges such as allowing the sale of wine or beer in sealed containers for curbside pickup in a designated area (parking lot, etc.), and delivery of those products to customers’ homes without needing a delivery permit. In order for licensed businesses to use this feature, both curbside pickup and delivery must be facilitated by a customer’s electronic order either online, over the phone or through an app.

    Additionally, licensees with off-premise privileges, including breweries, farm wineries and wineries were allowed to sell products for curbside pickup in a designated area or deliveries to customers’ homes without obtaining an additional delivery permit. Distillery stores were enabled to deliver products to customers seated in their vehicle on the premises or in the parking lot of the distillery.

    The full text of Executive Directive Ten is available here.

    Visit abc.virginia.gov/covid-19 to learn more about actions Virginia ABC has taken in response to COVID-19. For additional information and resources to support Virginians impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, visit virginia.gov/coronavirus.

  47. Northam delays upcoming elections; others push for November alternatives

    By Joseph Whitney Smith, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND, Va -- Gov. Ralph Northam announced Wednesday that he is delaying the June congressional primaries by two weeks and is calling on the General Assembly to approve moving May elections to November.

    “We have wrestled with our options and none of them are ideal or perfect,” Northam said. “Voting is a fundamental right, but no one should have to choose between protecting their health or casting a ballot.”

    State legislators will have to sign off on the governor’s proposal to move the May local and special elections. Northam proposed that these races appear on the November ballot. All absentee ballots already cast would be discarded, the governor said. Additionally, those officials whose terms expire as of June 30 will continue in office until their successors have been elected in November.

    The primary for Congressional races and a few local races has been postponed to June 23.

    “As other states have shown, conducting an election in the middle of this global pandemic would bring unprecedented challenges and potential risk to voters and those who work at polling places across the Commonwealth,” Northam said.

    Groups and state leaders have been calling for proactive measures such as mail-in voting for the upcoming Nov. 3 presidential election, fearing ongoing impact from the coronavirus pandemic. Virginia Democrats recently joined other Democratic groups nationwide calling on federal lawmakers to create voting alternatives for the presidential election due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

    The groups are asking for provisions such as free or prepaid postage, allowing ballots postmarked by election day to count, in addition to extending early voting periods for in-person voting. Two possible alternatives to replace voting in person are mail-in and absentee ballots, according to Stephen Farnsworth, a professor at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg that specializes in media and elections.

    Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, D-Prince William, supports the idea of a universal mail-in ballot, regardless of the current pandemic. An MIT research study found that universal vote by mail cuts costs, increases turnout and improves election reliability. However, the success of these programs depends on transparency, accuracy and accessibility. Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Utah have introduced mail-in only ballots.

    “We need to take up this essential task of giving all Virginians an opportunity to participate in a safe and inclusive election,” Carroll Foy said in an email.The delegate recently filed paperwork to run for governor in 2021, according to the Virginia Mercury. 

    Carroll Foy said the mail-in method is preferable to absentee voting because individuals need to opt in to register for absentee voting. Mail-in voting allows any registered voter to mail in their ballot without opting in, Carroll-Foy said. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, states using the mail-in method mail ballots to every registered voter, while absentee ballots are first requested and voters must qualify to receive the ballot. 

    “We want to make sure that everyone feels safe and secure in these uncertain times, and that their constitutional rights are protected and easily accessed -- mail in ballots are the best to achieve both,” Carroll Foy said. 

    Farnsworth believes it’s unlikely that the November U.S. presidential election will be delayed, but said voters may see changes at the polls.

    “Even for states that don't make the switch away from largely in-person voting, you can expect much greater opportunities for no-excuse-required early and absentee voting,” Farnsworth said. 

    During the General Assembly 2020 session, legislators passed House Bill 1 to allow a no excuse requirement to vote absentee. This removes prior requirements such as work, illness or travel to justify requesting an absentee ballot. 

    Farnsworth said a mail-in only option is the most likely alternative over traditional in-person voting if the nation is still on lockdown in November. 

    According to Anna Scholl, executive director of advocacy group Progress Virginia, postponing elections is the right move for Virginia voters.

    “Postponing elections is a serious decision but it is the right move for our communities,” Scholl stated in a news release. “We strongly encourage the General Assembly to ratify this plan when they meet on April 22nd.”

    The deadline to have an absentee ballot mailed for the June primary is June 2. Absentee ballot request forms can be found at www.vote.virginia.gov.

  48. *CONSUMER ALERT* ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING URGES VIRGINIANS TO REMAIN WARY OF COVID-19 SCAMS

    ~ Scammers are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to try and take money from hardworking Virginians ~
     
    RICHMOND (April 1, 2020) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring today issued a consumer alert urging Virginians to continue to be wary of COVID-19-related scams including federal stimulus related scams, cyber scams, telephone and text messaging scams, counterfeit product offers, bogus door-to-door tests and virus-related products, and phony charity donation requests.
     
    “The sad truth is that we continue to see bad actors in Virginia and across the country taking advantage of the fear and uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and trying to scam money from people,” said Attorney General Herring. “I again want to urge all Virginians to remain vigilant during this time and use common sense when you encounter seemingly too good to be true offers either online, over the phone or in person. Before purchasing any coronavirus related products or donating to any charities please do your research and make sure that you are giving your money to a legitimate business or organization.”
     
    Last week, Attorney General Herring warned of scammers trying to get personal information as part of a new federal stimulus payment scam. There have been reports of scammers using the news that, as part of the federal stimulus package, the government will be sending one-time payments to millions of Virginians and Americans as an opportunity to try and steal personal information. These phishing scams will likely ask for things like bank account information under the guise of direct depositing money from the stimulus package into your bank account. Also, remember that the government will not ask you to pay any money up front to get a stimulus check. So if someone asks you to pay something, it’s a scam.
     
    Utility or Government Imposter Scams
    Many people are understandably very concerned when they get an e-mail, letter or phone call from someone identifying themselves as a representative of a government agency or one of their utility companies. Scammers are constantly improving their techniques to fool their intended victims into thinking they work for the government or utility, including fake identification and spoofed phone numbers on Caller ID. This scam employs the fear factor to lead you to part with your money or provide financial information to them. They may even threaten to have you arrested or cut off your electricity or water if you do not comply.
     
    If someone reaches out to you saying they are from a government agency or a utility company DO NOT give your information to them over the phone. Instead find a legitimate phone number on the utility company or the government agency’s website and call them back to check and see if they actually need you to send them something.
     
    Cyber Scams
    Look out for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and other healthcare organizations, offering to share information about the virus. Do not open attachments or click on links within unknown emails, as scammers are using phony COVID-19 tracking websites to infect electronic devices with malware, putting residents at risk for identity theft and financial exploitation.
     
    Take extra precaution to avoid spoofed or phony websites by only visiting websites with clearly distinguishable URL addresses. Scammers seek to exploit individuals by directing web traffic to similar, but falsely identified website names where they can provide misinformation or attempt to gain consumers’ personal information or finances in exchange for pandemic updates.
     
    Be on the lookout for emails asking for the verification of personal data, including Medicare or Medicaid information, in exchange for receiving economic stimulus funds or other benefits from the government.  Government agencies are NOT sending out emails asking for residents’ personal information in order to receive funds or other pandemic relief opportunities.
     
    Telephone and Text Messaging Scams
    If you find that you’ve answered a robocall – Hang Up. Don’t press any numbers. Scammers are calling with offers involving everything from COVID-19 treatments and cures, to work-from-home schemes. The recording might say that pressing a number will direct you to a live operator or even remove you from their call list, but it also might lead to more robocalls.
     
    Similar to email phishing scams, text messages from unknown sources may offer hyperlinks to what appears to be automated pandemic updates, or interactive infection maps.  These are just two examples of ways scammers can install malware on your mobile electronic device, putting you at increased risk for identity theft and financial exploitation.
     
    Counterfeit Product Offers & High Demand Goods
    Ignore offers for COVID-19 vaccinations and home test kits. There are currently no vaccines, pills, medications, or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure the Coronavirus disease. This applies to offers made online, in stores, by electronic message, or over the phone. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not authorized any home test kits for COVID-19.
     
    As many have seen firsthand, some consumer products are in extreme demand. Household cleaning products, sanitizers, personal hygiene products, and health and medical supplies may be offered via online or in-person sellers aiming to capitalize on under supplied or unavailable products. When buying online, be sure to research the seller by searching online for the person or company’s name, phone number and email address, plus words like “review,” “complaint,” or “scam.” If everything checks out, pay by credit card as opposed to debit, and keep a record of your transaction. 
     
    If you are concerned about price gouging in your area, please reach out to Attorney General Herring’s Consumer Protection Section for investigation, as violations are enforceable by the Office of the Attorney General through the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.
     
    Bogus Door to Door Tests and Virus-related Products
    To ensure your personal safety, DO NOT answer the door or allow into your home or residence any unknown individuals or business representatives moving door-to-door offering to sell consumer products, medical kits, vaccines, cures, whole-home sanitization, or in-person COVID-19 testing. There are no FDA approved at-home tests, medicines, cures, vaccines, prescriptions or other coronavirus-related products and anything like this that someone is trying to sell is a scam.
     
    Phony Charities & Donation Requests
    Coming together in a time of need and extreme hardship is testament to the kindness of Virginians; however, when disasters and life changing events such as the current pandemic occur, be cautious as to where donations are going. Only give to charities and fundraisers you can confirm are reliable and legitimate. Scrutinize charities with consumer advocates or friends and find out how much of your donation will go to the charity's programs and services. Be especially cautious if you do not initiate contact with the charity. Beware of "copy-cat" names that sound like reputable charities. Some scammers use names that closely resemble those of respected, legitimate organizations.
     
    Crowdfunding sites are particularly popular. Here are a few things to remember:
    • Check the creator or page owner's credentials and try to confirm its authenticity and seriousness.
    • Look for indicators of endorsement or legitimacy that the page is actually collecting donations for a particular victim or organization. Some sites offer verification and transparency measures for campaigns. Look for those markers of authenticity, and check out the site's fraud protection measures.
    • Be cautious, and if you feel uneasy, contribute to a more established charity in the community.
    • Be wary of charities that spring up overnight in connection with a current event or natural disaster. They may make a compelling case for you to make a donation but even if they are legitimate, they may not have the infrastructure or experience to get your donation to the affected area or people.
    If a charity is soliciting contributions in Virginia, verify its registration with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Office of Charitable and Regulatory Programs ("OCRP") at (804) 786-1343, or by searching OCRP's Charitable Organization Database online.
     
    Remember these tips to avoid becoming a victim:
    • Never wire money or send cash or a pre-paid card—These transactions are just like sending someone cash! Once your money is gone, you can’t trace it or get it back.
    • Don’t give the caller any of your financial or other personal information—Never give out or confirm financial or other sensitive information, including your bank account, credit card, or Social Security number, unless you know exactly who you're dealing with. Scammers can use your information to commit identity theft. If you get a call about a debt that may be legitimate — but you think the collector may not be — contact the company to which the caller claims you owe money to inquire about the call.
    • Don’t trust a name or number—Scammers use official-sounding names, titles, and organizations to make you trust them. To make the call seem legitimate, scammers also use internet technology to disguise their area code or generate a fake name on caller ID. So even though it may look like they’re calling locally or somewhere in the United States, they could be calling from anywhere in the world.
    • Join the National Do Not Call Registry and don’t answer numbers you don’t know—This won’t stop scammers from calling but it should make you skeptical of calls you get from out of the blue. Most legitimate sales people generally honor the Do Not Call list. Scammers ignore it. Putting your number on the list helps to “screen” your calls for legitimacy and reduce the number of legitimate telemarketing calls you get.
    Attorney General Herring advises consumers to watch out for the following red flags and to keep these tips in mind to avoid becoming a victim of consumer fraud:
    • The Offer Seems Too Good to be True—If it seems too good to be true, it almost certainly is. Examples include money left to you from an unknown relative, being awarded a loan or grant for which you did not apply, winning a lottery you did not enter and being selected to receive a share in funds in return for using your bank account.
    • Requests for Fees or Payment in Advance—Scammers will want advance payments or fees to clear the funds or complete their offer. It might not be clear what the fees are for, but the scammer will tell you they have to be paid or the money can’t be released. They might suggest they are only trying to help you out and the fees are a small sum compared to what you will be receiving. Never pay fees or taxes in advance.
    • Pressure—Scammers will often put pressure on their victims and urge them to pay immediately or lose the opportunity, or may even threaten them with legal consequences or disconnected utilities unless a payment is sent right away. A genuine business or government entity will not pressure you to act immediately.
    • Know who you are dealing with—Technology has made it easy for scammers to disguise or spoof their telephone number or create a website that looks very legitimate. Do an online search for the company name and website and look for consumer reviews. If you cannot find a seller’s physical address (not a P.O. Box) and phone number it should be a red flag. It is best to do business with websites you know and trust. If you buy items through an online auction, consider using a payment option that provides protection, like a credit card.
    • They Want Private Information—Many scams involve getting hold of your bank account details. Scams involving identity theft also seek personal information. A common scenario is an email supposedly from a bank asking you to click on a link to confirm your bank details and password. Banks generally don’t do this, but if you think the email has really come from your bank, pick up the phone and confirm with them. Never click on links or attachments in emails from people you don’t know or you risk your computer becoming infected by viruses, trojans, or other malware.
    • Untraceable Payment Method—Scammers prefer payment methods that are untraceable, such as wiring money through Western Union or other services. Be very suspicious of demands for wire transfers or cash payments. Never wire money to someone you do not know. 
    • Grammatical Errors or Poor Production Values—Scammers may be clever, but they are not always careful and English may not be their first language. Their grammatical errors can give them away. If the correspondence you receive is full of errors, low-resolution images, or unsophisticated formatting, be very suspicious.
    • Suspicious Email Domains and Web Addresses—Look carefully at email addresses and domain names. Businesses rarely use free email services like Hotmail, AOL, Yahoo, or Gmail. Even if the business seems legitimate, do some research to make sure they have readily available contact information and have not scammed others.
    • Suspicious or No Addresses—Scammers do not want their victims to know where they live. If there is no physical address and your contacts won’t give you one, it’s a sure bet you’re being scammed. If there is a physical address, check it out using the Internet or Google Earth and see if it’s a real address.
    • Request for Access to Your Computer—A common scam is a phone call from someone claiming to be a technician who has detected problems with your computer and would like to fix them for you free. Never give anyone remote access to your computer
    If you think you have been a victim of a scam please reach out to Attorney General Herring’s Consumer Protection Section:
  49. April, 2020, Update from Congressman Donald McEachin

    These are incredibly challenging and scary times. We are all having to make great sacrifices to ensure that we defeat COVID-19 as quickly as possible. This means some parents are out of work, children are home from school, and families are isolating from one another to conquer this viral enemy.  I want you to know that while my staff and I are working remotely, we are all still hard at work and we are still here for you.

    Most importantly, I want to update you on the legislation Congress recently passed to help people across the country during this pandemic. I was so pleased to be part of advocating for and passing the stimulus bill to help American families and business owners.

    Our goal for this legislation – my goal – is to help people. Unfortunately, many Virginians are out of work, some are ill, and small business owners are trying to figure out how to make sure their business survives this pandemic. This bill will make a real difference to struggling families, suffering small businesses, and our overwhelmed health care system. This legislation will:

    • Give hospitals money to help them purchase desperately needed equipment and pay for free testing, which is desperately needed across the country.
    • Provide almost $400 billion for small businesses to survive these trying times. Businesses that maintain employees will be able to turn loans into grants, which will both help businesses stay afloat and keep more workers on the job.
    • Provide $260 billion for unemployment benefits so that out-of-work Americans will know they can pay rent and bills while they must stay home. The unemployment benefits include part time workers and gig workers and increases the benefits currently available.
    • To apply for this, contact the Virginia Unemployment office. Their telephone number is 1-866-832-2363 and they are available 8:15am to 4:30pm. More information is available on their website:  www.vec.virginia.gov.
    • Provide direct stimulus money to the vast majority of Americans. Individuals making less than $75,000 annually will receive $1200 and couples who file jointly and make under $150,000 combined income will receive $2400. Families will receive $500 for each child.  Those who make between $75,000 and $99,000 annually will receive a diminished amount on a sliding scale. This money will allow for folks to buy groceries, pay bills and hopefully ease some of the financial burden this outbreak has placed on individuals.

    Our goal is to protect American families, keep Americans safe, while doing what we can to stimulate the economy. Please know that this is not the end. We recognize this is going to be a long haul and we will be vigilant. Protecting the future of this great nation and all Americans is our singular goal. I expect we will see additional legislation to help Americans and to ensure our economy comes back.

    Additionally, researchers all over this country and around the world are working diligently to find a vaccine to offer protection from the novel coronavirus. Unfortunately, that is a prolonged process as vaccines require 12 to 18 months of development and testing. We certainly do not want to inject a healthy person with medication that could be harmful. At the same time, research is ongoing for therapeutics that will address the virus, mitigate its impacts, and diminish its severity. Because those medications are given to persons already quite ill and struggling, they do not require as much testing to be approved. When an individual is quite ill, taking chance on a novel drug is the compassionate and humane course if it can potentially save a life or ameliorate the outcome.

    Please know that this is not the end. We recognize this is going to be a long haul and we will be vigilant. Protecting the future of this great nation and all Americans is our singular goal. I expect we will see additional legislation to help Americans and to ensure our economy comes back.

     I want to thank all the health care professionals, first responders, grocery and pharmacy workers, mail deliverers, garbage collectors, and all the others who continue to diligently do their jobs for the sake of all Virginians.

    Lastly, let me reiterate that my office and I are here to help. If you need help with a federal agency or have a question about the bill, please go to my website at mceachin.house.gov.

  50. Prep continues at old hospital site, precautions a constant at CMH

    Editor’s Note: In an effort to inform our communities about changes at VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital, we are releasing this additional information about the stand up of the old hospital building on Buena Vista Circle and precautions taken routinely by CMH in dealing with infectious diseases.

    “As VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital continues to prep the old CMH on Buena Vista to possibly accept patients, we felt it was important to let the community know about precautions we at the hospital take daily to help control the spread of this virus and other infectious diseases and to protect our patients, staff and the community as a whole,” said Scott Burnette, CEO of CMH. 

    He explained, “At CMH we have taken extensive precautions through the years to protect everyone from the spread of infectious diseases. That was true in 1954and it is true today, although medical research has provided us with many more tools over the years. There are important steps each and every employee takes to reduce the possibility of spreading a disease to patients, other staff members and the community.”

    “We practice a strict regimen in what is called donning and doffing of personal protective equipment (PPE). Every employee who works in direct patient care has been specifically trained in this thorough procedure that protects everyone,” he said. 

    This protective equipment includes disposable gowns, gloves, masks and eye protection. Further, as staff members put on (don) or take off (doff) the PPE, an observer is to be present to make sure the procedure is followed correctly.

    “When infectious diseases are present and those diseases have an airborne component like COVID-19, patients are placed in what is called a negative pressure room or can be managed by leaving the patient room door closed to the hallway at all times,” he added. 

    Negative pressure rooms bring in air from the hallway outside the room at all times and then the air in the room is exhausted through the roof at CMH where it dissipates and is no longer an issue. 

    Burnette explained that if a COVID positive patient is in a negative pressure room, the airborne virus cannot escape the room except being expelled harmlessly through the roof.

    Employees remove their PPE in a very specific manner at the door of the negative pressure room before exiting the room and wash their hands during each step of removing their equipment. This keeps those staff members and others safe from contact with the airborne virus.

    Burnette explained that this procedure is utilized at hospitals across the country and is the accepted practice of the World Health Organization and the Centers For Disease Control with the federal government.

    But he added that everyone has a responsibility to help slow or stop the spread of infectious diseases.

    “The most important thing everyone can do is practice social distancing.  Six feet is the magic number.  Staying six feet away from people, being careful what you touch, avoid touching your face and washing your hands often with soap and water or sanitizer is the best way to slow or stop the progression of this virus,” Burnette said. 

    Burnette said that the decision to prepare the old hospital to possibly receive patients was appropriate and necessary.

    "Preparing the old hospital for COVID-19 patients is a precautionary step to make sure we have the capacity to handle any and all patients who present at CMH.  If precautions are not put into motion right now there could be a scenario where people in our community, our friends or family, could be in need of health care and CMH would not have room for them.  Having the CMH facility on Buena Vista Circle available as an option is a way to prevent this horrible scenario from taking place.  We are in the business of providing the best possible care for our patients and having this facility available to us will give us the best chance to do just that."  

    If anyone has questions about COVID-19 they should visit the CDC website at: cdc.gov.

  51. Greensville County Board of Supervisors to Livestream April 6 Meeting

    (Friday, April 3, 2020) Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the scheduled April 6, 2020 Greensville County Board of Supervisors and Greensville County Water and Sewer Authority meetings will be live-streamed.  The Board of Supervisors meeting will begin at 6 pm, followed by the Water and Sewer Authority meeting.

    In accordance with the Stay at Home Order and the restrictions on public gatherings, the public will not be allowed to attend the meeting in person.  If you have public comments that you want the Board to consider, submit those in writing via email to admin@greensvillecountyva.gov by Monday, April 6 at 4 pm.  Please provide your first and last name, address and phone number.

    The public is encouraged to view the live-streamed meeting by entering one of the web addresses below in an Internet browser:

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCckhluQu1NDf3FgwoWkpTLQ

    or

    https://tinyurl.com/gcvaboard

  52. Jason Billy Vincent

    April 18, 1974-April 1, 2020

    It is with deepest sorrow that we say goodbye to Jason Billy Vincent, age 45, our beloved son, brother, family member, and friend who passed away suddenly on Wednesday, April 1, 2020 at his home in Skippers, VA.

    Jason was born April 18, 1974, in Emporia, VA and he spent most of his life in nearby Skippers. Over the course of his career, Jason served in the US Army in Ft. Benning, GA where he attended Infantry Training and later worked with Bradley Fighter Vehicles.  After discharging from the Army, Jason worked in Computer Science, graduated from Welding School, and most notably in recent years worked in his family’s business, The Good Earth Peanut Company in Skippers, VA.

    Those who knew Jason, even just a little, lost a shining light in their lives.

    Jason will be sorely missed everyday by his father and mother, Lindsey Somner Vincent and Janet Scott Vincent; his sister, Claire Vincent (Brian Gilligan); his brother Benjamin Vincent; his nephew, Avett Gilligan; his loving aunts, uncles, cousins, and many, many wonderful friends.  Jason will also be greatly missed by his Good Earth Peanut Company “family” who he saw, loved, and worked with closely every day.

    Jason is preceded in death by his paternal grandparents Billy Ben Vincent and Frances Somner Vincent and his maternal grandparents William Edmunds Tucker and Della Elder Tucker. 

    Some of Jason’s favorite things were his dogs (and animals in general), Sun Drop, motorcycles, Chicken Tetrazzini, video games and listening to music.

    Due to COVID-19 a private service will be held now, but a full memorial service is planned to honor Jason’s life once the COVID-19 social distancing bans are lifted.

    Because of Jason’s love of animals, contributions in memory of Jason may be made to the non-profit organization, Luv4Pawz Animal Rescue, 552 North Main St., Emporia, VA 23847 or online @ luv4pawzrescue.org

    Online Condolences can be sent to: www.wrennclarkehagan.com or echolsfuneralhome.com

  53. Gale Poole Moore

    October 24, 1942 - April 2, 2020

    Gale Poole Moore, 77, died Thursday, April 2, 2020.

    Gale was the daughter of the late Wesley C. “Jimmy” Poole and Ruby Wray Poole. In addition to her parents she was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Edward A. “Arnie” Moore, a brother, Clarence Wesley “Sonny or Little Jimmy” Poole, and a sister, Helen Poole Gibson.

    Gale loved her Church and her Church Family, her work at Echols Funeral Home, where she was the Office Manager for over thirty years, she loved the beach, bingo, and travelling, but most of all she loved her daughter and grandson and her extended family.

    Gale is survived by her loving daughter and grandson, Kimberly Moore Downing and Morey Ray Downing, both of Virginia Beach, a special grandson Ed Powell,  her brother, William Boyd Poole and his wife Lori of Emporia, cousin, Nancy Poole Reyes, an aunt, Mable Wray Mizzell of Petersburg, her sister in law, Jean Moore Bennett and her husband Alton, special nephews, Dean Moore and his wife Lori, Albert Calvin “Plug” Moore Jr. and his wife Susan, niece, Deanna Moore Babb and her husband Michael, and many more nieces and nephews who she loved dearly and a special friend, Reni Hobbs of Emporia.

    A private Graveside Service will be held at Zion Baptist Church, where she will be laid to rest beside her beloved Husband Arnie. A public Celebration of Gale’s life will be held at a later time.

    Echols Funeral Home is taking care of the arrangements, and online condolences may be left at echolsfuneralhome.com.

  54. Roland H. Gillam

    Roland H. Gillam, 52, of Emporia passed away Thursday, April 2, 2020. He was the son of the late Walter and Elsie Barnes Gillam

    Roland is survived by his significant other, Tori Weaver; daughter, Kim Gillam; son, Brandon Gillam; two brothers, Randy Gillam (Janet) and Ronnie Gillam (Christine); cousins, Ricky Bradley (Ladorne) and Dianne Clary (Jeff) and a number of nieces and nephews.

    A memorial service will be scheduled at a later date.

    In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to the Hospice Support Group of Southside Virginia or to the American Cancer Society or to Calvary Baptist Church.

    Online condolences may be shared with the family at www.owenfh.com.

  55. Anna Smith Jarratt

    December 13, 1947 - April 01, 2020

    Anna Smith Jarratt, 72, passed away Wednesday, April 1, 2020 at Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center. She was born December 13, 1947 in Emporia, Virginia. While raising her children that she loved dearly, she ran the Emporia-Greensville Recreation Association community pool and concession stand from 1977 until the closure of the Center Street park. Anna then went to work for the Greensville County Public School system where she loved helping all of “her children” and retired after twenty years. Following retirement, Anna obtained her beautician’s license and enjoyed her daily interactions with dear friend and colleague, Barbara Barlow and all those who visited to get a trim or just catch up on the “daily news”. She enjoyed working in her yard and embellishing it with “ornaments”. She had tremendous faith and loved everyone she met.

    She was preceded in death by her parents, Davis Pete and Betsy Rook Smith.

    Anna is survived by William T. Jarratt, Sr. ‘Tommy”; her loving children; William T. Jarratt, Jr. “Timmy” (Lori), Stuart Craig Jarratt, and Trista Jarratt Clements (Robert); sisters, Frances Peirce (Stephen) of Abilene, TX, Hilda Harrell of Emporia; and brother, Wayne White (Linda) of Sedley, VA; grandchildren, Dustan T. Jarratt (Emily) of Emporia, Lynsey Jarratt Overstreet of Farmville, Brooklyn N. Jarratt of Urbanna, Kayla L. Jarratt, Austin C. Jarratt, Sumer B. Clements, Carleigh B. Jarratt, Allie M. Jarratt, and Cora, Alyce and Anna Clements, all of Emporia; great-grandchildren, Hudson and Ryland Jarratt of Emporia, Lailah and Rilee Baylor of Urbanna, Aubrie and Reed Overstreet of Farmville, Dakota and Daxton Ferguson of Emporia and a number of nieces and nephews. Anna will also be forever remembered by her extended family and dear friends.

    The funeral service will be private.

    A memorial service will be scheduled for a later date.

    Online condolences may be shared with the family at www.owenfh.com.

  56. Dottie Williams

    April 09, 1937 - April 01, 2020

    Dottie Williams, 82, passed away Wednesday, April 1, 2020 at Mary View Hospital in Portsmouth, Virginia after a brief illness. She grew up on the family farm in Skippers that she loved so much.

    Dottie was preceded in death by her parents, Thomas and Rachel; brothers, Billy ‘Wimp” and Freddie; her sister, Barbara Little and a nephew, Stacy Little. She is survived by her brothers, The Reverend Kenneth Williams (Shirley) of Newsoms, Virginia and Eddie Williams (Jo Ann) of Emporia; nieces, Nancy Jenkins (Whitey), Kathie Isles (Bobby), Penny Baugham (Lynn) and Tracy Williams; nephews, Wayne Williams (LeeAnn), Marlon Little (Sylvia) and Trent Williams (Dawn). She also is survived by numerous great-nieces and great-nephews; cousins and friends whom she loved dearly. Dottie greatly missed her church and her church family at Forest Hill Baptist Church after she moved to Courtland Health and Rehab. A memorial service will be held at a later date. Online condolences may be shared with the family at www.owenfh.com.

  57. Meherrin Regional Library Remains Closed

    Due to the current COVID-19 crisis the Meherrin Regional System will remain closed until further notice. This closure also includes the use of the library's meeting rooms. The library will not charge fines and item due dates will continue to be extended until normal operations resume. Wi-Fi continues to be available in parking spots closest to library entrances. If you have questions concerning your account or other library resources please email the library at mrlsweb@gmail.com. The library appreciates the patience and understanding of the community during this time. The Meherrin Regional Library includes the Brunswick County Library, Lawrenceville and the Richardson Memorial Library, Emporia.

  58. ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING URGES VIRGINIANS TO COMPLETE CENSUS QUESTIONNAIRE

    ~ On “Census Day” Herring highlights the importance of the census for things like federal funding for healthcare and transportation, and state and federal legislative districts ~

    RICHMOND (April 1, 2020) – On “Census Day” Attorney General Mark R. Herring is encouraging all Virginians to complete their 2020 decennial census questionnaires to make sure that there is an accurate count of Virginia’s population. Hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funds are directly tied to demographic information obtained through the census, including the Highway Trust Fund and other Department of Transportation grants, Child Care Development Grants, and Medicaid. Consequently, inaccurate counts can potentially deprive Virginia of much-needed funds designed to protect low-income and vulnerable communities.

    “On this Census Day, most, if not all, households in Virginia should have received a census questionnaire – please make sure to fill it out and send it back to the Census Bureau. While I know most of us are focused on the coronavirus, it is so incredibly important that we all still participate in the census,” said Attorney General Herring. “The census isn’t just a project that the government does every ten years to figure out how many people live in the country. It ensures that Virginia has fair representation both at the state and the federal level and it determines funding for critical things like healthcare, transportation and childcare.

    “I successfully fought in court to protect the integrity of the census and block the Trump Administration’s citizenship question from being included on this year’s census. Now all Virginians must do their part and fill out their questionnaire to make sure that everyone living in the Commonwealth is properly counted. An undercount could cost Virginia millions of dollars in federal funding.”

    While the census counts Virginians at their permanent residence, people without a permanent residence are counted at the place where they are living on April 1st, which is why that day is known as “Census Day.” The 2020 census is already well underway but, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, response rates have been slower and the U.S. Census Bureau has adjusted the original timeline in response to that. To make things as easy as possible, you can respond to the census online, over the phone or through the mail.

    Attorney General Herring successfully protected the integrity of the 2020 census after he sued to block the Trump Administration’s addition of a “poison pill” citizenship question, that the Census Bureau said would likely depress response and compromise the accuracy of the census. Attorney General Herring’s lawsuit emphasized the irreparable harm that would result from inaccuracies in the 2020 Census.

    Additionally, the coalition filed official comments in August 2018 urging the Census Bureau to reconsider its decision to include an unnecessary citizenship question that would impair the Bureau’s essential function of counting all people in the 2020 census. The comments explained that demanding citizenship information on the census would depress response rates in cities and states with large immigrant populations, directly threatening those states’ fair representation in Congress and the Electoral College, as well as billions of dollars in critical federal funds.

    A total of $700 billion is distributed annually to nearly 300 different census-guided federal grant and funding programs. In FY2015, Virginia received over $953 million in Highway Trust Fund grants, over $131 million in Urbanized Area Formula Grants, and nearly $64 million in Child Care Development grants, all based on census data.

  59. Gun Group Asks Northam to Reopen Indoor Ranges as March Gun Sales Increase

    By Chip Lauterbach, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia gun owners are calling on Gov. Ralph Northam to remove indoor gun ranges from the list of non-essential businesses closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    Meanwhile, this comes as background checks for firearm purchases saw double digit growth from February to March. The Second Amendment advocacy group Virginia Citizens Defense League said that indoor ranges aren’t places of entertainment, rather places where people can practice lifesaving skills. 

    The group has rallied its supporters to urge Northam to reconsider the closing of indoor ranges, which are part of two recent executive orders requiring Virginians to stay at home and non-essential businesses to close until June 10.

     Under Northam’s orders gatherings of 10 or more people are prohibited. Indoor gun ranges, along with many other businesses deemed recreational and entertainment facilities, have been required to close. That includes racetracks and historic horse racing facilities, bowling alleys, arcades and movie theaters. Beauty salons, spas, massage parlors and other non-essential establishments that can’t keep people more than 6 feet apart must close. 

    Essential businesses such as grocery and convenience stores, pharmacies, pet stores, electronic and hardware retailers, and banks can remain open.

    “The governor’s view of ranges is that they are for entertainment, or that has been what he has classified them as,” VCDL President Philip Van Cleave said. “Ranges are where people get to practice lifesaving skills, and there are so many new gun owners now that have realized that their safety is in their own hands.”

    Gun sales have spiked in some areas around the nation since the COVID-19 outbreak began, according to NPR. In Virginia, gun stores conducted 83,675 background checks in March, a 20% increase over January and February data which were 68,420 and 67,257 respectively, according to FBI firearm background check statistics. Background checks are required for a purchase, but multiple firearms could be purchased for each background check.

    Though Northam’s order does not designate firearm and ammunition retailers as essential retail businesses, they can remain open but must abide by the social distancing order and not allow more than 10 customers at a time.

    The VCDL has sought legal counsel to push back against Northam’s executive order, deeming indoor gun ranges as non-essential businesses, Van Cleave said. William J. Olson, the organization’s lawyer, sent two letters to Northam. The first asked for the indoor ranges to be removed from the list of non-essential businesses, and the second notified the governor of the Department of Homeland Security guidance to list jobs at gun manufacturers, retailers and U.S. gun ranges as being part of the “essential critical infrastructure workforce.” 

    Citing the silence from the governor’s office and the issuing of Executive Order 55, which extended the timeline businesses must remain closed, Van Cleave said the VCDL Board of Directors voted to advance a lawsuit to put a stay on the closure of indoor gun ranges.

    “The Board of Directors voted, and we are going to move forward with the lawsuit, but I can’t give any further details at this time,” Van Cleave said Wednesday.

    Colonial Shooting Academy in Henrico County closed its indoor shooting ranges to comply with Northam’s order. Peyton Galanti, Colonial Shooting Academy’s marketing department manager, said the decision to close should be left up to businesses and not the governor.

    “A lot of people don’t know that indoor gun ranges are under a lot of scrutiny with a lot of different government departments anyways,” Galanti said. 

    Galanti explained that indoor ranges like Colonial Shooting Academy have to meet guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to include proper ventilation of indoor ranges due to lead particulates that are released when a gun is fired.

     “The practices that we have on a daily basis are so much stronger than other businesses in terms of our cleaning standards on every level that we have to comply with.”

    Van Cleave said that indoor ranges “can easily limit the number of people allowed” by putting an empty lane in between shooters to keep people several feet apart and comply with the governor’s order.

    There are approximately 70 shooting ranges in Virginia, according to the National Rifle Association data. Northam’s order doesn’t include outdoor shooting ranges, though a majority of outdoor ranges require paid memberships. 

    The VCDL also implored the governor to veto House Bill 264, which would require Virginians to take an in-person class and demonstrate competence with a firearm to obtain a concealed handgun permit, ending the current option to take an online class in order to qualify for such a permit.

    “Applicants would be socially isolated, while still getting training. That would be impossible if HB 264 becomes law,” VDCL said in a newsletter.

     If signed by Northam, HB 264 would take effect Jan. 1, 2021.

  60. VIRGINIA STATE POLICE ENFORCEMENT PRACTICES OF GOVERNOR’S EXECUTIVE ORDERS AND DIRECTIVES

    RICHMOND – The Virginia State Police encourages all Virginians to adhere to Virginia Governor Northam’s directives and do their part by staying home in order to best mitigate the exposure and spread of COVID-19 within the Commonwealth. State troopers, for their personal protection and for the safety of the public, are minimizing their direct contact with the public. All Department recruitment events, public presentations, training, ceremonies, etc., have all been canceled or postponed through June 10, 2020.

    Governor Northam has directed state and local law enforcement to initially address violations of the following Executive Order 53 and Executive Order 55 directives with education and warnings. Persistent violation of these Executive Order (EO) directives can result in an individual(s) or business being charged with a class one misdemeanor, which carries up to a year in jail and $2,500 fine:

    • Prohibition of all public and private in-person, indoor and outdoor gatherings of more than 10 individuals – with the exception of the operation of businesses not required to close under EO 53 and the gathering of family members living in the same residence;
    • Closure of all dining and congregation areas in restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, tasting rooms and farmers markets;
    • Any brick and mortar retail business (not listed in paragraph 5 of EO 53) failing to limit all in-person shopping to no more than 10 patrons per establishment. If any such business cannot adhere to the 10-patron limit with proper social distancing requirements, it must close.
    • Closure of all public access to recreational and entertainment businesses;
    • Closure of public beaches for all activity, except for exercising and fishing;
    • Cancellation of in-person classes and instruction at institutions of higher education;
    • Cessation of all reservations for overnight stays of less than 14 nights at all privately-owned campgrounds

     Virginia State Police have been and will continue to assess Virginia EO violations on a case-by-case basis.

     State police is required to uphold the laws of the Commonwealth and will continue to have a visible presence within our communities and on the roads for the safety of those living, working and traveling in Virginia. The law still requires law enforcement to have reasonable suspicion to initiate a traffic stop on a vehicle. Virginia State Police will not be making random traffic stops on vehicles nor conducting checkpoints to determine if a driver is traveling for a permissible reason, as granted by EO 53 and EO 55.

    The current Governor’s Executive Orders related to COVID-19:

    • Do not require an individual to carry documentation related to one’s purpose of travel;
    • Do not close Virginia roads/interstates to Virginia residents;
    • Do not restrict non-Virginia residents from traveling into and/or through Virginia;
    • Do not prevent Virginians from traveling out of the state. State police does encourage any Virginian(s) traveling out-of-state to check, in advance, the other state(s) for any travel restrictions in effect for that state(s). Governor Northam has advised Virginians returning from out-of-state and/or international travel to self-quarantine for at least 14 days.

    For any additional questions related to the statewide “Stay at Home” order, please go to www.virginia.gov/coronavirus/faq.