The Triangle: News in 5 (Sep 27)

The week's top local, statewide and national news stories, broken down into a quick, 5-minute read.

Good morning, Historic Triangle, and Happy Monday! We’re in for a beautiful fall week again, with lots warm, sunny days and cooler nights in dipping into the 50s.

You’ll notice a new section this week called “Good News,” which highlights a positive or inspiring news story from the week. I hope it brings you cheer, and I’d love to hear your feedback.

There’s a lot happening, but The Triangle is breaking down your top local, statewide and national stories into a quick, 5-minute read.

Local

1. A 15-year old student was arrested this week in connection with the Sept. 20 Heritage High School shooting.

  • Newly released court records and surveillance footage reveal that the suspect entered into a large group of students, pulled a firearm from his waistband and shot directly at a 17-year-old male student multiple times, the Daily Press reports.
  • In the video footage, the victim is seen falling to the ground as the suspect runs down the hallway to escape. A 17-year-old female student was also shot during the incident as a passerby and suffered a bullet wound to her shin.
  • The male victim is confirmed to have suffered multiple severe injuries, including a large bullet wound behind his left ear with a bullet lodging in his lower jaw, court records confirm. He was also shot in the leg and sustained serious damage to his right middle finger.
  • Newport News Police Department has declined to release the name of the 15-year-old; however, records confirm the young suspect faces two counts of aggravated malicious wounding, which is punishable by life in prison. He also faces seven gun-related felonies and two misdemeanors.
  • An affidavit confirmed the suspect was wearing an electronic ankle bracelet monitor at the time of the shooting, indicating that he may have been on probation before the incident occurred.

2. Covid-19 cases among younger adults are increasing in the Historic Triangle, staff at local hospitals report.

  • Staff at both Riverside and Sentara hospital in Williamsburg have reported a spike in Covid-19 hospitalizations among younger adults amid the current wave of Delta variant Covid-19 infections.
  • A doctor at Riverside Hospital in Williamsburg who diagnosed the first Covid-19 case in the Historic Triangle told WAVY News last week that half of the patients he’s now treating are younger – and sicker – than the patients he saw in 2020.
  • The doctor, Nehemiah Thrash, stated that he is treating patients in their 50s who have been in his hospital for over a month battling illness from Covid-19, and some have been on a ventilator for weeks.
  • “Those patients [patients of the past] kind of reminded me of my parents or grandparents… Now we are seeing patients in their 40s and 50s. I’m seeing my peers in front of me,” Thrash said.
  • Doctors around the country have said that the majority of patients hospitalized for Covid-19 are unvaccinated. The most recent data by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) shows that as of Sept. 18, 2021, 62 percent of white Virginians have received at least one dose of the vaccine, with rates among Black Virginians lagging behind at 58 percent.
  • There are currently a total of 2,067 patients in the hospital with Covid-19 in Virginia.

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Statewide

1. Covid-19 may be even more severe this winter in Virginia than it was last year, public health experts say.

  • The current Delta-driven caseload remains high in Virginia, but there are signs the current surge is slowing down. An average of 3,200 new daily cases were recorded last week compared to 3,600 the week before, according to VDH data and reporting from the Daily Press.
  • Nonetheless, infectious disease researchers at the University of Virginia Biocomplexity Institute are forecasting cases may rise significantly again as the cooler weather gets underway. The models, based on advanced computing, show that the case rate this winter could reach 8,000 per day in January.
  • The researchers say that while the number of vaccinated Virginians is much higher this year, the Delta variant’s increased transmissibility will likely still lead to high case numbers. Public health experts urge Virginians who are not yet vaccinated to get the vaccine as soon as possible before the probable holiday-related surge.

2. New unemployment claims in Virginia are on the rise.

  • A new report by Old Dominion University’s Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy shows that nearly 16,000 Virginians filed an initial claim for unemployment for the week of Sept. 12-18. That marks a surge of more than 12,000 new claims in a single week, WYDaily reports
  • While the number of continued claims fell statewide, the findings suggest that the economic recovery is once again staggering. Nearly 5,900 new claims were filed by Hampton Roads residents, up from 3,268 from the previous week.
  • “After four straight weeks of steady declines, the rise in initial claims for the latest week highlights the anemic recovery Hampton Roads when compared to that of the nation,” said Robert McNab, director of the Dragas Center. “While expanded unemployment benefits have ended, we have yet to see signs of increased labor availability. We continue to be concerned about the number of residents who have left the labor force entirely, a phenomenon mirrored in state and national data.”

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National

1. As a potential government shutdown looms, the House is delaying a key infrastructure bill vote.

  • On Sunday night, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that a vote on the proposed $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill will be delayed until Thursday.
  • Democrats are struggling to unite their party as moderates and progressives argue over a larger, $3.5 trillion spending package, which focuses on stemming climate change, providing free community college and expanding health care.
  • Moderate Democrat senators are pushing against the larger bill, arguing that the cost is too high. Meanwhile, progressives have signaled that they will refuse to support the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill unless the $3.5 trillion bill is passed simultaneously.
  • As the haggling continues to drag on, the Senate will hold a procedural vote on Monday to continue funding the government and avoid a shutdown, Newsweek reports.
  • “I’m never bringing a bill to the floor that doesn’t have the votes,” Pelosi told ABC News’ “This Week” on Sunday.

2. The CDC endorsed Covid-19 booster shots for millions but acknowledged that the shifting guidance is causing confusion.

  • President Biden said Friday his administration would immediately start to deliver booster shots to states for distribution. The announcement comes as the FDA and CDC endorsed a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine for individuals age 65 and old, as well as those at high risk for severe disease.
  • Many Americans, however, have expressed confusion about the booster plan, especially because the newly approved booster is only intended for those who were already fully vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine. Those who have received the Moderna or J&J vaccine are currently not being advised to receive a third shot.
  • CDC Director Rochelle Walensky also unexpectedly recommended boosters for people whose jobs put them at high risk of contracting Covid-19 – such as frontline workers, healthcare staff and teachers – in spite of the fact that the FDA’s independent advisory panel voted against approving boosters for that demographic last week.
  • During a press conference Friday, Walensky told reporters the U.S currently lacks data as to whether or not the booster shots will decrease transmissibility, especially when the Delta variant is taken into context. She further suggested that the U.S will not be able to “boost our way out of the pandemic.”
  • “I recognize that confusion right now,” Walensky said in an interview with CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “We are meeting every several weeks now to evaluate the science.”

Good News

Thanks to the generosity of Hampton Roads residents, thousands of Afghan refugees – many of whom were forced to flee with no belongings in tow – now have access to desperately-needed clothes and other essential supplies. A drive-thru clothing and supply drive organized by Christopher Newport University and several community partners resulted in an “overwhelming” amount of donations last week.

“We want to show them the best of what our country is. We will keep going until it’s done; until the trucks pull out with the stuff on Saturday,” Vanessa Buehlman, community engagement director at CNU, told 13 News Now.

Read the full story in The Virginian-Pilot.

Events This Week

Multiple Days

Bits and Bridles Walking Tour – Colonial Williamsburg. Daily through November 24 from 1:00 – 2:00 pm. $5 in addition to CW admission ticket, membership or Good Neighbor Pass.

An Occasion for the Arts– Merchants Square/Duke of Gloucester Street in Williamsburg. Saturday, Oct. 2 and Sunday, Oct. 3. 10 am – 5 pm. Free.

Thursday, Sept. 30

Rhythms on the Riverwalk Concert Series: Bobby BlackHat Band – Riverwalk Landing in Yorktown. 6:30 – 8:30 pm. Free.

Friday, Oct. 1

The Thin Veil of Yorktown Ghost Tour– Meets at the Mobjack Bay Coffee Roasters backyard in Yorktown. 6:00 – 7:00 pm. $10. Only suitable for children 12+.

Saturday, Oct. 2

Yorktown Wine Festival – Riverwalk Landing in Yorktown. Rain or shine. 12:00 – 6:00 pm. Tickets required to enter event area. $30 in advance; $35 at the door.

Yorktown Market Days – Riverwalk Landing in Yorktown. 8 am-12 pm. Free.

Williamsburg Farmers Market – 410 W. Francis St. in Williamsburg. 8 am-12 pm. Free.

Walking Tour of 1st and 2nd Parallel – Yorktown Battlefield Visitors Center. (Meets at the 1st Parallel/Grand French Battery Parking Lot). 1000-11:00 am. $10 for adults and children 12+, free for children under 12.

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Have questions, comments or a story idea? I’d love to hear from you! Please email me at [email protected] or leave a comment below.

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