Report: Some Public Schools Obstructing Parents’ Efforts to Withdraw Children for Home-Schooling

Some public schools are telling parents they can’t withdraw their children to home-school or aren’t following the TEA guidelines for withdrawal, according to a new report published by the Texas Home School Coalition Association (THSC).

The largest statewide advocacy organization for home educators in the state sent a written notice to 9,500 school administrations in August, clarifying the Texas Education Agency policy for student withdrawal.

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Justin Fairfax Says He is Poised to Help All Virginians as the Next Governor

If elected governor, Justin Fairfax is determined to bring the Commonwealth and its residents out from underneath the current issues plaguing Virginia brought forth by the coronavirus pandemic and a destructive political landscape. 

Last month Lt. Gov. Fairfax officially announced his entrance into the 2021 gubernatorial election, hoping to follow in the footsteps of former state governor L. Douglas Wilder and become the second black man elected to the Executive Mansion. 

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COVID-19 Update: Virginia’s Current Outlook by the Numbers

A report from the University of Virginia (UVA) Biocomplexity Institute published last Friday showed that the statewide COVID-19 reproduction rate is above 1.0 (1.031) and in all regions except one, meaning the virus is spreading quickly across the Commonwealth, and classifies five out of 35 health districts as a surge.

The UVA Biocomplexity Institute also uses an adaptive model, tracing past and current trends, to predict what could happen in the future. In that report, the model predicted there could be 202,040 total confirmed cases in Virginia by Thanksgiving, an increase of 41,197 confirmed cases from Saturday’s count.

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Henrico Parents Demand Kids Go Back to School

After polling parents and holding a public forum, the Henrico County School Board voted 4-1 Thursday for an optional plan to allow in-person learning. The phased approach will allow Pre-K through 2nd grade students to return to school four days a week starting November 30. Grades 3-5 would return on December 7, and older students will return in February.

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Increase in Homeschooling, Working from Home Likely to Last

Increases in homeschooling and working from home triggered by COVID-19 closures may have permanent impacts, according to University of Virginia (UVA) researcher Hamilton Lombard.

“Based on trends over the past few decades, the number of homeschoolers and telecommuters were both expected to continue growing rapidly even before the pandemic. If Virginia’s homeschoolers were a school division, they would be one of Virginia’s largest school divisions, and easily its fastest growing,” Lombard told UVA Today.

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Mask Usage Only Encouraged, Not Required at Polling Locations on Election Day, Officials Say

Voters in the Commonwealth that arrive at polling places on Election Day without a mask or face covering and refuse to wear one or vote outside will not be turned away, according to election officials.

The Virginia Department of Elections (VDOE) has given election workers throughout Virginia guidance on what to do when a voter goes to a polling precinct without a mask and does not wish to put one on.

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COVID Lockdowns a Boon for Virginia Lottery

The Virginia Lottery recorded $2.15 billion in sales during 2020, slightly lower than the 2019 figure, despite facing statewide shut downs in the spring and the growing economic downturn brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Kevin Hall, executive director of the Virginia Lottery, gave a presentation Tuesday to members of the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee, providing updates on the current trend and forecast as well as the implementation of expanded gaming options coming to the state.

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Staff Report: Governor Northam Signs New Laws to Support COVID-19 Response, Reform Policing

Governor Ralph Northam’s office announced Thursday the signing of eight COVID-19 response bills and three criminal justice reform bills. He also proposed amendments to three other bills related to healthcare, COVID-19 relief and criminal justice reform. Northam’s announcement is below:

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William & Mary Reinstates Three Women’s Sports Teams After Threat of Title IX Lawsuit

William and Mary (W&M) announced Monday it is reinstating the women’s swimming, gymnastics and volleyball sports programs after a group of lawyers representing student-athletes on those teams threatened to sue the university in violation of Title IX compliance.

This all stems from the decision last month by former W&M athletics director Samantha Huge to cut seven sports teams at the end of the current academic year because of large budget deficits as a result of COVID-19.

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Commentary: How Big Tech Masks COVID-19 Realities

Since the early stages of the coronavirus crisis, any viewpoint or research running afoul of the accepted doctrine conceived by the credentialed class has been censored.

Social media platforms, internet search engines, and other monopolistic guardians of information decided at the very beginning that they would determine which content would be available for public consumption; “false claims or conspiracy theories that have been flagged by leading global health organizations and local health authorities that could cause harm to people who believe them” would be subjected to Facebook’s reject button, according to a January 2020 statement released by the company.

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Spanberger and Freitas Square Off in Debate on COVID, Health Care and National Security

Incumbent Representative Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07) and Republican challenger state Del. Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper) took part in their first debate Tuesday night, discussing a wide array of ongoing issues on the national and state levels.

The forum was moderated by Washington Week Managing Editor and a national political reporter for The Washington Post, Robert Costa, lasting a little less than an hour.

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Congressional Debate: Candidates Scott Taylor and Incumbent Elaine Luria Spar Over Stimulus Packages and Gun Control

Republican challenger Scott Taylor and incumbent Representative Elaine Luria (D-Virginia Beach) faced off Tuesday night in their first televised debate. The 2nd Congressional District race is currently a toss-up.
Political reporter Joe St. George served as the moderator. Questions featured were presented in three segments: from the moderator first, then viewers, and lastly from Taylor and Luria.

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Virginia Tech Cancels Spring Break

Virginia Tech announced that the Spring 2021 semester will continue with a combination of in-person, hybrid, and online classes. According to the Monday announcement, the school’s traditional week-long spring break will be replaced with five individual days off spread over several weeks to discourage students from traveling.

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New Research Shows Excess of Non-COVID Deaths Increased Over Course of Pandemic

New research from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) shows that excess, non-COVID-19 deaths increased over the course of the pandemic. The authors theorized that the pandemic caused “disruptions” that led to these deaths.

Non-COVID deaths accounted for over thirty percent of the overall excess deaths. The most significant non-COVID causes of death were heart disease, Alzheimer disease, and dementia. 

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Commentary: The Habit of Liberal Accommodation Has Precipitated a Crisis

As members of Antifa and Black Lives Matter continue their nightly exercise of kinetic economic redistribution, and protestors assemble outside Walter Reed Hospital, where President Trump is receiving treatment for the Wuhan Flu, to shout anti-Trump slogans, I thought it might be useful to step back and consider this current wave of anti-American sentiment in historical context.

Anti-Americanism is not new, of course. It was, as many writers have noted, a staple of 1960s’ radicalism. What seems novel today, however, is the extent to which radical anti-American sentiment has installed itself into the heart of many institutions that, until about 15 minutes ago, were pillars of the American establishment. How odd that (Democratic) members of Congress should lament that America is guilty, and has always been guilty, of “systemic racism,” etc., etc. Somehow, the fact that Boston Mayor Martin Walsh hoisted the Chinese Communist flag in front of City Hall there epitomizes the rot.

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California Voters Are Disinfecting, Microwaving Ballots

Election officials in Sacramento, California are asking voters not to disinfect or microwave mail-in ballots after the state received at least 100 ballots returned with damage, according to Just the News.

California voters are taking extreme measures to ensure their mail-in ballots are COVID germ-free. The registrar told KCRA News they have received at least 100 ballots damaged by disinfectant and alcohol spray. In one case, someone even microwaved their ballot in an attempt to get rid of any germs.

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VCU To Students: Zoom Time – No In Person Classes

As the fall semester begins to enter its final weeks, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) announced Thursday that the spring 2021 term will look very similar with most classes online and schoolwide health and safety protocols still enforced.

VCU president Michael Rao published an online message to students Thursday providing an update for the upcoming semester and highlighting some of the changes being made.

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CDC Report Indicates Masks May Increase Chance of Infection with COVID or Other Respiratory Illnesses

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report last month in which the nearly 71 percent of individuals infected with COVID-19 reported “always” wearing their mask. This opposed to the 4 percent of infected individuals who “never” wore masks.
The number of individuals infected with COVID-19 positively correlated with the consistency of mask-wearing. The report didn’t address the possible correlation between face mask hygiene and COVID-19 infection, such as proper handling and disposal of masks. It also didn’t differentiate the respondents’ mask types.

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Newport News Public Schools Superintendent Delays Students’ Return to Classrooms

The Newport News Public Schools (NNPS) superintendent George Parker announced Tuesday that he was postponing the plan that would have brought students back to the classroom for the first time since March.

The delay comes after the Newport News School Board voted 5-2 during its meeting last week to allow for a phased return to in-person instruction for K-12 students.

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VA Democrats Want To Issue Mandatory ‘Vaccination Cards’ Costing $121 Million

Virginia plans on spending nearly $121 million on CARES funding for COVID-19 vaccine equipment and advertisement. This according to a proposal draft, reportedly submitted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week.

Nearly $6 million will be spent on equipment: over $111 million on administration and staffing and $3 million in a “public education campaign.”

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City of Richmond Will Use Group Initiative to Shelter Homeless Population This Winter

In the effort to combat homelessness and provide adequate inside sheltering options amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the city of Richmond is contracting with faith-based groups in the area and the Greater Richmond Continuum of Care (GRCoC), a network of service providers that aid the homeless population.

In past years Richmond has used the Anne Gile Center, located in Upper Shockoe Valley just north of downtown, as the city’s primary Cold Weather Overflow Shelter (CWOS), but it was closed down this year in part because of COVID concerns and partly in favor of the new plan.

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Recovery Continues, Economy Should be Back to Peak in Fourth Quarter

The rapid recovery from the lockdown continues. Economic reports from September indicate the economy has rebounded to 97 percent of its peak reached this past February. The surge in new orders for both manufacturing and service companies points to further gains in the months ahead.

These gains should bring the economy’s output and spending (GDP) back to its prior peak during the fourth quarter of the year.

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Richmond Mayor Candidate Tracey McLean Calls for Cohesive Community

Candidate for Richmond mayor Tracey McLean laid out her vision for Richmond on Stacey Thomas’ Facebook Live talk show on Friday evening. McLean explained her background and a platform calling for reparations and racial equity in Richmond.

“I have a calling to the city of Richmond from God,” McLean said. “As I go out into the community they express that they couldn’t talk to the Mayor, nobody will help them. [They describe] things that they actually had to face alone, especially now since we have COVID. We’re in a mode of desperation.”

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Northam Announces More Money for Closed Schools

Governor Ralph Northam is sending an additional $220 million of Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds to Virginia’s schools, according to a Thursday press release. The money is intended to help purchase testing supplies, personal protective equipment, sanitation, and virtual learning technology.

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Commentary: Trump Is Now One with Countless Essential Workers

Joe Biden has redefined mask wearing. It is now the thinking man’s patriotism, what every “scientific” and “refined” mind naturally does.

Biden, the media, and the progressive party all blame the now ill Trump for becoming infected. They accuse the president of becoming sick because he was selfish. You see, he was not always wearing a mask, or not always isolating in social-distancing fashion, or not always staying inside except for essential expeditionary trips.

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Fear Drives Record Gun Sales

Virginia is setting records for gun sales this year; already the FBI has processed 617,472 firearms background checks, beating 2019’s total of 512,766.

Bob Marcus owns Bob’s Guns in Norfolk. He said the increase in sales began a year ago. “We saw it after the General Assembly turned over back in November. It started with the election, and then the General Assembly went into session. And there were threats of the so-called assault weapons ban, and other restrictions, so it continued through January, February, and into March.”

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Gov. Northman’s Virginia Power Grab Defies Science

The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association (VHHA) presented analysis of COVID-19 hospitalization data on patient demographics, age and sex, accompanying chronic conditions and length of stay during a webinar on Thursday.

The study reviewed statewide data trends from over 8,700 COVID hospitalizations in Virginia between January and June of 2020, and was presented by David Vaamonde, vice president of data analytics for the VHHA.

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A Week from Hell for William & Mary Athletics: Athletic Director Resigns and Student-Athletes Test Positive for COVID-19

In the span of a single week William & Mary athletics director Samantha Huge resigned after facing backlash from cutting seven sports programs last month, and a mix of student-athletes and athletics department staff have tested positive for Coronavirus.

The university announced Tuesday that Huge was stepping down from her position and then on Wednesday news broke that athletics employees and athletes had tested positive for COVID-19.

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Nashville Metro Council Gives Mayor John Cooper the Power to Deputize Certain City Employees to Cite Bars and Restaurants That Violate Coronavirus Rules

The Nashville Metro Council on Tuesday gave Mayor John Cooper the authority to deputize certain city workers to issue citations against bars and restaurants that violate his coronavirus restrictions, The Tennessean reported.

Metro Health Department employees are overworked in trying to combat businesses, the newspaper said. Only workers who already have citation powers will be authorized to serve as restaurant police, according to the bill that passed on third reading. The mayor must still given written permission to workers to use this new power.

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Gov. Northam Fights to Keep Virginia in Perpetual Shutdown

Only 22 percent of ventilators in Virginia hospitals were in use as of Wednesday. Fifty-two percent of ICU beds were available, according to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association. Only 1,003 potential COVID-19 patients were currently hospitalized. However, Governor Ralph Northam’s executive orders surrounding social distancing and mask wearing remain in effect.

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Sparks Fly at Richmond Mayoral Debate Between Stoney and Gray

The top four candidates for Richmond’s mayor debated in a forum on Tuesday night that saw incumbent Mayor Levar Stoney again defending his record from attacks on all sides. Councilmember Kim Gray and candidate Justin Griffin took turns attacking Stoney for corruption and mismanagement while candidate Alexsis Rodgers suggested that many of Stoney’s best ideas for the future are cribbed from her own platform.

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Commentary: This Campaign, and This President, Are Like No Other

The startling revelation that President Trump and his wife have contracted COVID-19 not only contributes another imponderable complexity to this torrid election campaign, it brings forth—amid a general tide of goodwill in favor of the president and his wife—the worst traits of the Trump-haters. The media response ranged from Joy Reid’s piercing aperçu that he was faking the illness to attract sympathy, to the Lemon-Tapper school of Trump-hate at CNN, which saw it as a direct consequence of the president supposedly taking the virus lightly, leading the resistance to it incompetently, and pretending that it was a fiction, “a hoax.”

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Harvard Lecturer Pushes Wild Conspiracy Theory About Russian Spies at Walter Reed Hospital

Harvard University professor and CNN analyst Juliette Kayyem alleged that it is “very likely” that Russian spies infiltrated Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and gained access to information about President Donald Trump’s medical condition.

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday. The president experienced symptoms before moving to Walter Reed Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, out of an “abundance of caution” the following day.

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Commentary: Biden Is Behind the Curve in Fighting COVID

To hear former Vice President Joe Biden tell it, in January, he had perfect knowledge about the Chinese coronavirus, what its mortality would be and all the actions that would be necessary to save American lives.

On July 20 on MSNBC, Biden claimed, “I, all the way back in January, warned him this pandemic was coming. I talked about what we needed to do,” referring to President Trump and a Jan. 27 oped he wrote on the virus.

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Andrew Cuomo Threatens to Shut Down Churches, Synagogues, Says ‘Religious Institutions Have Been a Problem’

Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo threatened Monday to close down religious institutions, specifically Jewish synagogues, if they do not follow his coronavirus restrictions.

“We know religious institutions have been a problem,” Cuomo said at a Monday press conference. “We know mass gatherings are the super spreader events. We know there have been mass gatherings going on in concert with religious institutions in these communities for weeks. For weeks.”

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Boeing Says Pandemic Will Cut Demand for Planes for a Decade

Boeing is lowering its expectations around demand for new planes over the next decade as the coronavirus pandemic continues to undercut air travel.

The company on Tuesday predicted that the world will need 18,350 new commercial airplanes in the next decade, a drop of 11% from its 2019 forecast. The value of that market will slide by about $200 billion from last year’s forecast, to $2.9 trillion.

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CDC Updates Coronavirus Guidance Again, Warns About Transmission from More than Six Feet

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its coronavirus guidance Monday to warn about the potential for virus spread from beyond six feet.

The new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance also says that the virus can “linger in the air” for hours. The revision comes weeks after the agency retracted a similar update to its coronavirus guidance.

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JMU Students Have Returned to Campus and Resumed In-Person Classes Again

Students at James Madison University (JMU) resumed in-person classes on Monday after spending almost a month away from campus learning virtually because of a significant rise in COVID-19 cases and inadequate isolation/quarantine spaces.

At the beginning of September, university president Jonathan Alger announced JMU was temporarily sending most on-campus students home and switching to virtual instruction. Now, students are back at the Harrisonburg, Virginia campus to give the 2020 fall semester another shot.

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Nashville Mayor John Cooper’s Restaurant Police Cite Two Downtown Bars For Having Too Many Customers

Informants reportedly helped Nashville Mayor John Cooper’s restaurant police cite two downtown bars over the weekend.

WSMV reported that a task force cited Dogwood and Rebar, both on Division Street, on Saturday for having too many patrons, including on the patio. The task force had members from Metro Public Health Department, the Metro Nashville Police Department and the Metro Beer Board. The task force checked on Dogwood again on Sunday.

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Commentary: If Everyone is Behind, then No One is Behind

In early September, researchers Corey DeAngelis and Christos Makridis released the results of a study they spearheaded, which found that “school districts in places with stronger teachers’ unions are much less likely to offer full-time, in-person instruction this fall.” The authors stress that the results are remarkably consistent after controlling for differences in demographics, including age, race, population, political affiliation, household income, COVID-19 cases, deaths per capita, et al.

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Trump Signs Executive Order Establishing Coronavirus Mental Health Working Group

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Saturday aimed at “saving lives” of those suffering from mental and behavioral health needs, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic.

Through the executive order issued Monday morning, Trump called for more crisis-intervention services to those in “immediate life-threatening situations,” and encouraged increased availability of continuing care after crises, nurture mentorship programs, expanded availability of telehealth, and more.

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Rip Off: Over $1.7 Million of CARES Funding Wasted on COVID-19 Exposure App Used by Only 13.5 Percent of Cell Phone Users

The Virginia government will reportedly have spent over $1.7 million for the COVID-19 exposure reporting app COVIDWISE, which 13.5% of cell phone users have downloaded. Approximately $1.5 million was spent on marketing alone.
The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and SpringML Inc. received $229,000 in CARES federal emergency funding to co-develop and launch COVIDWISE. The app allows users to upload their positive test results, which allows other users to receive exposure notifications. Users will only be notified if they have been within a 6 foot vicinity for over 15 minutes.

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TRUMPDATE: Latest From the Team Trump Virginia Campaign for October 5

Welcome to the Saturday edition of our daily Virginia Trump campaign update! We will provide our readers with daily updates on the Trump Virginia campaign from today to November 3 (and after…if need be!).

It’s officially 29 days until the election on November 3 – and 26 days until early voting in Virginia closes. The deadline to register to vote in time for the 2020 election is October 13.

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Commentary: Protect Elderly Votes Project Aims to Thwart ‘Ballot Harvesting’ Fraud

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the push for widespread mail-in voting and other alternatives to going to the polls ahead of the presidential election has increased the risk of vote fraud through “ballot harvesting,” and the elderly are particularly vulnerable, advocates warn.

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As European Schools Stay Open Amid Rising Cases, Many U.S. Schools Remain Shuttered

Leaders in Western Europe remain committed to continuing in-person instruction for young students — in some cases relaxing restrictions like face mask requirements and social distancing rules — even as caseloads throughout the region continue to explode. 

It’s a sharp contrast from many school districts in the United States, including some of the largest and most populous, where governmental authorities and teachers’ unions continue to insist that children be barred from face-to-face instruction, that any in-person learning be accompanied by strict distancing and face covering rules, and that even modest upticks in coronavirus cases should necessitate a complete shutdown of face-to-face learning.

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President Trump Makes a Surprise Visit to Say Thank You to the Supporters Gathered Outside Walter Reed

President Donald Trump briefly left the hospital Sunday in his car to wave to supporters gathered outside.

The president’s visit came shortly after he promised his supporters “a surprise” in a video posted a video on social media.

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COVID-19 at Virginia Colleges and Universities: What Do the Numbers Say?

As many colleges and universities in Virginia continue on with in-person instruction for the 2020 fall semester during the coronavirus pandemic, the schools’ COVID-19 dashboards offer insights into how the pandemic is affecting those institutions.

Since the global pandemic hit the United States back in March, more and more schools have created online COVID dashboards that present a plethora of data on total tests, case counts, positivity percentage and 7-day moving averages for positive tests. 

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TRUMPDATE: Latest From the Team Trump Virginia Campaign for October 3

Welcome to the Saturday edition of our daily Virginia Trump campaign update! We will provide our readers with daily updates on the Trump Virginia campaign from today to November 3 (and after…if need be!).

It’s officially 31 days until the election on November 3 – and 28 days until early voting in Virginia closes. The deadline to register to vote in time for the 2020 election is October 13.

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COVID-19 Crushed Sales Tax Revenue, but Online Sales Helped a Little

Virginia’s fiscal year 2020 sales tax revenue performed well all the way up until April 2020 when sales tax revenue decreased 0.4 percent from April 2019; May saw sales tax revenue drop 12.5 percent from May 2019, indicating harm to Virginia’s retailers. At the same time, online sales were booming.

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