Monthly Archives: November 2020

Council wants more info before giving direction on capital spending

Charlottesville’s appointed officials sought fiscal clarity from Charlottesville’s elected officials during a budget work session on November 12 that sought to gauge Council’s willingness to seek additional revenues to pay for major projects. John Blair is the interim city manager. 

“As you all know there are a number of large scale capital projects that have been talked about in various iterations through the past few years but what I’ve asked our budget team is to provide you with some numbers that are going to demonstrate using your debt capacity for various projects,” Blair said.  

Listen to an audio version of this report.

Blair said that the city is close to its debt capacity and more projects will likely require tax increases, but he said that topic was not directly before them. Blair’s budget for FY2022 will not be unveiled until March. It will also be the first to be prepared under this Council. 

“Obviously I think a number of you have interest in various capital needs whether it be affordable housing, education, infrastructure,” Blair said. He also said this would send a message to would-be city managers about the kind of city this Council wants it to be. 

For now, the budget is in the very early stages of formation because exact revenues aren’t yet known.  Budget staff needed to know Council’s thoughts on whether to change a key policy to increase the amount of bonds that could be sold to pay for capital projects. Doing so will increase the amount the city needs to spend on debt service to pay back those who buy those bonds for a steady return. 

We have been in fiscal year 2021 since July 1, and a decision was made by Council earlier this year to continue with $25.8 million of projects in the capital budget, and they signaled support for a total five-year plan of $124.1 million. 

“We were going to fund $84 million of this five year plan with bonds, and if you recall, due to COVID, just about all of the cash that was originally intended to go to the CIP was held in a reserve with the general fund to offset any of the unknowns,” said Krissy Hammill, Senior Budget and Management Analyst for the city of Charlottesville. 

Practice has been to use a mixture of cash and bonds to pay for capital projects and since 2010, the average has been 37 percent in cash. For this year’s capital budget, 93 percent will be paid for through bonds. Currently the city has about $90 million in government debt, $80 million of which is for bonds that have been approved for projects but not yet issued.

“That means that we typically issue bonds on a cash-needed basis so we don’t issue the bonds until the project is either imminent or underway because we do have spending requirements that once we issue the bonds we typically need to spend that money within 24 months,” Hammill said.

Hammill said the city has been building up a fund balance to help reduce the amount of cash that needs to go to debt service each year. But at some point, the city will need additional cash from property taxes to make up the difference. Hammill showed a hypothetical situation where $32 million in new bonds are floated each year through FY2027. That would increase the debt service steadily over time, from $11 million in FY2022 to $19.2 million by FY2026. 

“You’ve basically built in the need for a penny of additional revenue, that’s equivalent to basically a penny a year,” Hammill said, adding that in further years, the need for additional revenues would continue to grow. 

To put it colloquially, Hammill effectively stated that the city can float an additional $52 million in bonds without maxing out the credit card. Potential projects include additional spending at the future parking garage, reconfiguration of city schools and continued investments in affordable housing. 

Parking structure 

After a long discussion about debt financing and how much additional capacity can be found, Council then began discussing potential projects. The first was whether a $10 million project to build a new municipal parking garage could be altered to provide more building height. 

In a ten-page white paper dated October 14, Economic Development Director Chris Engel lays out the current plans.

“The City has plans to construct a parking structure on a one-acre assemblage of property it owns at the intersection of Market Street and 7th Street,” Engel wrote. “A conceptual design study indicates that a four level structure of approximately 300 parking spaces and 12,000 square feet of street front commercial space is feasible on the site and such a structure is permissible by-right within the City’s current zoning ordinance.”

Engel also included a contingency of an estimated $5 million to build a stronger foundation and employ other measures to ensure the taller building would be structurally sound. 

At the November 12 work session, Engel said the project will be built using a design-build contract, which means one firm will be asked to do both tasks. A request for qualifications is expected to go out this month, followed by a request for proposals early next year.

“When we go through the process of seeking a design-build contractor, their proposals will have those types of details that we can compare one to another and that’s when the city chooses the best respondent and gets into a contract with them to actually build it,” Engel said. 

The city has never pursued a project through a design-build project before. Engel explained this project is not a public-private partnership in part because of a bad experience within the last decade when a project to develop a city-owned parking lot fell apart.

“[West 2nd] started as a design competition really and then lead to a development agreement,” Engel said. “The path that we are on now is not that. The path that we are on now is that this is a city-owned facility. We build it with our money and we own it and we control it. That’s in part to eliminate risk and that’s done in part to honor the agreement with [Albemarle] county and best control those parking spaces so that they have confidence. Entering into a third-party agreement complicates that a little further.” 

In the case of West 2nd, the city asked private developers to submit proposals to redevelop the City Market lot with a mixed-use building and space for the market. 

“We spent four years and we ultimately got to a point where the project did not proceed from there,” Engel said. 

Engel said the parking garage is expected to be operational in three years.

Councilor Heather Hill said she remembered when these questions were asked two years ago. 

“It just seemed like it wasn’t a feasible option to go that route and invite a partner given the significant cost between what we’re proposing here and how much additional it would cost to do more than what we’re proposing,” Hill said. 

Councilor Lloyd Snook asked how much delay there would be if Council decided to go on a different path. 

“If we said, okay, the courts aren’t actually going to be built until 2025 and we’ve got sort of a slow-down in parking needs at the moment because of COVID and working at home and all the rest of that stuff, and some of that is going to maybe happen for the next couple of years, maybe we don’t need desperately need to get things done by 2023, maybe we work something out with the county to say, okay 2024 is fine. These are all just hypothetical here.”

Engel said it would be hard to predict the delay but again repeated that negotiations would likely take six months to a year. 

Councilor Michael Payne asked if the city could just provide the required spaces for the county at the Market Street parking garage. 

“When we’re looking at our CIP budget we’re going to have to, there’s no way around trying to revisit past decisions and figure out what to prioritize and re-adjust,” Payne said. 

Another question before Council was whether the city should invest in improvements to make the Dogwood Vietnam Memorial in McIntire Park more accessible. Staff had recommended working on a way to build a parking lot closer to the memorial to replace the one removed for the skate park. Council did not reach consensus on how to proceed. 

Council needs more info to provide direction

Council was asked to come up with priorities to help the budget staff develop a preliminary CIP budget.

“Without cutting something out, we are anticipating the need for tax increases,” Hammill said. “Not this year necessarily, but soon in the future.”    

The city’s property tax rate has been $0.95 per $100 of assessed value since 2008. 

One of the big questions is this Council’s willingness to proceed with school reconfiguration. 

Hammill said $3 million was allocated to the school reconfiguration in FY20 to help with design. According to that budget, the purpose is for “architecture and engineering services and [to] determine preliminary designs and costs.” 

Councilor Lloyd Snook said he was not sure how much direction he could give at this time.

“As a general proposition it’s hard for me to think of anything that’s more important that we do than educate our kids and we ought to be allocating significant resources to educating our kids but whether significant resources means $60 million over six years or $3 million next year and we’ll see or anywhere in between, I don’t know how to answer that question,” Snook said. 

The West Main Streetscape has $18.5 million in approved funding, but the bonds have not yet been issued. Hammill said staff would be asking for another $8 million to complete the financing for the West Main project.  

A value engineering study to bring the cost of the West Main Streetscape down is not ready. That project currently has a total cost estimate of $49 million though some of the four phases have been funded by the Virginia Department of Transportation. Council had a work session on this topic on September 30 and are expecting a report from RK&K about how adjustments can be made to save money. 

Mayor Nikuyah Walker said she couldn’t make a decision until that information was ready. 

As the budget work session came to a close, Councilors said they needed more time before making decisions on specific items. But let’s hear from three of them. 

“There is no way that we’re getting out of this without cutting things that we all care about tremendously,” said Vice Mayor Sena Magill. 

“This has to be put out to the community and they’re going to have lead that conversation with us given the scale of this investment and what it could mean to taxpayers,” said Councilor Heather Hill. 

“I echo Councilor Magill’s point that I think that as well as in the context of COVID which is creating greater uncertainty for us in terms of our revenues could be worse than what we’re thinking, the composition of the Senate at the federal level should make us contemplate the reality that there will not be additional support coming from the federal government to bolster state and local governments,” Payne said. “Even if we assume tax increases, if we’re just taking an honest look at it, I think our only path forward is to look at some of our previously committed expenditures and evaluate what the trade-offs are and make cuts.” 

Council will have another work session on the budget this Friday beginning at 1 p.m. Before  that, they will have provided direction on whether to proceed with additional local spending for traffic calming efforts on 5th Street at their meeting on November 16. 

Design panel shows tentative support for mural for Starbucks on West Main

The Charlottesville Board of Architectural Review has indicated at a preliminary review that it would support a mural on the side of 1001 West Main where Starbucks wants to open a new pick-up only franchise.   

“It’s one of our latest new formats of a store that we’ve been rolling out,” said Ena Yang, a designer with Starbucks. “We have three stores that are open. Two in New York City and one in Toronto, Canada. This particular store we do not have any seating. Our lobby space is only 300 square foot where the customers are encouraged to pick up their order and be on the go.” 

At issue before the BAR was whether the east-facing wall that slopes down 10th Street should be adorned with a colorful mural. The building in question is a former auto repair shop that is a contributing structure in the West Main Architectural Design Control District. Historic preservation planner Jeff Werner said there were some restrictions 

“Anything within a mural that is interpreted as a Starbucks related or coffee related could be interpreted as a sign so be very careful with the artwork so that it doesn’t come across as ‘come in here and buy coffee,” Werner said. 

Yang said there would be no images to promote coffee. Chair Carl Schwarz said he supported the preliminary design of the mural. 

“This is an interesting part of town where you can have a lot of color and excitement and it’s not going to distract from anything historic,” Schwarz said. 

Werner encouraged representatives from Starbucks to reach out to the community and to be ready for comment. Yang said they would do so. 

“I understand it is a very prominent location and it’s a very busy intersection,” Yang said. “We don’t want to offend anyone. We are Starbucks. We are a global company. We want to make sure that what we put on a building of this size and at such a prominent location could be messaging that represents Starbucks. As to getting some of the community involvement, I would love your advice and guidance on what are some of the steps we can take to ensure this mural really speaks true to the community.”

Yang said the next step is to continue working with the artist in a way that will not cover up any of the existing windows. 

Credit: Concepts Studio at Starbucks

Parking panel supports non-police enforcement

A volunteer group created to help shape policy about parking and transportations issues in downtown Charlottesville has endorsed a proposal from staff to hire a private contractor to enforce parking tickets. Charlottesville Parking Director Rick Siebert reminded the Parking Advisory Panel yesterday that there are many on-street parking spots that stop being free to the driver after the posted time limit expires. 

“I believe if we had more consistent parking enforcement that people would only stay for two hours or less in the two hour spaces,” Siebert said. 

Siebert was originally hired to implement a parking action plan that included installing parking meters that would raise revenue for the city to pay for downtown improvements, but a six month pilot in 2017 and 2018 was not completed. Siebert said the city can still collect some of those revenues through more consistent enforcement. 

“I think it’s difficult with the police being solely responsible for this function for them to focus on that as a matter of importance given the number of issues that they realistically face every single day,” Siebert said. 

Siebert said a private contractor would be solely focused on this function and could also expand enforcement elsewhere in the city, including permit parking in residential areas. The idea has the support of Kirby Hutto, the panel’s chair.

“Without consistent enforcement, people learn to take advantage and to just ignore the signs and that’s bad for downtown because then those spaces are not in rotation,” Hutto said.

However, Charlottesville Economic Development Director Chris Engel said not everyone in local government supports the idea.

“There is some reluctance on the part of the police department,” Engel said. “The concern is that what  happens when an enforcement officer gives a ticket erroneously and that needs to be appealed. The citizen is naturally going to knock on the police department’s door because they expect that’s where it came from and it creates a situation where people are going to the wrong place, complaining to the wrong person. There could be some confusion there.” 

However, the panel unanimously recommended a resolution in support of the idea. Joan Fenton is another member. 

“Personally, I think politically its a good time to present this again as people are asking to rethink how the police are, what jobs the police are needed to do and not to do,” Fenton said. 

Siebert said that if Council supports the idea, it would likely take six months from issuing a request for proposals for the switch to be made. 

Council briefed on ways to slow down Fifth Street Extended

Charlottesville City Council spent about an hour last night discussing ways to address speeding concerns on 5th Street Extended, a four-lane highway that heads south from downtown Charlottesville that has seen more residential neighborhoods built over the years. 

One person concerned with recent crashes on 5th Street lives around the intersection at Bailey Road. 

“I walk on 5th Street almost everyday,” said Kristen Lucas. “I bike to work sometimes on 5th Street. And I walked out my door when there was a crash and someone had passed away on 5th Street and I strongly support changes to 5th Street to make it safer not only for drivers but also for pedestrians and bikers and those that are living on this road.” 

Lucas and about 1,400 other people signed a petition to ask Council to push for changes to the roadway. She said she wanted more than for the city to limit the speed, and she supported roundabouts and other traffic calming measures.

Traffic engineer Brennen Duncan wrote a report that outlined how vehicular speed has played a role in the five fatal accidents that have taken place in the past four years. 

“It’s my assertion that there’s really not a speeding problem with the posted speed limit of 45 but I have said in my report to Council that we do have a corridor that allows for higher speeds for those that want to break the speed limit,” Duncan said. 

Duncan’s suggestions for short-term solutions include reducing the speed limit to 40 miles per hour and additional lighting. Mid-term solutions could be informed by studies such as a 2018 study of the entire 5th and Ridge Street corridor.  

Joan Albiston of the Willoughby neighborhood singled out a specific intervention that she favored. 

“I have read the traffic engineers report for 5th Street and I would like to thank them for their recommendations to make 5th Street safer,” Albiston said. “In particular I would like to thank for recommending a flashing yellow area in place of a green light.”

These would be for permissive left-hand turns. Duncan explains the logic behind adding these flashing yellow lights. 

“Nothing changes about the functionality,” Duncan said. “You’re supposed to yield on a green ball anyway but it really has been found that it alerts drivers more they are supposed to yield in that condition.”

For a mid-term solution, Duncan is recommending a roundabout just north of Bailey Road. 

“What the roundabout would do is really put a damper on [high speeds] right in the middle of the corridor where drivers are forced to slow down,” Duncan said. 

Duncan said that 18,000 vehicles use the roadway every day, and more efforts need to be made to get people out of their cars and onto buses. He said there could be as many as 500 more residential units in this area in the several years if undeveloped property is built upon. 

The mother of a man who died in a motorcycle crash had the chance to address Council about the issue. 

“My name is Binta Rose and my son was one of the fatalities on 5th Street Extended,” Rose said. “I had some concerns about that roadway as well. Even though speed may have contributed to his fatality I just had a question about the, I know that you guys are talking about some lighting in the area, and I know that the cars that pull out of the driveways there. My son driving down that road, an SUV pulled out into the traffic so he tried to avoid the vehicle and he hit a tree.”

Rose said the crash happened at night when there was no lighting. She also said she wants the roadway’s character to be less of a speedway. 

Council agreed to the lower speeds and the flashing yellow light. For other solutions, Council will further discuss the topic at a budget work session on the capital improvement program budget on Friday that begins at 1 p.m. 

Waiting for the Next Administration – Charlottesville Quarantine Report

This is a rough transcript for this program, and as such is not formatted like a news story. Yet I know that many prefer to read these, so I took the time to write it all out. But now I need to move on tomorrow’s episode of the Charlottesville Community Engagement newsletter.

The national election has brought the potential for a national strategy to fight COVID-19 with the announcement by President-elect Joe Biden.  

“This group will advise on detailed plans, build on a bedrock of science, and will keep compassion, empathy and care for every American.”

But there are more than two months into inauguration and there is a looming crisis according to Virginia Governor Ralph Northam. 

(Northam clip)

I’m Sean Tubbs, and this is the 49th episode of the Charlottesville Quarantine Report. On today’s show, excerpts from Governor Northam’s November 10 press conference, as well as parts of President-elect Biden’s task force announcement. 

The 49th episode of the Charlottesville Quarantine Report

But first, let’s get a quick news update on the numbers as of November 11, 2020.

There are another 1,594 new cases of COVID-19 reported by the Virginia Department of Health this morning. That brings the seven-day average for new daily cases to 1,524. The seven-day average for positive test results remains at 6.2 percent statewide today.

There are another 18 cases in the Blue Ridge Health District reported today, bringing the seven-day average to 26. The percent positivity for the district for PCR tests has increased to 2 percent, up from 1.8 percent yesterday. 

Governor Ralph Northam is asking Virginians to continue to follow health guidelines to stop the spread of COVID-19 but said yesterday he is not likely to impose restrictions.

“We’re seeing a rise in cases and in percent positivity which is now 6.2 percent and we’re also seeing a ride in our hospitalizations,” Northam said. “This is very concerning, especially because it is getting colder. The holidays are approaching and the temptation to gather with other people is high.” 

Northam said the VDH continues to be concerned about Southwest Virginia where a high number of cases were reported late last week. In Wise County, the seven-day average for new daily cases per 100,000 population is 65.8. That figure is 52 for Washington County, 57.7 for Scott County, and 59.3 for Russell County. For comparison, those numbers are 7.8 for Albemarle and 19 for Charlottesville. 

“Our team has been in communication with health directors in Southwest Virginia about the spread in that region,” Northam said. “We’re focusing on a communications campaign to emphasize the importance of doing the things that we know work. Avoiding indoor gatherings. Washing our hands. And wearing face coverings.” 

Northam reminded the public that Virginia has a mask mandate in place for indoor spaces. 

“While we are concerned about southwest Virginia I want to remind Virginians that we are seeing rising cases in other regions and around our nation as well,” Northam said. “The central region of Virginia for example is seeing a steady increase in case counts.” 

Thanksgiving is 15 days away, and Northam urged people to remember that the virus spreads more easily indoors. 

“This virus spreads through the air. And it spreads more easily indoors. You should take precautions around anyone who does not live in your own house. Yes, even if they are your family. There is no genetic immunity that prevents you from giving this virus to your mother, to your grandfather or any other loved ones in the house with you. 

I’m not saying don’t celebrate Thanksgiving but if you’re planning to gather with people outside of your household, think about ways to do it more safely,” Northam said. “Consider how the space is ventilated. Or think about ways to have gatherings outdoors. Wash your hands. Think about smaller gatherings and wear a mask.” 

On November 10, Northam announced that Virginia has entered into contracts with three labs to participate in a new COVID-19 testing network to be known as OneLab. This will increase testing capacity and turn-around time.  

“OneLab is our coordinated COVID-19 lab testing system. It allows us to increase our testing capacity specifically to support high-priority testing campaigns such as community testing in surge areas, outbreak investigations, and testing in congregate setting such as our nursing homes.”

Northam said this would add the ability to process about 7,000 more tests a day by the end of the year. He also said that the state’s purchase of antigen tests will soon yield new kits.

“Those are the quick response tests. We purchased 200,000 tests through the Rockefeller testing compact and those are arriving in Virginia and being distributed to our nursing homes and our long-term care facilities. In addition, we’re receiving rapid Binax Now from the federal government and have distributed more than 52,000 of those so far.”

One of the things we’ll be watching for in the coming weeks are plans to deliver vaccines to millions of Americans. That may not be for some time, but there is a possibility.

“Yesterday we all heard good news from Pfizer that their vaccine appears to be ninety percent effective. That is very, very encouraging. But we should all remember that this isn’t the magic bullet. Any approved vaccination will still take months to distribute. Virginia like other states have spent months already preparing plans for how to equitably distribute a vaccination. When a vaccine is ready, one that is safe, and effective, we will be ready too in Virginia.”

Dr. Norm Oliver is Virginia’s Health Commissioner.  He said the vaccine will be more effective if case loads can be kept lower. 

“In order to stop a pandemic we really have to do our best to increase the immunity that exists in the population and vaccines do that, they boost immunity although as the Governor said it’s going to take us months to vaccinate millions in the Commonwealth. It will take a while to develop that immunity and during that period of time, a lot of the things that we are doing now we will continue to have to do.”

Dr. Oliver said the VDH rolls out flu shots every year, and is ready to proceed with the COVID-19 vaccine when one is ready. He said the federal Centers for Disease Control has approved Virginia’s plan. 

“We have revised and tweaked those plans and we are ready to work with the CDC and the Department of Defense who are the two entities that will lead the vaccine allocation to receive those vaccines from them and ensure that those vaccines get into the arms of those of us here in the Commonwealth of Virgina.”    

As of this recording, the incumbent president has not conceded the election. Northam addressed the issue.

“We expect to have a new president in January,  President-elect Joe Biden, and I look forward to working with him and Vice President Kamala Harris. I am heartened that President-elect Biden’s first action has been to appoint a task force to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Other governors and I have said for months that a stronger federal response would be helpful to us and I look forward to seeing that become a reality.”

We’re going to hear more about that task force in a moment. Let’s hear again from Northam about what’s coming up in the next couple of weeks. 

“Virginians, you have done an exceptional job over the past eight months of responding to this crisis, and think about that. Eight months. I know you’re tired. I’m tired. The new normal is still ahead of us. But I want to say that by and large people have listened to the public health advice and we can’t stop now. We put on our face coverings in public and we avoid large crowds. And we need to keep it up. It’s more important now than ever. We cannot get complacent or let down our guard for the holidays. I don’t want to see our case counts continue to rise but we want to lower than and we all most do our part.”       

Several reporters asked several times if there were plans at this point to return to the restrictions we were in for the first few months of the pandemic. Let’s hear this question from Kate Masters of the Virginia Mercury. 

“Not to beat a dead horse when it comes to guidance on restrictions with COVID, but when I look at the state metrics I see that we’re seeing daily new cases rise higher than they ever have in the pandemic. So I’m wondering what it would take, what metric you would look at, that would trigger a possible new restriction. You mentioned that you knew what was making COVID rise. Can you speak more specifically to why eight months in we’re continuing to see these spikes and lulls in Virginia?”

“Yeah, a couple of things and I appreciate your question. We are seeing higher numbers of new cases but I would reiterate that we’re doing more testing. Early on we were just doing a few tests every day, if that. Now we’re doing 20,000 plus tests and will continue to do more. So we’ll follow the number of new cases. But I think just as important is to follow the positivity rate. And also the instance rate. But speaking to the positivity rate, if you look at the graphs, we were over 20 percent at one time in Virginia and now we’re at 6.2, so yes there are more cases in Virginia because of more testing. The positivity rate, while it is still increasing, is still relatively low and so we monitor all of these things. And again, not to be a dead horse to use your words, we need to continue to be able to figure out why those numbers are rising and they’re rising right now because people are gathering and they are not wearing masks. If you look at where they are not wearing masks, you see those increasing numbers.”

Northam said he looked forward to federal leadership. And when we come back after a break, we’ll get a preview. But the final question came from a reporter who asked what would be different in the Biden administration. 

“It starts with messaging and encouraging people to follow these guidelines. It also includes options. Obviously we’re going to be communicating, governors, with the national leadership but it’s using things like the Defense Act where if we need more supplies, if we need more swabs, if we need more reagents, if we need more Binax testing, all of those things will be important. But I think a lot of it is the behaviour. This shouldn’t be a Republican versus a Democrat, or metropolitan versus rural. It’s really all of us. And in our case in Virginia, we’re all Virginians and let’s do the right thing not only for ourselves and our families but for those around us.      

(ad-lib) 

Governor Northam said his team has already been in touch with members of President-elect Biden’s task force. The President-elect made the announcement on November 9, the same day Pfizer made their announcement on the vaccine.

“It’s clear that this vaccine even if approved will not be very widely available for many months yet to come. The challenge before us right now is still immense and growing and even though we are not in office yet, I’m just laying out what we expect to do and hope can be done some it between now and the time we are sworn in.”

President-elect Biden said there is a need for bold action.

“We’re still facing a very dark winter and there are nearly ten million COVID cases in the United States. Last week we topped 120,000 new cases on multiple successive days. Infeciton rates are going up. Hospitalizations are going up. Deaths are going up. This crisis claimed nearly a thousand American lives a day and nearly 230,000 deaths so far. Projections still indicate we could lose 200,000 more Americans in the coming months before a vaccine can be made widely available. So we can’t forgo the important work that needs to be done between now and then to get our country through the worst wave yet in this pandemic.”

Biden then announced the creation of a COVID-19 Transition Advisory Board made up of public health experts toimplement  the successful campaign’s plans.  

“This group will advise on detailed plans, build on a bedrock of science, and will keep compassion, empathy and care for every American at its core, making rapid-testing much more widely available and building a core of contact-tracers who will track and curb this disease while we prioritize getting vaccines first to the most at risk populations, developing clear and detailed guidance for providing the necessary resources for small businesses, schools, child care centers, to reopen and operate safely and effectively during a pandemic, protecting both workers and the public. Scaling up productive life-saving treatments and therapeutics and when it’s ready, making sure an approved vaccine is distributed equitably, and efficiently and free for every American.”

Biden said there’s also a need to increase the amount of PPE again to make sure health care workers have what they need. 

“We’re going to give states, cities and tribes the tests and the supplies they need. We’re going to protect vulnerable populations who are most at risk from this virus. Older Americans, and those with pre-existing conditions. We’re going to address the health and economic disparities that mean this virus is hitting the Black, Latino, Asian-American, Pacific islanders, Native American communities, harder than white communities. Focusing on these communities is one of our priorities, not an afterthought.”

Earlier we heard Virginia Governor Northam say how he was looking forward to federal leadership. You can hear him say that a lot in the early episodes of this podcast, which was created to document the response in the greater Charlottesville area. Here’s the President-elect.

“There’s so much good work happening at state and local levels and levels across the country. Governors, Mayors. They are stepping up. The advisory board will listen and learn from their experience. Because we know that we won’t fully defeat COVID-19 until we defeat it everywhere, my advisory council will also include experts on global health security so that we can restore U.S. global leadership to fight this pandemic.”

Biden also said something the current president has not said in eight months of the pandemic. 

“We know the single most effective thing we can do to stop  the spread of COVID is to wear a mask.” 

As of this recording, President Trump has not conceded the election and is spreading misinformation. As of today, his campaign and adminstration have lost twelve court cases alleging voter fraud. Biden said the election is over, and it is time to get to work to fight COVID.

“It doesn’t matter who you voted for or where you stood before election day. It doesn’t matter your party, your point of view. We can save tens of thousands of lives if everyone would just wear a mask for the next few months. not Democrat or Republican lives but American lives. Maybe we’ll save the life of a person who stocks the shelves at your local grocery store. Maybe saves the life of a member of your place of worship. Maybe it saves the lives of one of your children’s teachers. Maybe it saves your life. So please, I implore you. Wear a mask. Do it for yourself. Do it for your neighbor. A mask is not a political statement but it is a good way to start pulling the country together.”

So, what happens next? What will the numbers be the best time I put another episode of the Charlottesville Quarantine Report? I don’t know, but every day I am paying attention through the Charlottesville Community Engagement report, and I hope you’ll subscribe.