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VPM Daily Newscast: July 28, 2021

VPM's daily newscast contains all your Central Virginia news in just 5 to 10 minutes. Episodes are recorded the night before so you can wake up prepared.           

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Here’s a recap of the top stories on the morning of Wednesday, July 28, 2021: 

  • Governor Ralph Northam and top Democrats continue to roll out plans on how to spend more than $4 billion in stimulus money. But as Ben Paviour reports, Republican lawmakers say they’re being excluded from discussions on how the federal money should be spent. 

  • For the last month, advocates and lawmakers have visited schools throughout Virginia as part of the Crumbling Schools tour. On Tuesday, the group stopped by Petersburg. Alan Rodriguez Espinoza reports

  • Governor Ralph Northam announced plans on Monday to use federal funds to improve school ventilation systems, but experts and advocates say they want more flexibility with how that money is spent. Keith Perrigan is president of the Coalition of Small and Rural Schools. He says state funds could go to better use, since they’re not exclusive to pandemic-related needs. His organization is also calling on the federal government to push back its deadline for spending pandemic relief funds so schools have more time to determine their budget priorities. 

  • The Centers for Disease Control has changed course on its May mask guidance and is now recommending that adults continue wearing masks indoors in some cases, as well as kids in school. The change was sparked by new data about the highly contagious Delta variant that has been shown to infect some vaccinated people. Megan Pauly has details. 

  • On Monday, Richmond city council unanimously adopted a declaration calling racism a public health crisis. Richmond is following the lead of state lawmakers, and more than 200 other municipalities across the country, that have passed similar resolutions according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Richmond’s plan includes the implementation of new laws and policies, partnerships with community organizations, and anti-racism training for city officials and employees. The resolution does not include funding, but officials are hoping it will be a springboard for action and accountability. 

  • The Virginia Hospitals and Healthcare Association yesterday requested funding from the American Rescue Plan to expand capacity in private behavioral health facilities. The news comes weeks after more than half of state-run hospitals announced they would halt admissions. Patrick Larsen reports. 

  • Richmond City Council approved details for a proposed casino on Monday, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. If approved by voters in November, Urban One will be allowed to build a new luxury hotel and casino along I-95 in Richmond. City officials touted that the project will create over 1,000 new jobs and bring an expected $30 million in annual tax revenue to the area. But some local residents are skeptical about the project. A survey conducted by advocacy group Richmond for All found 45% of respondents were opposed to the project, and another 25% said they were still unsure. If approved, the Casino is expected to open by October of 2024.