News to Know for July 21: COVID-19 cases in Va. spike; Richmond Coliseum demolition; More hazy skies
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Take a look at our top headlines before you head out the door.
Hazy, Hot With Storms
Hot and humid. Hazy skies (from Western Wildfire smoke) with an isolated shower and storm possible as a cold front passes in the late afternoon and evening.
Highs in low 90s.
Deputies Search For 15-Year-Old
The Powhatan County Sheriff’s Office is searching for a 15-year-old who they say left home in his mother’s vehicle.
Officials determined that Lucas Johnson, 15, took his mother’s vehicle, a red Ford Fusion with license plate UKL-8227, and left home.
Deputies said he may have gone to Chesterfield County.
Anyone with information is asked to call (804) 598-5656.
COVID-19 Cases Rise
More than 720 new cases were reported to the Virginia Department of Health within the last 24 hours – that is up nearly 500 from the day before.
Meanwhile, the CDC announced Tuesday more concerning statistics related to the delta variant taking hold across the country.
The delta variant of the coronavirus now accounts for roughly 83% of all US COVID-19 cases, per the CDC. That number surging since July 3 when it accounted for half of all cases.
The state health department announcing last week between mid-January and mid-June, 99.4% of all COVID-19 cases, regardless of the strain, were among unvaccinated Virginians.
Vaccines For Kids
“We are hopeful that we’ll have a safe and effective vaccine for younger children before the year is over,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Pfizer and Moderna are still doing clinical trials to see how coronavirus vaccines work in children under 12. Moderna has not said when it could potentially have its trial data results.
Pfizer says data for children 5 to 11 could come sometime in September.
And depending on the findings, it could ask the Food and Drug Administration to authorize emergency use of the vaccine for that age group that same month.
Henrico Schools’ Vaccines
Henrico County Public Schools and the Virginia Department of Health are hosting free vaccinations clinics where students can receive four vaccines.
The clinics will be on July 21 from 9 to 11 a.m. at Brookland Middle School and Tuckahoe Middle School. Another will be on July 28 from 9 to 11 a.m. at Elko Middle School.
HPV and COVID-19 vaccines are not required for enrollment but are encouraged by health officials.
For more information about Henrico County Public Schools visit their website here.
Richmond leaders are readying the old Coliseum for demolition. This is despite the fact that no final decision has been made by city council.
Critics accuse the mayor’s office of using it as a pretext to clear out the homeless population. Many have camped out there for months, some even setting up tents to sleep in.
The building that hasn’t been used since 2018 is now boarded up.
Richmond leaders are preparing the salvage process for the shuttered arena. The mayor says this is a prime area for new development.
Wildfire Haze Seen Everywhere
Wildfires continue to burn on the west coast, from California into Western Canada. The fires are thousands of miles away but the impact is being felt right here in Virginia.
The smoke from the fires doesn’t magically dissipate. That takes time. And when there’s a LOT of smoke, like now, it can hold together and travel far from its source.
Skies will be hazy through at least Wednesday (maybe longer) plus our sunrises and sunsets will likely have a deep orange or red tint.
Here’s a current map of active fires in the United States, from The USDA Forest Service. You can click on the link to see updated information every day.
Algae Bloom In Lake Anna
Parts of Lake Anna are experiencing a harmful algae bloom in Orange, Louisa and Spotsylvania counties. It impacts the North Anna Upper and Middle Branches, along with the Upper Pamunkey Branch of Lake Anna.
The public should avoid the lake in these areas until levels are acceptable.
Some harmful algae can cause skin rash and gastrointestinal illnesses, such as upset stomach, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
For more information, click here.
Transgender Student Policies In Va.
Several circuit courts across Virginia are now involved with reviewing transgender student policies in public school settings.
These policies, to create a more inclusive environment for transgender and non-binary students, are a requirement at the direction of the Virginia Department of Education following legislation approved by the General Assembly in 2020.
In March, the Christian Action Network out of Lynchburg filed a request asking the court to grant an injunction to stop the policies from being implemented. The Founding Freedoms Law Center along with The Family Foundation also filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction against the implementation of these policies.
The Family Foundation is expected to provide an update on the pending litigation when it travels to southwest Virginia Thursday ahead of a school board discussion in Russell County.
Liberty University Lawsuit
A new lawsuit aimed at Liberty University claims the Lynchburg-based school made serious errors in its handling of harassment, sexual assault, rapes and pregnancies of students and employees of the university.
The lawsuit claims Liberty University created an unsafe campus environment, saying it “has intentionally created a campus environment where sexual assaults and rapes are foreseeably more likely to occur than they would in the absence of Liberty’s policies.”
The complaint includes testimony from each of the 12 Jane Does, none of whom are named in the report.
The report also notes some of the plaintiffs declined to report assaults against them because of stories they had heard from other victims and witnesses about how LU punished victims of sexual violence.
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