Good morning, Historic Triangle!
It's hard to believe that November is already here, and we're gearing up for an action-packed Election Day featuring three statewide races that are still too close to call.
Fall is also in full swing, and we can expect to have chillier weather ahead as a cold front moves in, causing daytime highs to dip into the 50s for the majority of the week.
There's a lot going on this week - as usual - but The Triangle is breaking down the top local, state and national stories into a quick 5-minute read.
Let's get started.
The school is believed to be the oldest surviving building in America designed to educate enslaved and free Black children, according to a W&M news release.
William & Mary and Colonial Williamsburg announced the initiative during a ceremony on Friday, four months after the school's identity was verified. The two institutions are also developing a new joint research initiative intended to determine the history of the school and its students and lead to new interpretive programming.
A key element of the partnership will be the development of a new Bray School Lab, which will be dedicated to documenting the history of the school in order to "fully understand its complex legacy," the release said. The Foundation estimates that the school will be restored and open to the public for viewing by 2024 - a full 250 years after the school's closure.
The Bray School is set to become the 89th original structure on Colonial Williamsburg's campus. It will be located at the intersection of Francis and South Nassau streets, not far from the site of the First Baptist Church, one of the oldest Black churches in the country, the Virginia Gazette reports.
“This nondescript building that was hidden in plain sight for decades is taking The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and William & Mary in a new and exciting direction,” Cliff Fleet, president and CEO of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation said. "This important work will expand our understanding of 18th-century America and add to our body of knowledge about this important time in our nation’s history."
Families or community members in need of a turkey this year are asked to pre-register on the Williamsburg Pottery website. The first 200 people who register will also receive a free bottle of wine.
The James Maloney Foundation is supported entirely by the Williamsburg Pottery, which donates 1% of all of its sales to support the Foundation's philanthropic work, the release states.
To date, the Foundation has donated nearly $600,000 to support charitable initiatives in the Historic Triangle. Last year, it gave away 100,000 masks and 2,000 bottles of hand sanitizer to local residents to help stop the spread of Covid-19. The Foundation also awards scholarships in the amount of $2,500 to two high school seniors at each of the four high schools in WJCC, according to WYDaily.
Five people stood near a campaign event for Glenn Youngkin on Oct. 29 wearing garb associated with white supremacy and holding tiki torches. But it's now been revealed that those individuals weren't part of any white supremacist organization. Instead, they were sent by the Lincoln Project - a Political Action Committee (PAC) formed by former Republicans to oppose former President Trump and support the election of President Biden.
The PAC said in a statement the stunt was their way of "reminding Virginians what happened in Charlottesville four years ago, the Republican Party’s embrace of those values, and Glenn Youngkin’s failure to condemn it." The comment refers to the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville in 2017, during which a neo-Nazi activist drove into a crowd, killing one person and injuring dozens of others.
But the PAC's actions are drawing near-universal ire from across the political spectrum, both in Virginia and nationwide.
"I don’t care who claims responsibility for it. It was done by the Democrats. And that is absolutely beyond pale in Virginia," Youngkin said in a statement. "It’s not consistent with Virginia’s values — it’s not consistent with anyone’s values."
Terry McAuliffe's campaign manager likewise denounced the stunt. "What happened today in Charlottesville is disgusting and distasteful and the McAuliffe campaign condemns it in the strongest terms. Those involved should immediately apologize," Chris Bolling said in a Tweet.
The state's mental health workforce is already strained. This past summer, over half of all state-run psychiatric hospitals were forced to close to new admissions due to Covid-related staffing shortages, Virginia Mercury reports.
The problem is only expected to worsen further, given the spike in demand for mental health services during the pandemic. Additionally, many of the state's current workers are expecting to retire within the next decade or so. Among the already limited number of licensed psychiatrists in Virginia, more than 60 percent are at least 55 years old - and only about 40 people per year are becoming licensed psychiatrists in Virginia.
The shortage is impacting private practices as well as state and private hospitals, including children's hospitals. Over the summer, CHKD in Norfolk stated it had over 1,600 children on the waitlist for its mental health services.
“We specifically asked [providers] about the impact of the pandemic and they all said they were overwhelmed,” said Debbie Oswalt, executive director of the Virginia Health Care Foundation. “One psychologist told us he doesn’t even keep a waitlist anymore because what’s the point?”
The latest RealClear Politics poll shows Youngkin and McAullife still in a statistical tie, with McAullife polling at 47.3 and Youngkin pulling slightly ahead at 47.9. Those results mirror nearly every other major poll conducted in the past week, all of which show the two candidates locked in a dead heat.
Similarly, a new CNU Wason Center Survey released Oct. 27 shows a virtual tie between lieutenant governor candidates Winsome Sears (R) and Hala Ayala (D), with Ayala polling at 49% and Sears polling at 48%. Four percent of voters in that poll say they are still undecided.
The race between Attorney General Mark Herring (D) and Jason Miyares (R) is also a tossup, with Herring barely in the lead at 48% and Miyares at 47%, according to that same poll. Five percent of voters in that race are still undecided.
The Wason Center Survey also concluded that Republican likely voters are significantly more enthusiastic about the current election than Democratic likely voters, with 80% of Republicans saying they are "very enthusiastic" about the race and only 65% of Democrats saying the same.
On Sunday alone, more than 800 flights were canceled. The cancellations follow months of flight disruptions, which started more than a year and a half ago when Covid-19 led to huge numbers of staff cuts and shrinking ticket sales.
American Airlines isn't the only airline canceling large numbers of flights. Southwest Airlines also canceled over 2,000 flights earlier in October, and Spirit Airlines put a stop to hundreds of flights in a single day in August.
The debacle is leading to high levels of frustration among many travelers, some of whom posted rants on social media with photos showing long lines for rebooking flights. Some American Airlines workers say the shortage is due in part to the airline's vaccine mandate, which requires all staff to be vaccinated by Nov. 24 or risk losing their jobs.
American Airlines says it's working aggressively to solve the problem and is planning to bring on at least 600 new employees by the end of the year.
The development means 28 million U.S children will soon be eligible for the vaccine if the CDC signs off on the distribution of the shots.
Pfizer says the new vaccine for kids contains only a third of the dosage given to adults but is still 90% effective in preventing symptomatic infection.
Meanwhile, the FDA announced that it will delay making a decision on authorizing the Moderna vaccine for children 12-17 amid ongoing analyses to assess the risk of myocarditis - or inflammation of the heart - post-vaccination.
While Pfizer says its shot has been well-tolerated by children in trials, only about 34% of adults plan to get their 5-11-year-old child vaccinated right away, according to recent polling by Kaiser Family Foundation. The remaining parents reported that they plan to wait and see (32%) or have no plans to get their child vaccinated (31%).
In models developed by the FDA, the agency found that Pfizer's vaccine "would more frequently prevent COVID-related cases in children than cause 'excess myocarditis cases,'" CBS News reports.
However, the FDA also predicted that if cases were to fall back down to the lower levels seen earlier in the summer across the U.S, the country "might not see enough severe COVID-19 cases in children to outnumber the incidents of myocarditis or pericarditis." Nonetheless, efforts are still underway to gauge the long-term effects of Covid-19 infections in children, and the results of those studies may change the FDA's conclusions.
Daily Case Rate 🌡️: On Sunday, Oct. 31, Virginia recorded 1,551 new cases of Covid-19, according to VDH. That brings the total number of reported cases in the state to 181,190 since the pandemic started.
Hospitalizations 🚑: As of Sunday, Oct. 31, there were a total of 949 people hospitalized for Covid-19. 277 of those patients are in the ICU, and about one-fifth of those patients are on a ventilator.
Schools 🚌: According to the WJCC Schools Covid-19 dashboard, there are currently 166 students in quarantine, 45 of whom tested positive and are in isolation. Three staff members also tested positive and are in isolation. The York County Schools Covid-19 dashboard does not report quarantine information but shows that there are currently 13 active positive cases.
Vaccinations 💉: 62.9% of the state's population is currently vaccinated.
The child, Sam Sachs, was diagnosed with T-cell leukemia last year after experiencing an array of unsettling symptoms. He was taken to the Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters, where he endured a several-week stay, WKTR reports.
Sachs' diagnosis was further complicated by Covid-19, which made it difficult for him to see his family due to visitation restrictions. "I thought I was gonna die, and that's not fun," Sachs said.
When Sachs felt better, he began to walk through the halls of the hospital and noticed that many of the other children were battling their illnesses alone. So he started a fund, Sam's Warriors, to help families be able to stay together during extended hospital stays.
"There may be people that can't get paid time off, so I am planning to use that money for that money for babysitting and for gas for them," Sachs said. "It makes me feel really good - like I am helping people."
Third Annual Veterans Art Show - On the Hill Gallery in Yorktown. The shop will open with a reception for the artists and their friends, as well as the public, from 6-8 pm. Runs November 3-20; see website for additional details.
Christmas in Yorktown - Gallery at York Hall. Runs Tuesdays - Saturdays, 10 am - 4 pm, November 2 through the month of December.
Bike the Bridge - Starts at Jamestown Beach Event Park. 15, 25 and 50 mile routes available. This event is brought to the community by James City County Parks & Recreation and Iron-Bound Gym. 8 am - 1 pm. Check-in times vary based on the route chosen to encourage social distancing. See website for details.
Phil. 4:13 - Williamsburg Regional Library at 515 Scotland St. Community support event for grieving parents provided by the Krysany Foundation. 12:30-2:30 pm. Free.
Vintage Market - McReynolds Athletic Complex in Yorktown. Find vintage clothing, jewelry, furniture and more. 9 am - 3 pm. Free.
Stuff the Cruiser Thanksgiving Food Drive - Walmart Neighborhood Market in Williamsburg. Nonperishable food items will be accepted, and all items will be distributed to provide Thanksgiving dinners for those in need throughout James City County. 9 am-1 pm.
To Hang a Pirate - Charlton Stage E. Duke of Gloucester St. in Williamsburg. Special outdoor event. 7:30-8:30 pm. Not recommended for young children. $19 per ticket.