How Virginia embellished its COVID-19 statistics, D.C. suburbs aligned in lockdown policies, ‘killing frost’ worries state wineries, and more headlines

Virginia Mercury

Our daily roundup of headlines from Virginia and elsewhere.

• “How Virginia Juked Its COVID-19 Statistics: The state is combining results from viral and antibody tests in the same statistic. This threatens to confound America’s understanding of the pandemic.”—The Atlantic

• Gov. Ralph Northam said the state will test all residents and staff at nursing homes and long-term care facilities, which account for a majority of the COVID-19 deaths in Virginia. But he said a White House recommendation that the work be completed within two weeks is “a bit of an ambitious goal.”—The Virginian-Pilot

• Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced his state too would begin reopening Friday, but as in Virginia, the suburbs surrounding D.C. will maintain existing restrictions, leaving the capital region aligned in lockdown policy for now.—Associated Press

• Restaurants, which will be allowed to open outdoor patios only at 50 percent capacity, are eyeing parking lots and streets for additional seating. State liquor regulators say they’re fine with alcohol being served in the impromptu dining areas as long as local authorities have signed off on the temporary areas.—The Virginian-Pilot

• A Virginia Beach hotel developer who had been advising Northam on his reopening plans said he was outraged when Northam didn’t include beaches in the first phase. “I talked to the governor almost every day until last Friday,” Thompson said this week. “On Friday night, I asked him what the hell happened, and we haven’t had a lot of conversation since then.”—The Washington Post

• Police in the Roanoke area say they’ve seen a spike in fatal drug overdoses during the pandemic.—The Roanoke Times

• A state police pilot wasn’t trained to respond to the aerodynamic conditions — a “vortex ring state” — that preceded a fatal helicopter crash after the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, according to the NTSB.—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• Virginia is one of nine states to join a lawsuit challenging the EPA’s decision to relax clean air and water enforcement during the pandemic.—Reuters

• The mayor of Petersburg, where city officials have been ordered to reconnect water service to dozens of residents cut off for nonpayment, called the state’s intervention a “political ploy” and a city councilwoman called a request for amnesty “an act of socialism.” They say they’re going to try to get the state health commissioner to reconsider.—The Progress-Index

• William & Mary cancelled a planned tuition increase, joining Virginia Commonwealth University and Christopher Newport University in holding tuition flat in response to the economic fallout from the pandemic.—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• Two Norfolk firefighters pitched a rescue-ladder on ABC’s “Shark Tank.”—The Virginian-Pilot

• Cold weather has some Virginia wineries worried. “This is what you’d call a killing frost,” said Bruce Deal, of Cunningham Creek Winery, in Fluvanna County. “We’ve lost just about everything.”—The Daily Progress

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