News Journal

Saturday, June 6, 2020 • USPS 387-780 • • 75 cents Governor announces phase two guidelines to further ease public health restrictions; effective Friday, June 5 Virginia Governor Ralph Northam on Tuesday signed Execu- tive Order Sixty-Five and presented the second phase of the “Forward Virginia” plan to continue safely and gradually easing public health restrictions while containing the spread of COVID-19. The gover- nor also amended Executive Order Sixty-One directing Northern Vir- ginia and the City of Richmond to remain in Phase One. Most of Virginia entered Phase Two on Friday, June 5, as key state- wide health metrics continue to show positive signs. Virginia’s hos- pital bed capacity remains stable, the percentage of people hospital- ized with a positive or pending COVID-19 test is trending down- ward, no hospitals are reporting PPE shortages, and the percent of positive tests continues to trend downward as testing increases. The governor and Virginia public health officials will continue to evaluate data based on the indicators laid out in April. “Because of our collective ef- forts, Virginia has made tremen- dous progress in fighting this virus and saved lives,” said the governor. “Please continue to wear a face cov- ering, maintain physical distance, and stay home if you are high-risk or experience COVID-19 symp- toms. Virginians have all sacrificed to help contain the spread of this disease, and we must remain vigi- lant as we take steps to slowly lift restrictions in our commonwealth.” Executive Order Sixty-Five mod- ifies public health guidance in Ex- ecutive Orders Sixty-One and Six- ty-Two and establishes guidelines for Phase Two. Northern Virginia and the City of Richmond entered Phase One on Friday, May 29, and will remain in Phase One to allow for additional monitoring of health data. Accomack County delayed re- opening due to outbreaks in poul- try plants, which have largely been controlled through rigorous testing. Accomack County moved to Phase Two with the rest of the common- wealth, on Friday, June 5. Under Phase Two, the com- monwealth will maintain a Safer at Home strategy with continued recommendations for social dis- tancing, teleworking, and requiring individuals to wear face coverings in indoor public settings. The maxi- mum number of individuals per- mitted in a social gathering will in- crease from 10 to 50. All businesses should still adhere to physical dis- tancing guidelines, frequently clean and sanitize high contact surfaces, and continue enhanced workplace safety measures. Restaurant and beverage estab- lishments may offer indoor dining at 50 percent occupancy, fitness centers may open indoor areas at 30 percent occupancy, and certain recreation and entertainment ven- ues without shared equipment may open with restrictions. These venues include museums, zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens, and outdoor concert, sporting, and performing arts venues. Swimming pools may also expand operations to both in- door and outdoor exercise, diving, and swim instruction. The current guidelines for reli- gious services, non-essential retail, and personal grooming services will largely remain the same in Phase Two. Overnight summer camps, most indoor entertainment venues, amusement parks, fairs, and carni- vals will also remain closed in Phase Two. At the request of a visitor, Rodney volunteers to remove a box of donated towels from the trunk of a car in the parking lot of 110 Roanoke Street in Christiansburg. The building houses four different agencies that offer help to homeless individuals and families. Homeless residents are served by social service entities and by local churches The fact that clusters of homeless people are not visible in the New River Valley does not mean there are none here. More than four dozen New River Valley resi- dents were part of an official count that took place in January, and professionals who serve them estimate there were 78 by April. Fortunately, a net- Pat Brown Contributing writer See Homeless , page 5 News you can use: Corn starch repels mosquitoes Most people know corn starch can be used for cook- ing, as a stain remover and as a deodorizer. Now they can add insect repellant to corn starch’s expansive list of applications. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service has an- nounced that its scientists in Peoria, Ill., are using the starch to make products that can fight insects, in- cluding mosquitoes. Researchers convert starch into a class of ma- terials known as amylose- inclusion complexes. The complexes can be com- bined with essential oils from plants toxic to mos- quitoes, creating an emul- sion. Once blended, the complexes surround the oil, protecting it from heat and oxidation, which can reduce its potency. Safe for the environ- ment but toxic to mosquito larvae, the emulsion can be applied to larvae habitats, such as water catch basins and old tires. The sub- stance disperses in the wa- ter, allowing it to contact and kill larvae. Lab tests showed the emulsion killed the larvae of yellow fever mosquitoes in 24 hours. According to the US- DA’s announcement, re- searchers envision using the emulsion to help con- trol mosquito populations and prevent diseases like West Nile virus, yellow fe- ver, dengue and Zika. “This is a terrific devel- opment,” said Tony Banks, senior assistant director of agriculture, development and innovation for Virgin- ia Farm Bureau Federation. “As an insecticide, this type of product could be envi- ronmentally safer and pose fewer exposure risks. Natu- rally, this technology could lead to greater demand for corn as more starch-based products are developed.” With humidity and rainy weather, Virginia’s spring and summer make an ideal climate for mos- quitoes, which are harm- ful to humans and animals and spread debilitating, sometimes fatal diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention re- ported Virginia had 1,319 cases of mosquito-borne diseases between 2004 and 2016. The most prevalent such disease in Virginia is West Nile virus. Farmers and their ani- mals spend a lot of time outdoors and can be es- pecially vulnerable to mosquito-borne diseases. Many farms have sources of standing water that make ideal breeding grounds for the pests, including ponds, containers and drums, and ditches that collect water. This new technology could lead to new alternatives for controlling mosquito- borne diseases that affect humans, livestock and pets, Banks said. “Mosquito-borne diseas- es can affect livestock pro- duction by causing weight loss, lost reproduction and death,” he added. “Vac- cines are not foolproof, so we need to have a variety of measures for controlling pests and diseases.” Stinky Phil brought out hundreds of people to smell his stench when he bloomed five years ago. You can watch him bloom again this year on a streaming feed on the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ webpage. The unusual, putrid and beloved Stinky Phil is back There is a putrid odor that is a combination of manure, spoiled meat, old gym socks – anything and everything that has a foul odor, really – wafting around a Virginia Tech greenhouse. This can mean only one thing. Stinky Phil is back. Stinky Phil, the name of the beloved corpse flower in the Col- lege of Agriculture and Life Sci- ences, is a rarity in the wild and is found only in botanical gar- dens and greenhouses outside of Sumatra, Indonesia, rainforests. What is just as rare, though, is how often the plant blooms – usually only every five to seven years. When it last bloomed five years ago, nearly 1,000 people stuck their nose in Phil to get a whiff of his nastiness. When Stinky Phil nears the blooming phase, a livestream will become available on the college’s homep- age. People can also upload their best Stinky Phil face with a so- cial media frame, available on the college’s Facebook page. When Phil does bloom, he is a spectacle of the grandeur of the highest order – from the stench to the height of his flower, which can reach 7 to 10 feet tall. Stinky Phil has been at Virgin- ia Tech since the late 1990s, and this will be his fifth bloom since See Stinky Phil , page 7 FACEBOOK PHOTO A solemn prayer walk took place recently along Main Street in Radford in protest of the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department. School leaders weigh in on racial equity RADFORD - Radford City Public Schools Su- perintendent Robert Graham and Radford Univer- sity President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D. have each addressed the Radford community in recent days regarding the killing of George Floyd in Minne- apolis on May 25 by police and the subsequent na- tionwide outcry. The following are the two letters in their entirety. “Dear RCPS students, staff and community members: “The incidents surrounding the death of George Floyd are horrific, unnecessary and painful. The injustices that so many people of color have faced for so long are heart-breaking and in need of im- mediate change. Dr. James Lane, State Superinten- dent of Public Schools for the State of Virginia, states, “Eradicating systemic racism from schools and communities is the hardest work of our time, work I am committed to through listening, learn- ing and standing with others against injustice!” I share this quote because it is a message that the school board, our staff and I stand behind. “During the last three months, we have faced a COVID-19 pandemic that has forced us into man- datory school closures. We now are asked to quar- antine, social distance, repeatedly wash our hands, don’t touch our faces and use personal protective equipment in order to prevent the spread of this deadly virus. The world we live in has certainly changed, but I am grateful and appreciative to all who have come together in order to provide for our wonderful City, and make sure that those who struggle during these trying times are cared for and supported. “As discussions continue regarding the reopen- ing of schools, please know that RCPS is dedicat- See Radford letters , page 2