Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend

Week’s end

- — Pamela Stallsmith

Clean the Bay Day, Virginia’s long-running annual litter cleanup, will return this spring.

But instead of a day, it will be a weeklong cleanup across Virginia from May 31 to June 5. In 2020, the event sponsored by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) became another casualty of COVID-19 — canceled for the first time in its 31-year history. Organizers say the new format allows anyone to safely participat­e and in their own way, whether by planting native plants, picking up trash or installing a rain barrel. “Have a few minutes free? Grab a trash bag and gloves and do a litter cleanup in your neighborho­od. Want to get out of the house with the kids? Do a cleanup in a local public park,” Kristin Webb, CBF Clean the Bay Day coordinato­r, said in a statement. Before 2020, the foundation reports that volunteers used to pick up more than 100,000 pounds of litter at cleanup sites across Virginia on the first Saturday in June. But why restrict the event to one week? Every day should be Clean the Bay Day. To find out more or to register to participat­e, go to: www.cbf.org/clean

One event that won’t return this year is the beloved Chincoteag­ue Pony Swim and carnival.

For the second consecutiv­e year, this uniquely Virginia event has been canceled because of the coronaviru­s pandemic. “Bottom line, too many unknowns to take a chance,” Hunter Leonard, president of the Chincoteag­ue Volunteer Fire Co., wrote in a Facebook posting. Every year, an estimated 40,000 visitors descend upon the Eastern Shore seaside town for a week of ponyrelate­d activities immortaliz­ed by Marguerite Henry’s 1947 children’s classic, “Misty of Chincoteag­ue.” The volunteer fire department owns the wild steeds and keeps them on neighborin­g Assateague Island. During the last week of July, the firemen round up the ponies to swim across Assateague Channel to Chincoteag­ue, where they hold an auction to control the size of the herd and to raise money for their company. In July, an auction of some wild ponies still will take place — but online, like last year. The only other time the event was scrubbed was during World War II. “This has been a rough year for everyone. So many people have suffered unimaginab­le losses but I’m so confident that we all will bounce back in 2022 and that it will be the best year ever!!!” Leonard posted. We hope so — we’re looking forward to the resumption of this cherished tradition.

Even the CEO of Zoom reports having Zoom fatigue.

Millions of Americans working remotely because of the pandemic routinely engage and virtually meet through video calls. Everything from General Assembly sessions, to local government meetings and to company functions continue to take place in cyberspace. But it’s exhausting staring at a screen and not having in-person human interactio­n. Eric Yuan, chief executive officer of Zoom, told a virtual audience of The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit on Tuesday that he personally experience­d Zoom fatigue, the newspaper reported. “On one day last year, [Yuan] said he had 19 Zoom meetings in a row. ‘I’m so tired of that,’ [Yuan] said, adding that he no longer books back-to-back Zoom calls. ‘I do have meeting fatigue.’” In this era of nonstop video calls, The Journal reported, “there are clear signs of burnout.” After more than a year, no wonder.

Not surprising­ly, the number of miles driven by Americans plummeted in 2020 — another result of COVID-19.

A new report by copilot.com, a car purchasing site, found that the number of vehicle miles traveled in the U.S. plunged by 13% last year. “The pandemic led to job losses and a mass transition to remote work, which reduced commutes, while shutdowns and the need to social distance put a dent in tourism and travel for leisure purposes. It remains to be seen whether shifts in work and commuting patterns will have lasting effects on miles traveled or if 2020 proves to be an outlier.” Overall, the total number of miles traveled has been on the rise over the past half-century, reaching a peak in 2019 at 271 billion vehicle miles traveled. But COVID-19 put the brakes on that upward trajectory. The new report also looks at the most car-dependent states in the country. Virginia falls in the middle, at 23rd, with a total of 14,509 vehicle miles traveled per licensed driver. Wyoming, the 10th largest state, ranked No. 1 (24,069) while Rhode Island — the nation’s smallest — came in 50th (9,961). Let’s see how rising gas prices, growing alternativ­e modes of transporta­tion and remote working affect these numbers next year.

 ?? ALEXA WELCH EDLUND/TIMES-DISPATCH ?? In 2004, wild ponies made the 400-yard swim across Assateague Channel to Chincoteag­ue.
ALEXA WELCH EDLUND/TIMES-DISPATCH In 2004, wild ponies made the 400-yard swim across Assateague Channel to Chincoteag­ue.

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