Good morning, RVA: 999↘️ • 1↗️; keeping track of outbreaks in schools; and the pandemic's impact on women


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Good morning, RVA! It’s 50 °F, and cooler weather has arrived! Today you can expect temperatures in the upper 60s and, of course, some more morning fog. I think we’ve seen the last of 80-degree days for awhile!

Water cooler

As of this morning, the Virginia Department of Health reports 999↘️ new positive cases of the coronavirus in the Commonwealth and 1↗️ new deaths as a result of the virus. VDH reports 126↗️ new cases in and around Richmond (Chesterfield: 46, Henrico: 54, and Richmond: 26). Since this pandemic began, 410 people have died in the Richmond region. Last week, the governor signed into law the General Assembly’s request that VDH make public COVID-19 outbreaks in schools and, now, behold: The Kindergarten–12th Grade School Outbreaks dashboard. Before you dig in and post screenshots to Twitter supporting whatever plan for schools your heart desires, take note of a couple things! First, outbreaks are defined as “at least two confirmed cases of COVID-19 where persons are linked by a common exposure to an ill person, setting, event, and time period,” and, specifically, these outbreaks are school-associated, meaning the “transmission occur[ed] within the school setting or at a school-sponsored event between students, staff, or visitor.” Keep in mind that the numbers on this page will probably differ from what schools report as they keep track of students and staff who contract COVID-19. Think of this dashboard as a way to help track the coronavirus cases spread by schools versus the impact that coronavirus has had on schools. Also, this dashboard list both public schools (which have started to offer in-person instruction just recently) and private schools (some of which have operated in-person for a while now). You can filter the data using the drop down in the top right—note that “outbreak pending closure” does NOT meant that the school is about to close but that “28 days have passed without a documented new case and the outbreak has not yet been closed” in VDH’s systems. Asterisks in the table mean fewer than five cases have been reported—to “protect anonymity of cases.” As of this moment, Chesterfield Public Schools had one outbreak on 9/22 (before students returned to in-person instruction), which is now closed.

On Friday, the Governor announced he’ll dedicated $22 million of CARES Act money to “create a statewide program to distribute COVID-19 vaccines when such vaccines are approved for public use.” VDH’s draft vaccination plan exists, but is a PDF too far for even a PDF lover like myself—but maybe you’ll want to dig in? I’m really interested to see how vaccination plays out in the Richmond region. There are about a billion complicated details to distributing a COVID-19 vaccine to the general public: limited supply, ultra-cold storage requirements, reminding folks to take multiple doses if necessary, and some totally legitimate (and totally illegitimate) vaccine hesitancy. It’s a tough knot to untie, and we’ll have to see how much is handled locally, regionally, by the state, and federally—I guess some of that depends on Election Day.

Colleen Curran at the Richmond Times-Dispatch writes about the local impact the pandemic and subsequent recession has had on women. As childcare evaporates or spikes in cost, women, who historically make less than men, have been forced to change careers, take part time jobs, or quit entirely to provide childcare for their families. And, of course, many women do not have the privilege to do any of those things and are forced to work harder, longer hours or find additional jobs as opportunities dry up.

Chris Suarez, also at the RTD, has an update on who wants the City’s Confederate monuments. Some of these offers make a lot of sense to me. The Valentine, whose namesake designed the Davis monument and had this to say: “Davis will be neither commemorated nor celebrated, nor will he be revered as a work of one of the museum’s founders…The Davis statue, placed in a transformed Valentine Studio, will form the centerpiece of the story we tell about the creation of Lost Cause iconography.” Sounds great. On the other hand, I feel conflicted about giving the bozos at the CSA II (never not ridiculous) another tool for them to extend their message of hate.

The RTD has posted their questionnaires for both the 9th District City Council and School Board races, where each candidate is unopposed and has the last name Jones. I think it’s important to read, print-to-PDF, and file away these sorts of things—even for unopposed races—as what candidates say now can help us keep them accountable for the next four years.

This morning’s patron longread

He was scarred by two shootings. Would firing a gun help him heal or wound him again?

Submitted by Patron Casey. The Washington Post talks to a Richmonder some of y’all may know about guns, trauma, and turning things around.

Bryan Boyles wrote the words “Darkness” and “PTSD” at one end of a whiteboard, and at the other: “Life We Want.” It had been a month since the Richmond gun rights rally. Sitting on a couch in Boyles’s office, Karns told his therapist he was planning to go to a gun range to confront his fears and overcome them. Boyles worried that his patient was treating his life like a novel, putting heroics ahead of his recovery. “It would be brave and good showmanship to just go, pow,” Boyles said, drawing a straight line from “Darkness” to “Life We Want.” “But you risk re-traumatization,” he said, drawing another line back to the darkness.

If you’d like your longread to show up here, go chip in a couple bucks on the ol’ Patreon.

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