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VPM Daily Newscast March 4, 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 NPR One, Apple Podcasts, Megaphone, Spotify and wherever you get your podcasts.

Here’s a recap of the top stories on the morning of Thursday, March 4, 2021:

  • The new Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is heading to Virginia. The state’s vaccine coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said Wednesday the state is expected to get 69,000 doses this week. Central Virginia can expect about 14,000 doses divided between Richmond-Henrico, Crater, Chickahominy and Chesterfield Health Districts. While the state is still in Phase 1b, the addition of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is changing the timeline for everyone getting their shots, according to Avula. The new, one-dose shot will be administered at mass vaccination sites, which require pre-registration.


  • The Richmond and Henrico Health Districts are aiming to vaccinate 12,000 older adults at clinics coming up over the next week. The clinics will be held on March 6, 8 and 10. People who are eligible will be contacted via email and telephone through Friday to register. Health officials say they will not leave messages if the call is missed, but that they will attempt to contact individuals multiple times. Older residents interested in receiving a COVID-19 vaccine should fill out a pre-registration form onlineor call 877-VAX-IN-VA.


  • Richmond Public Schools is projecting a 10% drop-out rate for this current school year. That would be a big improvement over last year, when 23% of students dropped out. Richmond has historically had one of the lowest graduation rates in the state. Superintendent Jason Kamras says he thinks the positive changes are due to increased funding that's allowed the district to increase support staff. He adds, however, that even if the projection becomes reality, Richmond still has a long way to go. Outcomes are also improving for Richmond students whose first language is not English. Current projections show the drop-out rate for English Language Learners cut by more than half from roughly 62% to just 26%.


  • A bill to allow developers who participate in the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program to get matching state-level credits is awaiting final approval from Gov. Ralph Northam. The program is set to give out $15 million in tax credits each year.


  • Attorney General Mark Herring’s office has reached a settlement with a student loan company accused of violating the Virginia Consumer Protection Act. The settlement requires Equitable Acceptance Corporation, or Equitable, to cancel $50,000 in debt and give $40,000 in restitution for nearly 700 Virginia consumers. Equitable was accused of scamming students into taking loans with illegal interest rates, which were used to purchase fake debt relief services from the company’s partners. 


  • Earlier this week at the U.S. Capitol, Rep. Abigail Spanberger honored the life of Captain Donald Lambert Jr. of the Henrico County Police Department. Lambert, a 33 year verteran of Henrico Police, was off-duty when he was killed by a driver in a hit and run on Feb. 27. Spanberger personally knew Lambert. On the House floor, she highlighted how he served people in many different ways. Henrico Police arrested a man they believe is the driver involved in the incident. He was charged with felony hit and run.
VPM News is the staff byline for articles and podcasts written and produced by multiple reporters and editors.