Hey VA! Check out your latest Virginia Updates Newsletter for February 7 📬
Welcome back and Happy Monday! We hope everyone is doing well and staying warm on this chilly day. At least the sun is starting to go down a little later, so we can look forward to the warmer weather coming soon ☀️
Until then, today we’re sharing the latest in Virginia news. First we’re sharing information on the National Blood Shortage taking place across our country. If you have the capacity, please consider volunteering and donating today at ➡️ redcrossblood.org
We also have updates on the ongoing legal battle with Gov. Youngkin’s executive order on masks in schools. A judge rules against his order - visit page 3 to learn more. We share progress on some bills that are going through the General Assembly, trending headlines from across our commonwealth and end our newsletter with Vaccine & COVID-19 Data.
We have news on;
▪️ National Blood Shortage - Donate Today!
▪️ Virginia Supreme Court enforces Youngkin’s School Mask Executive Order
▪️ General Assembly Week 4
▪️ In other news, trending Virginia Headlines
▪️ Vaccine Data
▪️ COVID-19 Data
🩸 National Blood Shortage
The American Red Cross is experiencing an emergency blood shortage in Virginia, and across the United States. It’s at its lowest levels in more than ten years.
The American Red Cross likes to keep a five-day supply on hand to support area hospitals like the University of Virginia Health System and Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in case of emergency, but right now, it's down to less than a day's supply.
Reasons for the shortage include a reduction in blood drive turnout, canceled drives due to COVID-19 and staffing shortages, rising cases of the virus keeping people away from drives, and fewer blood drives in schools due to the pandemic.
The Red Cross is asking donors of all blood types, but particularly those with Type O, to make an appointment now to give in the weeks ahead. Additionally, it's also seeking volunteers to help out at blood drives and transport blood products to hospitals. To find a blood drive near you, follow this link.
😷 Virginia Supreme Courts enforces Youngkin's School Mask EO
The Supreme Court of Virginia has dismissed a lawsuit from a group of parents in Chesapeake who sued over Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s mask-optional executive order in schools, but the justices did not weigh in on whether the governor’s order is legal.
The ruling comes three days after an Arlington County judge found that Youngkin did not have authority to supersede the judgment of local school boards in setting policy for reducing the threat of COVID to students, teachers and other school employees.
The justices did not touch on the legality of the executive order in a decision issued Monday, instead opting to reject the lawsuit on procedural grounds. The high court ruled that the legal remedy sought by the group, a writ of mandamus, did not apply in the case.
Kevin Martingayle, the attorney representing the parents, wrote in an email to 8News that the petition was rejected on procedural issues, and “this is far from over,” pointing to a footnote at the end of the court’s ruling.
The justices write in the footnote that “by this dismissal, we offer no opinion on the legality of EO 2 or any other issue pertaining to petitioners’ claims.”
The Youngkin administration said the state would appeal the decision in Arlington Circuit Court that temporarily halted the executive order.
This story is developing. Check back for updates.
🏛 General Assembly Week 4
As they enter week four, General Assembly members are working diligently in Richmond to pass new legislation. Here are a few bills and their progress.
The Senate Judiciary Committee passed to move Senate Bill 730 forward. This bill would increase the daily compensation for jurors from $30 to $100 It will now be considered by the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee.
There was no opposition among committee members, but Sen. Mark Peake, R-Lynchburg, asked “if we have any idea” how much the legislation will cost once implemented.
“Yes, $5 million,” Lewis said.
“That’s not as much as I thought,” replied Peake, expressing surprise by the number.
According to Virginia Department of Planning and Budget documents attached to the bill, the Office of the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court of Virginia reported that the amount the state paid jurors in circuit court at $30 a day during fiscal 2019 — the most recent year unaffected by the pandemic — was $2,288,658.
Assuming juries are empaneled at the same pre-pandemic rate moving forward at $100 a day, it is anticipated the proposed bill would result in an expenditure of $5,340,201 annually to cover expected juror compensation — or more than double the 2019 amount.
A Virginia Senate committee killed Senate Bill 570. The critical race theory bill would have banned the teaching of “inherently divisive concepts” in the schools.
The Youngkin administration is still seeking to scrub out critical race theory concepts at an administrative level. Youngkin issued an executive order requiring the Department of Education to review and root out any policies that teach “inherently divisive concepts.”
Virginia House of Delegate proposed House Bill 351. Under the program, which would be administered by the Virginia Department of Energy, private developers could apply for grants that could cover up to 70% of their non-utility costs to install charging stations throughout Virginia.
Developers proposing projects in “historically economically disadvantaged communities” would be eligible for funding to cover 70 percent of their non-utility costs, while developers with projects elsewhere could receive grants covering 50 percent of such costs.
📰 In other news, VA Headlines:
WTOP News - Alexandria issuing thousands of refunds after red-light camera programming error.
The city is dismissing thousands of red-light camera tickets and issuing refunds after discovering a programming glitch over a nearly four-year period. The city said a comprehensive review turned up that the error led to 4,709 citations being erroneously issued between Jan. 26, 2016, and Oct. 4, 2019. In all, $187,673 in fines was collected.
Virginia Mercury - The Youngkin administration is denying FOIA requests on the governor’s education orders.
Over the last week, both the governor’s office and Virginia Department of Education have been denying or delaying public records requests related to Youngkin’s executive actions involving education.
Richmond Times-Dispatch - COVID deaths aren't falling yet in Virginia, though cases and hospitalizations are.
Deaths have displayed an irregular pattern the past two months, increasing and decreasing and increasing again, but the decrease might be explained by the lag of death certificates reaching the Virginia Department of Health. It’s unclear how deaths will be impacted by omicron, a variant that has infected more people and caused more hospitalizations than at any point in the pandemic, but has been less likely to cause severe disease.
⚠️ Vaccine Summary for February 7
All the information provided below is from the Virginia Department of Health.
Total Doses Administered: 14,933,932
People Fully Vaccinated: 6,033,877 or 70.2%
% of Adults (18+) Fully Vaccinated: 80.3%
People Vaccinated with at least 1 dose: 6,788,918 or 79.0%
% of Adults (18+) Vaccinated with at least 1 dose: 89.8%
People Vaccinated with Booster / Third dose: 2,633,112
For more information on Virginia's vaccination efforts, please visit vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 877-VAX-IN-VA.
⚠️ COVID-19 Data Summary for February 7
The Virginia Department of Health reported Monday that the statewide total for COVID-19 cases is 1,584,268. The 1,584,268 consists of 1,130,170 confirmed and 454,098 probable cases. There are 17,107 COVID-19 deaths, and Virginia’s 7-day positivity rate is now at 19.7%.
Thanks for joining us this week!
Send us a message down below on what think about the stories we covered today, share thoughts on the possible laws or any questions you have.
— Maria, Editor in Chief