Dogwood Download: Things You Should Know For Friday, March 5.

By Brian Carlton

March 5, 2021

Portsmouth kids have a return date, Gov. Northam surprises some people and protesters say State Police need to explain some things.

Daily Number

1624 – This one highlights that some issues date all the way back for Virginia. In 1624, the Virginia colonists passed a law stating that all those in the upper class would be exempt from punishment by whipping. Why was someone whipped? It could be as simple as missing church for the second time or theft.

When Will The Guard Return Home? 

Virginia’s National Guard members could remain in Washington D.C. for at least two more months. Capitol Police made that request Thursday, formally asking the Department of Defense to extend support beyond the original return date of March 12. 

In testimony to the House Wednesday, U.S. Capitol Police Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman said threats are up 93% compared to the first three months of 2020.  One example involved a militia group, planning an attack on Thursday.

“The department takes its mission seriously and will do whatever is necessary to achieve that mission,” Capitol Police said in a statement. “The USCP is extremely grateful for the Department of Defense and the National Guard support provided since Jan. 6. We understand the Guard has a tremendous service need back home, responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Don’t Plan Long-Term Hikes on The Trail

Officials with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy ask people to hold off on any long-distance hikes you may have planned. Now yes, all parts of the Trail, including the stretch throughout Virginia, is open for any day hikers. But the ATC asks long-distance groups to wait until: 

  • The CDC declares the pandemic is under control
  • The vaccine is fully distributed
  •  The year 2022 arrives

The request comes from concern. COVID-19 restrictions differ from state to state and ATC officials are concerned someone may infect another hiker, who then could travel into multiple states and infect others. 

ATC officials also warn hikers that all shelters on U.S. Forest Land, including the portions here in Virginia, remain closed. If you do plan an overnight hike, bring your own tent and gear.

Protesters Demand Change After Hill Tape Released

Xzavier Hill’s mother says the tape released to the public Feb. 26 wasn’t the same one Virginia State Police officials showed her more than a month ago. Hill was shot and killed during an early morning traffic stop Jan. 9 in Goochland County. You can read more about the case here.

On Thursday, Hill’s mother and other protesters returned to the Virginia State Police headquarters, calling for them to release tapes from both cars, not just one.

Portsmouth Students Now Have a Return Date

Some students in Portsmouth will return to in-person classes on April 12. Others will stay virtual for the rest of the school year. The local school board made that decision Thursday night, slightly tweaking the previous plan.

Up until now, Portsmouth classes have been 100% virtual. The revised plan:

  • Brings all Pre-K through 6th grade students back at the same time
  • Students will have full instruction each day, rather than half days
  • Pre-K through 6th grade will have two days in-person and three remote.
  • Grades 7 through 12 will remain virtual through the end of the school year.
  • Special education students and English as a second language students will return for four days of in-person and one virtual each week.

 Why keep students in grades 7 through 12 virtual? Because that’s what parents wanted. The school district did a survey, asking parents their thoughts.

Arlington County Launches New Vaccination Plan

Earlier this year, we shared the story of how Arlington County distributed their vaccine supplies. Even when the state was struggling to figure out how to make it work, the county managed to distribute 97% of its supply each week.

Now the county’s going beyond that. On Thursday, Arlington announced plans to partner with the Arlington Free Clinic. The county’s uninsured and underinsured population come to the free clinic, when they might not otherwise be willing to schedule an appointment.

“This partnership is a way to ensure our most vulnerable populations have more equitable access to vaccines when they are eligible,” said Dr. Reuben Varghese, Public Health Director for Arlington County.

  • Only those will meet Free Clinic criteria will be vaccinated in the program
  • This is by appointment only
  • The same age requirements as in the rest of the state still apply.

“We know there are often challenges to the traditional scheduling process, such as technology or language/literacy issues,” said Nancy White, President of the Arlington Free Clinic. “We want to be able to offer this accessibility for our neighbors.”

Trivia Answer: Hank the Cat Runs for Senate

Dogwood Download: Things You Should Know For Friday, March 5.

Yesterday, our trivia question just involved this furry face. Yes, that is a cat with a bow-tie, for those who missed Thursday’s Download. We asked what this Virginia resident did in 2012 that launched him into the history books. The answer? He ran for the U.S. Senate.

This is Hank the Cat, whose owners decided to enter him into the Senate race against Republican George Allen and Democrat Tim Kaine. Hank had a platform of funding for animal rescue, more spay & neuter programs, and campaign reform.

While he finished a distant third, with only 9,410 of the 3.8 million votes cast, Hank raised $60,000 for animal charities.

Governor Northam Issues First Endorsement

Typically we don’t cover the flood of endorsements that pop up during primary season. However, one that popped up Thursday was eye-catching for several reasons. First, it was the only one Gov. Ralph Northam has issued so far this year. Second, an incumbent typically supports the person currently in office and that didn’t happen here.

Northam endorsed current 89th District Del. Jay Jones, who’s challenging Attorney General Mark Herring.

“We have made lasting progressive change over the last four years, from Medicaid Expansion to abolishing the death penalty to criminal justice reform, but it is time for a new generation of leaders to take the reins,” Northam wrote in a statement. “Jay Jones has stood with me every step of the way in our journey to make Virginia a more just and equitable place to live. He has been my partner as we have worked to change our Commonwealth. He also understands the deep scars of racism and will represent the diversity of our Commonwealth. That is why I’m honored to endorse him in his race for Attorney General.”

Herring faced criticism after no-showing the first debate this week. Jones took questions in what became more of a “town hall” style meeting. You can read our coverage of it here.

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