Richmond councilmembers back monument removals, delegate calls to have Byrd statue removed, bear roams downtown Richmond, and more headlines

Virginia Mercury

Our daily roundup of headlines from Virginia and elsewhere.

• After Gov. Ralph Northam announced plans to remove a state-owned statue of Robert E. Lee on Richmond’s Monument Avenue, a majority on the local City Council say they’ll back Mayor Levar Stoney’s proposal to remove the remaining four city-owned memorials to the Confederacy along the boulevard.—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• Norfolk City Council, which for three years has sought to remove a prominent Confederate memorial downtown, plans to remove the statue as early as Aug. 7.—The Virginian-Pilot

• “Del. Jay Jones, D-Norfolk, said Thursday that he would introduce legislation for the 2021 General Assembly session to take down the statue of former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Harry F. Byrd Sr. from Capitol Square. Byrd, a Democrat, was one of the most vocal proponents of segregation.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• Peaceful protests continued around the state Thursday.—VPM, The Virginian-Pilot, Daily Press

• With the exception of Northern Virginia and Richmond, the state moves into Phase 2 of reopening today, under which restaurants are allowed to reopen their dining rooms at half capacity and gyms can reopen at 30 percent capacity. Museums, zoos and other attractions are also allowed to reopen and a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people is expanded to allow groups of up to 50.—The Virginian-Pilot

• “Only two states have done a worse job than Virginia in surveying skilled nursing homes to ensure that they have necessary infection-control measures in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the federal government.”—The Roanoke Times

• “How close is Virginia to having ‘herd immunity’ to the coronavirus? That’s one question state public health officials will investigate through a project that will collect blood from 5,000 Virginians.”—The Virginian-Pilot

• Virginia prison inmates say the food they are served has gotten so bad during the pandemic it’s begun causing health problems.—WVTF

• Employees of the private security company charged with guarding the city courthouse in Norfolk at night have been accused of stealing from a judge’s chamber, watching porn in the law library and sleeping on duty.—The Virginian-Pilot

• Police in Tazewell County say they discovered a “significant amount” of explosives in a resident’s home, prompting neighborhood evacuations. Authorities say the investigation began after the home’s owner went to the emergency room seeking treatment for what he said was a lawnmower accident, but that the doctor treating him didn’t believe the injuries matched the story and alerted police.—Bristol Herald Courier

• A wild bear was found roaming downtown Richmond, “happy as a clam, just walking around, looking into windows, looking into buildings,” said Christie Peters, director at Richmond Animal Care & Control, which named him Fuzzy Wuzzy before tranquilizing and relocating him back to the wild.—Richmond Times-Dispatch

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