Good morning, RVA: 1,332↘️ • 9↗️; Henrico approves in-person instruction; and last day to request an absentee ballot
Manage episode 275148621 series 1330923
Good morning, RVA! It’s 60 °F, and, what’s this? More fog? What a surprise! After the fog burns off, we’ve got another pleasant day ahead of us and no good reason not to spend the evening outside. This weekend, we could see rain move in so take advantage of the great weather while you can.
As of this morning, the Virginia Department of Health reports 1,332↘️ new positive cases of the coronavirus in the Commonwealth and 9↗️ new deaths as a result of the virus. VDH reports 97↘️ new cases in and around Richmond (Chesterfield: 55, Henrico: 11, and Richmond: 31). Since this pandemic began, 396 people have died in the Richmond region. From my inbox: “The Henrico County Health Department (HCHD) is investigating a cluster of COVID-19 infections associated with a live music event at a local Henrico establishment. Individuals who attended the live music event Friday, October 9, 2020, at JJ’s Grille (10298 Staples Mill Road) might have been exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19.” You can read the full release here(PDF). First, it’s wild that people are attending live, in-person music events in October 2020. Second, if you do, for whatever reason, host or attend a large in-person gathering like this, make sure they take attendance! How are contact tracers supposed to track down who was at your ill-conceived live music event if you aren’t keep a list of attendees? People are stressful! I mean, look at the stacked graph of new reported cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. We’re seeing a similar increasing trend in case counts locally, too; check out the graph of seven-day averages of new reported cases in Richmond, Henrico, and Chesterfield. It is not time to for Virginians to relax and stop doing the simple things that keep people safe. In fact, maybe consider doing…more things to keep people safe? Just thinking out loud!
I recognize the awkward transition here, but, last night, Henrico County’s School Board voted to begin in-person instruction with elementary school students on November 30th. The Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Kenya Hunter has the details. The County will start with pre-K through 2nd grade having the option to return first, then, a week later, 3rd through 5th. 6th and 9th graders wouldn’t have the option to return until February 1st, and, finally, evvvvveryone else could come back on February 4th. Throughout that entire transition, a fully-virtual option will continue to exist, and in-person students will only be in the school buildings four days a week (you can find more info on the school district’s website). Now we wait and see what happens, I guess—which feels like a gross, science-experiment way to talk about things, but, realistically, that’s kind of what’s happening. Moving forward, what I’m looking for is: Does reopening schools increase the number of cases we’re seeing in Chesterfield and Henrico? Are schools the source of disease transmission? Are we able to quickly contain any cases that do pop up in a school enviornment? And are we able to keep teachers and staff safe? Again, I’ve been pretty open that I think we can find some way—especially with younger kids—to safely get students back to school, and there’s a decent bit of science to support that. We’ll see if that holds true locally. Also, and I know this is an obvious and boring thing to say at this point, but it blows my mind that we’ve decided to allow large, in-person gatherings (like bars and live music) and given them a nearly Wild West-like license to toss disease prevention into the virus-laden wind, while, at the same time, we’ve become extremely focused on how not to allow a thoughtful and controlled return to school. Schools take attendance every day! It’s literally against the rules to get drunk, yell, and cover your pals in virusy droplets! Anyway, it’s complicated, I am not a teacher, and I’m not trying to speak for them—I just often feel gaslit by our stated priorities.
I can’t figure out how the new rva.govwebsite works so I’ve got no link to tap, but the City sent out a press release yesterday saying the Mayor announced that George Wythe High School will be the next school to get a brand-new facility. From the release: “The Dreams4RPS Strategic Plan, supported by the School Board and funded in full by the Stoney administration, identified Wythe as the next facility in need of reinvention and rebuilding…George Wythe High School opened its doors on Midlothian Turnpike in 1960. With the exception of one renovation in the early 1980s, the building has not undergone improvement since.” Wythe is a massive, heavy, cinder-block school serving 1,300 students, and I’m sure a new facility will improve the day-to-day for a lot of people. Your next question should be: “OK! I’m excited to support an increase in the real estate tax to pay for this new school and for the tens of millions of dollars of basic services that have been underfunded in Richmond for decades.” Instead, Chris Suarez at the RTD says, “Mayor Levar Stoney did not commit to a timeline for the project. He said there’s no formal financial plan either but expects that the city will be able to borrow money soon for its construction.” Hmmm, OK. Although, there’s apparently $4 million left over from building the three newly finished schools and that money will go towards design work on the new (and most likely renamed, right?) George Wythe.
What booms and what busts in a pandemic is fascinating to me. Richmond BizSense’s James Faris talks to the folks at Red Vein Haunted House about scaring people at a time when the actual world is terrifying. I know you can’t make as many dollars per hour when you’re forced to limit the number of people in a haunted house situation due to social distancing, but fewer people sounds way scarier to me—Open Water is an entire movie about being socially distanced! Plus there’s a whole genre of medical horror that fits right in with the Governor’s mask mandate. There’s a lot to work with here, is all I’m saying.
People! Today is the very last day to request an absentee ballot! If you have not yet but plan on doing so, today is the day. Also, tomorrow, the City’s new satellite voting locations (City Hall and the Hickory Hill Community Center, 900 E. Broad Street and 3000 E. Belt Boulevard respectively) open tomorrow. Don’t let a dumb technicality keep you from voting!
This morning’s patron longread
Submitted by Patron Blake. This, from a Hanover native a couple months back, is worth reading. We’ve done some of the “mobilization to replace symbols of white supremacy” work, now we’ve got to start and continue the hard work of structural change.
But while the mobilization to replace symbols of white supremacy is imperative, it’s only a prerequisite. In the absence of structural change, renaming fails to redress the structures which reproduce oppression and generate harm for Black and brown communities. Growing up in Hanover County, racism was another day of the week, an inevitable truth which seemed too ingrained to change. My mother knows this first hand. Born in 1960, she was among the first class to integrate Hanover County Public Schools during the 1969–1970 school year, 15 years after Brown v. Board of Education. I know this first hand as well.
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