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VPM Daily Newscast: September 23, 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.           

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, September 23, 2021: 

  • Attorney General Mark Herring is highlighting his efforts to defend abortion rights ahead of the November Election. Whittney Evans reports

  • A new monument now stands on Brown’s Island in Richmond. It commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation -- which declared enslaved people in America to be free.  Patrick Larsen has the story

  • Despite Governor Ralph Northam’s request that state employees be vaccinated against COVID-19, many workers are opting for weekly testing instead. According to the Virginia Mercury, an initial survey found the vaccination rate in several state agencies mirrors the overall vaccination rate in the commonwealth, at around 60 percent. The Virginia Department of Health is reporting 87-percent of its staff is vaccinated. The testing comes at a cost to taxpayers. For example, the Department of Corrections, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates among state agencies, tests staff once every three days. The average cost per testing period is over $12,000. 

  • Local health officials are encouraging people to get the flu shot, citing concerns that this upcoming flu season could be harsher than usual. Dr. Danny Avula, the head of the Richmond and Henrico Health Districts, says last year’s low number of flu cases means less people developed immunity. So, more people than usual are at risk of getting sick. Avula added that scientists are also unsure of how effective this year’s flu shot will be, since these vaccines are created based on the dominant strains from the previous year. Health officials also say getting the COVID-19 vaccine and flu shot together is safe.  

  • Owners of the Plaza Azteca restaurant chain are facing accusations of wage theft in federal court. According to the lawsuit, the owners paid employees for 40 hours regardless of how many hours they actually worked. It happened in all of the chain’s restaurants, which are in several states including Virginia. By doing that, owners also violated federal minimum wage requirements. In some cases, Plaza Azteca employees were making as little as 3 dollars an hour without being able to collect tips. Before the current lawsuit, investigators looked at Plaza Azteca for at least 21 other instances of wage issues in at least one of the chain’s restaurants.