Virginia hits highest daily number of new COVID-19 cases, General Assembly to reconvene today, too few truck stop spaces on I-81, and more headlines

NEWS TO KNOW
Our daily roundup of headlines from Virginia and elsewhere.

• “Virginia reported its highest daily number of new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, with 2,103 new cases recorded.” Health officials urged residents not to gather for the holidays outside of their immediate families.—Virginian-PilotWVTF

• The General Assembly convenes today to take up Northam’s budget and legislative recommendations.—WVTF

• The Associated Press called the close 7th District congressional race for Democrat Abigail Spanberger. She had declared victory Wednesday.—Associated Press

• Despite their losses in Virginia, Republicans say they are cheered by the party’s strength in rural areas, which grew even as the party lost ground in more populous areas. Democrat Cameron Webb blamed his loss in the 5th Congressional District on insurmountable polarization.—DcistVPM

• Residents of Lynchburg weighed the city’s shift from red to blue in a presidential election for the first time since 1948. “I can’t help but think if Jerry Jr. was still president that he would have had a rally and would have energized the city. … Without him using his bully pulpit at the university, some people may have decided to sit this one out.”—Washington Post

• Newport News’ police chief, who is facing criticism for his friendly rapport with gun rights activists, said he gave an organizer a bottle of chocolate milk as a “de-escalation tactic.”—Daily Press

• A judge blocked a plea agreement extended by Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti that would have placed “a Maryland man on two years of probation for allegedly bringing 50 pounds of marijuana and 400 cartridges of hashish oil into the county.” The judge said the sentence wouldn’t do enough to deter future crimes. Others said he was likely a low-level drug mule with no idea what quantity of drugs he was carrying.—ARLnow

• “Fairfax County on Thursday night removed a trio of Civil War markers in front of the county’s judicial complex, part of a broader effort in Virginia to turn a page on the state’s Confederate legacy.”—Washington Post

• Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital says it will allow priests to visit COVID-19 patients with proper protective equipment after a Catholic patient was denied his last rites.—Roanoke Times

• Truck stops on I-81 are usually full, leaving truckers and VDOT trying to find more space for drivers to pull over and take legally mandated breaks.—Roanoke Times

• A World War II vet from Virginia Beach traveled back to the French countryside to return a portrait he’d stolen from a raided chateau at age 19.—Virginian-Pilot

Sign up here to get these headlines and the Mercury’s original reporting delivered to your inbox daily in News to Know, our free newsletter.