SEAL OF VIRGINIA

The Great Seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia in the basement of the state Capitol.

Agency warns Virginians about COVID-19 scammers

ROANOKE — The Virginia Department of Health is warning residents that scammers might call them posing as COVID-19 contact tracers in order to take their money.

The department says its contact tracers will not ask for money or for a Social Security number, bank account details, credit card numbers or payment of any form. Their services are covered by tax dollars, not individual fees, the department said.

The VDH says legitimate contact tracers let people know when they have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19 and then educate them on what to do next and advise them about testing, quarantines and monitoring for symptoms. When they call, your phone will identify the caller as “VDH COVID Team,” a news release said.

Also, contact tracers will offer to enroll Virginians in a voluntary contact monitoring platform called Sara Alert so that they can update their local health departments as to their health status. The Sara Alert system is secure and always contacts users from the same phone number or email: (844) 957-2721 or notifications@saraalert.org.

Regulators seek $86K fine against Mountain Valley

ROANOKE — Regulators in Virginia want to fine the Mountain Valley Pipeline company $86,000 for what they say are continued environmental violations.

The Roanoke Times reported last week that the fine would be for alleged violations that occurred after Mountain Valley paid a $2.15 million settlement last year over similar infractions.

Construction work on the project began more than two years ago. And the digging of trenches to bury a natural gas pipeline in the mountains has caused problems with erosion. Harmful sediment has been washed onto nearby properties and into streams and rivers.

The settlement covered violations through Sept. 18, 2019. But the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality says more violations occurred since then and stretched into March.

Mountain Valley spokeswoman Natalie Cox said the fine “has not yet been decided or paid due to ongoing discussions” about the alleged violations.

In the meantime, construction on the 303-mile pipeline is suspended. Mountain Valley is seeking to regain key permits that were vacated or suspended following court challenges by environmental groups.

Crowd attacks firefighters at scene of Va. Beach crash

NORFOLK — Firefighters were pushed and kicked by an angry crowd Monday as they tried to treat a man seriously injured in a motorcycle crash, officials in Virginia Beach said.

A man riding a motorcycle about 9 p.m. apparently lost control and crashed into a tree, The Virginian-Pilot reported.

Max Gonano, president of Virginia Beach’s Professional Firefighters Association, said firefighters were trying to treat the man when a crowd gathered and angrily questioned them about why it took them so long to respond. According to fire department records, the crew arrived six minutes after the call was received by dispatchers.

Some in the crowd followed an ambulance to a hospital, where they “began to jump on, kick and hit multiple EMS vehicles” parked outside, according to a fire department daily briefing. One of the vehicles was damaged, officials said.

The violence prompted Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital to lock down its emergency room to visitors for several hours. The man was pronounced dead on the way to the hospital.

— From wire reports

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