Deaths top 1,000, reopenings begin across state, a letter from the 1918 flu pandemic, and more headlines

Virginia Mercury

Our daily roundup of headlines from Virginia and elsewhere.

• Officials now attribute more than 1,000 deaths in Virginia to COVID-19.—The Virginian-Pilot

• “After two months of being largely shutdown amid the coronavirus, most of Virginia is beginning the first phase of a gradual reopening plan put in place by Gov. Ralph Northam.”—Associated Press

• At a nail salon outside Richmond, the owner said she didn’t want to reopen but, with rent still due, couldn’t afford not to. “I think it will be risky. This is very contagious.”—The Washington Post

• Big crowds flocked to the beaches, which are technically closed except for fishing and exercise. “I’m just shocked by the amount of people,” said a 19-year-old making snow cones on the boardwalk.—The Virginian-Pilot

• Many churches opted to remain closed. Those that reopened said they saw varied levels of interest from members of their congregation. “There’s about 30% of the people that just can’t wait. … About 30% are understandably hesitant about whether it’s time or not for them. Then there’s 30% … 40% who are just going to choose to be home, and we support that.”—The Roanoke Times

• Some courts are reopening today with huge backlogs of cases, including more than 800 eviction cases scheduled to be heard Monday.—WAVY

• “Gov. Ralph Northam has started opening parts of Virginia’s economy against fears that people of color will be hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic — a concern that is backed by the state’s own testing data. A Virginian-Pilot analysis of COVID-19 data released with location information for the first time last week shows that ZIP codes with high concentrations of people of color have higher rates of infection compared with whiter ZIP codes throughout the commonwealth.”—The Virginian-Pilot

• The sheriff in Norfolk said the jail has contained an outbreak in the facility that infected 55 inmates.—The Virginian-Pilot

• A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by the NAACP challenging the Confederate names of two high schools in Hanover County, calling the complaint too broad.—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• “Lynchburg prosecutors Friday announced they will not pursue criminal charges against two journalists who Liberty University police accused of trespassing on campus while covering the school’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.”—The News & Advance

• A nurse from Lynchburg moved to Brooklyn to take a job at a hospital overrun with COVID-19 patients. She said to avoid flying and have somewhere to stay when she got there, she sailed a 50-foot boat up the cost.—New York Post

• A Virginia Beach resident found a letter his mom had written describing the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. It sounds familiar: Norfolk was dull. Shops, movie theaters and schools were closed.—The Virginian-Pilot

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