Author: Andrew Jenner
It was the kind of content made for a city spokesman’s Twitter account. Early in the city council’s pandemic-induced exile to virtual meetings, Councilman George Hirschmann’s cat jumped up onto his lap and, for all we know, into local history as the first cat to participate in Harrisonburg public policy-making.
As pandemic’s fiscal impact becomes painfully clear, city announces layoffs and other cost-saving measures
By March 13, when the health department announced Harrisonburg’s first positive test for COVID-19 and local schools were on a one-day closure that soon extended through the academic year, it was clear that the pandemic’s effects on public health and the economy would be dramatic. On Monday, city staff put some first numbers to that bleak picture in a late-afternoon press release: local tax revenue will fall an estimated $4 million short of projections for this fiscal year, which ends June 30.
After a sharp increase in local COVID-19 cases over the past week – including an outbreak at the long-term care facility Accordius Health that has infected 81 residents and left 10 dead – Harrisonburg has by far the highest per-capita rate of cases in the state.
Health officials offer few details about COVID-19 test availability in Hburg — but continue to stress social distancing
On Tuesday, March 17, Elliott started having aches and chills. The next day, he got word that someone he’d been in contact with the prior week had just been diagnosed with COVID-19. And then on that Thursday, Elliott (whose name has been changed to protect his and the COVID-19 patient’s privacy) got a call from the Virginia Department of Health.
It started with coughing, which I think maybe still was allergies. That was middle of the [first week of March], and by that weekend I started getting flu-like symptoms, just chills and fevers and full body ache, that kind of stuff.
One year’s slight population decline could be a blip. But two years in a row – as is now the case in Harrisonburg, according to the Weldon Cooper Center – looks more like a trend.
As you probably know, this is the age of shuttered newsrooms and ex-reporters taking PR jobs and wistful talk about the good old days when local papers were thriving. Liking being a reporter, and being somewhat good a being a reporter, were no longer enough. I have no doubt that many former coal miners were committed and skilled themselves.