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VPM Daily Newscast: August 13, 2021

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

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Here’s a recap of the top stories on the morning of Friday, August 13, 2021: 

  • Governor Ralph Northam is calling on all K through 12 schools in Virginia to require mask wearing by staff and students. The announcement comes after some districts hesitated to put mandates in place. Alan Rodriguez Espinoza reports

  • The COVID-19 outbreak now impacting the entire fourth grade at Patrick Henry Elementary is the second COVID outbreak in Richmond Public Schools since July. As VPM’s Megan Pauly reports, the district’s first outbreak took place at Fisher Elementary’s summer school program. 

  • Four years ago this week, white nationalist groups gathered in Charlottesville to protest the removal of a Confederate statue. The two-day rally ended in the death of counter-protester Heather Heyer, and countless injuries. Two state police troopers also died in a helicopter crash while monitoring the protests. James Alex Fields was sentenced to life in prison for driving his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, on August 12, killing Heyer. A federal lawsuit targeting the broad leadership of the hate groups that helped organize the rally is ongoing. The trial is scheduled for October 25th in Charlottesville. 

  • The redistricting process in Virginia can now officially begin, with the release of 2020 Census data. It’s the first time Virginia’s new bipartisan redistricting commission will draw maps. As Patrick Larsen reports, a coalition of nonprofits is trying to get people involved. 

  • Some activists are asking questions about what might be missing from the Census data. Miranda Galindo from the nonprofit Latino Justice says there are obstacles to perfect accuracy in any year. Census officials say better data on race and ethnicity, as well as an attempt to understand who was missed, will be released in early 2022. 

  • Old Dominion University students will have debts from the spring semester wiped clean. ODU will use funds from the federal CARES Act to remove outstanding account balances. It doesn’t cover loans from outside lenders. All students enrolled during that time could have their debts cleared. ODU recommends students with specific questions about charges contact the University’s Office of Student Accounts. 

  • Central Virginia is receiving over $14 million to provide broadband access to areas without reliable internet. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine announced the funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture yesterday. The money is expected to impact over 4-thousand households, nearly 200 businesses and 65 farms. Funds will also support educational centers and health care facilities in the region. In a statement, the senators called broadband a “necessity,” and said they were glad to see the money improve job opportunities and educational resources. 

  • With a heat advisory in effect through today, the City of Petersburghas opened a cooling center at the Petersburg Transit Station. The comfort station is open from Noon until 6 today. Since June, Richmond has operated two cooling centers; one at the Marshall Plaza Building, the other at Southside Community Service Center. They’re open from 11AM until 6 PM Monday through Saturday, through the end of September. Pets are not allowed except for service animals and masks and physical distancing are required. According to the National Weather Service, temperatures should drop down to the upper 70s by Sunday as chances of rain move in. 

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