Transparency News, 11/10/20


 November 10, 2020
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state & local news stories
One of Virginia’s top health officials is warning medical providers about a growing number of COVID-19 outbreaks in state hospitals. Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver released a new clinician letter on Friday, writing that reported COVID-19 infections in hospitals have “increased substantially” since August. “The largest monthly number of hospital COVID-19 outbreaks since the pandemic began was reported in October,” he said. Data from the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry, obtained by the Mercury through a Freedom of Information Act request, shows that more than 10 different hospitals reported COVID-19 cases or hospitalizations among employees between August and October.  Some of those facilities, including Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital in Richmond and Sovah Health in Martinsville, were also the subject of employee complaints for not following the state’s emergency COVID-19 safety regulations. Dozens of private health care practices — including dental offices, ear, nose and throat specialists and eye doctors — also reported cases or received complaints.
Virginia Mercury
stories from around the country
The Kansas Legislature has crippled Sedgwick County's ability to track community spread of the coronavirus through contract tracing, putting public health at greater risk, the county health director says. Since the passage of House Bill 2016 at a special session in June, public cooperation with the Health Department's COVID-19 contract tracershas declined from a rate between 50 percent and 70 percent to about 14 percent now, according to Health Director Adrienne Byrne. "This has severely tied the department's hands (in slowing virus spread) because it restricts the information that we can get from a case in regards to close contact," Byrne said. One Republican legislator, Brenda Landwehr, however, argued that the real problem in getting people to cooperate may not be the bill, but the fear of public disclosure. 
editorials & columns
As the vote counting continues in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona and elsewhere, Virginia should take a moment to be thankful, because the commonwealth’s smooth and drama-free election was no accident. From poll workers to local election officials, lawmakers to the voters themselves, everyone who participated deserves some measure of credit for conducting a vote under extraordinary conditions in a manner that kept people safe, improved voter access and delivered results quickly and without controversy. Subsequent attention given to the vote-counting process elsewhere offers an important reminder here: The people who conduct elections are, by and large, residents who volunteer to serve in voting precincts.
The Virginian-Pilot