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Sept. 2, 2022

Monkeypox is here. As of Thursday, there were six confirmed cases of the disease in the Blue Ridge Health District. That’s still a small amount compared to elsewhere in the state, particularly areas near Washington D.C. where cases number in the hundreds. But it’s enough to have local health providers concerned.

Credit: Tristan Williams/Charlottesville Tomorrow

Six monkeypox cases are confirmed in the Blue Ridge Health District, but there aren’t enough vaccines for everyone eligible

The good news, if you can call it that, is that monkeypox is relatively difficult to catch. It requires close, and often prolonged, contact with someone who is infected. For now, studies from the World Health Organization show that the overwhelming majority of cases are transmitted during sex between men. That trend is likely continuing here: 321 of the 325 confirmed cases in Virginia are men, though the state doesn’t release data on the method of transmission.

With that knowledge in hand, the state’s strategy to stop monkeypox is to first vaccinate men who have multiple or anonymous male sexual parterns, along with sex workers and people who work in establishments where sex occures. The health department is in the middle of that effort now — though the local Blue Ridge Health District has received just 150 doses since July. That makes it a race for local health districts to vaccinate enough of the most at risk individuals before the disease spreads wide enough to gain a foothold in the larger population.

“This is not just going to be a gay thing,” said Jason Elliott, a local gay rights advocate who was among the first 150 people in the Blue Ridge Health District to receive a monkeypox vaccine. “I think there is a need for us to understand that, while the cases are prevalent in a particular community, down the line, it could spread.”

Here’s more and how you can let the health department know you’d like to be vaccinated.

Virginia Mercury: A train from Charlottesville to Richmond may launch in the next 20 years

East-west rail travel across Virginia — a train from Charlottesville to Richmond that locals have wished for for decades — could become a reality.

But not until the end of this decade, at the earliest, and possibly not until the 2030s, or 2040s, depending on funding.

A new report in The Virginia Mercury looks at the potential future of the Commonwealth Corridor, as it’s being called, which could run from Blacksburg to Newport News via Roanoke, Charlottesville, Richmond and Williamsburg, with possible extended service to Norfolk.

The Virginia Department of Rail & Public Transportation estimates the project would cost $416 million total, including new engines and train cars. Nearly $410 million — 98% of the cost — would go to infrastructure upgrades required to have service to Charlottesville.

Local legislators say it would be worth it.

Vinegar Hill: Get to know how this Charlottesville chef is teaching the culinary arts — and why

When you go out to eat in Charlottesville, ever wonder whose hands prepare your food?

More and more, they come from the training center Culinary Concepts AB. This week, Vinegar Hill features the story of Chef Antwon Brinson, CEO of this organization in town that trains many of the people who staff restaurants and start their own businesses.

“This isn’t only about supporting people who work in kitchens — part of what makes Culinary Concepts so successful is that we also work with employers to ensure that they are offering living wages, healthy kitchen cultures and realistic work expectations,” Brinson writes.

His story is part of First Person Charlottesville, Charlottesville Tomorrow’s partnership with Vinegar Hill Magazine and the In My Humble Opinion radio show.

Want more to read more about Charlottesville’s food scene? Here’s how 20 local food vendors got their start at this low-cost kitchen.

Thanks for reading!

Jessie Higgins, managing editor

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I'm Charlottesville Tomorrow's managing editor and health and safety reporter. If there’s something you think we should be investigating, please email me at jhiggins@cvilletomorrow.org! And you can follow all the work we do by subscribing to our free newsletter! Hablo español, y quiero mantener a la comunidad hispanohablante informada. Si tienes preguntas o información que debo saber, por favor, envíame un correo electrónico a jhiggins@cvilletomorrow.org.