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How is the coronavirus outbreak impacting the Chesapeake Bay?

While some have lauded the environmental impacts of fewer cars on the roads and fewer people on the beaches, the impacts are not all positive.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — As with every other aspect of society, the Chesapeake Bay is feeling the effects of the COVID-19 epidemic. 

Based on a number of recent headlines, your first thought might be that the impacts are mostly on an upwards trend with reported improvements in air pollution and decreased littering thanks to stay-at-home orders.

However, according to Chesapeake Bay Foundation Virginia Executive Director Peggy Sanner, the bay hasn't experienced positive effects yet. Additionally, those positive impacts might not be seen for months, but Sanner is more concerned about potential negative consequences.

"The EPA announced a few weeks ago that they would be taking what we think is a lax approach to enforcement," said Sanner. 

In addition to the decreased oversight, stay-at-home orders have taken employees of companies and government agencies off the streets, a depressed economy may lead to decreased funding for environmentally-conscious programs, and online meetings may lead to decreased citizen participation and transparency. 

All of this makes it more important than ever to be mindful as a citizen. Checking on potential meetings about the Bay is a chief way you can help monitor the environmental risk factors around you. 

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality website lists meeting times and access points. 

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