Good morning, RVA: 1537 • 107; software is hard; and casino engagement

Good morning, RVA! It’s 42 °F, and the excellent weather continues. Today you can expect highs in the mid 70s! Whaaaaat! I spent several hours yesterday working outside in the sunshine, and I feel recharged and ready to do it again today.

Water cooler

As of this morning, the Virginia Department of Health reports 1,537 new positive cases of the coronavirus in the Commonwealth and 107 new deaths as a result of the virus. VDH reports 201 new cases in and around Richmond (Chesterfield: 90, Henrico: 68, and Richmond: 43). Since this pandemic began, 1,129 people have died in the Richmond region. The Governor did a bit of a victory-lap press conference yesterday on reopening schools to in-person learning. Mel Leonor at the Richmond Times-Dispatch has the details, including: “the number of school districts offering only virtual learning [across the state] has decreased from a couple of dozen at the start of the year to fewer than 12.”

Also, buried near the bottom of the aforelinked article is the first mention I’ve seen locally of a timeline for vaccinating children—the Governor said vaccine trials for kids won’t wrap up until “late this year.” This is something I’ve been wondering about but haven’t spent time looking into. “Late this year” seems like a long time from now. Newly energized (probably from sitting in the sun yesterday), I started poking around on the internet a bit and found out you can just sign your tiny human up for a Pfizer clinical trial! Wild!

Kate Masters at the Virginia Mercury reports that the Virginia Department of Health may abandon PrepMod, the vaccine appointment scheduling, tracking, reporting, do-everything software. From the piece: “Dr. Danny Avula, the state’s vaccine coordinator, said PrepMod’s developers have been unable to fix recurring problems with the system, which have left it unworkable for many local health departments. State leaders have openly acknowledged those challenges since mid-February, when Avula announced they had given the company a deadline of Feb. 24 to address the issues. As of Tuesday, no solution had been offered for the system, which the state began to unroll on Jan. 21.” Locally, the Richmond and Henrico Health Districts have moved back to using VAMS, which has its own issues—some of which of have been fixed, though. Software is hard!


Yesterday, the City held one of two citywide virtual meetings on the “Process & Precedents” of the resort casino, and I need to apologize for not writing about it. I guess I failed to put it on my “cool and interesting things going on” calendar and totally forgot—big fail! Today, though, the City will host the same meeting again, but it’s at 12:00 PM. If you’ve got time, you can join the Microsoft Teams call here. Additionally, they’ve posted three questionnaires on the resort casino website for folks to comment on (using the same system/software as they did to collect feedback on the Equity Agenda). The questionnaires are very much written from the pro-casino perspective, which is fine given the Mayor’s administration is supportive of putting some sort of casino somewhere in the city. I do think that some of the stated community benefits and funding benefits are either unclear or aspirational—and folks should be aware of that while leaving their comments. For example, I think “stimulates additional development” is aspirational. The entire point of a casino is to suck people in and never let them out back into the neighborhood where they could enjoy shops, parks, and other neighborhoody-stuff. Maybe stimulates additional development of parking lots and highway off ramps? Anyway, as you did for the Equity Agenda, take six minutes today and leave some comments or questions on these three documents. I think the next step in this process is on March 23rd, when the City will release video(s) about the proposals.

The disparity between Richmond and Henrico feels on full display in this article about the County’s budget by the RTD’s Jessica Nocera. The County Manager introduced a budget that’s 9.4% bigger than last year’s and, like the City’s, includes a focus on increasing pay for government workers. It just seems like an embarrassment of riches over there—and it doesn’t even include any funds the County will end up with as a result of Biden’s American Rescue Plan.

Today, also in the RTD, Michael Paul Williams writes about the dorm-naming situation at the University of Richmond and the effort led by Black students to remove the names of racists from their campus buildings entirely. Let me quote three great sentences from MPW: “Naming a building for someone is an expression of veneration and endorsement. But the Black freedom fighter is not ennobled by a pairing with a white supremacist; the enslaved dream the opposite of attachment to the enslaver…UR’s plan places undue burden on Black students who already are struggling at an institution that only in recent years embraced diversity.”

This morning’s longread

Meet the NFL linebacker turning his love of Magic: The Gathering into a business

Totally unrelated to anything, but this is charming.

You could draw a comparison to deck building and watching film. You build a deck, you try it out, you play it against other decks, and you get your final product. When you start a week of practice, you watch film on your day off, you study how they played the week before, you study tendencies, you watch their play action, you start to develop game plan, and by the time you get to game day, you have a complete plan for how you want to attack the team. I think from a studying standpoint, it did help. It gave me the ability to sit down and organize my thoughts.

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