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VPM News Daily: March 27, 2020

Building facade
The Virginia Employment Commission in downtown Richmond. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)

During the coronavirus outbreak, VPM is running a daily newscast of our reporting, hosted by Benjamin Dolle. Episodes are recorded at 6 p.m. and released at 7 a.m. the next day.

In this episode:

  • Almost 47,000 Virginians filed for unemployment last week - a seventeen-fold increase over the previous week's filings. The state employment commission is increasing staff hours and encouraging people to file online - telephone hold time is over two hours.
  • VCU students were shocked to see their dorms converted into a temporary medical facility in a Facebook video: "I just think the fact that I found out from a leaked video on Facebook is really just gross." The university is expanding beds to prevent overcrowding in hospitals due to the pandemic.
  • To meet an increased need for hand sanitizer, Virginia distilleries are making their own - and donating it to first responders.
  • Families picking up meals at Richmond Public Schools food distribution sites this week were also able to get children's books, provided by the Read to Them program. The group partnered with the Children's Museum's book bank to "meet students where they are" while schools are closed.
  • Four employees of an upscale bowling alley say they were fired after refusing to work a crowded event due to coronavirus concerns. Even after Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney called on organizers to cancel large events, River City Roll held a St. Patrick's Day themed event - and asked their employees to sign waivers clearing the company of liability if they contracted COVID-19. Whittney Evans reports on the challenges workers and employers are facing during the crisis.

This episode was recorded at 6 p.m., on March 26.