Foothills Forum and the Rappahannock News look back on 2020 with a focus on COVID-19 as well as several key issues – schools, broadband and cellular, business, housing -- we have reported on throughout the year.
There was much to celebrate earlier this week when hospital workers around the country began receiving inoculations that should protect them from the pandemic that’s killed more than 300,000 Americans.
The bad news: A portion of the Rush River that runs through the Rappahannock County Park had earned a failing grade for recreational use for having unsafe levels of E. coli bacteria, which can lead to illness and infection in humans.
For the artist, tourist or weekender, the land needs to be a beautiful and evocative backdrop. Not so for most farmers and owners of substantial parcels. For them, the landscape is also an economic asset. It doesn’t only have to be protected; it also needs to generate income.
The fall has been good to many Rappahannock businesses, all things considered. The weather ushered in visitors eager to dine outside amid resplendent views of the changing leaves. And that made it easier for the county’s food and beverage establishments to make up revenue lost when operations closed or customers dwindled in the spring.
Ruth Welch: Vice President, Food Pantry; Board Member of the following: Rappahannock County Recreational Facilities Authority, Rapp at Home, and Rappahannock-Rapidan Regional Commission’s Aging Advisory and Food Policy councils; member, Old Rag Master Naturalists; Rapp Kids Coalition; John Jackson Blues Festival committee; retired Army dietitian; lives with her husband, Bryant, in Castleton.
Officials assume in-person classes will resume in August: ‘We need to work out a lot of details in a very short amount of time’
Remember the opioid crisis? Not long ago, it was an awful reality of modern rural life, a relentless calamity destroying lives and damaging families. It still is. Last year, Virginia had more fatal drug overdoses — 1,617 — than ever before.
By necessity, doctors and therapists have had to switch to telehealth to treat patients during the COVID-19 lockdown. But it’s looking more and more likely that “distance medicine” is here to stay.
Faced with a myriad of requirements to combat COVID-19, Rappahannock’s restaurants and wineries continue to move ahead under the first phase of “Forward Virginia,” the state’s plan to re-open the economy.
Country Café Pit Stop is “doing very well,” said Huff, who dealt with his share of financial hardship in the months prior to the pandemic.
The Rappahannock Food Pantry has seen an outpouring of support through donations of time, money and supplies since emergency measures to arrest the spread of COVID-19 took effect in March.
At this point, most Virginia universities say they still intend to welcome students back to campus in a few months, although that could change if there’s a rise in COVID-19 cases as businesses in the state reopen and social restrictions ease.
Traditional graduation ceremonies lost. Assemblies recognizing academic and athletic achievements canceled. Senior trip and prom scrubbed. Time honored rites of passage for Rappahannock students — spring commencement ceremonies and related functions — are falling victim to COVID-19.
As coronavirus-imposed stay at home orders extend into their sixth week, stress is starting to mount on some caregivers. It’s a feeling in-home health workers know well. But private providers, already in demand, are further limited now as they try to scale back their number of clients to minimize the spread of any infections.
This past week, the school district sent an email to the parents of all of its students to gauge their interest in something called the Phone Pal Program, a new initiative meant to connect generations here during this time of stress and uncertainty.
Some Rappahannock businesses are starting to receive funds from loan programs put in place to ease damage inflicted by widespread measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus, according to the county’s local banks.
The idea is that people who aren’t patronizing bars and restaurants can still be tipping their servers as they would on a normal night out. Participating businesses, which include Headmaster’s Pub, Griffin Tavern, Three Blacksmiths, Sperryville Trading and Little Washington Winery, say it’s a good way for the community to provide income to workers who may be struggling to pay bills and buy essential items.
Connie Reid says she can see the stress parents are now carrying when they drop their kids off or pick them up at Baby Bear Day Care on Main Street in Sperryville.
Currently, all the children in the program are from Rappahannock families with parents categorized in the first tier of “essential employees,” primarily first responders and medical personnel.
“We’ve seen how limited we are in our capacity to continue instruction through distance learning. It makes it very difficult because you have to be able to provide equity among all the students."