March 2021

Air travel picks up but recovery will take years

By Hyung Jun Lee, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. – Air travel plummeted during the pandemic. Experts say that travel trends will change as more people get vaccinated and begin traveling again.

Over 1 million passengers have traveled daily since mid-March, according to Transportation Security Administration checkpoint numbers. Mother’s Day weekend saw the largest number of travelers since early March 2020. The total of passengers nationwide so far this year moving through TSA checkpoints is just over 40% of all traffic last year. 

Virginia air travel is already picking up, according to several airports throughout the state. Robert Yingling, spokesman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, said numbers are low compared to 2019 but travel is increasing. He speaks on behalf of both the Washington Dulles International and Ronald Reagan National airports.

“Travel volumes at Reagan National and Dulles are still well below where they were at this time in 2019,” Yingling said. “We have seen gradual recovery since the pandemic.”

Troy Bell, the director of marketing and air service development at Richmond International Airport, said that air travel has increased as more people get COVID-19 vaccines and with the warming weather.

“March comes around and then all of a sudden we see about a 60% increase,” Bell said. “We’ve seen a true increase and we think this one’s going to stick.”

Air travel has increased daily at the Norfolk International Airport since January, according to Charles Braden, the director of market development.

“We had a big surge around the holidays; Christmas and New Year’s holiday,” Braden said.

International travel was “decimated” due to restrictive quarantine measures at the time and countries requiring travelers to take a COVID-19 test, according to Braden. Due to this, he said that international travel will not recover for some time.

“It’s not expected really to recover for several years to the levels that it were previously,” Braden said. 

People are still traveling within the United States, however, to destinations where they can get outside and socially distance, Braden said.

“Even in the fall, a lot of the activity was to destinations that you could call open, and by that I mean places like beaches or mountains or deserts,” Braden said. 

Bell also said that many tourists departing Richmond are traveling to less urban, open areas.

“People are traveling to places like Florida,” Bell said. “They’re also traveling to some of the mountain destinations where the perception is lots of space, lots of fresh air, lots of elbow room and few restrictions.” 

Some of the most popular U.S. travel destinations are Orlando, Florida; Los Angeles; Denver; and Atlanta, according to Yingling.

There are going to be a number of changes in air travel trends according to Rick Hamilton, a senior distinguished engineer for Optum and a frequent business flier.

“I think that leisure travel is probably going to pick up faster than business travel because everybody has this pent up desire for a vacation or to go see distant loved ones,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton said that for the airline industry to recover, business travel needs to pick back up again, but it may resume more slowly than personal travel.

“If I’m flying internationally, my company will buy a business class ticket,” he said. “If I’m flying internationally on my own dollar, I tend to buy coach tickets, economy class, and so the airline industry needs business travel to resume in order for their business models to really work.”

However, Hamilton said that businesses are completing more tasks online and virtually, using video conferencing software, for example.

Even though businesses may have found an alternate method to traveling through the use of online tools, the prospect of better deals through face-to-face interaction could spark business travel once again, Bell explained.

Bell said once more companies start sending more representatives out to the field others will follow.

“As soon as that happens, you’re going to find that other folks make the adjustment to get out there, too,” Bell said.

After 15 months, Hamilton is ready to fly again and recently bought his first air tickets for leisure travel. He advises travelers to follow guidelines and get vaccinated.

“I’m not extremely excited about sitting next to a stranger, you know, next to me on a plane,” Hamilton said. “But I believe that once you’re vaccinated and follow all the normal CDC protocols, that it’s an acceptable risk to get life back to normal, or something resembling normal.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday that vaccinated individuals don’t have to wear masks or social distance unless a law or regulation requires it. Passengers must still wear masks in airports and on planes, however.

Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University's Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.

After ‘overwhelming’ year of remote learning, students welcome return to campus

By Hunter Britt, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- Devastated. Drained. Depressed. Those are just a few words college students used to describe the past 15 months since the pandemic hit. 

This past year has been a mixed bag of hybrid and online learning, but many college campuses in Virginia are completely reopening in the fall. Students had different reactions to online learning, but many are excited to transition back to in-person instruction.

Students said their mental health suffered during the two and a half semesters of online learning. Many said it was worse during the first semester when the pandemic hit. Jamareya Thomas, a fashion merchandising and marketing major at Virginia State University in Petersburg, said that her mental health declined as her coursework grew more difficult.

“It definitely went down some, especially when I started taking harder classes,” she said. “This semester has actually been pretty good on my mental health. Last semester it was terrible, but this semester I was a lot more calm and collected.” 

A survey of over 1,000 Virginia college students by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia found that 76% reported challenges to their mental health during the first months of the pandemic. Another survey of more than 2,000 students at Texas A&M University showed that 71% reported increased stress and anxiety levels. Only 43% said they were able to cope with this stress.

Amiya Brady, a nursing major at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, said she endured a lot more stress from virtual learning as opposed to in person.

“I was drained and tired because of the excessive workload,” she said. “We didn’t have as much work in person as we did online, so it was kind of overwhelming at times.”

Nyasia Dozier, a criminal justice major at VSU, said there are merits to both in-person and virtual learning, but she “had a hard time adjusting” to virtual learning. She said she was devastated when classes moved online last spring.

“I'm more of a hands-on learner, so I need to be in class learning versus at home,” Dozier said. “When I’m at home, I'll be lazy and I forget about my work. I’m not nearly as focused now as I was on campus.”

Julie Bernardez, a freshman at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, said virtual learning made the transition between high school and college more difficult.

“The hardest part is trying to figure out what’s OK and what’s not OK,” she said. “When classes are in person, you can raise your hand and go to the bathroom whenever you want, but people aren’t really taught online etiquette.”

Bernardez said tasks that were simple with in-person learning, such as contacting teachers or hearing the lecture, are now much harder.

“There’s a lot of issues that happen with online stuff that throws me off,” she said, “whether it’s trying to get a hold of teachers or Zoom technology, the video or the sound, isn’t working.”

Grana Ali, a biology major at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, stated in an email that while her mental health wasn’t affected too negatively, it was still difficult to adjust to a COVID-19 world.

“I was a bit unmotivated to do things and felt isolated,” she said. “It’s depressing seeing all the horrible things happening in the world around you, and it definitely takes a toll on a person mentally, but I feel like I’m doing pretty OK so far.”

Clinical depression increased 90% among college-aged young adults in the first few months of the pandemic, according to a recently published study. The students’ screen time more than doubled, socialization decreased by over half, and average steps taken declined from 10,000 to 4,600 per day.

Despite the struggles that virtual learning brings, students said that they have ways of boosting their mental health and motivation.

“Sitting in Monroe Park has helped a lot, just relaxing and breathing the fresh air,” Bernardez said. “I'll go grab a smoothie and just sit on the bench with my phone put away.”

Other students take a break from school, but not from computer screens.

“I watch a quick 30 minute show, get a little TV time in, or even just play on my phone for a while to get a break from school,” Brady said.

Ali said Netflix is her go-to for entertainment, but she has also taken up reading more.

“I’ve really enjoyed it and used it as a way to escape from the realities of the world,” she said.

The isolation and struggles are why so many students anticipate returning to campus.

Many colleges and universities are still finalizing plans for the fall semester but have announced plans to be on campus with safety policies in place. A growing list of higher education institutions around the U.S. have announced a COVID-19 vaccine policy for students and employees, including some colleges in Virginia—though many of the state’s major colleges have not made a final determination.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday that vaccinated individuals don’t have to wear masks or social distance unless a law or regulation requires it.

Many college students are excited to return to campus in the fall, while others aren’t sure it’s the best course of action. Ali will likely return to campus.

“A lot of people have been getting vaccinated and abiding by the COVID safety rules,” Ali said. “I’ll most likely be returning to campus and as long as people are aware that COVID is still a risk and continue to do their part in stopping it from spreading.” 

Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University's Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.

Virginia restaurants face new challenges at brink of full reopening

By Christina Amano Dolan, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia restaurants will soon be able to host more patrons, but establishments may not be able to accommodate more guests due to a shortage in workers. 

Restaurants and drinking establishments will be able to seat up to 100 patrons indoors and a maximum of 250 guests outdoors starting May 15, Gov. Ralph Northam recently announced.

Eric Terry, president of the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association, estimated around 100 Richmond restaurants closed last year, but said there have been minimal closures this year. Many restaurants are likely nearing 80% of their pre-pandemic revenue levels, according to Terry. 

While full recovery for the industry is underway, Terry said the biggest revenue factor for restaurants is a restricted labor force. 

“I was on the phone yesterday with two restaurant operators who said they are having to close two days a week because they can’t get enough staff,” Terry said. 

The new limit will double the number of indoor guests allowed as of April 1. Restaurants may return to selling alcohol past midnight and dining room closures between midnight and 5 a.m. will no longer be required. 

Northam announced last week that all restrictions will be lifted on June 15 if the number of new COVID-19 cases remains low and COVID-19 vaccinations rise. On Monday, the state reported the lowest number of COVID-19 cases in a year. 

“I’m optimistic that we will be able to take more steps in June,” Northam recently said.

However, if seating capacity is extended fully in June, restaurants with limited staff will not be able to accommodate that many people, Terry said. 

“Unless we can get more folks to come back to work, it’s going to be tough,” Terry said. “The extended unemployment, child care issues and other things have made it very difficult to get people back into the industry.” 

Michael Nelson, manager of The Sidewalk Cafe in Richmond, said restaurants around the city struggled to find enough workers after losing valuable staff. Bartenders, cooks and others moved away from the industry and changed professions when the pandemic hit, Nelson said.

The Virginia accommodation and food services industry lost almost 60,000 workers from March 2020 to March 2021, according to the latest data from the Virginia Employment Commission (a 17% job loss). The figures are seasonally adjusted, meaning they account for seasonal fluctuations in the labor market.

Northam’s executive orders closed indoor dining areas in 2020 from late March to at least early June, though Richmond and Northern Virginia waited an additional two weeks before moving into phase two. Many restaurants voluntarily closed for extended periods. 

“Even when the governor says you’re able to have full capacity, I can see a lot of restaurants not going back to that because they just don’t have the staff,” Nelson said. 

Jeremy Barber, owner of three Alexandria-based restaurants, said that while staffing challenges are temporary, restaurants may hesitate to fully open indoor seating.

“I think that people are still going to be more comfortable dining outside,” Barber said. “Even people that I've talked to that are vaccinated and have eaten in restaurants still say they have an eerie feeling when they are dining indoors.”

Barber believes it will take time for the restaurant industry to fully recover. 

“Restaurateurs as well as guests need to work together to adapt to the new dining out,” Barber said. “It’ll be a true sign at the end of the summer to see how things are really progressing.”

More than 35% of Virginians are fully vaccinated as of Tuesday, according to the Virginia Department of Health. Over 47% the state’s population has received at least one dose. 

More than 6.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the state, according to VDH.

“I hope that we’re on the brink of getting over this thing,” Barber said. “But I think as a business owner, it’s our responsibility to plan for the worst and hope for the best.”

Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University's Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.

SBA Announces RRF Application & Guidelines Economic relief prioritized for underserved communities

WASHINGTON –U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman announced, over the weekend, key details on application requirements, eligibility, and a program guide for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RFF). The food service industry is among the hardest-hit during the COVID-19 pandemic economic downturn. The American Rescue Plan, signed into law by President Joe Biden, established the $28.6 billion RRF to be administered by the SBA.

“Our message is this; ‘Help is here.’” said Administrator Guzman. “We’re prioritizing funding to the hardest-hit small businesses – irreplaceable gathering places in our neighborhoods and communities in need of a lifeline. Thanks to clear directives from Congress, we’re rolling out this program to ensure these businesses can meet payroll, purchase supplies, and get what they need in place to transition to today’s COVID-restricted marketplace.”

Administrator Guzman emphasized, “We’re also focused on ensuring the RRF application process is streamlined and free of burdensome, bureaucratic hurdles, while maintaining robust oversight. Under my leadership, the SBA will be as entrepreneurial as the entrepreneurs we serve – meeting every small business where they are, and giving them the support, they need to recover, rebuild and thrive.”

Ahead of the launch and over the next two weeks, the SBA will establish a seven-day pilot period, ahead of the public launch, to conduct outreach and training. Participants will be randomly selected and will not receive funds until the application portal is open to the public – to be announced at a later date. For the first 21 days the program is open, the SBA will prioritize reviewing applications from women, veterans and socially and economically disadvantaged business owners. Afterward, all eligible applicants are encouraged to apply.

“These guidelines were crafted by the SBA after conversations with independent restaurant and bar operators across the country,” said Erika Polmar, Executive Director of the Independent Restaurant Coalition. “We are grateful to the SBA for their hard work to make this process as accessible as possible in a short period of time. It is clear the SBA and the Biden Administration care deeply about ensuring businesses struggling the most can quickly and effectively use this relief program.”

In addition to restaurant groups and leading advocacy groups for underserved business communities, the SBA has engaged national and state trade associations, and other small business stakeholders in recent weeks to understand their concerns about relief programs. At all levels, the SBA continues to engage with stakeholder communities to inform and design delivery of financial assistance programs.

 As the SBA builds and prepares to roll out the program, this dedicated SBA website is the best source for up-to-date information for eligible restaurants interested in the RRF. Under this announcement, details on application requirements, eligibility, and a program guide are now available in English at, and in Spanish at

Virginia expands Medicaid access for legal immigrants

By Cameron Jones, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- Ni Kin became a permanent resident in 2002 at 70 years old, but she was unable to work after moving from Myanmar to Virginia due to mobility problems.

Kin required more medical attention related to her condition as she aged, but was unable to see a doctor because she didn’t have insurance, according to her grandson Tin Myint. Kin didn’t qualify for Medicaid due to a state rule requiring permanent residents to present 10 years of work history to use public health insurance, Myint said. Kin also did not qualify for no-premium Medicare, since she never worked in the country and does not qualify for Social Security benefits.

“We have family friends who live in other states that were able to get Medicaid when they applied, who've been living here for 10 to 15 years, and we thought that applied to us also,” Myint said. “That was disappointing and shocking to hear that Virginia was one of the very few states that had this particular rule.”

Kin is one of thousands of permanent residents in Virginia that will qualify for Medicaid due to a new change eliminating the 10-year work history requirement, known as the “40-quarter rule,” according to the Virginia Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit group that advocates for low-income Virginians. The commonwealth was one of six states with a 10-year work history requirement for Medicaid. 

Gov. Ralph Northam and state legislators approved a budget last year that eliminated the rule. The change went into effect this month. 

Northam’s line budget amendment includes $4.4 million in state funds for this change, according to the Virginia Poverty Law Center.

Freddy Mejia, a policy analyst at the Commonwealth Institute, said the old rule was a roadblock for legal permanent residents. The Commonwealth Institute is an organization that analyzes the impact of fiscal and economic issues on low-income communities.

“Someone who comes to the country as an older adult, possibly doesn’t get the opportunity to work for 10 years but gets sick,” Mejia said as an example.

Mejia said lawmakers and advocates lobbied for the change in the 2019 General Assembly, but it did not pass. Northam and lawmakers approved the change as a line budget amendment in 2020, but it was vetoed once the COVID-19 pandemic began, Mejia said. It was funded again in the 2020 fall special session, and the change went into effect April 1, 2021. 

Mejia credited this change to advocacy efforts from different parties, including the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium, the Virginia Poverty Law Center, and politicians such as Del. Mark Sickles, D- Franconia, Sen. George Barker, D- Alexandria, and Northam. 

Jill Hanken, a health attorney and director of ENROLL Virginia, said immigrants have suffered in a disparate way throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and the policy change will encourage people to apply for the coverage they need. ENROLL Virginia is a project of the Virginia Poverty Law Center that helps Virginians access affordable health coverage.

“Statewide it demonstrates that Virginia is welcoming and interested in making sure that immigrants have access to the health services that they need,” Hanken said. 

ENROLL Virginia will continue alerting immigrants across the commonwealth of this change, Hanken said. 

Meanwhile, Myint is excited to sign his grandmother up for Medicaid.

“I can’t wait for her to get proper medical checkup, the needs that she needs to have a living condition she deserves,” Myint said. 


Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University's Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.

SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman’s Statement on President Biden signing the PPP Extension Act of 2021 into Law

WASHINGTON – As President Joe Biden signed the PPP Extension Act of 2021 into law today, extending the Paycheck Protection Program an additional two months to May 31, 2021, and then providing an additional 30-day period for the SBA to process applications that are still pending, Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, said:

“Today, President Biden sent another strong message to America’s more than 30 million small business owners negatively impacted by the pandemic: help is here. By signing the PPP Extension Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act into law, the President is providing additional critical relief to the smallest of the small businesses – the mom-and-pop shops that line our Main Streets and keep our local and regional economies going.

“The leadership of the Biden-Harris Administration, working with leaders of the House Small Business Committee, Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez, and Ranking Member Blaine Luetkemeyer, Reps. Carolyn Bourdeaux and Young Kim, and Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee Chairman Ben Cardin, and Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Susan Collins, ensured a strong bipartisan vote to extend this critical relief to hard-hit small businesses. More than 8.2 million PPP loans have provided struggling small businesses with the relief they need to keep workers employed and make ends meet during this pandemic. The SBA remains dedicated to reaching the heart and soul of the nation’s urban, rural, and low-income communities – the smallest businesses – and removing barriers to access this vital relief.”

McClellan vies for governor seat after 15 years in legislature

By Hunter Britt, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- Sen. Jennifer McClellan is one of 13 candidates vying to become Virginia’s next governor; a state that has never had a woman in the top post.

McClellan, D-Richmond, has helped shape Virginia’s changing political landscape for 15 years as a state legislator. She just completed her fifth year serving as a senator. She won the position in a 2017 special election, departing her 11-year post as a delegate representing Charles City County and parts of Richmond City and Henrico and Hanover counties. McClellan now looks to the executive mansion.

 “We need a governor who can rebuild our economy, our healthcare, our economic safety net, and help us move forward post-COVID in a way that addresses inequity and brings people that are impacted by these crises together to be a part of that solution,” McClellan said. “I’ve got the experience and perspective to do that.” 

McClellan’s party has controlled both chambers in the legislature for the past two years, along with the executive branch. The Democratic trifecta has ushered in more progressive legislation and undone decades of conservative policy. 

“I have a full understanding of how we got where we are as a commonwealth, where we need to go, and how to build that coalition of people to come together to do that,” McClellan said.

McClellan has close ties with many of the issues she fights for, including domestic workers’ rights. She comes from a long line of domestic workers. The General Assembly recently passed a bill spearheaded by McClellan that includes domestic service workers in employee protection laws. Every woman on her mother’s side of the family has been a domestic worker, the senator said. 

“My mom was one of 14 children born during the Depression in the Gulf Coast of Mississippi,” she said. “For her mother, her grandmother, her sisters, those were the only jobs available.”

Key issues 

McClellan said she wants to bolster Virginia as the state digs into another year of the pandemic. That includes a focus on education, health care, and economic recovery and development. 

McClellan said she wants to provide more funding for public schools, including raising teacher salaries to an average of $65,000. Legislators have cut Virginia’s education funding formula since the recession, according to a report from the Commonwealth Institute. The cuts include capping the number of school support staff paid for by the state.

McClellan plans to help stabilize and expand the child care industry. The pandemic caused many child care workers to lose jobs and day cares to close. The industry will continue to decline without public investment and policy reform, according to a University of California, Berkeley report.

The senator said child care should be recognized as a public necessity. McClellan said she laid the groundwork for the Universal Child Care & Early Learning Plan during the 2021 General Assembly session. McClellan’s $4 billion plan calls for universal child care by 2025 for babies and children up to age 4. 

The governor recently signed McClellan’s Senate Bill 1316, which exempts prospective child care employees and volunteers from background checks if one has been performed in the past five years. The bill also prompts the Department of Education to establish a two-year pilot program that would move federal child care subsidy dollars from an attendance-based to an enrollment-based model. If an emergency kept the student from attending, the facility does not get subsidy dollars under the attendance-based system, even though the facility already had financially prepared for the student. Child care centers lost federal funding in the past year due to the pandemic and children missing more days than usual. 

The pandemic has negatively impacted many small businesses and workers. McClellan said she will create a COVID Long-Term Effects Small Business Loan allowing small business owners to apply for a low interest, 30-year loan. McClellan wants to expand small businesses access to capital through increased funding partnerships with entities such as the Virginia Community Capital bank. She also promoted evaluating laws and tax structures to help “allow entrepreneurs to innovate and grow” their businesses in alignment with market trends. 

The General Assembly in recent years has made efforts to improve workers’ rights, though several bills were whittled down or didn’t advance. McClellan wants to expedite the transition to a $15 minimum hourly wage, allow an estimated half a million gig workers access to unemployment benefits and remove barriers to collective bargaining. She would also like to pass a stronger version of a paid sick leave bill than what the Senate amended this session. 


Stephen Farnsworth, director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, said McClellan has a good chance of winning the governorship, but there are obstacles in her way.

“The big challenge that Sen. McClellan has in this contest is the fact that there's a former governor, Terry McAuliffe, who's also seeking the Democratic nomination,” he said. “Absent McAuliffe, she would be one of the leading candidates, but with McAuliffe in the race, it will be hard for any of the other Democratic candidates to compete with somebody who has already won a statewide election.”

McAuliffe worked “very hard” over the last several years to help create Democratic majorities in the legislature and has some IOUs to collect that will help his campaign, Farnsworth said.

Democrats will see a variety of issues they support in McClellan’s voting record, including civil rights, criminal justice reform, climate change and questions of equality, Farnsworth said. 

“Experience is always a big plus when you're talking about a candidate for governor,” he said. “It's not a job that is a good place for on-the-job training. And that will also be one of her key assets.”

Other Democrats on the gubernatorial ticket are former state Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy; Del. Lee Carter, D-Manassas, and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax. Seven Republican candidates and one independent are also in the race. There are five female candidates representing three parties.

Only 44 women have served as governor, according to the Center for American Women and Politics, a part of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University. Women have held those seats in 30 states.

McClellan said this political race is different from her other political campaigns because of COVID-19. Previously, candidates connected with people in person.

“We’ve had to shift to virtual events, which is both challenging and brings opportunities because I can talk to people from all across the state at one time, but it’s not quite the same,” she said.

A ‘new voice’ 

Sen. Mamie Locke, D-Hampton, a colleague and friend of McClellan’s, has endorsed her run for governor. She and McClellan have worked on bills together over the years pertaining to women’s issues, reproductive rights and voting rights. One of her fondest memories with McClellan is the day the General Assembly passed legislation for Virginia to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. The ERA is a proposed U.S. Constitutional amendment to provide equal rights to American citizens regardless of sex. Virginia became the 38th state to ratify it in 2020, though the Congressional deadline has passed.

Locke and McClellan were two of several lawmakers who sponsored legislation in the Senate supporting the amendment.

“We just kind of looked at each other,” Locke said. “All of these women were in this room, even though there were women in the room who certainly had voted and lobbied against it.” 

Locke said they had just delivered remarks in support of the ERA. Then the committee started its vote. 

“We looked at each other and said, ‘Oh my god, this is really going to pass now,’ and at the end of the vote we hugged each other.” 

Locke said McClellan is a candidate with energy, new ideas, and “a voice that Virginia needs to hear.” Locke said she didn’t need to be convinced when McClellan called to ask for her endorsement.

“It’s time for Virginia to move in a direction that’s not the same old thing over and over again,” she said. “She is a very strong individual who can bring … that new voice, that new energy to the governor's office. That’s what Virginia needs right now.” 

Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University's Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.


~ Bill would ensure rural hospitals are fairly reimbursed for their services by the federal government ~

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Rev. Raphael Warnock (D-GA), and Tim Kaine (D-VA) today introduced the Save Rural Hospitals Act of 2021 to fix a flawed formula that results in disproportionately low Medicare payments for hospitals in rural and low-wage areas. The bill would provide additional financial support for rural hospitals that are already operating on very thin margins and shutting down at record rates during the COVID-19 crisis – with more than 20 rural hospitals closing their doors in 2020 alone.

“In rural communities all over America, having a local hospital, as opposed to having to travel long distances for care, can mean the difference between life and death. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 crisis has only exacerbated the financial instability many of these facilities were already facing, putting them at greater risk for closure,” said Sen. Warner. “That’s why we’ve got to level the playing field for federal reimbursement rates so that rural hospitals have a fighting chance at keeping their doors open and continuing to provide lifesaving care.”

“Rural hospital closures mean a loss of access to medical care for the millions of Americans who chose to live in those areas. In addition, when a rural hospital closes, a community often loses one of its largest employers. Rural hospital closures are devastating to those communities. Rural hospitals have closed in record numbers in recent years and Tennessee is at the top of the list for the number of facilities lost. One contributing facture is an unfair reimbursement system that favors urban hospitals over rural, the Medicare area wage index. The Save Rural Hospitals bill is bipartisan legislation to create a floor to this calculation that will be a lifeline for the 1 in 4 rural hospitals that are in danger of closing. According to CMS, over 50 hospitals in TN stand to benefit from this legislation. When the rural hospitals benefit, communities benefit. This legislation will protect access to health care for millions of Tennesseans,” said Sen. Blackburn.

“Rural communities in Georgia and across the nation have been devastated by the public health and economic consequences of this once-in-a-century pandemic, and hospitals in these areas that were already struggling to make ends meet have been some of the hardest hit by this crisis. Health care is a human right, and the federal government has a deep role to play in making sure all Georgians, regardless of income or zip code, have access to the care they need to stay healthy and thrive, and so I’m glad to join my colleagues in supporting this common-sense, bipartisan legislation that will help target federal health care dollars to the communities where these investments are most sorely needed,” said Sen. Rev. Warnock.

“Too often, rural hospitals don’t have the necessary support they need to continue providing care for their local communities,” said Sen. Kaine. “With the increased pressure they’ve faced over the last year, it’s so important for Congress to pass this bipartisan legislation to ensure rural hospitals across the country — including 19 in Virginia— have access to the necessary resources to stay afloat and continue serving their communities amid COVID-19.”

The Save Rural Hospitals Act of 2021 would help curb the alarming trend of hospital closures in rural communities by making sure hospitals are fairly reimbursed for their services by the federal government. The “Medicare Area Wage Index,” a formula used by Medicare to reimburse hospitals, is currently much lower for health care providers in rural communities, due to the fact that the formula is based on labor costs, which vary across the country. To make sure rural hospitals are fairly reimbursed, the Save Rural Hospitals Act of 2021 would establish a national minimum “area wage index” of 0.85.

This legislation comes at a crucial time during the unprecedented COVID-19 public health emergency and as hospitals in rural areas already face financial uncertainty. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals in many places, including Virginia, were ordered to postpone profitable elective surgeries in an effort to conserve hospital capacity and scarce supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. Reporting indicates that rural hospitals are now closing at an alarming rate, with more than 130 rural hospitals around the nation having closed since 2010.

According to 2021 CMS data, 19 Virginia hospitals will directly benefit from the Save Rural Hospitals Act of 2021:

Johnston Memorial Hospital

Abingdon, VA

Lonesome Pine Hospital

Big Stone Gap, VA

LewisGale Hospital - Montgomery

Blacksburg, VA

Southampton Memorial Hospital

Franklin, VA

Twin County Regional Healthcare, Inc.

Galax, VA

Buchanan General Hospital

Grundy, VA

Sentara Rockingham Memorial Hospital

Harrisonburg, VA

Smyth County Community Hospital

Smyth, VA

Memorial Hospital

Martinsville, VA

Riverside Shore Memorial

Nassawadox, VA

Norton Community Hospital

Norton, VA

Wellmont Mountain View Regional Medical Center

Norton, VA

LewisGale Hospital - Pulaski

Pulaski, VA

Clinch Valley Medical Center

Richlands, VA

Russell County Medical Center

Russell, VA

VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital

South Hill, VA

Riverside Tappahannock Hospital

Tappahannock, VA

Carilion Tazewell Community Hospital

Tazewell, VA

Wythe County Community Hospital

Wytheville, VA

The Save Rural Hospitals Act of 2021 also boasts the support of the National Association of Rural Health Clinics, National Rural Health Association, Tennessee Hospital Association, University of Tennessee Medical Center (UTMC), Covenant Health and Blount Memorial Hospital, Virginia Rural Health Association, Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, and Ballad Health System.

“Medicare payment policies can at times have unintended consequences in rural health,” said Nathan Baugh, Director of Government Affairs for the National Association of Rural Health Clinics. “The Save Rural Hospitals Act will correct one of the flawed formulas contributing to the financial struggles of rural providers.”

“It is critical that we protect rural hospitals so individuals and families in less populated communities in Virginia, and across the United States, can access essential medical services when they need them 24/7/365,” said Sean T. Connaughton, President and CEO of Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association. “The COVID-19 pandemic is a stark reminder of the importance of access to hospital-based acute care services at a moment’s notice when seconds and minutes truly matter. Across the country, 180 rural hospitals have closed in the past 17 years, including two in Virginia since 2013. Senator Warner’s Save Rural Hospitals Act of 2021 is a welcome proposal that recognizes the challenging conditions facing many rural hospitals and offers a common sense solution to appropriately adjust reimbursement rates so hospitals aren’t unfairly penalized under an outdated payment methodology that fails to account for current realities.”

“In the struggle to provide health care access, rural hospitals are on the front line nationwide for large numbers of our most vulnerable citizens,” said Alan Levine, Executive Chairman and CEO of Ballad Health, an integrated delivery system in the Appalachian Highlands of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. “The Save Our Rural Hospitals Act will fix long-standing problems in Medicare payment policy which has underpaid rural hospitals year after year, leaving many struggling financially or at worst, closing. This bill recognizes that rural hospitals are increasingly having to recruit nationwide for nurses and other staff in short supply, and Medicare’s Area Wage Index adjustments must account for that.”

Sen. Warner has been a champion for rural health care in Virginia. Earlier this week, Sen. Warner introduced the bipartisan Strengthening Rural Health Clinics Act that would protect nearly 30 rural health clinics in Virginia from unexpected payment cuts. Sen. Warner has also led efforts in Virginia to reopen the closed rural hospital in Lee County, Virginia. The Lee County hospital has now reopened as an urgent care facility and is on track to fully reopen as a hospital later this year.

A copy of the bill text can be found here. A one-page summary can be found here.

Virginia State Police Safely Recover Abducted 6 Year Old After Short Pursuit

Greenville County, VA: Late yesterday evening (March 29) at approximately 10:30 p.m., the Virginia State Police Communications Center broadcasted a transmission to all its members concerning a 2017 Honda Civic Coupe that was possibly involved in an earlier abduction in Greensville County.  

During the broadcast it was learned that the adjoining police department, Prince George County, had attempted to pull the vehicle over and a pursuit entailed. The driver, 36 year old Crystal M. Maryland, had an active warrant, and the 6 year old female was believed to be inside the vehicle. The pursuit was terminated shortly after by that agency. 

Troopers in the area began to search the surrounding counties for the vehicle that had fled from prior law enforcement officers. At approximately 10:43 p.m., a trooper located the vehicle on Route 35 at the Sussex County/Southampton County line and a traffic stop was initiated. Maryland refused to stop and fled in the eastbound direction of Route 35 at a high rate of speed. In an effort to stop the Honda, the trooper's vehicle was struck by Maryland. The impact of the crash caused the Honda to run through the median, across the westbound lanes and into an embankment. Crystal Michelle Maryland was then taken into custody without incident. 

The 6 year old victim was inside the vehicle and escaped unharmed. The female victim was evaluated by medical personnel at the scene and the child's mother and family members were identified. She was released into their custody. 

The trooper escaped unharmed, while Maryland was transported to Southampton Memorial Hospital for a medical evaluation. Once cleared of her injuries, she was transported to Southampton Regional Jail for processing where she was served with the pending felony warrant for abduction.  Maryland was also charged by state police with the following; felony eluding, reckless driving, felony child endangerment, and failure to secure a child in an approved child restraint device.  Crystal Michelle Maryland received no bond.

First Cases of B.1.427 and B.1.429 COVID-19 Variants Reported in Virginia

(RICHMOND, VA) – The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) today announced the first cases of the SARS-CoV-2 variants B.1.427 and B.1.429 in samples that were collected between December 2020 and February 2021 from Virginia residents. The B.1.427 and B.1.429 variants, which first emerged in California in the summer of 2020, are associated with increased person-to-person transmission of COVID-19. At this time, there is no evidence that infections with these variants cause more severe disease. These two variants were only recently added to CDC’s Variant of Concern list.

The Department of General Services Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS) confirmed the cases using next-generation sequencing analysis, which provides a genetic blueprint of the virus that causes COVID-19. With the identification of these new variant cases, Virginia now has identified a total of 14 cases of the B.1.427 variant, nine cases of the B.1.429 variant, 26 cases of the B.1.351 variant (first identified in South Africa) and 127 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant (first identified in the United Kingdom). With the combined state and national surveillance efforts, it is likely that additional cases with SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern will be identified.

Viruses change all the time, and VDH expects to see new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus as disease spreads. As our public health officials closely monitor the emergence of these SARS-CoV-2 variants in our Commonwealth, it is critical that all Virginians comply now with mitigation measures.  Public health recommendations for stopping the spread of COVID-19 will work for all COVID-19 variants. This means wearing masks correctly, staying at least six feet from others, avoiding crowds, washing hands often, getting vaccinated for COVID-19 when it is your turn, and staying home if you are infected with COVID-19 or if you have had close contact with someone with COVID-19.

For more information about COVID-19 variants, visit the VDH Variants website and the CDC COVID-19 Variants website.

Virginia State Police Conduct A Fatal Accident Investigation For Sheriff's Department

GREENSVILLE COUNTY, VA: In the early morning hours of March 28, the Virginia State Police was called upon to investigate a vehicle fatality that resulted from a police pursuit by Greensville County Sheriff's Department. 
At approximately 3:19 a.m., the Greensville Sheriff's Department received a disturbance call at the Quality Motel on Route 301. The complainant stated there was a white Ford Crown Victoria playing loud music in the motel parking lot. A deputy was dispatched to the scene and upon arrival observed a white Ford Crown Victoria exit the parking lot at a high rate of speed. A traffic stop was attempted, but the driver refused to stop for the deputy, traveling down Liberty Road at 60 mph. Although it was not raining, the roadway was wet with standing water. The driver of the Ford, 25 year old Daiquan T. Wright, drove over standing water, lost control of the vehicle, and ran off the roadway. Once off the roadway the vehicle struck a mailbox, fire hydrant, a fence and ultimately a tree, where the vehicle came to rest in an upright position. Wright was not wearing his seatbelt at the time of the incident and died at the scene from injuries sustained. 
The Greensville County Sheriff's Department contacted the Virginia State Police to investigate the incident. The Virginia State Police Reconstruction Team was called to the scene to assist in the investigation. At this time it is unknown if alcohol played a contributing factor.
Notification to family members has been made for 25 year old Daiquan Tarez Wright of the hundred block of Liberty Road, Emporia, Virginia.
The Virginia State Police will be handling the fatal investigation only. Any questions concerning the pursuit and the policies and procedures of Greenville Sheriff's Department must be addressed by that agency.

Governor Northam Announces Limited Capacity Increases for Indoor and Outdoor Gatherings, Some Entertainment Venues as Vaccinations Rise

Approximately one in four Virginians vaccinated with at least one dose

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that as COVID-19 vaccinations continue to rise in Virginia, certain sports and entertainment venues may begin to operate with additional capacity and indoor and outdoor gathering limits will increase starting Thursday, April 1. He amended Executive Order Seventy-Two with the next steps of the “Forward Virginia” plan to safely and gradually ease public health restrictions while mitigating the spread of the virus. More than two million Virginians, or approximately one in four people, have now received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“With increased vaccination capacity and our health metrics continuing to trend the right direction, we can safely take these targeted steps to ease certain mitigation measures,” said Governor Northam. “Virginians have come so far over the past year, and now is not the time to simply throw the doors open or let down our guard. While some capacity limits will be increased, we must all remember to stay vigilant and work together to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities.”

The Commonwealth will maintain a Safer at Home strategy with continued mitigation strategies like physical distancing, teleworking, and universal mask requirements. Key changes in the Fourth Amended Executive Order Seventy-Two include:

  • Social gatherings: The maximum number of individuals permitted in a social gathering will increase to 50 people for indoor settings and 100 people for outdoor settings. Social gatherings are currently limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
  • Entertainment venues: All indoor and outdoor entertainment and public amusement venues must continue to operate at 30 percent capacity. Indoor venues must operate at 30 percent capacity or with a maximum of 500 people, an increase from the current cap of 250 people. Outdoor venues must operate at 30 percent capacity, with no specific cap on the number of attendees. These venues were previously limited to 30 percent capacity or up to 1,000 attendees, whichever was fewer. 
  • Recreational sporting events: The number of spectators allowed at recreational sporting events will increase from 25 to 100 people per field or 30 percent capacity, whichever is less for indoor settings, and from 250 to 500 people per field or 30 percent capacity, whichever is less for outdoor settings.
  • In-person graduation and commencement events: Last week, Governor Northam issued preliminary guidance on safe in-person graduations and commencements, which included a cap of 5,000 people or 30 percent of the venue capacity for outdoor events, whichever is less. Events held indoors may have up to 500 people, or 30 percent of the venue capacity, whichever is less. Attendees must wear masks and follow other guidelines and safety protocols to ensure proper distancing.

The full text of Fourth Amended Executive Order Seventy-Two and Order of Public Health Emergency Nine is available here. Updated guidelines for specific sectors can be found here. Visit for more information and answers to frequently asked questions.

Virginia has now administered more than 3.1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine and is currently giving approximately 50,000 shots per day. Virginians are strongly encouraged to make sure they are pre-registered at, or by calling 877-VAX-IN-VA, to ensure that the Virginia Department of Health has all the relevant information to reach out when individuals are eligible to schedule vaccination appointments.


~ Herring secures settlement with Boston over deceptive marketing of its surgical mesh products; Virginia will receive more than $3.7 million as its part of the settlement ~

RICHMOND (March 23, 2021) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring today announced a multistate settlement with Boston Scientific Corporation (Boston) to resolve allegations of deceptive marketing of its surgical mesh products for women. The settlement requires Boston to pay $188.6 million to 47 states and the District of Columbia to resolve allegations that it deceptively marketed transvaginal surgical mesh devices to patients. Virginia will receive $3,734,173 as its share of the settlement.
“Deceptive or false marketing of any kind of product will not be tolerated in Virginia, but especially when those products are medical devices that could negatively impact a patient’s health,” said Attorney General Herring. “As attorney general, my top priority is always to protect Virginians and I want to make sure that both doctors and patients can always feel confident that they are making the best, most informed decisions about their health.”
Surgical mesh is a synthetic woven fabric that is implanted in the pelvic floor through the vagina to treat common health conditions in women such as stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. These are common conditions faced by women due to a weakening in their pelvic floor muscles caused by childbirth, age, or other factors. Although use of surgical mesh involves the risk of serious complications and is not proven to be any more effective than traditional tissue repair, millions of women were implanted with the devices and thousands of women are alleged to have suffered serious complications resulting from these devices.
Attorney General Herring and his colleagues allege that Boston misrepresented the safety of these products by failing to disclose the full range of potential serious and irreversible complications caused by mesh, including chronic pain, voiding dysfunction, and new onset of incontinence.
The settlement provides comprehensive injunctive relief. Under the terms of the settlement, Boston is required to:
Marketing Reforms:
  • For marketing materials intended for consumers, describe complications in understandable terms;
  • For certain marketing materials, disclose significant complications, including the inherent risks of mesh;
  • Refrain from representing that any inherent risks of mesh are risks common to any pelvic floor or other surgery not involving mesh;
  • Refrain from representing that inherent mesh complications can be eliminated with surgical experience or technique;
  • Refrain from representing that surgical mesh does not cause a foreign body reaction;
  • Refrain from representing that surgical mesh remains soft, supple, or pliable after mesh is implanted inside the body;
  • Refrain from representing that surgical mesh does not potentiate infection or does not increase the likelihood of infection;
  • Refrain from representing that surgical mesh repair is superior to native tissue repair unless such representations are supported by valid scientific evidence;
Training Reforms:
  • Inform healthcare providers of significant complications when providing training regarding procedures for insertion and implantation;
  • Maintain policies requiring that its independent contractors, agents, and employees who sell, market, or promote mesh are adequately trained to report patient complaints and adverse events to the company; 
Clinical Trial Reforms:
  • When submitting a clinical study or clinical data regarding mesh for publication, disclose the company’s role as a sponsor and any author’s potential conflict of interest;
  • Refrain from citing any clinical study, clinical data, preclinical data, research, or article regarding mesh for which the company has not complied with the disclosure requirements in the injunction;
  • Include a sponsorship disclosure provision requiring consultants to contractually agree to disclose in any public presentation or submission for publication any sponsorships by Boston related to the contracted-for activity; 
  • Register all Boston-sponsored clinical studies regarding mesh with
Attorney General Herring has reached two similar settlements resolving allegations of deceptive marketing and promotion for transvaginal surgical mesh devices, one with Johnson & Johnson and Ethicon, Inc. and one with C.R. Bard, Inc.
During Attorney General Herring's administration, his Consumer Protection Section has recovered approximately $359 million in relief for consumers and payments from visitors.
Joining Attorney General Herring in this settlement are the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.
A copy of the complaint is here and the consent judgment submitted for court approval is here.


Interstate 95 Lanes Shut Down Due to Accident Investigations

SUSSEX, VA: On today's date (March 23), the Virginia State Police was called upon to investigate two major accidents on Interstate 95, which caused the roadway/lane to be closed for several hours. 

At approximately 3:11 a.m., the driver of a 2013 Volvo tractor trailer, Darrell Phillips, was traveling southbound Interstate 95,when he ran off the roadway, struck the guardrail, entered the median and overturned in the northbound lanes of Interstate 95, at the 31 mile marker. The driver was entrapped in the vehicle but escaped uninjured. Phillips, 53 YOA, of Delaware, was charged with reckless driving, failure to maintain proper control of vehicle. 


Shortly after the accident in the southbound lanes of Interstate 95, a single vehicle accident occured in the northbound lanes of Interstate 95 at the 28 mile marker. The driver of a 2005 Nissan Titan, Christopher Smidt, was pulling an enclosed trailer carrying two Harley Davidson motorcycles, when he ran off the roadway and into the Nottoway River. Smidt and his passenger were able to exit the vehicle prior to it being submerged completely into the river. Both occupants were uninjured from the crash.  The Virginia State Police Search and Recovery Team were called to assist in recovering the vehicles from the water.

Smidt is from New Jersey and the investigation is on-going.

Photos provided are  property of the Virginia State Police which grants permission for its usage and publication.

First Day of Spring Brings Big Change to Courthouse Square

Months after the Greensville County Board of Supervisors voted for the removal of the Confederate memorial, it was finally removed from the lawn in front of the Greensville County Courthouse on Saturday, March 20, 2021 - the first day of Spring.

The monument waits in the background with the straps hanging in the foreground, ready to remove the bronze from the plinth on Saturday morning.

By Saturday Evening, all that is left is the remains of the footing.

Governor Northam Signs Key Bills into Law

Newly-approved measures include modernizing public health funding, clean vehicle standards, removal of Byrd statue

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced he has signed several important pieces of legislation, including measures to modernize public health funding, increase access to early childhood education, boost the sale of electric vehicles, and remove the statue of Harry F. Byrd, Sr. from Capitol Square.

“We are making tremendous progress on the issues that matter most to Virginians, from heath care and education to economic opportunity and our environment,” said Governor Northam. “I am proud to sign these bills into law, and I look forward to continuing our work together to support families and small businesses and build a more welcoming, inclusive Commonwealth.”

Governor Northam signed the following laws to expand access to health care:

  • House Bill 1963, sponsored by Delegate Lamont Bagby, modernizes the funding mechanism for local health departments to increase support for public health needs, emergencies, and response efforts. Governor Northam spoke to this issue during his State of the Commonwealth speech in January, saying: “In 2021, we’re funding public health like its 1980…This is fundamentally inequitable and wrong…We’ll make sure the localities that need more resources get them, and no one will get less.”
  • Senate Bill 1205, sponsored by Senator George Barker, establishes programs to manage career fatigue and increase the wellbeing of health care providers and medical students. This measure is identical to House Bill 1913, sponsored by Delegate Patrick Hope.
  • Senate Bill 1227, sponsored by Senator Jennifer Boysko, allows Virginians who rely on Medicaid to receive up to a 12-month prescription of birth control, increasing access to contraception for those who need it.

Governor Northam signed the following laws related to equity and inclusion:

  • House Bill 2208, sponsored by Delegate Jay Jones, directs the Department of General Services to remove the statue of Harry Byrd, Sr. from Capitol Square. The former Virginia governor and longtime United States senator was an avid segregationist and the architect of “massive resistance,” a campaign to prevent public school desegregation in Virginia.
  • House Bill 1993, sponsored by Delegate Alex Askew, requires state agencies to establish and maintain a comprehensive diversity, equity, and inclusion strategic plan in coordination with the Governor’s Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. This legislation codifies the Northam Administration’s first-in-the-nation ONE Virginia Plan.
  • House Bill 2130, sponsored by Delegate Alfonso Lopez, establishes the Virginia LGBTQ+ Advisory Board to advise the Governor on the economic, professional, cultural, educational, and governmental links between the Commonwealth and the LGBTQ+ community in Virginia.
  • House Bill 1854, sponsored by Delegate Rip Sullivan, authorizes Arlington County to rename Lee Highway, the county’s section of U.S. Route 29.

Governor Northam signed the following laws to support families and small businesses:

  • House Bill 2206, sponsored by Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, expands eligibility for the Child Care Subsidy Program to ensure more families in Virginia have access to early childcare education.
  • House Bill 1879, sponsored by Delegate David Bulova, and Senate Bill 1299, sponsored by Senator John Bell, codify Governor Northam’s Executive Directive Ten and allow for delivery and take-out of alcoholic beverages until July 1, 2022. The legislation also directs the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority to broadly study the issue and provide a report to the General Assembly by November 1, 2021.

Governor Northam signed the following laws to boost the sale of electric vehicles:

  • House Bill 1965, sponsored by Delegate Lamont Bagby, helps reduce air pollution by requiring car manufactures to sell a certain percentage of electric or hybrid electric passenger cars. Transportation is the leading source of greenhouse gas pollution in Virginia, and this measure is supported by both automobile dealers and the environmental community.
  • House Bill 2282, sponsored by Delegate Rip Sullivan, directs the State Corporation Commission to report on policy proposals that will increase the use of electric vehicles.

Governor Northam signed the following laws to increase access to voting:

  • House Bill 1968, sponsored by Delegate Lamont Bagby, allows localities to provide access to early voting on Sundays.
  • Senate Bill 1097, sponsored by Senator Barbara Favola, removes the requirement for a witness signature on absentee ballots during a declared public health emergency. This law also directs the Department of Elections to evaluate alternatives to witness signatures in verifying the integrity of absentee ballots.
  • Senate Bill 1239, sponsored by Senator John Bell, allows general registrars to contract with third-party vendors to ensure timely printing and distribution of absentee ballots.

Governor Northam proposed changes to the following bills:

  • Governor Northam amended House Bill 2167, sponsored by Delegate Don Scott, which clarifies the research and notification processes required of the Virginia Parole Board. Governor Northam amended this legislation to move provisions of the law related to monthly reporting from July 1, 2022 to December 15, 2021.
  • Governor Northam also amended House Bill 2168, sponsored by Delegate Don Scott, to clarify that so-called “games of skill” will be prohibited beginning July 1, 2021.

The full list of legislation signed by Governor Northam from the 2021 special session is available here.


Governor Announces New Service to Assist Virginia Students Applying for Financial Aid

Sets goal for every eligible student to complete FAFSA application

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced the launch of a new free advising service to assist Virginia students and families applying for financial aid and help address the COVID-19 related decline in completion rates of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Governor Northam also set forth a long-term goal for every eligible student in Virginia to complete a FAFSA application each year. 

The Virginia College Access Network (VirginiaCAN) and the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) have partnered on a statewide effort to offer free, one-on-one FAFSA completion assistance. From March 22 through June 30, 2021, students and families can go to to schedule a virtual meeting and connect with an advisor who can answer questions and walk them through filling out the FAFSA application. 

“The FAFSA is the first step in helping Virginia students qualify for thousands of dollars in state and federal grants and scholarships,” said Governor Northam. “Completing the FAFSA can be difficult under normal circumstances, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and shift to remote learning have added to the challenge of assisting our high school seniors with filling out their forms. This free one-on-one advising service will support our goal of ensuring every eligible student in our Commonwealth completes an application, and open the doors to affordable higher education and technical training for even more Virginians.” 

So far in 2021, 4,315 fewer Virginia high school seniors have completed the FAFSA, which is down nearly 10 percent compared to last year and mirrors the nine percent decline in FAFSA completion rates nationally. For students attending Virginia high schools with high concentrations of low-income students, FAFSA completions are down 33 percent. This means students who have the most to gain from state and federal aid are missing out on thousands of dollars in financial assistance for college and postsecondary training. According to a 2018 study, approximately 15,000 Virginia high school seniors that would have been eligible for Pell grants did not complete the FAFSA, amounting to more than $58 million in federal aid that students left on the table. 

The FAFSA is also vitally important for Governor Northam’s new “Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back” (G3) initiative, which provides financial support to cover tuition, fees, and books to eligible Virginia students who complete a FAFSA. The G3 Program aims to make community college more affordable for low- to middle-income individuals seeking employment in high-demand sectors such as technology, skilled trades, health care, early childhood education, and public safety.

“The launch of this new advising tool comes at a critical time when we must double down on our efforts to support the future success of our students and our Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “While we have a lot of ground to make up this year, we are committed to helping every Virginia student get the federal student aid they are entitled to, and that starts with connecting them with the resources they need to complete the FAFSA.”

To meet the Governor’s goal of ensuring that every eligible Virginia student completes the FAFSA, he has directed Secretary Qarni to convene a work group tasked with forming long-term legislative and budgetary recommendations to improve Virginia’s FAFSA completion rates. This group will include representatives from SCHEV, Virginia Community College System, and the Virginia Department of Education, along with other key stakeholders and college access experts. The work group will conduct listening sessions with community groups to collect input which will inform their final recommendations to the Governor.

“Right now, Black, African American, Hispanic, and low-income students are less likely to enroll in college than the state average,” said SCHEV Director Peter Blake. “The Virginia Plan for Higher Education calls for closing gaps in college access and improving FAFSA completion is the first step in closing those gaps.” 

VirginiaCAN, a non-profit organization with a mission to support and enhance post-high school education access and attainment for Virginians, is the lead organization in the new one-on-one FAFSA advising service. The five college access organizations participating in this effort include the Access College Foundation, ECMC’s The College Place, GReat Aspirations Scholarship Program (GRASP), the Virginia Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (VASFAA), and the Virginia College Advising Corps (VCAC). 

“Most people who begin a FAFSA are stymied by questions on the form,” writes Joy Pugh, VirginiaCAN Board President and Executive Director of the Virginia College Advising Corps, in a new op-ed published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “This is where Virginia’s access providers can help. In the spirit of collective impact, these organizations have banded together to meet this critical FAFSA completion need for students and families across the Commonwealth.”


~ Urges IRS to address three specific issues that could delay latest round of direct relief payments for some recipients ~

WASHINGTON – With more than 7 million Virginians slated to get over $9 billion in relief as a direct result of the American Rescue Plan, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) sent a letter to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) urging the agency to ensure that families receive their promised COVID-19 stimulus payments by quickly and proactively addressing three common issues that Virginians experienced with the last round of economic impact payments (EIPs) earlier this year.

“I write today following the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to raise specific issues my constituents had in accessing their second economic impact payments (EIP) in hopes those problems can be resolved and taken into consideration as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) administers the third round of economic impact payments,” wrote Sen. Warner in his letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig.

In his letter to the IRS, Sen. Warner identified the three most prevalent issues Virginia families ran into when attempting to access their second round of COVID-19 stimulus payments. The issues commonly heard from Virginians were:

  1. Couples who filed a 2019 tax return as married filing jointly who reported that only one spouse received a second EIP even though they received a joint EIP in the first round.
  2. Social Security recipients who received the first EIP via direct deposit or direct express card but did not receive the second EIP.
  3. Virginians who reported that the IRS’s Get My Payment application showed that they would either receive their payment via direct deposit or check but never received it.

During the COVID-19 crisis, Sen. Warner has been a strong advocate for Virginians, working to ensure that they get the funds to which they are entitled. Last April, he pressed the Treasury Department to ensure that families who are not normally required to file taxes do not need to wait until the following year to receive the additional $500 payment per dependent child that they were promised. He also successfully pushed the Treasury Department to allow Social Security recipients to automatically receive CARES Act direct cash assistance without needing to file a tax return.

A copy of the letter can be found here and below.

Dear Secretary Yellen and Commissioner Rettig,

I write today following the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to raise specific issues my constituents had in accessing their second economic impact payments (EIP) in hopes those problems can be resolved and taken into consideration as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) administers the third round of economic impact payments.

The Administration is well aware of the millions of Americans facing economic hardship, and should be applauded for its tireless work to deliver more relief as part of the ARPA. Further, I am appreciative of the IRS’s hard work throughout the pandemic. IRS employees have worked diligently to deliver hundreds of millions of dollars in EIPs to Americans while managing the risks associated with COVID-19.

Virginians continue to reach out with specific problems they are having, particularly those trying to access their second EIP. Below, I lay out the three most prevalent issues my staff has identified. To help me respond adequately to my constituents, please review the three issues and answer the following related questions.

  1. Couples that filed a 2019 tax return as married filing jointly are reporting that only one spouse received a second EIP even though they received a joint EIP in the first round. When the spouse not receiving the payment checked the IRS’s Get My Payment App, there was no information. Is the couple’s only recourse to claim a Recovery Rebate Credit (RRC)? Is there a reason why the second EIP was treated differently in this situation? Can the IRS take steps to ensure the same problem does not occur with the third EIP?
  2. A number of my constituents who are Social Security recipients received the first EIP via direct deposit or direct express card but did not receive the second EIP. The IRS has said those constituents can file a tax return and claim a RRC but I am concerned for those Social Security recipients who are non-filers and are less equipped to file a tax return to claim their RRC. I am also concerned that these same constituents will not receive their third EIP. Please explain why the IRS did not send the second (December) round of EIPs automatically to Social Security recipients. Will the IRS commit to sending past due checks to Social Security recipients who should have received them? For the third round of EIPs, can the IRS commit to automatically sending checks to Social Security recipients? If not, why not?
  3. Last year, the IRS created a Non-Filers tool to allow non-filers to gain access to the first round of EIPs to address this problem and make it easier for non-filers to access their EIP. Why did the IRS not reopen the Non-Filers tool to help Americans access their second EIP? Will the IRS commit to reopening the Non-Filers tool for the third round of EIP to ensure non-filers can easily access their third EIP? And will they be allowed to use this tool to claim checks owed to them from the first two rounds?

A number of constituents reported that the IRS’s Get May Payment application showed that they would either receive their payment via direct deposit or check but they never received it. Although the payment was issued to them and they qualified based on their 2019 tax return, the RRC is based on their 2020 tax filing. In some situations this has eliminated constituents’ eligibility for the second EIP. Will the IRS offer any flexibility or recourse for constituents in these circumstances?

I know the IRS is working diligently to serve the American people, and I welcome our continued collaboration to help Americans across the country. Thank you for your attention to this important issue.


Some Virginia Health Districts to Begin Transition to Phase 1C Vaccinations

(RICHMOND, VA) – The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced today that some health districts will begin the transition to Phase 1c vaccinations this week, and that all communities across Virginia should be able to open to this group of essential workers within weeks.

The decision to move from one phase to the next is made in coordination with local and state health officials and is dependent upon a variety of factors. Before moving to 1c, local health departments must have made strong efforts to reach all those eligible in 1a and 1b populations, particularly communities that have been disproportionately impacted, such as communities of color. Local health departments also must consider whether demand for vaccine has decreased among 1a and 1b populations.

“Finally, the light at the end of this long journey seems to be coming into view,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, M.D., M.A. “Vaccine is our best hope of ending the pandemic. My heartfelt thanks to the many Virginians who are signing up and getting vaccinated and for the health care workers and volunteers who are administering vaccines.”

“It is important that everyone who falls in one of the priority groups outlined in phases 1a-1c, including Virginians who are 65 and older, essential workers, and those 16-64 with underlying health conditions, get signed up on the state’s pre-registration list as soon as possible,” said Danny Avula, MD, MPH Virginia’s COVID Vaccine Coordinator. “In some communities, those on that pre-registration list will be contacted in days, not weeks, to schedule an appointment for your vaccine.”

Virginia began vaccinating healthcare personnel and people living in long-term care facilities in December, before moving to Phase 1b in January. Phase 1b includes those 65 and older, those 16-64 with underlying medical conditions and some frontline essential workers. Phase 1c includes additional essential workers, including those in the energy, construction, food services and other fields. Overlap of vaccination of groups may occur to ensure people in each phase are vaccinated as quickly and efficiently as possible. A full list of those included in each phase is available on the VDH vaccine website.

All communities are expected to move into Phase 1c by mid-April. Anyone over age 16 who lives or works in Virginia will be eligible for a vaccine in Phase 2, which is expected to begin by May 1.

Anyone who wants a vaccine should pre-register for an appointment by visiting or by calling 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682) from 8 a.m.-8p.m., seven days a week. Representatives are available in English and Spanish, and translation is available in any of more than 100 languages. TTY dial 7-1-1.

Those who have pre-registered should check the list at or by calling the call center to ensure their information is accurate. Incomplete or inaccurate information could result in you not being contacted for an appointment.

If you are pre-registered, make sure you are checking your email and answering your phone because it could be an invitation to schedule your appointment.

For more information about Virginia’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts, visit:

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Screening and Early Detection is Key to Effective Treatment

South Hill, VA (3/15/21) - March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and a good time to learn more about colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon and rectum) and how it can be prevented or best treated.

"Cancer in the colon and rectum is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. This cancer can be prevented with early screening tests, such as a colonoscopy," explained general surgeon Desiderio J. Rimon, MD.

How can I lower my risk?

To lower your risk of colorectal cancer, the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons and the American Cancer Society recommend that you:

-Get regular colorectal cancer screenings after age 45. Between 80-90% of colorectal cancer patients are restored to normal health if their cancer is detected and treated in the earliest stages. However, most insurance companies only cover colonoscopies at age 50 and older. Check with your insurance company first to be sure.

-Eat a low-fat, high-fiber diet and maintain a healthy body weight.

-If you use alcohol, drink only in moderation. If you use tobacco, quit. If you don't use tobacco, don't start. Alcohol and tobacco in combination are linked to colorectal cancer and other gastrointestinal cancers.

-Exercise for at least 20 minutes three to four days each week. Moderate exercise such as walking, gardening or climbing steps may help.

Can colorectal cancer be cured?

Since there are very few symptoms associated with colorectal cancer, regular screening is essential. Screening is beneficial for two main reasons: colorectal cancer is preventable if polyps that lead to the cancer are detected and removed, and it is curable if the cancer is detected in its early stages.

In addition, studies have shown that patients treated by colorectal surgeons -- experts in the surgical and nonsurgical treatment of colon and rectal problems -- are more likely to survive colorectal cancer and experience fewer complications. This is attributed to colorectal surgeons' advanced training and the high volume of colon and rectal disease surgeries they perform.

Who is at risk for colorectal cancer?

The risk of developing colorectal cancer increases with age. All men and women aged 45 and older are at risk for developing colorectal cancer, and should be screened. Some people are at a higher risk and should be screened at an age younger than 45, including those with a personal or family history of inflammatory bowel disease; colorectal cancer or polyps; or ovarian, endometrial or breast cancer.

Current screening methods include fecal occult blood testing (a simple chemical test that can detect hidden blood in the stool), flexible sigmoidoscopy (a visual examination of the rectum and lower portion of the colon, performed in a doctor's office), double contrast barium enema (barium x-ray), colonoscopy (a visual examination of the entire colon) and digital rectal exam. Colorectal cancer screening costs are covered by Medicare and many commercial health plans. You should find out from your healthcare provider which screening procedure is right for you and how often you should be screened.

“At VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital, our general surgeons are here to provide this life-saving procedure with compassionate and expert care. Make an appointment with one of our general surgeons today by calling (434) 584-2273. We are here for you,” said Dr. Rimon.

"We Had a Women's Day"

A day is very special
yet it's come a little late
yes with all of their accomplishments
why did they have to wait.
Yes they're the mothers of our children
Teachers, nurses and lawyers too
yet still many are housewives
taking care of me and you.
Now many of them are executives
and secretaries if you will
they keep and update records
before they send you the bill.
They are everywhere you go
which should be no surprise
yet if you still have trouble seeing them
then open up your eyes,
Yes in March there is a Women's Day
in tribute for what they do
we should be thankful they're around
and give then a praise or two.
                         - Roy E. Schepp


RICHMOND – A popular holiday and unofficial start of spring, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in America date back to this country’s founding and celebrate the roots of millions with Irish ancestry. Unfortunately, these celebrations have resulted in St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, becoming one of the year’s most dangerous times to be on the road. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), during the 2019 St. Patrick’s Day weekend alone (6 p.m. March 16 to 5:59 a.m. March 18), more than three out of five (63%) traffic crash-related fatalities involved a drunk driver. In fact, from 2015 to 2019, a total of 280 lives were lost in drunk-driving crashes during the St. Patrick’s Day period nationwide.

“As COVID-19 cases start to drop and more people get vaccinated, Virginians are venturing towards a more normal life and are eager to find a reason to celebrate,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Don’t let your first celebration be your last. And, just like practicing COVID-19 safety is about the entire community, so is not drinking and driving. Getting behind the wheel when intoxicated is a choice - a choice with deadly consequences for you, your passengers and every other motorist sharing the road with you.”

Safety isn’t about luck. If you’re going to party, party with a plan:

  • Ensure you have a designated sober driver, a plan to use public transportation or a ride share service BEFORE any drinking begins.
  • Buzzed driving is drunk driving. Be honest with yourself and know that even if you only plan on having one drink, you should plan on having a designated driver.
  • If you see a drunk driver on the road, pull over safely and dial #77 on a cell phone or call 911.
  • If you know someone who has been drinking and is about to drive, take the keys and make arrangements to get them home safely.

To further prevent traffic deaths and injuries during St. Patrick’s Day, as well as during the traditional Spring Break season, the Virginia State Police will be participating in Operation C.A.R.E., the Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort. The state-sponsored, national program, incorporates a nine-day statistical counting period that begins at 12:01 a.m., March 13, 2021, and concludes at midnight on March 21, 2021.

All Virginians are reminded to keep safety first anytime you are behind the wheel. Always buckle up, avoid distractions, put your phone down, share the road and don’t drink and drive.

Single vehicle Accident Claims Life in Greensville County

GREENSVILLE COUNTY, VA.:  Earlier this morning (March 12) at approximately 6:20 a.m., the Virginia State Police was called to investigate a single vehicle accident that occurred on Interstate 95/southbound at the 6.5 mile marker (north of Rockbridge Road). 

Upon arrival, the driver, Daniel L. Ware, was entrapped inside the vehicle and critically injured. Med-Flight was initiated to transport him to a VCU medical facility. During the flight, Ware's condition deteriorated and was diverted to Southside regional Medical center in Petersburg where he succumbed to his injuries.

Preliminary investigations reveal that Ware, operating a 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche, ran off the right side of the roadway and struck a tree.  Ware was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident. Speed nor alcohol were contributing factors. 

Notification for Daniel L. Ware, 32 YOA, of Sicklerville, New Jersey, has been made.


Kenneth Jackson Goodfellow, 75, of Skippers, VA died Wednesday, March 10, 2021, at McGuire Veterans Administration Hospital, in Richmond, VA.

Mr. Goodfellow was born in Halifax County, NC the son of the late Chester Alexander Goodfellow and Mary Wills Goodfellow. He was a retired U.S. Navy Chief and was a former employee of the Virginia Department of Corrections.

Surviving are: his wife Wanda Frisk Goodfellow; two step sons, James Calvin Rummage of El Cajon, CA and Kevin Allan Rummage of San Diego, CA; two sisters, Jeanette Sledge and Margaret Johnson, both of Roanoke Rapids, NC; two grandchildren, Logan Rummage of El Cajon, CA and Reilly Rummage of AZ; three nieces, Lynn Conner (Mike of Gaston, NC, Lou McEver (Rich) of Manteo, NC and Andrea Johnson of Roanoke Rapids, NC and all of his fur babies.

Memorial services will be private.

Arrangements in the Care of Wrenn Clarke & Hagan Funeral and Cremation Services.

Online condolences may be sent to the Family at:


Applications are now being accepted for the Riparian Woman’s Club Scholarship. One may obtain an application from the Guidance Department at your school or from Jean Cobb, member of Riparian Woman’s Club (

  • To be eligible for consideration, the applicant must:
  • Be a high school Senior
  • Be a resident of Greensville County or the City of Emporia
  • Be planning to attend a 2 or 4 year college, university, or technical school and have a signed letter of intent to attend such
  • Submit a completed Scholarship Application (attached) and submit to the Scholarship Committee, no later than the deadline specified date, April 17, 2021.
  • Submit a signed Teacher Recommendation Form
  • Submit a High School Transcript, to include SAT Scores as well as Class Rank.

Deadline for Application Submittal: Saturday, April 17, 2021.

Submit Application to:  Brenda Harrell; 104 State St.; Emporia, VA  23847

Covid 19 Vaccination Appointments Available at CVS

Appointments are available for Group 1b to receive Covid-19 vaccinations at CVS Pharmacy. Persons age 16-64 with certain underlying health conditions and those age 65 and older.

Registration using or the cvs app is reguired and is generally hassle free, except for the wait.

According to one source our local CVS will receive 200 doses per day.

How Virginia’s data protection law will affect consumers, businesses

By Hyung Jun Lee, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- Information technology experts say a new Virginia consumer data protection law could be more robust, but it will force businesses to rethink how they handle consumer data.

“This is the first time in Virginia that consumers will have the right to understand what data a company collects about them, and how they use that data and who they share it with,” said Andrew Miller, the co-founder of Workshop Digital, a Richmond-based digital marketing agency.

Senate Bill 1392 and House Bill 2307 are known as the Consumer Data Protection Act, or CDPA. The governor signed both bills into law this month.

The CDPA allows Virginia residents to retrieve a copy of their personal online data and delete the data. Consumers can opt out of allowing businesses to sell their data. 

Personal data is information that can be linked to a consumer’s profile, according to Joseph Jerome, director of state advocacy at San Francisco-based Common Sense Media. The nonprofit rates movies, TV shows and other media for age appropriateness and learning potential. 

“It’s important to have a broad understanding of personal data,” said Jerome, a lawyer whose expertise includes cybersecurity and data privacy.

What data will be affected

The law defines personal data as information that is linked or reasonably linkable to a person. 

“Consumers tend to think of personal information as something like their Social Security number or an email address, but new privacy regulations are really trying to get at the sorts of data that go into customer profiles,” Jerome said.

A company can attach traits to a user, such as the individual’s perceived race, education level and political affiliation, according to Jerome. 

“The issue isn't so much what one single company collects, but rather how companies share data among themselves and use that information to infer even more about us,” he said.

Some companies track consumers’ location.

“If a person is at location A at time Y and location B at time Z, if those two locations are coordinates for your home and office, it’s pretty easy to infer who that person is,” Jerome said.

The CDPA impacts companies which handle the data of at least 100,000 consumers annually, or which control or process the data of at least 25,000 consumers and make over half of their gross revenue from selling data.

CDPA exceptions

There are exceptions. Companies won’t have to participate if they are protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act which restricts the release of medical information or the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act to protect health and financial data. The GLBA requires financial institutions to safeguard sensitive banking information.

“So in certain scenarios, Google is a business associate under HIPAA,” Jerome said. “Apple offers financial products on its iPhone, you know, has the Apple credit card.”

The Virginia measure is different from the 2018 California Consumer Privacy Act. The California law also regulates how companies buy, sell, license and share data but with stricter parameters in place. California voters recently voted to amend and strengthen the privacy act, with the changes going into effect in 2023. Unlike the Virginia law, California consumers can pursue legal action for a breach of certain information. In Virginia, the attorney general's office would handle the enforcement of the CDPA, from consumer complaints to the enforcement of fines. 

The California law impacted businesses in Virginia, such as Richmond-based IT consulting firm CapTech. The company helps clients bring IT systems into compliance with the California law, said CapTech Principal Peter Carr. 

“It affected our business in that it gave us more opportunities to sell into our clients and to help them with their problems around privacy,” Carr said. 

Businesses predict impact

CapTech is preparing for Virginia’s new data protection law to go into effect. 

“I briefed my partners on the law, we made some projections as to how much business we could generate from this law and how many clients this could apply to,” Carr said.

Other experts in the data field speculate that the CDPA could force businesses to rethink the value of consumer data. Miller, the co-founder of Workshop Digital, said companies can highlight how they protect consumer data to stand out from competitors.

“When you’re telling your customers that we actually care about your data, we keep it secure, here’s how you can access it and what you can ask for us to remove, then I think it shows that the business is aligned with the customer,” Miller said.

He also said the CDPA could move the focus from collection of data to the protection of consumer data.

“If it passes as it’s written now, it’ll mostly affect larger businesses or companies that aggregate and collect a lot of data about Virginia consumers or citizens,” Miller said. “It’ll force companies to rethink how they capture data, what they use it for, how much data they actually need and start to pivot towards having a privacy-driven message to their consumers.”

Consumers will have the ability to exert some control over how their data is used by businesses and across the internet, according to Randy Franklin, the vice-president and general manager at Terazo, a Richmond-based software and platform development company. 

“This bill is important for consumers because consumers are increasingly aware of the fact that they are tracked in their online activities,” Franklin said. “They want to understand that the information that these providers and businesses are collecting on them is used in a manner that aligns with how they would like to see that information be used.”

Concerns over data protection act

Jerome said Common Sense Media has concerns about the bill and said several things are still unclear. People do not read privacy policies and can be overwhelmed by choices such as requesting or deleting personal information, he added.

“We’re not entirely sure how it’ll be enforced, there are a number of provisions in the law that are, for a lack of a better word, squishy,” Jerome said. “That said, you know, it certainly creates a baseline set of protections that don’t exist for Virginians.” 

Furthermore, to be effective, Miller said the bill requires that Virginia consumers are informed about their rights to access their data.

“The way it’s written now is it puts the emphasis on the consumer to request their data or request their data be deleted,” Miller said. “It doesn’t obligate a company to do that proactively without the consumer requesting it.”

Miller and Jerome hope the CDPA will encourage discussion in Congress and help create a broader national data protection law.

“It’s the first step towards figuring out what a national data protection or data privacy law could look like, which would benefit consumers everywhere rather than just having a patchwork of state specific laws and regulations,” Miller said.

The Consumer Data Protection Act will take effect January 2023. The chairman of the Joint Commission on Technology and Science will establish a work group to review the bill and report any issues related to its implementation by Nov. 1.

Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University's Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.

Mary Carroll Lipscomb

March 03, 1938 - March 10, 2021

Visitation Services

1 p.m. Saturday, March 13

Owen Funeral Home
303 S. Halifax Rd
Jarratt, Virginia

2 p.m. Saturday, March 13

Owen Funeral Home
303 S. Halifax Rd
Jarratt, Virginia

Mary Carroll Lipscomb, 83, of Jarratt, widow of Charles Lipscomb, passed away Wednesday, March 10, 2021. She was the daughter of the late William and Eva Mae Catlett and was also preceded in death by one son, Marvin Carroll and her former husband, Herbert Lee Carroll; brother, Jimmy and sisters, Mattie and Glenda.

Mrs. Lipscomb is survived by two sons, Mike Carroll (Kathy) and Robert Carroll (Lisa); daughter, Renee’ Moore (Keith) and daughter-in-law, Debra Carroll (Jim); grandchildren, Michelle Carroll, Christopher Moore, Robert “Patton” Carroll (Michelle), Kayla Tisdale (Adam), Bryan Moore, Andrew Tisdale and Blake Carroll (Felicia); eleven great-grandchildren; brother, Gene Catlett and sister, Joyce Plott and a number of nieces and nephews.

She is also survived by three step-children, Ron Lipscomb (Debbie), Theresa Meyers (Steven) and Rickey Lipscomb (Renee’) and their families.

The funeral service will be held 2 p.m. Saturday, March 13 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd, Jarratt, Virginia where the family will receive friends one hour prior to the service. Interment will be private.

Please respect all protocols regarding the ongoing pandemic (mask wearing and social distancing)

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to Emporia/Greensville Humane Society, 113 Baker St., Emporia, Virginia 23847.

Online condolences may be shared with the family at


VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital Announces Team Member of the Year 2020



Scott Burnette, , Loretta Richardson, Donna Jarrell, Todd Howell gather to celebrate Calvin winning the VCU Health CMH 2020 Team Member of the Year

South Hill, VA (3/9/21) – This year marks the 20th anniversary for VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital awarding a Team Member of the Year!  The selection process involves a separate scoring criteria from the monthly recipients.

Calvin Richardson, a rehab tech, earned the 2020 Team Member of the Year. His wife, Loretta, surprised him at work for the special announcement. “I was in shock; I was completely surprised,” Calvin said, a normally private person. “I want to thank my family, my church family and all my friends for supporting me in this endeavor.”

Donna Jarrell, Rehab Director, said, “We are so excited that Calvin won this award. Calvin is a stellar team member who focuses daily on helping others and creating a positive environment. Calvin often says, ‘I want to make each patient smile and have a bright moment in their day.’”

He was initially chosen for the monthly award by doing something completely out of his normal role at the hospital. Having been employed at CMH in various roles over the past 36 years, he is well known by his coworkers as having a servant’s heart. He also serves as the primary pastor of Bibleway Church of Christ in Boydton, where he and Loretta reside. So it was providential that Calvin was in the right place at the right time. A patient was in need of a chaplain and Calvin was able to fill that role.

About 10 years into his tenure at the hospital working in housekeeping and security, a coworker suggested he apply for the rehab tech position. He received all the training he needed on the job and has been loving it ever since.

“I show people I care and I love them regardless of age, color or cultural backgrounds,” Calvin explained. He is a strong proponent of mentoring and has a passion to train up young men.

In his time off, which isn’t much between two full-time jobs, he understands the value of rest. He also enjoys cutting grass. He has two nieces he loves dearly; Ceira is 24 and is a government contractor, and Bria is 22 and earning a master’s degree in health science at Emory University in Atlanta.

Calvin was recognized with a lapel pin, an award, a $200 hotel voucher and $300 spending money to take a trip to a destination of his choice. He and Loretta are planning to celebrate their upcoming 12th wedding anniversary at Virginia Beach.

Tee off with Jackson-Feild this spring!

 The 26th Annual Go Golfing for the Kids tournament, sponsored by Boddie-Noell Enterprises, Inc. will be held on Monday, May 3, 2021 at The Golf Club at The Highlands in Chesterfield, VA.

Jackson-Feild is a safe haven for children struggling with mental illness and/or substance use disorders. Each year, this tournament raises funds to support the needs of the residents. To date, the tournament has raised over $550,000. This year, the proceeds from the tournament will go towards “building a better future” and funding the construction of new buildings on campus.

Sponsor a team of 4 for $600 or play as an individual for $150. All players receive lunch, 3 beverage tickets, and snacks on the course. Range balls will be provided, and the driving range will open 90 minutes prior to tee off.

If you have any questions, or would like to register now, call 703-819-2365 or email Online registration will be available in the coming weeks. We hope to see you on the green this May!


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