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VPM Daily Newscast January 15, 2021

VPM's daily newscast contains all your Central Virginia news in just 5 to 10 minutes. Hosted by Benjamin Dolle, episodes are recorded the night before so you can wake up prepared.

Listeners can subscribe through Apple Podcasts, Megaphone, and Spotify.

Here’s a recap of the top stories on the morning of Friday, January 15, 2021:

  • Gov. Ralph Northam has sent 2,000 National Guard Members to the nation’s capital ahead of next week’s presidential inauguration. Northam expressed remorse over sending members of the guard to Washington, but said the move was necessary following last week’s riot at the Capitol. Measures have also been taken to ensure safety in Richmond ahead of a pro-gun rally planned for Monday. Mayor Levar Stoney said road closures are already in place, and Virginia’s Capitol Square has been closed to the public. Those measures will be in place until at least Jan. 21.


  • Northam also announced yesterday that the state will expand who can get COVID-19 vaccines, making Virginians aged 65 and older and people with preexisting conditions eligible for inoculation. The move comes following a change in federal guidelines earlier this week. The governor is also calling on Virginians to step up and help in the vaccination efforts. The Virginia Medical Reserve Corps is training volunteers to help at mass vaccination events the state is preparing. 


  • The Virginia Department of Education released new guidance for reopening schools yesterday. State Superintendent James Lane said if school districts follow the new guidelines, the risk of in-school transmission is low, despite moderate levels of community transmission. Both Northam and Lane have said teacher vaccinations are not necessary to open schools, but Lane called them a “huge part of the strategy.” The Virginia Education Association, the state’s largest teacher’s union, has called for 100% teacher vaccinations prior to reopening, however.


  • One school district set to reopen is facing backlash over that decision. Chesterfield County parents are petitioning the county to reverse course and keep school virtual until all teachers are vaccinated. Petition organizers say over 2,000 people have signed on since its Wednesday posting. 


  • The Virginia House of Delegates is meeting virtually this year over concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this, delegates, and their legislative aide, will still collect $211 per diem payments. A spokesperson for Democratic Speaker of the House Eileen Filler-Corn says they’re just adapting a previous Republican policy providing the payment to all delegates, even those who live in the Richmond area. In the Senate, however, lawmakers will have to be present in Richmond to receive the payment. These payments are in addition to lawmakers’ salary and office stipend, nearly $33,000 for delegates.


  • Virginia Democrats are backing a suite of criminal justice reforms this year, including measures to abolish the death penalty, restore voting rights to those convicted of felonies and legalize recreational marijuana. They also plan to introduce legislation quickening the release process from Virginia’s prisons, where COVID-19 has run rampant. According to the Department of Corrections, 48 people incarcerated in Virginia prisons and two staff members have died as a result of exposure to the coronavirus. 


  • Chesterfield Supervisor Leslie Hialey has thrown her hat in the ring to become Virginia’s next Attorney General. The Midlothian Republican was first elected to the Board in 2016. Haley holds a degree from the West Virginia University School of Law and has practiced law in the Richmond region for over 20 years. In yesterday’s announcement, she said he hopes to bring “steady, conservative leadership” to the office of the state’s top prosecutor. 
VPM News is the staff byline for articles and podcasts written and produced by multiple reporters and editors.
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