Axios Richmond

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🐪 Welcome to Wednesday.

☁️ Today's weather: Mostly cloudy with a high near 78.

ğŸŽ§ Sounds like: "Without Me" by Eminem because guess who's back, back again?

📍 Situational awareness: The General Assembly reconvenes today to consider Gov. Youngkin's vetoes and amendments.

Today's newsletter is 897 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: 🪲 STD-riddled, "zombie" cicadas are coming in hot

Illustration: Maura Losch, Shoshana Gordon/Axios

They're coming. Billions, if not trillions, of a rare breed of cicadas — Brood XIX — are about to crawl out of their underground bunkers, where for 13 years they've been suckling on tree roots, waiting to emerge.

Why it matters: Richmond is one of a handful of places in Virginia likely to experience this wonder of nature firsthand.

State of play: These aren't just any old, everyday cicadas. Some of the red-eyed Brood XIX are expected to surface with a fungus that turns them into hypersexual, frantically-mating zombies that spread the fungus like an STD and keep going until their genitals fall off, CBS News reports.

  • For real.

Yes, but: Only around 5% of cicadas are fungus-infected, (but, but, but: 5% of a trillion still sounds like a hell of a lot of sex-crazed, eunuch insects flying around).

Zoom in: Virginia is at the "very edge" of where Brood XIX will emerge, Doug Pfeiffer, Virginia Tech professor of Entomology, tells Axios.

  • Fourteen states — including Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee — are expected to see Broods XIX, aka, the Great Southern Brood.
  • In Virginia, they'll likely be limited to the North Carolina border, south of Caroline County and east of I-95 — making a Richmond sighting a strong possibility, but not a definite one, Pfeiffer says.

Threat level: Despite their red eyes, these cicadas — even the STD-riddled, 🍆-less zombie ones — are perfectly harmless to humans and animals.

  • In fact, when they die they enrich the soil with valuable nutrients.

How it works: The timing is contingent on soil temperatures. Their emergence could begin as early as late April or in early May, Pfeiffer says.

  • Either way, the cicadas will only stick around for about five to six weeks, singing their mating call, and doing the deed, before they die off and we don't see this particular species for another 13 years.
  • So Richmond should soon know whether we get to experience this natural phenomenon. Lock and load.

Go deeper

2. 🏢 Relocating social services

The Richmond Times-Dispatch building. Photo: Sabrina Moreno/Axios

Richmond has plans to move its Department of Social Services into the Richmond Times-Dispatch building, according to a 93-page ordinance outlining the lease agreement.

Why it matters: This would change where residents seek help with child protective services, refugee support, food stamp applications and Medicaid assistance.

The big picture: The city wants to consolidate the department's two locations, Southside Plaza and Marshall Plaza, into 113,000 square feet of office space on 300 E. Franklin St.

  • This means taking over 325 parking spaces plus the second and third floors and parts of the first.
  • Shamin Hotels, which bought the RTD building in January 2020, would vacate its second floor offices by Oct. 1 to make way for $4 million in renovations.
  • The newspaper's staff is on the fourth floor.

The latest: A City Council committee moved the plan — a 15-year lease with options to renew an additional 10 years — forward on Tuesday, leaving it up to a council vote next Monday.

Keep reading for how much the rent is

3. 🌊 The Current: News from around the state

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

👀 Three days before UVA announced it would delay the release of an independent review of the 2022 mass shooting on campus, The university's police chief sent the Albemarle commonwealth's attorney urgent messages asking for a meeting. (Daily Progress)

  • The topic of the meeting is unknown, but the report isn't slated to be released until after the accused shooter's Jan. 2025 trial.

🚢 The Port of Virginia has extended its operating hours to accommodate a surge in cargo and traffic due to redirected shipments from Baltimore. (WVEC)

ğŸŽ­ Comedian Kevin Hart is performing at Altria on Friday, Sept. 27. Pre-sale tickets go on sale today, and public sales start Friday. Tickets start at $75.50. (News release)

4. 📱 Stat du jour: Our gig economy

App-based workers' share of labor force, 2022
Data: Flex Association; Map: Axios Visuals

Nearly a quarter of a million Virginians are gig workers.

Why it matters: App-based work offers a flexible way to earn a living or just make an extra buck — but many such workers are fighting for better pay, benefits and more.

By the numbers: There are 222,000 app-based workers in Virginia, comprising 4.9% of the state's total workforce, per the study.

The big picture: About 4.3% of the overall U.S. workforce takes part in app-based work, demonstrating gig companies' influence.

  • That's 7.3 million app-based workers nationwide.

Zoom in: Washington, D.C., is America's app-based work hotspot, with drivers or couriers making up 9% of the labor force there.

  • D.C. aside, Florida (6.4% of the labor force), Nevada (6%) and Georgia (5.9%) have the highest share of app-based workers in their respective labor forces.
  • Tennessee (0.5%), Vermont (1.5%) and South Dakota (1.6%) have the lowest.

Keep reading for how they got the data

Sponsored event listings

📅 Upcoming events around the city

VCU Massey Comprehensive Cancer Center - Comprehensive Carnival at VCU Siegel Center this Saturday: Join VCU Massey Comprehensive Cancer Center for a free, family-friendly carnival celebration marking its comprehensive designation from the National Cancer Institute. Registration is required.

Hosting an event? Email [email protected].

5. 🧀 Let's get cheesy

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

We're on the hunt for Richmond's best grilled cheese.

Context: April is National Grilled Cheese Month and though the days are getting warmer, the nights still call for a little … lactose indulgence.

Sabrina's pick: The Duval Sisters from Cheddar Jackson in Jackson Ward, which has cheddar, provolone and mozzarella topped with bacon jam.

  • My favorite part: Each sandwich comes with a mini tomato basil soup to dip it in.

Karri's pick: The Dutch Aunt at Garnett's, with gouda, bacon, tomato and caramelized onion.

  • My fave part: Bacon and cheese, of course. But I need Richmond to calm down about Garnett's so I can start getting a table again.

What's next: Tell us your favorite and what makes it eligible to take the No. 1 spot.

🤣 Sabrina is crying at how Karri somehow found a cicada expert with a similar last name to hers, which is coincidentally also the way it's been spelled in Sabrina's phone for the last four years.

😑 Karri has spent her entire life correcting this spelling and pronunciation and is delighted for the opportunity to share in this newsletter the right way to say it: Pie-fur.

Thanks to Fadel Allassan for editing and Carlin Becker for copy editing today's edition.