Update



Across Virginia

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According to the latest numbers released this morning by The Virginia Department of Health there are 264 new confirmed or probable coronavirus cases, 1 new death and 3 new hospitalizations being reported in the Roanoke Valley. 100 new cases, 1 new death in Roanoke City, 116 new cases and 1 new hospitalization in Roanoke County, 26 new cases and 1 new hospitalization in Salem. Health officials are also reporting 22 new cases and 1 new hospitalization in Botetourt County.

According to the latest numbers released this morning by The Virginia Department of Health there are 178 new confirmed or probable coronavirus cases, 4 new deaths and 4 new hospitalizations being reported in the Roanoke Valley. 87 new cases, 3 new deaths and 3 new hospitalizations in Roanoke City, 52 new cases, in Roanoke County, 23 new cases and 1 new death in Salem. Health officials are also reporting 16 new cases and 1 new hospitalization in Botetourt County.

According to the latest numbers released this morning by The Virginia Department of Health there are 198 new confirmed or probable coronavirus cases, 4 new deaths and 3 new hospitalizations being reported in the Roanoke Valley. 50 new cases, 3 new deaths and 1 new hospitalization in Roanoke City, 139 new cases, 1 new death and 2 new hospitalizations in Roanoke County, 1 new case in Salem. Health officials are also reporting 8 new cases and 1 new hospitalization in Botetourt County.

Statement from Roanoke College: Following receipt of a petition expressing concerns regarding the College’s handling of Title IX complaints, Roanoke College initiated an independent investigation in August. The College committed to a fair and independent investigation. We write today to share findings from the investigation and the actions the College will take based on the investigator’s report.

The investigation was led by third party investigator, Karen Michael, Esq. Ms. Michael had no other relationship with Roanoke College, and was given full autonomy to conduct a thorough and complete investigation. She began a process of inviting and conducting interviews, reviewing College processes and policies, and considering all matters outlined in the petition. Ms. Michael invited anyone with relevant information to participate and she interviewed students, parents, faculty, staff and alumni.

Unfortunately, the voluminous nature of the investigation did cause some delay in issuing findings, and for that we apologize. Our goal was for the investigation to be as thorough and complete as possible. For the survivors and others who shared their stories with the investigator, we are grateful that you stepped forward to participate. We are confident we have sufficient and reliable information to make positive changes at Roanoke College.

We learned that while Roanoke College’s Title IX written policy itself meets legal standards, aspects of its implementation did not meet the College’s expectations or standards for treatment of our students. Roanoke College strives to respect and support our community, especially in times of crisis. It is clear from the investigation results that greater emotional and practical support should have been offered to some victims. We acknowledge and deeply regret the pain of victims and others who were not provided the level of empathy and support they deserved. We acknowledge that a process that adds to the pain victims, and others around them, experience is far from the nurturing environment that Roanoke College aspires to be. For our shortcomings, we are sorry.

We are providing a summary of outcomes from the results of the investigation. In order to protect the confidentiality of those who were interviewed, the full investigatory results must remain private.

Our goal is to be among the best colleges for sexual assault prevention, education and for victim support and advocacy. We will create a supportive environment that will encourage reporting of sexual assault and other misconduct. We will improve our processes in order to enhance our ability to provide a safe environment for students, faculty and staff. Wherever barriers to receiving support exist, we will endeavor to remove them. We are committed to treating everyone fairly throughout the process.

The actions outlined below are based on a thorough review of the investigator’s report and final recommendations from the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of Roanoke College.

Leadership of the Dean of Students office has changed. Brian Chisom, Dean of Students, has resigned from Roanoke College. Tom Rambo, Associate Dean and Director of Campus Safety has been named interim Dean of Students. Tom Rambo will remain in this role until a Dean of Students is named.
Leadership of the baseball program has changed. Cam Cassady, Interim Head Baseball Coach is no longer with Roanoke College. A new head baseball coach will be named.
Aaron Fetrow will remain as interim Title IX coordinator, until a Title IX coordinator is named. The Title IX coordinator will work with Amy Perkins, Assistant Dean of Students and train staff and faculty on an ongoing basis.
Roanoke College will hire a dedicated victim advocate, someone who focuses on all matters of victim advocacy and discrimination at the College. Our goal is to have the position filled next year, 2021.
Roanoke College will use a third party to conduct regular campus climate surveys every three years, beginning in spring 2021. We will include benchmarks for improvement year after year.
A strong relationship with the local SARA (Sexual Assault Response and Awareness) organization was recommended. Roanoke College has a long-standing relationship with SARA, but the investigation found that this valuable resource was not being utilized to the extent possible. We will further promote the resources available through SARA (education, counseling and other support.)
Additionally, Roanoke College will:
Create easy, supportive and accessible ways for students, faculty and staff to report harassment, assault and similar issues, regardless of the outcome of any investigation involving responsibility (as required by Title IX.)
Work to allow complainants the option of either a male or female to take the initial reports.
Provide greater visibility for the training offered and held for students, faculty and staff in order to help them understand Title IX and related issues.
Ensure that all investigators, advocates, and adjudicators are fully trained and qualified.
Regularly review our Title IX processes. We will not assume because something is legally compliant that it is working for our students.
Hold open meetings for faculty, staff and students regarding Roanoke College’s Title IX processes and procedures. We will work to determine ways in which Roanoke College students, faculty and staff can ask anonymous questions regarding the matters that Title IX covers. An all-campus information session will be held early in the Spring 2021 semester.
Form an alumni advisory group of professionals in fields related to Title IX issues (attorneys, social workers, counselors, Title IX advocates, etc.) for the College to use as a consultative sounding board.
Distribute a formal Title IX report from the College to the broader Roanoke College community every three years.
Cases of sexual misconduct should be reported to one of the Title IX Coordinators who will coordinate the College’s investigation of all allegations.

For all survivors, and anyone who needs support regarding sexual misconduct or assault please reach out to the individuals listed below. Resources are available for questions, counsel and support.

According to the latest numbers released this morning by The Virginia Department of Health there are 186 new confirmed or probable coronavirus cases, 7 new deaths being reported in the Roanoke Valley. 82 new cases, and 5 new deaths in Roanoke City, 64 new cases and 1 new death in Roanoke County, 20 new cases and 1 new death in Salem and 20 new cases in Botetourt County.

According to the latest numbers released this morning by The Virginia Department of Health there are 17 new confirmed or probable coronavirus cases, 3 new deaths and 3 new hospitalizations in the Roanoke Valley. 12 new cases, 1 new hospitalization, and 1 new death in Roanoke City, 3 new cases and 1 new hospitalization in Roanoke County, 1 new case and 2 new deaths in Salem and 1 new case and 1 new hospitalization in Botetourt County. The 2,677 case count reported in Virginia today is due to a catch-up from the VDH data system being down for upgrades for a few hours over the weekend.

New statewide restrictions are in effect as of today in efforts to slow rising numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Governor Northam says it is important that Virginia gest ahead of the curve now, as WFIR’s Evan Jones, reports:

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Friday announced substantial new statewide restrictions on gatherings and certain businesses in an effort to slow rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

The state’s cap on gatherings will be reduced from 250 people to 25, the state’s mask requirement will be applied to younger children, the number of spectators allowed at athletic events will be reduced, and alcohol sales will be prohibited at dining and drinking establishments after 10 p.m., the Democratic governor’s office said in a news release. Those and other new restrictions will take effect Sunday at midnight.

“COVID-19 is surging across the country, and while cases are not rising in Virginia as rapidly as in some other states, I do not intend to wait until they are. We are acting now to prevent this health crisis from getting worse,” Northam, who is a physician, said in the release.

The gathering ban will apply to events such as weddings, but won’t impact schools or restaurant capacity, said Northam’s spokeswoman, Alena Yarmosky. Restaurants were already subject to capacity limits due to requirements that patrons remain socially distanced.

Under the new rules, all restaurants, breweries, wineries and other such establishments must close by midnight, and the on-site sale and consumption of alcohol is prohibited after 10 p.m. Virginia code does not distinguish between restaurants and bars.

Eric Terry, president of the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging and Travel Association, said the alcohol curfew would be tough on many restaurants

“These last-minute changes and notices are just devastating the industry,” he said.

The measures announced Friday will also strengthen the state’s ability to enforce compliance with measures such as mask-wearing and distancing in grocery stores, big-box retailers and other businesses deemed “essential.” Previously, those types of businesses were exempt from health department enforcement.

Nicole Riley, the Virginia state director for the National Federation of Independent Business, said essential retail stores have been doing all they can to follow the rules.

“We hope that the threat of criminal charges will be handled in a judicious way by authorities so that those who have acted in good faith aren’t unfairly penalized,” she said in a statement.

The mask requirement, which previously applied only to children 10 and older, now applies to children 5 and older, the governor’s release said.

The changes will also impact athletics.

Recreational, youth and high school sports will be limited to 25 spectators per field or 30% of venue’s occupancy load, whichever is smaller, Yarmosky said. The limit does not include participants.

College athletics, where the limits apply to both participants and spectators, will be limited to 250 people or 30% of the venue’s occupancy load, whichever is smaller, she said. College sports venues previously were allowed to have 1,000 people.

The new rules say religious services can surpass 25 people if a lengthy list of public health measures are followed, including cleaning and distancing.

The changes come as the coronavirus is surging across the U.S. at what experts say is an alarming pace. Newly confirmed infections per day in the U.S. are shattering records at nearly every turn, hitting more than 153,000 on Thursday and pushing the running total in the U.S. to about 10.5 million, with about a quarter-million deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Some school districts around the country are moving to halt in-person instruction, and other governors have tightened restrictions on gatherings and businesses.

Collectively, Virginia is faring better than many other states. There were 233 new cases per 100,000 people in Virginia over the past two weeks, which ranks 43rd in the country for new cases per capita, according to an Associated Press analysis of data from the COVID Tracking Project.

But over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases has increased by just over 392, an increase of 34%, according to AP’s analysis. One in every 787 people in Virginia tested positive in the past week.

Virginia has reported a total of more than 199,000 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and more than 3,700 confirmed and probable deaths. Those numbers could be higher due to unreported cases.

Northam ordered most non-essential businesses to close and issued a statewide stay-at-home order in March. He began easing statewide restrictions in May.

“Everyone is tired of this pandemic and restrictions on our lives,” Northam said Friday. “I’m tired, and I know you are tired, too. But as we saw earlier this year, these mitigation measures work.”

Photo: Virginia House GOP

A likely Republican candidate for Governor next year is criticizing Governor Northam’s latest COVID-19 restrictions that take effect midnight Sunday. Delegate Kirk Cox, a former Speaker of the House, says Northam’s announcement comes just days after saying he would not impose any new restrictions, and he did so late on a Friday afternoon without holding a news conference or answering questions. Cox called it a “ham-handed” announcement and a “serious failure to lead”.

NEWS RELEASE: COLONIAL HEIGHTS — Delegate Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) released the following statement on the new COVID-19 restrictions announced by Governor Ralph Northam via video late Friday afternoon.

“Late this afternoon, Governor Ralph Northam announced new COVID-19 restrictions. The Governor expanded his mask mandate and lowered the limit on in-person gatherings to 25 people.

“The Governor made this announcement just days after telling the public he would not impose any new restrictions in Virginia. And he did it late on a Friday afternoon without holding a press conference or answering any questions. At the time of his announcement, a copy of his new executive order was not even available for the public to review.

“This is exactly the kind of ham-handed announcement we’ve come to expect from this administration. Governor Northam seems to change his mind more than a kid in the candy aisle. It is yet another serious failure to lead at a time when Virginia desperately needs steady guidance.”

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