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VPM Daily Newscast: December 22, 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 Wednesday, December 22, 2021: 

  • The Chair of Virginia’s Parole Board forwarded a press release to media outlets yesterday with the subject line "setting the record straight". This comes as the new Republican administration prepares to overhaul the agency. Whittney Evans reports. 

  • Representative Abigail Spanberger is considering a run in the new 7th District if proposed legislative maps are approved. The Virginia Supreme Court selected one Democrat and one Republican to draw new legislative maps after a joint commission failed to reach consensus. The new maps would move the 7th District out of Henrico and into Prince William County in Northern Virginia. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Spanberger has spoken privately with fellow lawmakers about a potential run in the new district, despite living in Henrico. Virginia’s Supreme Court has taken feedback on the new maps, but they still need to be finalized.   

  • Within one week, Richmond health officials have seen a 40 percent increase of new COVID-19 cases in the city. Richmond leaders are asking people to take more precautions, as the Omicron variant becomes the dominant strain in the country. Testing will be a key component of the city’s strategy to tackle outbreaks. In January, more take home test kits will be available at the Richmond Public Library --  at no cost to residents. 

  • AAA anticipates more than 109 million people will take a trip this holiday season. That’s about a 26 percent increase from last year. Morgan Dean, of AAA Mid-Atlantic, says people should avoid driving or flying on December 23rd or during the afternoon. Although many may cringe at the idea, Dean suggests Christmas Day as an alternative day to travel. With the rise of the Omicron variant, Dean notes that AAA’s prediction could be off.  He says people should consider investing in traveler’s insurance that covers COVID-related trip changes. 

  • A former member of the VCU Delta Chi fraternity pleaded guilty yesterday to misdemeanor charges related to the death of fellow student Adam Oakes. According to the  Richmond Times Dispatch, the prosecutor identified Andrew White as Oakes’ big brother in the fraternity. He pleaded guilty to hazing and giving a minor alcohol. Oakes died of alcohol poisoning after an off-campus fraternity initiation party in February. In total, eleven former Delta Chi members have been arrested in connection with the 19-year-old's death.   

  • A fraternity at the University of Richmond has been suspended after a video surfaced showing members chanting racist remarks. According to the school’s student newspaper, The Collegian, the video of Kappa Sigma was from the 2019-2020 academic year -- but it only became public this week. The video also shows students singing along to “Dixie’s Land,” the unofficial song of the Confederacy. It was allegedly taped following a drinking game called “Civil War.” Kappa Sigma’s headquarters also suspended operation of the university’s chapter, as it investigates the incidents.