Southwest Virginia hospital chain warns it’s running out of beds, Northam loosens restrictions on theme parks, Richmond dog goes viral, and more headlines

Virginia Mercury

Our daily roundup of headlines from Virginia and elsewhere.

• The hospital chain serving Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee warned that they’re running out of beds and considering erecting tents to serve as makeshift waiting rooms amid an ongoing surge of COVID-19 cases. Administrators said they admitted 30 children over the weekend with the virus, including at least one whose infection was traced back to trick-or-treating.—WCYB, Roanoke Times

• Gov. Ralph Northam loosened restrictions on theme parks, prompting Busch Gardens to expand its Christmas programming. Meanwhile local school districts warned that rising cases could put plans to return students to in-person classes on hold.—Daily Press, Virginia Gazette

• Schools in Virginia have become more segregated over time, not less, researchers at VCU say, calling on state and local leaders to “advocate more boldly for school integration.’—WVTF

• Norfolk City Council rejected a proposed design for a new monument to honor students who integrated the city’s public schools. “It’s pretty, but Massive Resistance wasn’t pretty.”—Virginian-Pilot

• Two Republican congressional challengers who lost their bids to unseat Democrats Abigail Spanberger and Donald McEachin are refusing to concede even after local electoral boards certified the vote tallies. McEachin’s opponent, Leon Benjamin, lost by more than 91,000 votes – a blowout – but is claiming fraud in emails to supporters.—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• While Democrats debate “defund the police” attacks, Cameron Webb, a Democrat who lost his congressional bid to Republican Bob Good in the state’s 5th District, said “President Trump’s presence on the ballot, and his mobilizing effect in southern parts of the state, was ultimately the greatest factor in his loss.”—Washington Post

• Seven women will sit on Richmond City Council during the chamber’s next term, the most in the body’s history.—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• Three activists who documented protests in Richmond as citizen journalists say they were targeted for arrest by police on minor charges and their phones were seized and held for months, an outcome criminal defense lawyers called unusual. “These are not drug cartel masterminds with accounting numbers that will give way to a huge criminal enterprise. These are people marching in the street because Black lives matter.”—VPM

• “A grand jury in Newport News Circuit Court this week indicted two Newport News police officers in the killing of a man they were trying to arrest on a misdemeanor charge late last year.”—Daily Press

• A Richmond man whose dog, Riley, leaps lovingly into his arms when he comes home from work is getting nationwide attention after video of the routine went viral.—Richmond Times-Dispatch

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