Updated: 10 minutes ago
Updated: 12 minutes ago
HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Children 16-years-old and up have been eligible for both Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and now Virginia’s vaccine coordinator, Dr. Danny Avula, said it’s possible that those children ages 12 to 15 will be able to get a vaccine by the end of next week. School districts and school nurses are already experienced in doing on-site vaccinations, for shots like the flu. In Harrisonburg, some high school students can get their shot at the first on-site clinic next week at Harrisonburg High School. Superintendent Dr. Michael Richards hopes those between the ages of 12 to 15 will get their chance soon, too. “To make it easier, we want students to be able to access vaccines during school hours, so they don’t have to worry about transportation. They don’t have to worry about a parent coming with them,” Richards said. “If they go to a community clinic somewhere, the parent has to be there to give permission.” Instead, parents and guardians will sign a consent form allowing the student to get the shot. Richards said Harrisonburg City Public Schools (HCPS) wants to break barriers and allow easier access to the vaccine. He said they have already received many consent forms ahead of next week’s vaccine event. “HHS is not fully reopened yet, but we have a lot of students there and so if we can get most of those students, hopefully, all of those students, who are 16, 17, 18 into the clinic to get their vaccine, that’s a significant number of people vaccinated,” Richards said. After being vaccinated at a school’s clinic, Richards said HCPS will take note of how many students got their shot as they did with HCPS employees. Once a vaccine is approved for children 12 to 15, HCPS would like to offer clinics to those students, as well. Richards said those clinics may look different than clinics for those 16-years-old and up, by possibly asking parents or guardians to be present. Summer school opens another door of opportunity for vaccine distribution. “We intend to take advantage of the fact that those students will be with us and help give vaccine access to them in the summer,” Richards said. Virginia’s Secretary of Education Artif Qarni said he looks forward to the vaccine being available to all students. Right now, the Virginia Department of Education has no immediate plans to require students to receive the vaccine. “At this point, we are not going to mandate it there are certain vaccinations that are mandated by Virginia code but right now we are not going to mandate anything at least that is not the position of the governor but we are encouraging it,” Qarni said. In West Virginia, Governor Jim Justice said the state is ready to hold vaccine clinics in schools in all 55 counties once the vaccine is approved. Justice said they expect 78,000 students ages 12 to 15 to be eligible.
Updated: 13 minutes ago
STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) - Staunton City Council voted 4-3 to repeal an emergency ordinance last month, and that move also ended the public’s ability to call in to participate in council meetings. That decision has led to some pushback from community members, and it has also caught the attention of some advocacy groups in the state. Some groups recently sent a letter to the mayor and city council, asking them to revisit their decision to eliminate remote participation in city council meetings. In a joint effort, the American Civil Liberties Union, the disAbility Law Center and the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection wrote to the city council to share their concerns about this decision and how it may affect those with disabilities. “People with disabilities have a substantially greater risk of deaths or serious illness if they contract COVID, and we certainly aren’t finished with the pandemic,” Executive Director for the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection Mary McCord said. The letter cited the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act, which say governments must provide modifications as needed so people with disabilities can fully participate in government programs. “The city was providing that with the call-in option, and by cutting that off, there are people whose rights will then be cut off,” McCord said. But Staunton Mayor Andrea Oakes said the council is already planning to discuss all council procedures at a meeting later in May, including the public’s ability to call in. “This is an issue we certainly have not overlooked or forgotten, it’s just a matter of us having it on the agenda, having the conversation about it,” Oakes said. With remote participation ending, there were also concerns regarding the First Amendment. The letter states, “one City Council member recently suggested that the elimination of telephonic participation was based on a constitutionally impermissible desire to silence dissenting views.” But Mayor Oakes said that is not true. “We want to hear from everyone. The good, the bad, the ugly. We want to hear the negative comments, we want to hear the positive comments, we keep that door open for everyone,” Oakes said. “That’s their First Amendment right, and we certainly respect the First Amendment.” McCord said the letter was not meant to be threatening but to bring attention to the issue and to offer their advice if needed. “This is trying to call their attention to, this is a serious issue, and the pandemic isn’t over and people are being shut out of their rights and not accommodated under the ADA,” McCord said.
Updated: 14 minutes ago
ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - Virginia’s COVID-19 restrictions will change again on May 15, allowing sports and entertainment venues in the commonwealth to operate with expanded capacity. The social gatherings limit will also increase. Governor Ralph Northam will continue to mandate mask-wearing and social distancing, but indoor entertainment and public amusement venues will be able to operate at 50 percent capacity or 1,000 people, up from 30 percent capacity or 500 people. Outdoor venues will be able to operate at 50 percent capacity, up from 30 percent, with no specific cap on the number of attendees. But the show must go on, which is why the Sipe Center in Bridgewater began hosting live performances, while following state guidance, in March. Alex Wilmer, the Assistant Town Manager for Administration, said they planned all 2021 live performances around the 30 percent capacity guidelines, but now they can offer more tickets to events. “We were determined to get things going this year, even if it was only 30 percent occupancy,” Wilmer said. “At 30 percent that was 46 people, and at 50 percent, we’re now at 77.” Wilmer said the Sipe Center has live performances booked almost every week. The increased capacity also allows more people to enjoy movies in the theater. The Sipe Center Box Office is open from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. For more information on live performances and movie showings at the Sipe Center, click here.
Updated: 15 minutes ago
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Blame it on the pandemic, blame it on more people turning to chicken these days, but it’s all turning into sticker shock when we’re purchasing poultry. The price of chicken is going up, if you have not noticed. Richmond-area restaurant owners are certainly paying attention to the spike and the reasons why. “It’s crazy you know. We wonder every day we place an order whether or not we’re going to get our chicken in,” said Matt Simmons, Fest Biergarten President. The owner of Fest Biergarten in Chesterfield County says he’s seeing issues with chicken wing orders. Six months ago, Simmons says, wings cost about $2.00 per pound. Today, that same pound costs $3.60, which is a sizable increase. “Every time we think the prices can’t get any higher, it gets higher. We hope it comes down,” said Simmons. Virginia’s Secretary of Agriculture says a few factors are at play here. There are national issues, like the commercial chicken sandwich war, but in Virginia, the issues center around a shortage of poultry workers. Overall, during the first quarter of this year, chicken production was down 4%, according to the USDA. “We have a number of companies that are working hard to continue to provide that supply not only to individuals in their backyard but across the state, across the nation and across the world,” said Bettina Ring, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry. Poultry is the state’s largest agricultural sector, producing 280 million per year and ranking 10th in the country for production. “Supply is tight but demand is tight but I foresee that that will easy going forward as we ramp supply up,” Hobey Bauhan, President, Virginia Poultry Federation. Supply began increasing last month and continues to this month, up 2% so far in May. Industry leaders say supply and price will level out, but no one could put their thumb on exactly when. “We’re not going to run out of chicken in the United States or in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said Bauhan. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, broiler (chickens raised for meat) head produced was down 4% in the first quarter of 2021 and pounds produced down 3%. Production, fortunately, began picking back up in the beginning of April and we’ve seen an increase in production over the past month. According to the same data, broilers produced the week ending April 10th were up 4% versus a year ago; the week ending April 17th up 9%; the week ending April 24th up 7%, and the week ending May 1st up 2%.
Updated: 17 minutes ago
AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - A brewery in the Shenandoah Valley recently received accolades from Governor Ralph Northam and Senator Mark Warner for its sustainable practices, specifically keeping tons of food from going to the landfill. Stable Craft Brewing, nestled on the Hermitage Hill Farm, is an authentic working farm, brewery, and winery. “We searched as far north as Maine, as far south as Miami, we just simply cannot find anybody that’s doing what we’re doing,” Craig Nargi, the owner of Stable Craft Brewing, said. He’s talking about a commitment to zero food waste. “Five and a half tons diverted from our kitchen to our composting,” Nargi said. This kind of composting is called Bokashi. It’s a Japanese word that means fermented organic matter. “You’re allowed to use proteins, cheese, all those things that you typically can’t compost, which makes it a lot easier for our staff to participate in,” Nargi stated. “Unlike most compost, there’s no unpleasant odors. There’s not a big mess. It doesn’t attract wild animals.” All food scraps go into a barrel with some Bokashi mix. “That starts to break it down and it turns into a liquid,” Nargi said. The diluted compost tea goes right back into the plants - in the hop hard, and the greenhouse with the herbs. “And we could use it for fertilizer. We could use it for treating our drains,” Nargi stated. “It’s a perfect natural ingredient to use throughout our facility.” Nargi says the costs associated with Bokashi are so negligible he hasn’t even bothered to do the math. “It is a win-win all the way around.”