Another COVID-19 Symptom: Incivility

by Kerry Dougherty

It’s not just the lockdowns that are getting to some of us. The closed gyms, restaurants and beaches.

It’s the incivility.

It’s the venom and hostility directed at anyone who dares to question the state shutdowns or suggest they’ve gone too far or gone on long enough. Or – God forbid – wonders if they were wise at all.

The retorts are mean, ugly and untrue. They leave no room for debate.

You want people to die.

You don’t care about the elderly.

You’re selfish.

You care more about getting your nails done than people’s lives.

You’re willing to die for the Dow .

That last accusation was hurled at me when unemployment hit 24 million and I pointed out on Twitter that the number was catastrophic.

I only said “catastrophic” because I couldn’t think of a stronger word.

Well, American unemployment hit 30 million yesterday. That number is so staggering it’s hard to contemplate. Think of it this way: the population of Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina and South Carolina together is about 30 million. Imagine a swath of the country that large without a single person working to support their family.


We are not faced with a binary choice between shutting down our country indefinitely or having millions die of Covid-19. But many who favor endless shutdowns are framing it that way. They need to cut it out.

Look, I get it. We all have different ideas about how the country should handle this unprecedented health crisis. Absolutely no one knows what’s best. Governors disagree. Doctors disagree. Virologists disagree. Shoot, the World Health Organization disagrees with itself. For a time, they endorsed the brutal Chinese lockdowns. Yesterday, WHO’s top emergencies expert praised Sweden for its more measured approach.

No one wants more deaths.

But it’s unrealistic to think that the U.S. can remain closed until a cure is found or a vaccine is developed. The country will be a smoking ruin by then.

Patience is running out. People are stressed, falling into debt and afraid to seek routine preventative medical care. Some are isolated and lonely. Others are literally hungry. Hundreds of thousands of kids are believed to be behind on vaccinations. Churchgoers need their churches. Children are falling behind on school work. Adults with alcohol and drug addictions have lost their support groups. The food chain is breaking down.

We’ll be paying for this shutdown for years to come. In countless ways.

In places where hospitals are almost empty – as they are around the country and in many parts of Virginia – it’s time to reopen.

Will more people become infected? Probably. But the plan has always been to have the equipment and the best medical care ready for the small percentage of victims who will be sick enough to be hospitalized.

The most vulnerable folks know they’ll have to continue to isolate.

As one of my friends who is greatly at risk said to me the other day – outside and from a safe distance – “Don’t worry about me, I can take care of myself!

She can, too. She’s vigilant during seasonal flu epidemics.

Mounting evidence shows that the virus spreads more easily indoors than it does outside. That has to do with the viral load, sunshine and humidity. So perhaps closing schools and sending children home to stay inside with their parents and in some cases, grandparents, was not the best idea.

Certainly it argues against closing public parks, beaches and hiking trails now that spring is here.

It’s time to reopen most of the country and trust adults to do what’s best for themselves. No one will be forced to leave home until they’re ready.

No one wants anyone to die.

This column originally appeared at

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16 responses to “Another COVID-19 Symptom: Incivility”

  1. kls59 Avatar

    I believe elected politicians should be forced to experience what their policies do to their voters. Let their salaries be based on their constituent’s average income. Northam’s salary should be the median household income of $72,500.

    And our Gov should have his income cut to mirror what the average ‘non’ working Virginian is experiencing these days.

    Once ‘those on high’ feel and hopefully understand what us groundlings are going thru, I bet their responses will change. But as long as their policies don’t really touch their daily lives…… forget any empathy for the powerful.

  2. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    I understand Kerry’s frustrations and I think the economy will be opened up gradually and carefully. She fails to take into account that a large percentage of the people infected with the virus experience no symptoms. None. So, they think they are not sick; they don’t know they are carriers. So, they do “what is best for themselves”; they will go to the beach; they will go the bars; they will go the ballgame. The problems is that is not what is best for other people. They could be infecting other people and those people could be infecting even more people.

    To her larger point, I do not agree that incivility is a symptom of COVID-19. Incivility was a characteristic of social media long before COVID-19 came along. In fact, COVID-19 has produced outstanding examples of civility.

  3. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    I’m sorry, Kerry, but if you are expecting intelligent and civil debate on Twitter, Facebook or even this blog these days, I’ve got a box of N95s I’d like to sell you. I’m spending too much time channel surfing, but bouncing between CNN and Fox is hilarious. “We’re all gonna die.” “We’re all going broke.” “It’s terrible news that half of those infected have no symptoms – eek.” “It’s wonderful news that so many who get infected don’t get sick.” (And of course, for variety, “Biden didn’t do it” and “Flynn was set up.” ) There. You can skip watching today.

    Both are shamelessly promoting a political agenda and none of the talking heads has a clue what is really going on. Stand by. This is going to break fast. It better be a controlled release because otherwise, the dam just bursts. In reality, if you’ve been out and about, it already has. If you are still fearful (no names), stay at home, have the groceries and take out delivered with no contact, and we’ll see you when you feel safer. Me, I’m ready to sit (outside) at a beer hall. If I can see my dentist week after next, why not a haircut?

    1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
      Dick Hall-Sizemore

      I noticed that you were not willing to sell her your toilet paper.

    2. Nancy_Naive Avatar

      Ah, Kerry’s expectations. That is the issue, isn’t it?

  4. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
    Reed Fawell 3rd

    “They could be infecting other people and those people could be infecting even more people.”

    So what, so long as vulnerable are identified and protected. In fact, this breeds immunity. It’s the natural state of affairs.

    Look at the facts:

    More people over 100 years of age have died from this virus than all children.

    More people over 90 years of age have died of this virus than all people under fifty.

    The vast number of deaths are people over 80 years old, significant numbers in nursing homes at end of their lives, who now can be protected.

    Most all of these deaths are people with comorbitites, serious underlying health problems.

    Death rates here of infected people are very low. Likely less than half of one percent. The vast numbers of people inflicted do not show symptoms at all, never know they have it. And we can protect vulnerable people now, given our learning to date.

    1. Steve Haner Avatar
      Steve Haner

      Maybe not most. The omnipresent Dr. Scott Gottlieb was reviewing the reports on asymptomatic spread and he was saying about one-third to maybe 55% of those testing positive were asymptomatic. But, as Dick notes, the fear (also not proven) is they can spread it by aerosol. Whether or not this is airborne remains a hot debate.

      1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
        Reed Fawell 3rd

        Steve, I obviously am no Coved – 19 expert. But some now are suggesting there is a great deal of misinformation out there, and unreliable push back given the gross overstating of the risks and projections put out and accepted by government officials in earlier models such as by Imperial College of London in mid-March (2 million dead in America if unmediated, and 1 million dead in America if remediated, for example.) This was followed soon thereafter by deeply flawed University of Washington and NYS models that grossly overstated hospitalizations (76,00o to 140,000 beds and 30,000 to 40,000 ventilators in NY alone). This was promoted in good faith by Cuomo but it set off stampede of of those with flue and common colds rushing to hospitals, spreading the virus to them, and a cascade of lock-downs based on deeply flawed models and resultant information. And the press forged ahead even of the models themselves, inflaming the problems when in fact they were showing themselves to be grossly wrong in real time, starting in New York and elsewhere of course. Like 15,000 hospitalizations in New York City instead of predicted 65,000 in early April. These errors were understandable given that Everybody scared as hospitalization went from 100 in New York to 1000 between March 15 to March 25th. But then these increases leveled off instead of spiking as predicted. But by then the cascade of meme induced lock downs nation wide couldn’t be stopped. Herds going cliffs never can.

        More on this and sources soon.

  5. James Wyatt Whitehead V Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead V

    We will be seeing a bit more of this in the summer months. Bugs and Bogie.

  6. djrippert Avatar

    Whenever the government takes the dramatic step of curtailing the Constitutional rights of Americans then the government must:

    1. Define the means by which the curtailment will end, and;
    2. End the curtailment as soon as possible

    Neither is really happening in Virginia.

    The “lockdown crowd” has no real plan to reopen and no plan whatsoever to reopen as soon as possible. The virus isn’t going anywhere. Two articles today described the possible length of this infection. One said “two years” and the other described the US in 2024 still fighting the virus. are either of those two scenarios acceptable to the lockdown crowd? If not, what their plan?

    The “reopen now” crowd is overly optimistic. The virus isn’t going anywhere for them either. More people will get sick and die with each loosening of the lockdown. If it gets bad enough society may well have o reverse some or all of the loosening. There’s still a chance that the disease will overwhelm the medical system – especially in localized hot spots.

    So, what to do? The US and Virginia Constitutions are the compacts between the people and government. The freedoms defined therein bind the government and intentionally limit the actions government may take. Respect the constitutions. Reopen now.

    And Steve Haner is right – if you feel vulnerable then self-isolate. You may well end up being “the smartest person in the room” as they say.

  7. Nancy_Naive Avatar

    “Look, I get it.” Oh, so NOW you try humor.

    What? Do you think you are somehow biologically different from the miserable wretches that inhabit New York City?
    That 100 years of evolution in suburbia without smog, traffic, cabbies, chewing gum on the sidewalks, and eating Domino’s pizza has brought you immunity to the diseases that inflict the unwashed?

    TWO MILLION, Kerry.

    That was the estimate of CoV2 dead by September had the epidemic been allowed to progress unabated. That estimate was before intervention, but it’s still the estimate based on the data collected so far had there been no intervention.

    Sure, that’s only half of a percent, so odds are you’d have made it. But, care to estimate the loss of 2 million people on the economy?

    Let’s SWAG it, shall we? You keep mentioning influenza, so let’s compare.

    “The latest estimation by Molinari et al. indicated that the short-term costs and long-term burden of seasonal influenza can be amounted to $26.8 ~ $87.1 billion a year” Molinari NAM, Ortega-Sanchez IR, Messonnier ML, Thompson WW, Wortley PM, Weintraub E, Bridges CB. “The annual impact of seasonal influenza in the US: measuring disease burden and costs”. Vaccine. 2007;25(27):5086–5096. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2007.03.046.

    Since we’re going to be scaling up, and surely there HAS TO BE a discount for buying in bulk, let’s use the low end of $26B for, what, some 10,000 dead? That’s $5.2T. Meh, peanuts. $17T at worst. Wait, that’s annual versus 6 months. Never mind, keep the change.

    Personally, I think we should do this every 5 years. One thing that may come out of this, maybe, just maybe, we’ll decide not to build an new stealth fighter and sink some of that money into vaccine development, … and a war in Iran.

    1. Steve Haner Avatar
      Steve Haner

      That’d be a damn shame. A new stealth fighter would be cool. Those who will profit will happily fund the vaccine development, and are doing so.

      1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

        Hey, I left open a war…

    2. kls59 Avatar

      i thought ‘Big Pharma’ was BAD? Funny how things change.

      1. Steve Haner Avatar
        Steve Haner

        Good or bad, it’s incentives are obvious.

  8. LarrytheG Avatar

    When I saw the title: Another COVID-19 Symptom: Incivility, I initially thought it might be about the gun toting, horn beeping protestors or those who were shouting outrage at the loss of their “freedom” or the uncaring folks discarding rubber gloves and stuff in the Walmart Parking lots.

    Imagine my shock when it was the one who has done so much complaining and bleating to start with was feeling set upon herself!

    I’ve been thinking equal parts of self entitlement and narcissism with a dash of grievance thrown in for good measure.

    We are the luckiest people on the planet to live in this country with our standard of living, health care, education and yes, freedom… but for some of us… it’s still a tough slog…

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