News to Know for May 20: Search for convicted rapist continues; Hundreds protest Middle East violence; Grocery store mask policies

News to Know for May 20

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Here’s a quick look at the headlines you need to more before starting your day.

No Rain in Sight

A dry heat builds with low humidity and no significant rain in sight.

Staying dry and heating up to near 90

Today will be mostly sunny. Highs in the upper 80s will lead into an even hotter weekend!

Search for Convicted Rapist Continues

The Chesterfield Sheriff’s Office is searching for a man who left the court during a jury deliberation for his rape trial.

John Irvin
John Irvin (Source: Chesterfield Sheriff's Office)

Following a two-day jury trial for rape, defendant John Irvin, 48, did not return to the courtroom when court reconvened on Wednesday evening.

Video footage showed Irvin walking through the woodline onto Route 10.

Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s office at 804-318-8026 or Crime Solvers at 804-748-0660.

Hundreds Protest Violence in Middle East

Hamas officials believe a ceasefire is imminent as deadly fighting hits its eleventh day. As airstrikes continue, the Palestinian death toll surpassed 200 people, including more than 60 children. In Israel, the death toll is 12, including two children.

In Richmond, hundreds of people protested the violence, mainly backing Palestinians.

Hundreds gather in Richmond to protest violent tensions in Middle East

Capitol Police said Capitol Square is now open after it was closed for a period of time due to “protest activity” in downtown Richmond.

Today, we’re expecting to hear from the other side - those who support Israel. There will be a virtual pro-Israel event hosted by the Jewish Community Federation. Registration is required at Jewishrichmond.org

Democratic Gubernatorial Debate Tonight

The five candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for Virginia governor were set to meet virtually Thursday for the third of four debates.

Former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, Del. Lee Carter, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe and state Sen. Jennifer McClellan are in the final weeks of campaigning ahead of the June 8 primary.

Watch it on NBC12 starting at 7 p.m.

Honoring Lt. Ashley Berry

An honorary street naming ceremony will be held for Richmond Fire Lt. Ashley Berry, who was shot and killed outside of a Hopewell home on Thanksgiving night in 2019.

Richmond City Councilmember Reva M. Trammell will hold the ceremony in the 2700 block of Berry Road in Richmond.

The ceremony will take place on May 20 from 11:30 a.m. until noon.

Updates to State Vaccine Dashboard

The department of health made some significant changes to its vaccination dashboard, to now include doses given by federal agencies.

Those numbers were previously reported in a separate tab.

VDH also added new metrics showing the percentage of people 18 and older who are vaccinated compared to the total population - which now includes kids 12 and older.

Right now, almost 65 percent of adults in Virginia have at least one dose, and more than 40% of Virginians are fully vaccinated.

Petersburg Schools to Test for COVID-19

The tests will start next week - Tuesday, May 25 - and be held twice a week (Tuesdays & Wednesdays) at Petersburg High School, Vernon Johns Middle School, Pleasants Lane and Cool Spring Elementary schools.

More information can be found here about the COVID-19 testing program.

Kroger Ditches Masks

Starting today, people who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks while shopping at Kroger.

MASK MANDATE UPDATE: Kroger has announced that masks will no longer be required for people who are vaccinated for COVID-19 starting Thursday.

Posted by NBC12 on Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Non-vaccinated customers are being asked to wear a mask and non-vaccinated associates will still be required to wear a mask.

Due to the CDC guidelines, Kroger officials say associates working at their pharmacies will continue wearing masks.

Here’s a breakdown of which stores have dropped mask policies, and which still have them.

Looking for a Job?

You’re in luck! There’s a virtual career fair happening today with dozens of employers.

It’s being hosted by DiversityX. Click here to register. It runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Widening Project Complete

The wait is officially over in Chesterfield! The highly-anticipated widening of Lucks Lane is now complete.

The multi-million dollar project started back in 2017 and was expected to take about two years.

All four lanes opened to traffic Wednesday.

Good News!

Four pools will open Saturday, May 29: Fairmount, Randolph, Blackwell and Hotchkiss Pools.

They’ll be open every Saturday and Sunday, as well as Memorial day, from Noon to 5 p.m.

The pools will only be open on weekends until the full season kicks off on Saturday, June 19.

Final Thought

“Never allow a person to tell you no who doesn’t have the power to say yes.” —Eleanor Roosevelt

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

Want NBC12’s top stories in your inbox each morning? Subscribe here.