On November 13, 2020, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that Prince William County will be awarded $94,489,915 in federal funding for public transit. The funding was authorized by the Federal Transit Authority (FTA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act supported by Sens. Warner and Kaine, and will support operating, administrative, capital, and preventive maintenance costs for Virginia Railway Express (VRE), Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission (PRTC), and Fredericksburg Regional Transit (FRED).
“We’re pleased to announce this funding to ensure Virginians can continue to rely on safe and reliable public transportation during this ongoing health and economic crisis,” said the Senators. “And as we’ve seen COVID-19 cases gradually increase across the country and in the Commonwealth, these funds will help ensure that our essential workers can continue to get to and from work as safely as possible.”
Through the CARES Act, Congress provided $25 billion for transit agencies to help prevent, prepare, and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Prince William County received its funding under the FTA’s Urbanized Area Formula Program, which makes federal resources available to urbanized areas and to governors for transit capital and operating assistance in urbanized areas and for transportation-related planning.
Maryland Governor Hogan details further efforts to fight pandemic surge
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — “This virus is spiking out of control,” Gov. Larry Hogan, R, said during announcements Tuesday restricting visitations to hospitals and nursing homes and ordering 10 p.m. closing times for restaurants and bars, all in an effort to tackle an ongoing COVID-19 surge.
“We are very concerned that hospitals in western Maryland are already at capacity,” Hogan added, citing rising rates of positivity and hospitalizations, most significantly in rural areas.
In response, Hogan issued a new emergency order, effective Friday at 5 p.m., closing bars and restaurants at 10 p.m., limiting the capacity for retail and religious spaces to 50%, prohibiting fans at racetracks and stadiums, and implementing new hospital surge management rules.
New surge rules include restricting hospital visitations to end-of-life care, obstetrics, guardians of minors, and support for people with disabilities, patient transfer from hospitals at or near capacity, guidance to avoid elective procedures that may require ventilation, ICU or nursing facility care.
Nursing home visits were also limited to compassionate care with visitors being required to have
proof of a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours prior to their visit. This is in addition to mandatory twice-weekly testing for nursing home staff and mandatory weekly testing for residents.
These restrictions are in addition to previous indoor dining reductions from 75% to 50%, mandatory telework implementation for state employees, and out-of-state travel advisories, all announced on Nov. 11.
Dr. Thomas Scalea, the physician-in-chief of the Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center, spoke further on the plan for hospitals near or at capacity to more easily transfer patients to available hospitals when necessary.
“Now a single phone call will give (providers) access to the appropriate level of critical care services,” Scalea said.
As of Tuesday, the Maryland Department of Health reported nearly 170,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, over 1,000 hospitalizations, and over 4,000 deaths.
Scalea and Hogan noted lessons learned during the first surge beginning in March that is now saving lives.
“I can’t remember learning this much, this fast about a disease. That doesn’t mean everybody lives though,” Scalea cautioned. “They’re not universally successful. We’d be really happy to (use these lessons) less often.”
Hogan also was cautiously optimistic about the state seeing fewer deaths from the disease than during the early stages of the pandemic.
However, he stated that while the first wave affected mostly suburban areas, this current surge is hitting western Maryland particularly hard, especially Allegany and Garrett counties.
“Certain people there had a false sense of security,” Hogan said, referring to the western counties where cases are spiking. “Maybe they weren’t being as careful and not wearing masks. Now they’re calling us, begging for help, and we’re sending strike teams and moving patients out of their crowded hospitals.”
He stated another problem is with contact tracing compliance. Many refuse to give information to tracers regarding possible COVID-19 exposure.
“A little more than half, if we contact them, they don’t want to participate,” Hogan said. “We have to get the word out for people to participate.”
But one area of critical success has been with the state’s electronic exposure notification system.
MD COVID Alert is a mobile phone app designed to assist contact tracing efforts and help limit the community spread of the disease by alerting users to possible virus exposure.
The app was launched on Nov. 10, and Hogan stated almost a million Marylanders have already signed up for the system.
“The battle’s not getting any easier,” he said. “But we have more weapons and more soldiers on the field, and we’re in a better position to fight back.”
By Philip Van Slooten
Capital News Service
People Inc. now accepting nominations for the Garland Thayer and Henderson Awards
Nominations are now being accepted for People Incorporated’s Garland Thayer Award and Henderson Award. The awards recognize outstanding achievements by community leaders, advocates and volunteers in the agency’s service area.
“People Inc.’s work would not be possible without the dedication and commitment of community members across our 16 city and county service area,” said People Inc. President and CEO Rob Goldsmith. “I look forward to recognizing the achievements of groups and individuals who work to provide opportunities for economically disadvantaged people to improve their lives, families and communities.”
The Garland Thayer Award is presented to individuals who have made a significant contribution to benefit low-income people through their employment or paid position with an organization. Previous recipients have founded new organizations, new programs or new services that align with the agency’s mission. The award is named for People Inc.’s founding Executive Director, Garland Thayer.
The Henderson Award recognizes the remarkable achievements of a volunteer or group of volunteers who have made lasting and significant contributions to benefit economically disadvantaged communities. The award is named in honor of Fount and Thelma Henderson, who worked as tireless advocates alongside Garland Thayer to mobilize community support for People Inc.’s mission. Fount Henderson also served as the agency’s founding Board of Directors Chairperson.
People Inc. was founded in 1964 as a community action agency in the rural community of Hayter’s Gap in Washington County. The agency has been committed to moving communities into the economic mainstream for 56 years.
LFCC gearing up to open its spring enrollment in early November
Prepare to close the book on 2020 by enrolling in LFCC’s spring semester classes starting next week. The college’s schedule is now online at www.lfcc.edu/schedule, and current students can enroll starting Monday, Nov. 2. New student enrollment begins Monday, Nov. 9.
The first 100 current students and the first 100 new students to enroll in spring classes will be entered into a drawing to win $200, $100, $50 and $25 gift cards to the LFCC Bookstore.
Current students should ensure they have enrolled for spring by Nov. 30. They should schedule an appointment with their advisor to meet online, or via email or phone.
New students can complete their entire orientation and advising from the comfort and safety of their own homes. The start dates for spring classes are Jan. 19, Feb. 1 and March 15. Take your first step by visiting www.lfcc.edu/enroll.
“In the spring, we have designed three modalities that we hope will give you the flexibility, the convenience and the types of options that you need depending on your home situation and your work situation,” LFCC Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs Anne Davis said.
Courses will be available in one of three formats: online with no set meeting times, online live with set meeting times, and hybrid with both in-person and online classes. Online live classes are often referred to as synchronous because the instructor meets virtually with students at scheduled meeting times each week. Online classes with no set meeting times are referred to as asynchronous.
“Even with the asynchronous times, you still have access to your professor and you still have ways to connect in real time,” said Dr. Davis.
Learn more about the enrollment process at lfcc.edu/spring2021.
Fauquier Health welcomes new OB/GYN provider, Dr. Elise Diamond
Fauquier Health announced today that Elise Diamond, MD, MPH, has joined its staff and will be offering obstetrics and gynecology services to the residents of Fauquier and surrounding counties. Dr. Diamond will join Dr. Barry Aron and Nurse Midwife, Monica Freidline, at the Fauquier Health OB/GYN clinic located at 253 Veterans Drive, Suite 210, in Warrenton, Virginia.
Dr. Diamond graduated from the University of South Florida – Morsani College of Medicine in Tampa, Florida in 2016. Prior to that she worked in public health and clinical research for several years. She recently completed her residency training at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, Georgetown University in Washington, DC.
Chad Melton, CEO of Fauquier Health, commented, “We understand the need to provide full spectrum care to women of all ages and are beyond excited to welcome Dr. Diamond as our newest OB/GYN provider. Dr. Diamond will have a strong focus on labor and delivery, high risk pregnancy and minimally-invasive gynecological surgery. I know she will be a great asset to our growing clinic.”
Dr. Diamond is accepting appointments now and will begin seeing patients starting on November 1, 2020 at the Fauquier Health OB/GYN office at 253 Veterans Lane, Warrenton, Virginia. To schedule an appointment today, please call 540.316.5930. For additional details, please visit Find a Provider on FauquierHealth.org or FHDoctors.org.
About Fauquier Health
Fauquier Health is a community health system dedicated to high-quality, patient-centered care in a unique environment that considers the multiple facets of healing and respects the individuality of each and every patient. Located at 500 Hospital Drive in Warrenton, Virginia, Fauquier Health serves the residents of Fauquier and several surrounding counties. It comprises: Fauquier Hospital, a fully-accredited, 97-bed hospital; Fauquier Health Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, a 113-bed long-term care and rehabilitation facility; the Villa at Suffield Meadows, an assisted living facility; the Wound Health Center and a medically supervised Wellness Center offering health and wellness programs. Fauquier Health also operates nine physician’s offices, including primary care and specialties. More information on Fauquier Health is available online at FauquierHealth.org or by calling (540) 316-5000.
Recent opioid overdoses linked to deadly fentanyl pills disguised as prescription medication
The Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force and partnering law enforcement agencies are warning the public about recent fatal and non-fatal overdoses connected to the deadly drug, fentanyl. The Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force is educating the public about a growing trend in our region that is consistent with other parts of the country. A recent increase in opioid related overdoses is likely the result of fentanyl laced pills disguised as prescription medication. These pills are deceiving and are often stamped, shaped, and colored like an ordinary prescription pill. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 50-100 times more potent than morphine. Two milligrams of fentanyl is potentially deadly for the average person. Law enforcement and first responders dispatched to fentanyl related overdoses are administering multiple doses of naloxone in order to revive the victim. Naloxone is a medication used to counteract the effects of an opioid overdose.
In 2018, the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force reported a 45% decrease in fatal overdoses, and a 20% decrease in non-fatal overdoses in our region. The increasing presence of fentanyl in 2019 lead to a 27% increase in fatal opioid overdoses, while non-fatal overdoses remained relatively the same. This year, the Northern Shenandoah Valley has experienced a 64% increase in fatal opioid related overdoses, and a 17% increase in non-fatal opioid related overdoses compared to last year.
The Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force would like the public to be aware of this emerging trend. Do not accept or consume prescription medication unless provided by a physician or pharmacist.
The Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force is comprised of law enforcement personnel from Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah and Warren County Sheriff’s Departments, Front Royal, Luray, Strasburg, and Winchester Police Departments and the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Culpeper Field Office.
Texas man sentenced on cyberstalking, making interstate threats
Editor’s note: this case relates to the spring of 2018 death of Apple Mountain 16-year-old Sarah Rose Genari, which was ruled a suicide. As previously reported, O’Dell had bragged online of being responsible for the girl’s death and then began threatening her family members under assumed social media aliases. Related Article
HARRISONBURG, VIRGINIA – Adrian Raul O’Dell, an Odessa, Texas man, who had an online relationship with a juvenile female in the Western District of Virginia and later cyberstalked and made online threats to the girl’s family following her suicide, was sentenced today to 41 months in federal prison. Acting United States Attorney Daniel P. Bubar and David W. Archey, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Division made the announcement today.
O’Dell, 20, was charged in October of 2019 and arrested the following month at his home in Texas. He pleaded guilty earlier this year to two counts of cyberstalking and one count of making interstate threats.
“In today’s increasingly virtual world, where we live, work and learn online, this sentence demonstrates that if anyone uses these platforms to cyberstalk, harass and threaten others, we will hold them accountable,” Acting United States Attorney Bubar said today. “The FBI and Warren County Sheriff’s Office did an outstanding job in finding Mr. O’Dell and bringing him to justice in Virginia for his abhorrent actions. My office sends its deepest condolences to the family in this case, who lost a loved one, and hope they find some solace knowing justice was served.”
“The FBI is fully committed to investigating all forms of child exploitation, cyberstalking and online threats. We will pursue those responsible and bring them to justice,” said Special Agent in Charge David W. Archey. “Our hearts and thoughts are with the family through these difficult times.”
According to court documents, between September 2017 and around March 2018, O’Dell had an online relationship with a 16-year-old girl who lived in Linden, Virginia. In May 2018, following an investigation by the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, it was determined that the girl died by suicide in a wooded area near her home.
From June 2018 through June 2019, O’Dell, using a variety of false email and online personas, took credit for her suicide. The defendant then sent threatening and intimidating messages to her family members and friends that placed them in reasonable fear of death and serious bodily harm. In addition, these messages attempted to cause friends and family members substantial emotional distress. The defendant sent certain of these messages in violation of a protective order.
The investigation of the case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Warren County Sherriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Kate Rumsey is prosecuting the case for the United States.