Candi King Faces Heather Mitchell in Special Election for Virginia House 2nd District Today

Election day for the Virginia House of Delegates 2nd District race has finally arrived and the winner will fill the vacant seat left by Jennifer Carroll Foy before the General Assembly begins its next session on January 13th.

Community activist Candi King (D) and military wife Heather Mitchell (R) are vying for a seat that could play a role in keeping a Democratic majority in the House or assist Republicans in their efforts to flip the legislative body in 2021.

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Bill Allowing Religious Exemptions for COVID-19 Vaccines to be Considered Again by General Assembly

With multiple COVID-19 vaccines now being distributed and administered across the Commonwealth of Virginia, a Republican state Senator is looking to revisit the topic of religious exemptions to immunizations when the General Assembly convenes for its regular session in ten days.

Senator Mark Peake (R-Lynchburg) has introduced and pre-filed Senate Bill 1116, which would allow for a parent or guardian to object to the vaccination of a child on the grounds that immunization conflicts with their religious practices or tenets, even during an emergency declared by the state board of health.

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Petersburg School Board Votes to Play High School Winter Sports

The Petersburg City School Board voted 6-1 in a virtual meeting last week to move forward with high school winter sports during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The school board’s decision allows for the return of high school boys and girls basketball, indoor track and field, wrestling as well as cheerleading, and came just a couple weeks after the body had originally voted on December 16 to cancel winter sports because of the virus.

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Richmond, Virginia Offering Utility Relief Assistance to Residents

Richmond residents struggling to keep up with their utility bills or already several months behind as a result of economic hardships from the coronavirus pandemic can now apply for assistance from the city.

The city of Richmond Department of Public Utilities (DPU) has received funding from the COVID-19 Municipal Utility Relief Program – originally provided by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) – to make this assistance possible.

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FDA Alert: Pet Food Recalled After 28 Dogs Reportedly Die from Toxin

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) put out an alert to pet owners and veterinarians on Wednesday that certain lots of Sportmix pet food have been recalled after the deaths of 28 dogs that ate the products was reported. 

Multiple samples of Sportmix products were tested by the Missouri Department of Agriculture and found to contain high, potentially fatal levels of aflatoxin, a toxin that is produced by the mold Aspergillus flavus and can cause both illness and death in pets, according to the FDA alert. 

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Vaccinations in Virginia Are Lagging Behind Distributed Doses

Coronavirus vaccination efforts by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) have been ongoing since December 15, but the number of administered doses is significantly less than the amount distributed throughout the Commonwealth.

According to the COVID-19 vaccine dashboard, as of Thursday, Virginia has distributed 388,100 doses, but only 64,882 have actually been administered so far.

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New Virginia Law Bars Debt Collectors and Creditors from Taking or Garnishing Emergency Relief Payments

Thanks to a recently implemented law from the Virginia General Assembly, emergency relief payments from the federal government to Virginians will be protected from being seized or garnished by debt collectors and creditors.

The new law, stemming from House Bill 5068, comes as Virginians and Americans from across the country are starting to receive a second round of relief payments relating to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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Princess Blanding Announces Third-Party Run for Virginia Governor

Community activist and mental health advocate Princess Blanding, whose brother was fatally shot by Richmond Police in 2018, announced her entrance into the 2021 Virginia governor’s race on Tuesday as a third-party candidate, joining a group of hopefuls featuring former and current state politicians.

Blanding, 38, will be running as an independent candidate under the Liberation Party, whose mission to advance equity by uplifting traditionally underserved and oppressed communities, according to a press release.

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More Than 1,200 Citizens Apply for Virginia Redistricting Commission

The application window for citizens to apply for the Virginia Redistricting Commission closed on Monday and a final tally from the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP) showed that 1,238 Virginians are interested in serving on the extremely important and influential panel.

Just two weeks ago, however, only 88 citizens had applied for the commission since November 30 and Virginia Division of Legislative Services (DLS) Director Amigo Wade said they received 600-650 applications during the final days before the deadline.

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Richmond, Virginia to Start Accepting Proposals for Resort Casinos, Releases Expectation Document

With the release of the Request for Qualifications/Proposals (RFQ/P) document, Richmond can now begin accepting submissions from established operators to build a resort casino in Virginia’s capital city.

Monday’s release of the RFQ/P marks the official start of the months-long competitive process to potentially bring a resort casino to Richmond in the coming years. The document outlines what the city expects from a proposal.

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Senator Mark Obenshain Still Wants More Transparency from Virginia Parole Board

When the Virginia Senate convenes next month in Richmond for its 2021 regular session, Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham) will continue to push legislation that brings greater transparency and accountability to the state parole board.

With 14 days left until the session starts on January 13, Obenshain has already pre-filed two bills this month relating to the parole board.

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Issue of Paid Sick Leave Returning to Virginia General Assembly in 2021

The debate over whether or not businesses should be required to provide eligible employees with paid sick leave will again be taken up by the Virginia General Assembly when it convenes for its regular session on January 13th.

After multiple bills calling for paid sick leave were killed by a Senate committee during this past summer’s special session, those same lawmakers are once again intending to offer legislation on the issue.

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More Than 40,000 Virginians Have Received COVID-19 Vaccines So Far

Roughly 41,709 Virginians have received first doses of the COVID-19 vaccines so far, according to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), as the state continues its efforts to reach herd immunity and put an end to the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, the VDH launched the COVID-19 vaccine data dashboard, which will be updated daily to keep the public informed about the number of vaccines distributed and administered as well as the demographics of recipients.

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Delegate Mark Levine Announces Run for Lieutenant Governor in 2021

Virginia State Delegate Mark Levine (D-Arlington) announced last Monday that he was officially running for lieutenant governor and joining the crowded contest.

Levine, 54, is the 12th contender to enter into the race so far and, if elected, he would become Virginia’s first openly gay statewide elected official. 

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Delegate Hala Ayala Hopes to Bridge the Divide Between Politicians and the People in Virginia as Lieutenant Governor

Virginia Delegate Hala Ayala (D-Prince William) wants to be a bridge between lawmakers and Virginians throughout the Commonwealth and offer a new perspective in state politics if her bid to become the next lieutenant governor is successful. 

Ayala, 47, entered Virginia’s 2021 lieutenant gubernatorial election on July 14th, and was one of the first candidates to enter into the race that now features a dozen Democratic and Republican hopefuls. 

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Favorite Christmas Songs by State

Christmas Day has finally arrived and although many people’s plans may look quite different this year, there is one thing about the holiday season that can never be changed: catchy, calming and irresistible Christmas songs.

Whether a person listens to Christmas music all 365 days of the year or only starts once winter has set in, almost everybody has a favorite jingle that inevitably gets played more often around the holidays.

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Virginia Beach Public Schools Postpones Decision on Winter Sports Season

The Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) postponed its decision Tuesday on whether to cancel the divisions’ high school winter sports season this year because of current COVID-19 data of the area.

Last week, Virginia Beach Superintendent Aaron Spence wrote in a letter to families that if either the percent positivity or the 7-day daily average of cases – two indicators used in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s K-12 School Metrics – does not improve to the “yellow range” by Tuesday, the winter sports season would be cancelled.

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140,000 Doses of Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Arrive in Virginia

Roughly 140,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are expected to arrive in Virginia on Wednesday after the state had initially placed an order with the company last week, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) said in a news release.

Shipments of Moderna’s vaccine, approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration on Friday, as well as Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine are being delivered to healthcare facilities and health departments across the Commonwealth this week. The two vaccines are going to 96 “geographically diverse locations” in the state, according to the release.

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Virginia Senate Democrats’ Top Agendas for Upcoming Legislative Session

The Virginia General Assembly 2021 regular session is right around the corner on January 13 and the Democrats will again be calling all the shots for the legislature thanks to their majority in both the Senate and the House of Delegates.

This means that the agendas and priorities of Democrats in the Senate – as well as their counterparts in the House – have quite a good chance of passing through each chamber if broadly supported. Yet, what exactly are Senate Democrats focusing on?

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Arlington, Virginia Students Receiving More Failing Grades During Pandemic Than Before

Secondary students attending Arlington Public Schools (APS) are earning more failing grades during the coronavirus pandemic than in previous years, new data shows, further highlighting the negative impact virtual learning can have on certain students.

The data was presented in an internal report released online on Thursday that compared APS middle school and high school student’s quarter one grades from 2020-21 to quarter one grades from 2018-19 and 2019-20.

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CVS Begins Effort to Administer COVID-19 Vaccinations

CVS announced Monday that it has formally launched its program to administer COVID-19 vaccines to residents and staff of long-term care facilities and will begin its efforts in Virginia on December 28th, according to a press release. 

The company said that its teams will start administering doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this week across 12 states – including Ohio, Connecticut, Florida and Oregon, among others – and expects to vaccinate a total of four million residents and staff at over 40,000 long-term care facilities through the program. 

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Virginia’s Robert E. Lee Statue Removed from U.S. Capitol

Virginia’s statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee was removed from its place in the National Statuary Hall of the United States Capitol by a crew of workers overnight.

Every state is allowed to have two statues on display in the hall and Lee has stood along with President George Washington as representatives of the Commonwealth since 1909.

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Republican State Senator Emmett Hanger Still Seriously Considering a Bid for Governor

As the 2021 elections inch closer and begin to dominate almost all political talk in the Commonwealth, Sen. Emmett Hanger (R-Augusta) is still exploring a potential run to become the 74th governor of Virginia.

Hanger, 72, recently discussed the gubernatorial election and the difficulty of securing the GOP nomination in an interview with The Virginia Star. 

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Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring Launches Reelection Bid for Third Term

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) formally launched his re-election bid for a third term as the Commonwealth’s top lawyer last week.

Herring, 59, officially announced his campaign for the 2021 race through a video on Twitter where he described himself as “the people’s lawyer” and highlighted several legal wins while in office.

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Virginia to Receive Over 100,000 Fewer COVID-19 Vaccine Doses Than Anticipated

Virginia is now expected to receive just under 110,000 fewer COVID-19 vaccine doses from the federal government than originally anticipated.

Operation Warp Speed, the government’s vaccination program, informed the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) late Thursday night, and now the state is preparing to get 370,650 vaccine doses by the end of December instead of the initial 480,000 projection, according to a press release.

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Governor Northam Outlines Budget Recommendations with Focuses on COVID-19, Education

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam unveiled his recommendations for the biennial budget on Wednesday with big spending toward the state’s continued response to the COVID-19 pandemic, public education and other items.

The governor presented his budget proposals to lawmakers during a joint virtual meeting of the House of Delegates and Senate appropriation committees.

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Virginia Republicans Blast Northam’s Budget Proposal to Expand Court of Appeals

After Governor Ralph Northam made a number of proposals to the state’s biennial budget on Wednesday, several Republican legislators rebuked the Democrat’s recommendation to expand the Virginia Court of Appeals and claimed he was trying to pack the court.

Northam presented his budget proposals during a virtual meeting with the House of Delegates and Senate appropriation committees.

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Virginia Undocumented Immigrants Allowed to Legally Drive in 2021 Under New Law

Beginning January 2nd, 2021, undocumented immigrants living in Virginia will be able to apply for official driving credentials, called a driver privilege card, with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), allowing non-citizens to lawfully drive within the Commonwealth for the first time.

The change in the state code stems from legislation the Democratic-controlled General Assembly passed earlier this year during the 2020 regular session and signed into law by Governor Ralph Northam.

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Princess Blanding Slams Virginia Governor, Legislators Over Marcus Alert Bill

Princess Blanding, the sister of Marcus-David Peters who was shot and killed by Richmond Police during a mental health crisis, blasted Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and Democratic lawmakers over legislation named after her brother during the bill signing ceremony on Tuesday.

In attendance alongside Northam were the three legislative sponsors of the bill: Senators Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond City) and Jeremy McPike (D-Prince William) and Delegate Jeff Boure (D-Richmond City).

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Richmond City Council Votes to Rename Jefferson Davis Highway

Following a summer of racial tension and civil unrest in Virginia’s capital, the City of Richmond is continuing its efforts to remove or change public honors related to the Confederacy. 

On Monday night, the Richmond City Council voted to adopt an ordinance renaming a portion of the Jefferson Davis Highway, otherwise known as U.S. Route 1, to the Richmond Highway. 

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Virginia Hospitals Receive First Shipments of COVID-19 Vaccine

The coronavirus vaccine has finally arrived in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Several hospitals in Virginia received initial shipments of the newly approved Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine this week, kicking off the state’s months-long plan for mass vaccinations and finally signaling a potential end to the pandemic.

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Candi King Wins Democratic Nomination for Virginia’s 2nd House District, Will Face Republican Mitchell in Special Election

Community leader Candi King won the Democratic nomination for the Virginia House of Delegates 2nd District on Sunday and will square off against GOP nominee Heather Mitchell in the January 5 special election.

King, who lives in Prince William County with her family, defeated four other candidates – Pamela Montgomery, Keisha Francis, Nyesha Wilson and Rozia Henson – in the firehouse primary, securing 380 out of 867 votes or 43.83 percent, according to the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP).

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Virginia’s Power Dems Line Up Behind McAuliffe

Now that the 2020 elections are over and the field for Virginia’s 2021 gubernatorial election has taken shape, it is the prime time for candidates to receive endorsements from former and current politicians, community leaders and other elected officials.

For some of the Democratic candidates, endorsements seem to be occurring every other day.

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Central Virginia Law Enforcement Agencies Won’t Pull Over Cars Violating New Curfew

Several law enforcement agencies in Central Virginia as well as the Virginia State Police say they will not be pulling over drivers as a method of enforcing Governor Ralph Northam’s new midnight to 5 a.m. statewide curfew.

“We will NOT be conducting traffic stops on people otherwise lawfully operating a motor vehicle during these times,” Chesterfield County Police Chief Colonel Jeffrey S. Katz wrote on Facebook. “The law requires officers to have reasonable suspicion to stop a driver. There are completely lawful reasons for people to be out and about during these times and therefore mere operation of a motor vehicle does not remotely meet the legal burden necessary to justify a lawful stop.”

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Breakdown of Citizen Applicants for Virginia Redistricting Commission

The application window to become one of eight citizen members on the new Virginia Redistricting Commission has reached the halfway point and a demographic breakdown of applicants to date from the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP) reveals some interesting trends.

VPAP’s visual breakdown of applicants’ demographic makeup features things like race, gender, age, party affiliation and more.

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Virginia High School League: Athletes Advised to Wear Masks During Competitions

The Virginia High School League (VHSL) is requiring participating schools to follow health recommendations from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) that strongly advise student-athletes to wear masks at all times while on the sidelines as well as during practices and games, the league said Thursday.

In a press release emailed to media outlets, VHSL Executive Director John “Billy” Haun announced the decision to adhere to the state health department.

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Falls Church City School Board in Virginia Votes to Rename George Mason High and Thomas Jefferson Elementary

The Falls Church City School Board voted to change the names of local schools George Mason High and Thomas Jefferson Elementary on Tuesday night.

The seven-member board was unanimous in its decision to rename and each member offered remarks during the virtual meeting to explain their reasoning or opinion.

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Virginia Teachers Union Calls for Statewide Virtual Instruction Until Mid-January

The Virginia Education Association (VEA) is calling for all public schools in the Commonwealth to switch to virtual instruction for the next month because of the recent rise in COVID-19 numbers throughout the state. 

VEA President Dr. James Fedderman issued the statement online Thursday. 

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Holding a Phone While Driving Will be Illegal in Virginia Come January

Virginia drivers who like to use their phone while behind the wheel will need to break that dangerous habit once the new year begins or be ready to cough up money.

Thanks to legislation passed by the General Assembly last spring, starting January 1st it will be illegal to hold a phone while driving in the Commonwealth.

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Northam Imposes Curfew, New Mask Requirement, Updated Gathering Limits for Virginia

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued increased statewide restrictions during a press briefing Thursday afternoon to combat rising coronavirus numbers in the Commonwealth as the Christmas holiday approaches.

Starting at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, December 14th, a modified stay-at-home order will be in place with a curfew for all Virginians from midnight to 5 a.m. The only exceptions are getting food and goods, seeking medical attention as well as traveling to and from work.

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Terry McAuliffe to Run for Second Term as Virginia Governor

Former Governor Terry McAuliffe officially entered Virginia’s 2021 gubernatorial election on Wednesday after months of educated speculation that the long-time Democrat would throw his name into the contest and seek another four years in the Executive Mansion.

McAuliffe, 63, made the announcement during a press conference in front of Miles Jerome Jones Elementary School in Richmond’s southside that was streamed live to his Facebook page.

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Virginia State Senator Sues Democratic Leaders Over Public Access to Office Building

Republican Senator Bill DeSteph (R-Virginia Beach) is suing Democratic legislative leaders over plans to restrict the public’s access to the Pocahontas Building during the upcoming regular session due to a rise in COVID-19 numbers.

On Tuesday, DeSteph filed a complaint in Richmond Circuit Court against Speaker of the House Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax County), Senate Rules Committee Chair Mamie Locke (D-Hampton), both the clerk of the House and the Senate as well as the Virginia Division of Capitol Police.

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Heather Mitchell Is Running for the Virginia House of Delegates’ Second District Seat in Special Election

Following Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (D-Prince William) resignation from the legislature, Northern Virginia resident Heather Mitchell is running as a Republican candidate in the upcoming special election for the House of Delegates 2nd District.

After Rich Anderson, Republican Party of Virginia Chairman, said multiple people were considering runs for the seat, Mitchell confirmed her bid in an interview with The Virginia Star.

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Virginia Department of Health Adopts CDC Quarantine Guidelines

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced Tuesday that it is adopting newly revised COVID-19 quarantine guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that were released earlier this month.

VDH and the CDC recommends people who test positive for coronavirus or may have been exposed to quarantine for a full 14 days, but the new guidelines have two additional alternatives for a shorter length of isolation.

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No In-Person Classes in Virginia’s Capital: Richmond Public Schools to Remain Virtual for Spring Semester

Richmond Public Schools (RPS) will continue with virtual learning only for the rest of the 2020-21 academic year.

During a Monday night meeting, the RPS School Board voted 8-1 to keep students away from the classroom for another several months after Superintendent Jason Kamras gave a presentation and recommended the school district remain virtual.

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Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy Stepping Down from House to Focus on Run for Virginia Governor

Virginia State Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy (D-Prince William) said Tuesday that she was stepping down from her position in the House of Delegates to focus on securing the Democratic nomination for the 2021 gubernatorial election.

Carroll Foy, one of several Democratic candidates for governor, announced the decision in a video posted to social media.

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Blacksburg Council Considering Ordinance to Ban Carrying of Firearms in Certain Locations

The Blacksburg Town Council will consider passing a proposed ordinance that bans the carrying of firearms on town property as well as in public spaces when being used for or next to a permitted event.

Localities in the Commonwealth are now allowed to take such action after the General Assembly passed legislation during the 2020 regular session last spring and took effect in July. 

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Chase Follows Through on Promise, Will Run for Virginia Governor as an Independent

Virginia State Senator Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) is now planning to run for governor in the 2021 election as an independent candidate. 

The decision comes after the Republican Party of Virginia State Central Committee voted 41-28 on Saturday to hold a convention instead of a primary to nominate the party’s candidates for the 2021 races, according to previous reporting from The Virginia Star.

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Department of Health: Virginia to Receive 480,000 Vaccine Doses by End of December

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced on Friday that the Commonwealth is preparing to receive 480,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of December based on new information from the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed.  

As Governor Ralph Northam noted during a coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted last week to officially recommend healthcare personnel and long-term care facility residents as top priority for vaccination.

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Elizabeth Guzman Says She Will Bring a Progressive Voice to the Senate as Virginia Lieutenant Governor

State Delegate Elizabeth Guzman (D-Prince William) is determined to bring a fresh progressive voice to the Democratic-controlled Virginia Senate and advocate for the Commonwealth’s working class if elected as lieutenant governor next November.

Guzman, who has represented the 31st House of Delegates District since 2018, announced her campaign for the 2021 Virginia lieutenant gubernatorial election at the beginning of October.

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