COVID-19 cases rise to 391, planned teacher raises in jeopardy, liquor sales up 59 percent, and more headlines

Virginia Mercury

Our daily roundup of headlines from Virginia and elsewhere.

• The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Virginia rose 35 percent to 391, and a third patient at a long-term care facility outside of Richmond died. Health officials and staff at the center say they don’t have the protective gear they need to contain the outbreak, which has already spread to 18 patients and staff. —The Washington Post

• “Gov. Ralph Northam is asking health professionals to volunteer to help during the coronavirus pandemic and is mandating all medical facilities postpone elective surgeries.”—The Virginian-Pilot

• What you can do right now to help slow the spread of COVID-19.—The New York Times

• The Senate passed a $2 trillion aid package that would deliver $500 billion in loans to businesses, at least $1.5 billion in direct aid to Virginia, and $1,200 checks to most adults while boosting the length, pay and eligibility of unemployment benefits for workers who lost their jobs. Virginia lawmakers in the House from both parties said they anticipated supporting the bill.—VPM

• State lawmakers aren’t sure they’ll be able to proceed with planned raises for teachers and state employees, which have been funded based on higher-than-anticipated tax revenues that have since been wiped out. Teachers called the prospect a “slap in the face” as they work to improvise online courses.—Associated Press

• The state social services department is releasing $38 million in emergency benefits for food stamp recipients, boosting the total benefits available to a four-person household to $646 a month.—The Virginian-Pilot

• Local sheriff’s departments in some counties are stepping in to help deliver medication and other essentials to seniors, who are most at risk if they contract the coronavirus.—The Danville Register & BeeNews Leader

• A boutique bowling alley in Richmond fired three employees who refused to work a St. Patrick’s Day festival that the city had recommended be cancelled. Their boss wanted them to sign waivers saying the company wasn’t liable if they got COVID-19.—VPM

• “He was driving home from a small weekend gathering with some friends when David D. Dafashy, medical director at the College of William & Mary’s student health center, got the call from the state health department. … Within days, the couple would be among the first to fall ill from COVID-19 in what’s become Virginia’s epicenter.”—The Virginian-Pilot

• The Virginia Court of Appeals denied an exoneration claim from a man convicted of a 1997 home invasion in Virginia Beach that another man has since confessed to.—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• A Danville man “who claimed he was illegally searched after he gave the middle finger to a police officer scored a win in federal court where a judge overturned a jury verdict favoring the cop.”—Courthouse News Service

• “The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Authority reported $30.1 million in sales at its retail stores between March 15 and 21, a 59 percent increase over the same period last year.”—Richmond BizSense

• Toilets on the Navy’s two newest aircraft carriers, both based in Norfolk, keep clogging. “The issue, essentially, is that the pipes are too narrow and when there are a bunch of sailors flushing the toilet at the same time,” according to an audit, which found the Navy is relying on acid flushes at a cost of $400,000 a pop to address the problem.—The Virginian-Pilot

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