COVID-19 cases rise to 290, Liberty reopening sparks criticism, hiking spots see record visits, and more headlines

Virginia Mercury

Our daily roundup of headlines from Virginia and elsewhere.

•Two elderly nursing home residents died of COVID-19 in Henrico, bringing the total number of fatalities in Virginia to nine. The total number of confirmed cases in the state stands at 290.—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• Gov. Ralph Northam pushed back against President Trump’s suggestion that the country will be back to normal in a few weeks. “It would be nice to say that this will be behind us in two weeks. That’s really not what the data tells us. What the data tells us is this will be with us for at least two to three months and perhaps even longer.”—Associated Press

• “High school seniors in Virginia will graduate on time despite public and private schools being closed for the rest of the academic year, the state Education Department said in guidance published Monday.”—The Washington Post

• State-run liquor stores are cutting their hours beginning Friday, opening only from noon to 7 p.m. to accommodate more cleaning and staffing changes.—Virginia Business

• Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney pledged that police would patrol parks and the city’s vast riverfront to break up large gatherings. “If folks are at Texas Beach with a bunch of PBRs, then obviously we’re going to provide some guidance that they should disperse.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• Officials continue to warn people away from popular hiking spots, which have seen record visitation. “Hiking the AT has become, in other words, the opposite of social distancing,” said the trail’s director.—The Roanoke Times

• Local school leaders are asking federal officials to reconsider a policy that requires a child to be present to obtain free meals at pickup sites around the state. “Do I go get the food and risk my child’s life?” asked one mother in Prince William County whose 7-year-old is immunocompromised. “Or do we go hungry, but stay safe?”—The Washington Post

• City leaders in Lynchburg said they’re fielding calls from worried citizens about Liberty University’s decision to allow students to return to campus. “We could not be more disappointed in the action that Jerry took in telling students they could come back and take their online classes on campus,” Lynchburg City Manager Bonnie Svrcek said.—Associated Press

• “Despite continuing supply shortages, the University of Virginia is testing between 25 and 50 patients a day using its own COVID-19 test.”—The Daily Progress

• Richmond International Airport has seen roughly a third of its 180 daily flights cancelled.—Richmond BizSense

• A Stafford County wedding venue is holding drive-in church services people can attend without leaving their cars. “We knew we had parking for a large amount of people,” Sharon Glasgow said. “We had the sound system. And we found a worship leader.”—The Free Lance-Star

• A cow escaped onto Interstate 64 in Chesapeake, running more than a mile down the road before police caught it with a tow strap.—The Virginian-Pilot

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