Now that we’re past yesterday’s storm – which ended up bringing heavy rain, some flooding and even power outages to the 757 – we can expect a sunny, blustery Martin Luther King Day, with temperatures reaching up into the high 40s.
Some long-range forecasts show the Historic Triangle may be in for chillier weather – and potentially even more snow – later in the week, so we’ll be keeping an eye on that.
There’s a lot happening news-wise, but we’re breaking down the top stories into a quick, 5-minute read.
As always, if you have questions, comments or a news tip, please feel free to reach out by email.
Let’s get started.
Local & Statewide
1. Williamsburg Restaurant Week is set to begin Friday, Jan. 21.
- While Newport News canceled its restaurant week for 2022 – citing labor shortages, supply chain problems and higher food prices – the Peninsula Chronicle reports that Williamsburg’s Restaurant Week is set to go on.
- The event, run by Williamsburg Area Restaurant Association (WARA), tends to be popular because it gives customers the opportunity to try a wide variety of foods at discounted prices.
- Debbi Schaefer, executive director of WARA, said that only 14 restaurants had confirmed their interest in participating in the event as of Jan. 13, compared to 38 last year. Nonetheless, she’s hopeful that more restaurants will sign up, and the event is set to move forward regardless.
- A complete list of participating restaurants and their menus will be available on WARA’s website by this Friday. The event is currently scheduled to run Friday, Jan. 21 – Monday, Jan. 31.
2. The City of Williamsburg OK’ed using federal Covid-19 relief funds to bolster its cybersecurity systems.
- The City Council approved spending $275,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Funds on IT initiatives. The decision comes as local authorities throughout the nation report an increase in malware attacks, according to The Virginia Gazette.
- The funds will be used to improve backup infrastructure for data recovery, upgrade server software to further enhance cyber protection and replace all city servers and firewalls.
- $250,000 of ARPA funds will also be allocated for security systems and better lighting for Williamsburg Redevelopment & Housing Authority communities.
- “It’s the new reality that we live in that we have to protect our data and have the best software and equipment that’s available to make sure hackers don’t get into our system,” Mayor Doug Pons said.
3. Glenn Youngkin was officially sworn in Saturday as Virginia’s new governor.
- Youngkin maintained his typically upbeat attitude at the inauguration, promising to go into the job with “optimism” and lead Virginia to a “new and better day.” He thanked Gov. Northam and First Lady Pam Northam for “being so gracious and supportive” during the transition period.
- The new governor also acknowledged the emotional, physical and financial strain of the pandemic, stating that “not a single one of us has escaped the tragic consequences of Covid-19.”
- Youngkin did not outline any new policy plans but focused on a message of unity, stating that he would advocate for all Virginians, regardless of who they voted for.
- “My fellow Virginians, the spirit of Virginia is alive and well. And together we will strengthen it. Together we’ll renew the promise of Virginia, so it will be the best place to live, work and raise a family,” he said in the address.
- The ceremony also included performances by several Hampton Roads-area groups, including the Fifes and Drums of Colonial Williamsburg and singers from Norfolk’s Governor’s School for the Arts.
- Alongside Youngkin were Lt. Gov. Winson Sears, the first Black woman to be elected to statewide office, and AG Jason Miyares, the first Latino to be elected to a statewide office.
- Shortly after his inauguration, Youngkin signed 11 executive orders, which he said were intended to act “on several of his Day One promises to Virginians.”
- Among the actions are an order to “end the use of inherently divisive concepts,” including Critical Race Theory; an order to allow parents to make decisions regarding masks in schools; and an order to launch a full investigation into wrongdoing in Loudon County.
- WAVY News provided full coverage of the inauguration, which you can view here.
RICHMOND, VIRGINIA – JANUARY 15: Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin gives the inaugural address after being sworn in as the 74th governor of Virginia on the steps of the State Capitol on January 15, 2022, in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
RICHMOND, VIRGINIA – JANUARY 15: Virginia Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears (C) waves during the Inauguration address for Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin on the steps of the State Capitol on January 15, 2022, in Richmond, Virginia. Sears is the first woman as well as the first woman of color to serve as Lieutenant Governor in Virginia’s history. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
1. The U.S and Russia are locked in a stalemate as tensions mount amid Ukraine talks.
- U.S intel indicates that President Putin is strengthening his military presence on the border with Ukraine to prepare for a possible invasion, PBS News reports. U.S officials also claim that Russia is planning a “false-flag operation” in Eastern Ukraine to fabricate a pretext for a potential invasion.
- On Sunday, Ukraine accused Russia of carrying out a major cyberattack against its government websites, according to Reuters. “All evidence indicates that Russia is behind the cyberattack. Moscow continues to wage a hybrid war and is actively building up its forces in the information and cyberspaces,” a statement by the Ukrainian Ministry of Digital Development said.
- Diplomatic meetings between the U.S and Russia were unproductive last week. The AP reported Sunday that the failure of the high stakes talks “has put Russia, the United States and its European allies in uncharted post-Cold War territory, posing significant challenges for the main players to avoid an outright and potentially disastrous confrontation.”
2. You’ll be able to order free at-home Covid tests starting Wednesday.
- Free rapid tests will begin to be shipped directly to homes starting Wednesday, Jan. 19, the White House announced. The Biden administration has secured one billion tests, half of which will be available this week.
- Americans will be able to order the tests by going to a new website, COVIDtests.gov. “The tests will be completely free—there are no shipping costs and you don’t need to enter a credit card number,” the website says. Americans who lack internet access will also soon be able to call and order the tests via phone.
- While up to four tests can be ordered per address, they will take 7 to 12 days to ship upon ordering, Axios reports. The tests will be packaged and delivered by the U.S Postal Service.
- Meanwhile, free at-home Covid-19 tests are also now available for Americans with health insurance, according to USA Today. As of Saturday, private health plans are required to cover over-the-counter tests at up to $12 per test. PCR tests and rapid tests ordered by medical providers will also be covered by insurance with no limits.
Also in the headlines:
- A Texas rabbi and three members of his congregation were freed by FBI agents Saturday after being held hostage for more than ten hours. The gunman, who is now dead, was identified Sunday as Malik Faisal Akram, a 44-year-old British citizen.
- A major winter storm left thousands without power – including more than 16,000 in Virginia – after causing disruptions along much of the East Coast Wednesday. Some parts of the country are expecting up to a foot of snow through Monday.
- The CDC updated its mask guidance to recommend that Americans wear N95s, stating that “well-fitting NIOSH-approved respirators (including N95s) offer the highest level of protection.” NIOSH-certified and FDA-approved masks can be found locally at hardware stores or purchased online through websites like Project N95, a nonprofit organization.
Local Covid-19 Update
New cases: ➕ VDH reported 130,381 new cases of Covid-19 last week. The current 7-day positivity rate is 32.4%. The highest case rates are occurring among the 30-49 age group (31% of all cases), followed by people aged 50-69 (23%).
In Hampton Roads, case rates remain very high. The highest number of cases were reported in Virginia Beach (+6,532). Newport News recorded +3,276 cases, Hampton had +2,557 cases, James City County reported +1,520 cases and York County logged +816 cases, according to WTVR.
Hospitalizations and deaths: There were a total of 3,817 patients in the hospital with Covid-19 as of Sunday, according to VHHA data.
659 of those patients are in the ICU, and 359 are on ventilators – both new records for the state. An additional 293 deaths were also reported last week.
Vaccination rate: 68.3% of Virginians are fully vaccinated (up from 67.9% last week).
A Newport News nonprofit honored Dr. Martin Luther King Junior by helping those in need.
- The nonprofit, The HEB Foundation, gathered dozens of volunteers Saturday to distribute donated hats, gloves, blankets and toiletries to homeless men and women in the community, WTKR News reports.
- The event, an annual tradition, collected enough donations to help 200 people. The nonprofit says any leftover items will be donated to shelters in the area.
- “We don’t have to know you to love you,” said Mary Jackson, president of The HEB Foundation. “If you say you’re hungry, we’re going to feed you. If you come and say you don’t have clothes, we’re going to give you clothes.”
- See the full story here.
Events this Week
Note: Be sure to check websites for possible Covid-19 updates prior to attending events. Numerous local events have been canceled in recent days due to the substantial spike in cases.
Afterschool Crafts – James City County Library (7770 Croaker Rd.) Kids can drop in at the James City County Library to work on a variety of crafts, with different offerings each week. 4:00 – 7:00 pm, Monday-Thursday and 4:00 – 6:00 pm Friday.
Williamsburg Farmers Market 20th Anniversary Exhibit – Stryker Center in Williamsburg. Features artwork and photographs of the farmers, bakers, watermen and food vendors who have been participating in the market for 20 years. Masks required for all visitors regardless of vaccination status. 9:00 am – 5:00 pm. Jan. 6 – Feb. 3. (closed Jan. 17).
Busch Gardens Winter Weekends – Sat. & Sun., Jan. 8 – Jan. 23 (+MLK Day). This special winter programming features animal encounters, live music, coasters, rides and millions of sparkling lights at night. 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm.
Ice Skating at Liberty Ice Pavilion – Colonial Williamsburg. Daily through Feb. 27, 2022. Features ice-skating and a concession stand that sells hot chocolate, hot cider and other treats. See the full ice rink schedule here.
Monday, Jan. 17
National Park Free Entrance Day – Monday, 1/17 is a free entrance day for all national parks, including Historic Jamestowne and Yorktown Battlefield.
Three Rivers & Three Peoples Hike – York River State Park. Hike through the park and learn about the Mattaponi, Pamunkey and York Rivers and their connections to the history of the Native, European and African Americans. 10:00 am – 12:00 pm.
Community Yoga at the Watermen’s Museum – 309 Water St. in Yorktown. 6:00 – 6:50 pm. Bring a yoga mat and meet at the Carriage House for this beginner-friendly yoga class.
Wednesday, Jan. 19
Snowflake Art – James City County Library (770 Croaker Rd.) Kids ages 5+ will discover something new at this Learning @ the Library Enrichment Event. Recommended for elementary and middle school students. 2:00 – 3:00 pm. Registration is required; see website for details.
Thursday, Jan. 20
Introduction to Pickleball – James City County Recreation Center. Get introduced to pickleball, a paddle sport that combines tennis, badminton and table tennis. Pre-registration by Jan. 13 is required.
Naturally Speaking: A Brief History of the James River – The Virginia Living Museum. This program for adults will be led by Christopher Bailey, a professor of Geology at William & Mary. A virtual attendance option is also available. 6:00 pm.
Friday, Jan. 21
Winter Wonderland Cupcake Decorating – James City County Recreation Center. Kids ages 6-13 can decorate winter-themed cupcakes using buttercream icing at this event. This class will be instructed by the Williamsburg Chocolatier, Inc. See website for details. $25.
Saturday, Jan. 22
History Hike: The Marl Pit – Yorktown Battlefield Visitors Center. Experience Historic Yorktown by taking a stroll with a professional historian. Interesting insights and information not usually found in history books will be presented by tour guides Maureen Wiese and J. Michael Moore. 11:00 am – 12:00 pm. $10. Tickets can be purchased here.
Frozen Movie Marathon – James City County Library (7770 Croaker Rd). Families can enjoy back-to-back screenings of Frozen and Frozen 2. Hot cocoa, coloring and a craft will be provided. Kids are encouraged to bring a blanket and may wear a costume. 11:00 am – 5:00 pm.
Citizens of Yorktown: Dr. Daniel Norton – Mobjack Bay Coffee Roasters & Petite Café. Take a stroll with professional historians and learn about Dr. Daniel Norton, who escaped slavery. He later returned to Yorktown, where he lived a prosperous life and made an impact on Virginia as a state senator and Civil Rights activist. 1:00 – 2:00 pm. $10. Tickets can be purchased here.
Super Science Sleuths – Virginia Living Museum. Kids can learn fascinating facts about nature, meet wildlife up close, see artifacts and ask questions at this event. 1:30 – 2:00 pm.
Sunday, Jan. 23
Fire a Flintlock Musket – Colonial Williamsburg. Fire live rounds from two different reproduction 18th-century flintlock firearms, which were used during the Revolutionary War. Must be 14+ to participate; guests 14-17 must be accompanied by an adult. Participants must meet at the Williamsburg Lodge 15 minutes prior to the start of the session. Weather permitting. See website for details.
Beanbag Book Club – Williamsburg Library (515 Scotland St.). This book club is geared toward beginning readers ages 5-8. Kids will read, play games and participate in fun activities related to an early reader book. Limited to 10 participants. 2:00 – 3:00 pm. Free.
Have questions, comments or suggestions? Send us an email.
Looking for past editions of The Triangle? You can find those here.
✔️ Not a subscriber yet? Click here to subscribe so you never miss a newsletter.
New to The Triangle? Check out our Facebook community.