VPM Daily Newscast April 1, 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.
Here’s a recap of the top stories on the morning of Thursday, April 1, 2021:
Gov. Ralph Northam has signed a state-level Voting Rights Act, one of a handful of bills from Democrats designed to expand access to the ballot. Backers of the legislation say it adds back parts of the federal Voting Rights Act the U.S. Supreme Court struck down in 2013. Virginia election officials will have to notify the public, or get permission from the state attorney general, before they make changes to elections, like closing a polling station. Voters can also sue over alleged discrimination. Republicans argued the process could be expensive. The new law is part of a wave of legislation from Democrat-controlled states, like Virginia and New Jersey, designed to expand access to the ballot. Republican state legislatures are moving to restrict early voting, fueled by false allegations of widespread fraud.
Northam is also moving to legalize marijuana starting July 1, three years ahead of schedule. The amendments to the bill, passed earlier this year by the General Assembly, would allow possession of up to an ounce of marijuana.
Labor advocates are cheering Northam’s proposed amendments to the marijuana legalization bill. Included in his changes are measures requiring new marijuana businesses to stay neutral during union organizing and limiting their use of contractors.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has extended a temporary federal eviction moratorium through June 30. The CDC says moratoriums prevented about a million evictions in 2020, but concerns persist about tenants’ ability to access the protections.
Health officials said they planned to send emails to up to 7,500 people in the Richmond and Henrico areas last night to sign up for the COVID-19 vaccine. This group is part of the first round of vaccinations for people in Phase 1c, which includes individuals working in energy, public safety, food service, the media and hair stylists. As the Richmond and Henrico Health Districts enter this next phase in vaccine distribution, doses are still being offered to people who were eligible in Phases 1a and 1b. Richmond or Henrico residents who are 65 or older can call (804) 205-3501 to schedule an appointment directly.
- Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 remain steady across Virginia. As of yesterday, there are just over 1,000 people hospitalized due to the virus.According to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, about 2,600 ICU beds are occupied, which is roughly 77% of capacity. Across the state, 843 ventilators are currently in use, about 29% of the total available.