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Va. News: Gun Law put to use for First Time, Chesterfield County benefits from Economic Downturn

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One of Virginia’s new gun laws has seen its first real world application. And a Virginia locality has found at least one benefit to the economic slowdown.

Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s Va. News link.

More now from Fred Echols.

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Panel Recommends Removing Virginia’s Lee Statue from U. S. Capitol

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In Virginia’s statehouse in Richmond,  a statue of Robert E. Lee was removed Thursday night.

And as Mallory Noe-Payne reports, a state panel voted unanimously Friday to recommend removal of a different statue of Lee, this one in the U.S. Capitol.

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Lawmakers Hold Criminal Justice Reform Public Hearings

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Virginia lawmakers are preparing to tackle criminal justice reform in an upcoming special session.

As Mallory Noe-Payne reports they heard hours of testimony Wednesday from law enforcement, activists, and the public.

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Va. News: Bus Drivers Discuss Schools Re-Opening, Albemarle County slows replies to FOIA requests

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There are many unanswered questions about when and how Virginia schools will reopen and how students will get there. And at least two local governments have declared that the pandemic relieves them of certain requirements under the Freedom of Information Act.

Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s Va. News link.

More now from Fred Echols.

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PPP Money and Accountability

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More than 973,000 jobs in Virginia were spared through the Paycheck Protection Program, according to data released by the U.S. Treasury Department this week.

So what happens if businesses still cut their staff?

Cat Modlin-Jackson has this report.

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Advocates Worried About COVID-19 Outbreak at Immigration Detention Facility

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(Credit: CDC)

An outbreak of COVID-19 at an ICE detention facility in Central Virginia has advocates worried.

More than 100 people detained there have now tested positive for the virus.

Officials say it’s the result of transferring COVID-positive people from other facilities. Mallory Noe-Payne has details.

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Housing Commission Gets Update on COVID-19’s Impact on Virginia

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Housing markets in Virginia are on the mend, but the road ahead is still unclear for renters struggling to recover from the economic devastation of COVID-19.

That’s one takeaway lawmakers heard at a Virginia Housing Commission meeting Wednesday.

Cat Modlin-Jackson has this report.

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New Housing Anti-discrimination Laws now in Effect

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Housing advocates in Virginia are celebrating landmark anti-discrimination laws that took effect last week (July 1st).

One prohibits landlords from turning away renters based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

And, as Cat Modlin-Jackson found, another could help deconcentrate poverty and racial segregation.

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Violent Crime is Trending Down, But Police Funding is Not

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The ongoing national debate over policing is raising new questions in Virginia about local government spending on public safety.

Michael Pope reports.

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Virginia Lawmakers Still Think Congress can move on Police Reform

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Virginia lawmakers in both parties say they’re frustrated policing reform efforts have stalled on Capitol Hill.

Matt Laslo reports that besides the finger pointing, lawmakers still think a deal can be reached.

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Va. News: Danville Airport Upgrades and a New Name for a Staunton Landmark

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The City of Danville is making plans to accommodate an increase in air travel if it gets a casino. And an iconic landmark in Staunton will soon have a new name.

Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s Va. News link.

More now from Fred Echols.

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Embracing Black Owned Businesses

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DeShanta Hairston at her bookstore in Martinsville. (Credit: Cat Modlin-Jackson)

As people across the world took to the streets to declare that Black Lives Matter, the owner of a small bookstore in Martinsville shared a message that rocked the internet.

Cat Modlin-Jackson has the story.

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Virginia Releases Facility-Specific Data on COVID cases in Long-Term Care

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Virginia’s Department of Health has reversed course, announcing it will release more data on COVID-19 outbreaks at long term care facilities.

Mallory Noe-Payne has more.

Click here for the data

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Judge Extends Injunction For Richmond Robert E. Lee Statue Indefinitely

Lee Monument Protest

Protesters gather around the Lee Monument (Credit: Mallory Noe-Payne)

Virginians waiting for the Robert E. Lee monument in Richmond to come down will have to wait a while longer.

As Mallory Noe-Payne reports, a judge extended an injunction Thursday barring the state from removing the statue.

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A Crush of COVID-19 Data

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Last week, Virginia’s Department of Health released a backlog of tens of thousands of COVID-19 test results. This week, it provided more race and ethnicity data.

Trying to communicate state data on the disease to the public every day is a formidable task.

To better understand recent data dumps, tweaks and changes the state is managing, Pamela D’Angelo talked with the woman behind the numbers.

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Va. News: Hikers & Bicyclists

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When the Appalachian Trail asked hikers to leave the trail because of Covid-19 not all of them were willing and able to comply. And technological advances are leading to questions about where some new models of bicycles should be allowed.

Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s Va. News link.

More now from Fred Echols.

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Many Parents Uneasy About Child Care During COVID-19

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According to the Virginia Department of Education more than 40% of preschools and daycares in Virginia are still open. And yet a tiny percentage of parents have opted to use them.

That’s the finding of a recent survey by Voices for Virginia’s Children.

Mallory Noe-Payne reports

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5th District Republican Nominating Fight to be Decided Saturday

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On Saturday, Republican leaders in the Fifth Congressional District are holding a convention to nominate a candidate.  And it could knock Representative Denver Riggleman out of his job.

Correspondent Matt Laslo has this story on how same-sex marriage and privacy issues are imperiling the first term Congressman.

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A Republican Congressman Steps Out with Peaceful Protesters

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  Qasim Rashid (left) and Rep. Rob Wittman speak at the end of Monday’s march.
(Credit Pamela D’Angelo)

On Monday evening in the tiny rural town of Montross on the Northern Neck, Republican Congressman Rob Wittman marched with about 100 of his constituents in a peaceful protest of racism and honoring George Floyd.

Pamela D’Angelo was there.

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State Corrects Underreporting of Unemployment in Hispanic Community

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Virginia has been dramatically underreporting the number of Hispanic workers collecting unemployment benefits.

As Michael Pope reports, the corrected data shows the economic crisis has hit the Hispanic community particularly hard.

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After Protests, Northam Orders Removal of Iconic Lee Statue

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Protesters surround the Lee monument in Richmond. (Credit: Mallory Noe-Payne)

The details and timeline still need to be ironed out, but Governor Ralph Northam made clear today the Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond will come down.

Northam says he’s directed the Department of General Services to remove the state-owned statue as soon as possible.

Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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Outpouring of Anger and Frustration Across Virginia

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  Protesters march through Richmond Friday night.
(Credit Mallory Noe-Payne)

Police swarmed Richmond Sunday night, forcefully enforcing an 8 p.m. curfew using tear gas and armored vehicles. They arrested dozens of protestors.

It was the latest in a long weekend of anger and frustration over the killing of black men and women by the police.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has declared a state of emergency, and Richmond’s curfew is in place through the middle of this week.

Reporter Mallory Noe-Payne has this look at how a weekend of demonstrations across the state unfolded.

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Va. News: Wind Farm Plan draws new Opponents, Northern VA schools leader looks at reopening plans

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If schools in Virginia reopen this August it’ll be up to local leaders to make sure students can be brought back safely. And a plan to build wind turbines on a ridge in Botetourt County is generating increased opposition.

Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the at the Virginia Public Access Project’s Va. News link.

More now from Fred Echols.

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Dozens of CVS Pharmacies in Virginia Offer Drive Through Testing

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(Credit: Mallory Noe-Payne)

Starting this weekend, 39 CVS pharmacies in Virginia are now offering self-swab coronavirus testing at their drive through windows.

Reporter Mallory Noe-Payne tried it out and has this story about the experience.

Click here for a list of testing locations

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The Heavy Toll of COVID-19 on Virginia’s Latinx Community

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(Credit: CDC)

Since the Virginia Department of Health began reporting the ethnic breakdown of coronavirus cases, data has shown a consistently disproportionate hit in Latinx communities.

As Cat Modlin-Jackson found, there’s more to the impact than what the numbers show.

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From Ebola to Anthrax, Veteran State Epidemiologist says Resources Key to COVID-19

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For 33 years, Diane Woolard headed the Virginia Department of Health team that watched for emerging diseases.

Now, after a year of retirement, she’s back lending a hand during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pamela D’Angelo reports.

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Community Testing Efforts Ramp up Statewide

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  People line up to be screened and tested for COVID-19 at a event held in Richmond by the public health department. (Credit Mallory Noe-Payne)

Experts agree widespread testing for coronavirus is key to prevent future surges of the virus.

In Virginia an effort is underway to make sure testing is reaching all parts of the state, including communities that may be harder hit by the virus.

Mallory Noe-Payne visited a testing event in Richmond and has this report.

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VCU Plans National Pharmaceutical Stockpile

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  B. Frank Gupton is CEO of the Medicines for All Institute at VCU and Floyd D. Gottwald Jr. Chair in Pharmaceutical Engineering. (Credit Virginia Commonwealth University)

Making pharmaceuticals is a labor intensive job. So more than 70% of the medications Americans take are coming from China and India, where labor costs are low.

Now, however, Virginia Commonwealth University has set out to bring the process home as Sandy Hausman reports.

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Should Court Fees be Cut Down During the Economic Crisis?

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Courts are slowly reopening in Virginia, but should they continue collecting fines and fees during the downturn?

Michael Pope reports.

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Tips on How to, Safely, Get Outside During a Pandemic

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  Holiday Lake State Park in Appomattox.
(Credit: Virginia State Parks)

This weekend many campgrounds in Virginia’s state parks re-open.

Over the past two months day use in the park system has actually increased.

Mallory Noe-Payne has these tips on how to stay safe and healthy outdoors.

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COVID-19 Shapes the Future of Virginia Hospitals

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  At VCU’s medical center in Richmond, 40% of patients are now being seen via telemedicine. (Credit Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center)

COVID-19 remains a threat here in Virginia, but officials have told hospitals it’s okay to resume normal operations.

That won’t mean going back to the way things were three months ago.

As Sandy Hausman reports, medical care may never be the same.

Confronting the COVID crisis meant big changes for Virginia hospitals — new expenses and cancelation of elective procedures and tests.

Now, those medical centers are trying to recover even as they prepare for the future.

Sandy Hausman reports on their path to financial health.

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Expert Warns Pandemic Could Mean More Cases of Cervical Cancer

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  The PAP test brought a dramatic reduction in cases of cervical cancer. (Credit University of Virginia)

Fifty years ago, cervical cancer was one of this country’s most common diseases, but development of the pap test and a vaccine have dramatically cut the occurrence and toll it takes.

Now, however, experts say the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced the number of women taking preventive action as Sandy Hausman reports.

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Local Elections During COVID-19 Bring New Challenges and Solutions

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(Credit: Virginia Dept. of Elections)

Tuesday is Election Day in many places across Virginia.

As Michael Pope reports, it’ll be an election unlike any other.

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Congress Considers $100 Billion Boost for Contact Tracing

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(Credit: CDC)

Congress is considering a bill that will spend billions of dollars helping set up a system of contact tracing.

And, as Michael Pope reports, a Virginia congressman is supporting the bill in the House.

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Va. News: Church Services Restart and Ranked Choice Voting

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Many congregations in Virginia are taking a cautious approach to restarting church services. And Arlington County is considering whether to make itself a test case for a new way of deciding close elections.

Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s Va. News link.

More now from Fred Echols.

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Will Evictions Pick Up When Courts Reopen Monday?

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Many of Virginia’s courts will resume hearing non-emergency cases on Monday. That includes eviction lawsuits.

With judges facing a backlog of cases, tenants and legal advocates are bracing for what’s to come.

Cat Modlin-Jackson has this report.

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Local Sheriff says he won’t help Enforce Reopening Restrictions

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(Credit: CDC)

Most of Virginia will begin the process of reopening for business Friday, although with strict restrictions from the governor.

Michael Pope has this report about one Virginia sheriff who says he won’t cooperate with enforcement.

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Virginia Farmers and Seafood Houses Navigate a Complex System of Seasonal Worker Visas

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  Rod Parker tests asparagus. Behind him H-2A workers sort and pack asparagus after spending the morning in the field picking it. (Credit Pamela D’Angelo)

Virginia’s farms and seafood processors rely heavily on foreign workers.

But the federal visa system to get them is complicated and doesn’t always work, even when there’s not a global pandemic underway.

Pamela D’Angelo reports on the difficulty with H-2A visas.

Virginia’s farms and seafood processors rely heavily on foreign workers with thousands of visas issued each year.

But Chesapeake Bay seafood processors that pick crabmeat and shuck oysters are limited by a different federal visa system that has a history of problems and this year, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it worse.

Pamela D’Angelo reports on H-2B visas.

 

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Advocates say Reopening Plan puts Communities of Color at Risk

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As businesses prepare to reopen on Friday, COVID-19 continues to infect Black and Latinx people at disproportionate rates.

Some say the plan is moving too fast and putting communities of color at risk in the process.

Cat Modlin-Jackson has the story.

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Va. News: How Local Candidates connect in the Pandemic, how Summer School may look in Chesterfield

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Covid-19 restrictions are forcing candidates in local elections to come up with new ways of getting their messages out. And summer school in Virginia, if it happens at all, may be different this year.

Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s Va. News link.

More now from Fred Echols.

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Extra Food Benefits Coming for Many Virginia Families

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Virginia has gotten the green light from federal officials to give extra food money to families in need.

As Mallory Noe-Payne reports, more than half a million children in Virginia qualify.

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Republican Senate Candidates Prep for Primary Amidst the Pandemic

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Voters will be heading to the polls or casting absentee ballots next month in a Republican primary to take on incumbent Senator Mark Warner.

Michael Pope has this look at the candidates.

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Northam: Virginia can Begin Phase 1 Reopening on May 15th… Hopefully

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Governor Ralph Northam speaks during Monday’s news conference in a screen capture from the governor’s video stream.

Some Virginia businesses may be able to open by the end of next week. Governor Ralph Northam made that announcement Monday.

Mallory Noe-Payne has details.

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Va News: Staying Home means More Trash at Landfills, Hopewell’s Year-Round School Plan in Jeopardy

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One of the unexpected consequences of people staying at home is more trash going into landfills.  And the first school system in Virginia to shift entirely to a year-round schedule is wondering how the pandemic might affect its plans.

Those have been among the most read stories over the past month at the Virginia Public Access Project’s Va. News link.

More now from Fred Echols.

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The Devastation is Indescribable’ How People are Coping and Caring at Long Term Care Facilities

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  Kitty Gray and her family finding ways to stay connected during the pandemic.
(Credit Kitty Gray)

More than half of coronavirus outbreaks in Virginia are at long term care facilities, and those outbreaks can be especially deadly.

Mallory Noe-Payne has this look at why nursing home residents are vulnerable and how their families are coping.

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When Rent Comes Due During COVID-19

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When April First came around, many weren’t able to make rent after being laid off in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.

Friday is May First and the problem is set to repeat itself.

Jahd Khalil has more on how landlords and tenants are dealing with paying, or not paying, rent.

 

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Va. News: Coronavirus Causes Financial Losses and Construction Delays in Education

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Covid-19 is disrupting education in ways other than current school closings… and Harrisonburg will have to wait a little longer for a second high school.

Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s Va. News link.

More now from Fred Echols.

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Amid Coronavirus Fears and Circled by Protestors, Virginia’s General Assembly Meets

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  Speaker of the House of Delegates Eileen Filler-Corn speaks at the temporary rostrum.
(Credit Mallory Noe-Payne)

A surreal scene at the state capitol Wednesday.

Almost 100 members of Virginia’s House of Delegates outside under a giant tent for their one day veto session.

Mallory Noe-Payne is there and has this report.

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Officials Adapt Outreach Strategies for Census

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(Credit: U. S. Census Bureau)

The coronavirus pandemic may have stopped a lot of things – but one thing it hasn’t stopped is the Census.

Mallory Noe-Payne has more on what the state is still doing to make sure Virginians fill out that form.

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General Assembly Approves Delay of Minimum Wage Increase

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Senators meet inside the Science Museum of Virginia.

The minimum wage in Virginia is about to go up, although the economic crisis is postponing the increase a few months.

Michael Pope reports on one of the actions from Wednesday’s General Assembly session.

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