Here’s the latest COVID-19 data from the Virginia Department of Health based on yesterday’s developments.
Total cases: 1,706, up 222 yesterday.
Total hospitalizations: 246, up 38 yesterday.
Total deaths: 41, up 7 yesterday.
Total tests: 17,589, up 2,245 yesterday.
And here, straight from Cranky’s Excel spreadsheet to you, the updated “doubling” time for key metrics:
Case count: 3.3 days
Hospitalizations: 3.7 days
Deaths: 2.9 days
Finally, we have a social justice alert! I can’t believe the racial bean counters haven’t seized on this yet. Here is the VDH breakdown of COVID-19 cases by race: Continue reading
by James A. Bacon
Having done everything I can to raise the alarm about COVID-19 in Virginia, I’m having second thoughts. Clearly, forceful government action is needed to cope with the most dire public health challenge of recent years. But it’s possible to do too much. We need to think about the trade-offs.
At least two critical perspectives have gone missing here in Virginia. One is the fiscal impact of a sharp recession on state/local government finances. I will address that in a separate post. The other is the impact of an economic downturn on public health. Shutting down society to limit the spread of the disease and save lives also shuts down economic activity. Shutting down economic activity leads to massive wealth destruction and the loss of jobs. And the loss of wealth and jobs potentially could result in… the loss of lives.
As of yesterday, two COVID-19 patients had died. But thousands of Virginians have lost their jobs already as government-imposed social-distancing measures have prompted the shutdown of restaurants, hotels, tourist destinations, hair cutteries, gymnasiums, yoga studios, and more. Lacking financial reserves, many small businesses will never reopen. The Richmond Times-Dispatch suggests today that between 115,000 to 170,000 of the state’s 290,000 restaurant workers could become unemployed. That’s just the first wave. Continue reading
By DJ Rippert
OK, Boomer. A study conducted last month from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention provides statistics about the lethality of COVID-19. Those statistics were analyzed by Business Insider. You can see those statistics in the graph on the left. Younger people have a one in 10,000 (0.01%) chance of dying from the flu and a one in 500 (0.2%) chance of dying from COVID-19. So, COVID-19 is 20 times more lethal for a 15 year old than the flu. That mortality rate rises quickly as the victims get older. Between one and two 55 year olds out of 100 who contract COVID-19 will die of the disease. That’s 22 times the mortality rate of the flu. However, the real jump occurs in those who are 60 and above. Almost 15% of those aged 80+ will die if they contract the coronavirus.
Old Dominion. The average age of a Virginia resident is 38.1 years. There are 142,300 Virginians over the age of 80, 518,900 between 70 and 79 and 934,400 between 60 and 69. That’s 1,595,600 Virginians (19% of the population) with more than a 3.5% chance of dying if they develop COVID-19.
Hysteria? There is no vaccine against COVID-19. There is no cure. The only way for a 60+ year old Virginian to avoid a 3.6% – 14.8% chance of dying is to avoid the disease. The real odds of dying are the infection rate multiplied by the mortality rate. But once you contract the disease you are far more likely to die than if you contracted the flu. Is there any activity on Earth that a rational person would undertake with a 3.6% – 14.8% chance of dying? For comparison purposes an American sent to fight in Vietnam had about a 0.5% chance of dying. Given those odds, is it really “hysteria” to cancel fan participation at sporting events or to insist that people in contact with the public wear gloves? Our only defense is containment and containment comes with a fair amount of inconvenience. What is the alternative? Hope, as they say, is not a strategy.
Graphic source: Texas Public Policy Foundation
Virginia does not just employ more than its proportional share of military employees compared to other states, it ranks among the top 5 in the country for enlistments — specifically, the ratio of first-time enlistments to the number of civilian employees. Virginia does not stand alone. It is part of a regional cluster of states extending to North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Alabama, where young men and women contribute disproportionately to the Armed Services.
As Chuck Devore points out in Forbes, military recruits come disproportionately from the middle class. Local culture and tradition play an important role in the decision to join the military, as does familiarity with uniformed service. For whatever reason, the South Atlantic states have an especially strong tradition of military service.
Source: StatChat blog
by James A. Bacon
Virginia’s annual population growth has slowed to the lowest rate since the 1920s, according to the University of Virginia’s Demographics Research Group. In the past decade, the 2010s, the population growth fell by almost half — from a 1.3% rate to a 0.7% rate in the 2000s. There is no evidence, as the population ages, as Millennials struggle to gain their economic footing, and as fertility rates decline, that this trend is likely to reverse itself.
Nor is there any evidence that state lawmakers comprehend the economic and fiscal implications of this seismic change.
On the positive side, a stagnant population should ease the inevitable strains associated with new growth and development. There will be fewer children to educate, fewer kids to send to college, less traffic, less energy consumption, less waste to recycle, and the less water consumed than would have been the case if population had continued growing at the previous pace. In other words, the demand for new infrastructure will ease considerably, providing relief to Virginia’s fast-growth localities. Continue reading
Source: StatChat blog
by James A. Bacon
The net out-migration of Virginian taxpayers continued in 2018, extending a six-year trend and contributing to the slowest rate of population growth in Virginia since the 1920s when African-Americans were fleeing the state’s oppressive Jim Crow laws. If there’s a silver lining to the data published by the University of Virginia Demographics Research Group in its StatChat blog, it’s that the rate of emigration seems to be slowing.
Annual population growth in the Old Dominion peaked at 2.4% in the 1940s, driven by the Baby Boom, and has slowed since. By the 2000s, population growth had fallen to 1.3% annually. In the decade of the 2010s, it plunged to 0.7% — a slower rate of growth than in the Great Depression (1.1%). One has to go back to the 1920s (0.5%) to find a lower rate of growth.
Hamilton Lombard offers this analysis:
The recent shift in Virginia to out-migration has been driven, just as during the 1920s, by changes within Virginia’s economy, principally Northern Virginia’s economy. Decades of above average economic growth in the Washington DC area, in large part due to the expansion of the federal government, attracted hundreds of thousands of people to the region, fueling the majority of Virginia’s population growth by the 1980s. … But for much of the 2010s, economic growth in the DC area has lagged the rest of the U.S., in part due to the Federal Budget Sequestration.
First the wild… The Virginia state Senate passed a bill, SB 657, earlier this week that would allow a person who changed his or her sex to have a new birth certificate issued, reports the Associated Press. Sen. Jennifer Boysko, D-Fairfax, who sponsored the bill, says transgendered constituents have reported issues when leasing apartments, applying for jobs, and opening bank accounts. Permitting people to amend their birth certificates would help eliminate confusion when the a person’s legal identification doesn’t match his/her newly adopted sex. I confess that I can’t keep up with the evolving sex/gender controversies. How many sexes can people pick from these days? Wikipedia lists five sexes: male, female, hermaphrodite, female pseudohermaphrodite, and male pseudohermaphrodite. Will someone be able to pick between the five? Another question: Does the freedom to select one’s sex include one’s “gender”? In 2014 ABC news identified 58 genders — starting with agender, androgyne, androgynous, bigender, cis, cisgender, and on down the list. What logic prevents people from listing their gender (how they self identify) instead of their sex (what their sex organs look like)? By what logic does this bill not simply perpetuate the gisgendered patriarchy?
Now the crazy… A pair of bills under consideration in the House and Senate would amend current law and prohibit motorists from using smart phones while they drive. Unlike previous attempts to tighten the law, reports WTOP, this version would take steps to ensure that “people of color” aren’t disproportionately targeted. Language added by Del. Jeff Bourne, D-Richmond, requires authorities to collect data “to make sure these laws are not disparately impacting communities of color and certain people.” What? I can’t find that language in the bill, HB 874. But assuming I’m overlooking something, I have a few questions: (1) Does Bourne have any evidence to suspect that the law banning smart phone use would be enforced more rigorously against “people of color” than whites? (2) Does “people of color” include Asians and white Hispanics, and does he have grounds to think that they might be targeted on the basis of race? (3) Let’s say for purposes of argument, that statistics show that African-Americans are ticketed more frequently than whites — is racism presumed? What would Bourne do about a ticketing disparity? Cap the number of African-Americans who can be ticketed?
And now the curious… It turns out that there are laws on the books that prohibit “transporting an alien” and “conspiring to harbor an alien” — “alien” referring of course to illegal immigrants. We don’t read about those laws very often; I have no idea how often they are applied. But they sure proved useful when federal prosecutors were throwing the book at the three white supremacists who were accused of plotting to attack the Richmond gun-rights rally in the hope of triggering a race war. Continue reading
Want more proof that Virginia is turning into New Jersey? The percentage of Virginia-born legislators in the General Assembly has declined to 49%, according to data published by the Virginia Public Access Project — with the biggest jump taking place in the last election. I don’t know how many out-of-state legislators were actually born in the Garden State, but I’ll wager that most of them come from states north of the Mason-Dixon line. As a consequence, we are now engaging in serious debates over such things as $15-per-hour minimum wages and ending the Right to Work law.
Darn those Yankees! Of course, as my Tarheel wife never ceases to remind me, I am technically a Yankee myself. I was born in New London, Conn. — in the hospital across the river from the submaine base in Groton, where my dad was stationed. Moreover, my mother’s side of the family is from New Jersey, and my dad’s side is from Delaware. But that doesn’t count. Because.
Source: “2019 State of the Commonwealth Report”
Reflecting its lagging economic growth in the 2010s, Virginia experienced an unfamiliar sensation — more native-born Americans moving out than moving in. Or, as demographers put it, negative net domestic migration. Thanks to natural population increase and strong international immigration, Virginia’ s population continued growing through the decade. But the domestic out-migration was a sign of economic fragility.
Old Dominion University’s “2019 State of the Commonwealth Report” takes a close-up look at the migratory patterns, breaking down the numbers by metropolitan area. The state’s two largest metro accounted for almost the entire outflow of native-born residents. Hampton Roads hemorrhaged domestic residents, losing 61,000 between 2010 and 2018., while Northern Virginia drained 44,000. Blacksburg leaked a small number, less than a thousand. Fortunately, Virginia’s other metros continued to enjoy a net gain in domestic citizens. Richmond gained 34,000. Continue reading
Declining geographic mobility. Graph credit: McKinsey Global Institute
by James A. Bacon
A recurring question on this blog and elsewhere is why don’t more Americans (and rural Virginians) move to areas of greater economic opportunity? Why do they remain stuck in communities with high unemployment and low wages? Americans have always moved to economic opportunity in the past. What’s different now?
Those questions give rise to another set of questions. If people refuse to budge, should the rest of society take pity on them and subsidize their choice to stay put? As Don Rippert commented in a previous post, “The best thing the state can do is issue relocation vouchers to rural residents.”
The authors of a McKinsey Global Institute report, “The Future of Work in America,” tackles the geographic-mobility question. The biggest factor, they suggest, is the vast and growing gap in the cost of living between prospering cities and lagging communities. “Variations in the cost of living — and particularly in housing costs — are a clear contributing factor holding back geographic mobility in the United States. The cities offering the greatest job opportunity also happen to be expensive places to live.” Continue reading
Texas Senator Ted Cruz and family. Using Census definitions, three of the four Cruz family members picture here are “people of color.”
by James A. Bacon
As President Bill Clinton famously predicted in 1998 based on Census Bureau forecasts, white Americans would lose their majority status in the United States by the 2040s. The prospect of “people of color” comprising an “emerging Democratic majority” has undergirded the Democratic Party strategy of making racial/ethnic identity politics the core of their appeal. In parallel, fear of becoming a minority has inflamed the passions of many white voters. Ironically, due to an increase in the number of Hispanics and the offspring of inter-racial marriages, the percentage of Americans identifying as white is barely declining.
It is increasingly evident that the U.S. government’s system of racial classification is archaic. Indeed, recent numbers call into question what it even means to be “white” or “black,” both of which are classifications reflecting the obsessions of a by-gone era.
“The same Census projections that predict Americans who identify as white alone will become a minority during the 2040s also predict that about 75 percent of the U.S. population is expected to mark the box next to White on their Census form, either alone or in combination with another race or ethnicity,” writes Hamilton Lombard, a University of Virginia demographer, on the StatChat blog. “The race categories we use are struggling to keep up with our changing population.” Continue reading
University of Virginia acceptance rate, 2017-18. Source: Virginia Public Access Project based on SCHEV data.
If you were a high school graduate from Dickenson County applying for admittance to the University of Virginia, the odds of getting accepted in 2017 and 2018 were 100%. If you were a high school graduate from Fairfax County, the odds were only a little better than one in three (37.7%). Sounds pretty unfair, huh?
But, then, you’ve got to consider that only three high school grads from Dickenson County even applied to UVa. Some 6,300 grads from Fairfax County applied.
Those data points and many, many more can be found in an informational graphic published on the Virginia Public Access Project. The interactive map is based on State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) data. Continue reading
by Don Rippert
Anywhere but here. Moneywise Publishing is citing a “study” detailing the most and least desirable American cities based on real estate inquiries. Real estate brokerage firm Redfin tracks Americans using their web site to find new places to live. According to the company, 25% of people browsing home listings online are “looking to get outta town.” Tracking the places people want to leave isn’t very encouraging for Virginia. Both the Richmond metropolitan area and the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area are on the list of 19 top places to leave. Redfin also tracks the 10 places people most want to go. No Virginia city makes that list. Continue reading
by Don Rippert
Debate: The debate on immigration in America continues to rage. People who hold right-of-center political beliefs seem to think that the U.S. immigration laws should be vigorously enforced. There may be some “wiggle room” on the right. For example, some conservatives believe there should be exceptions to deportation for those illegally in the United States so long as they have been here a fairly long time, paid taxes, stayed out of legal trouble, etc. Without commenting on the reasonableness of the conservative position, it is understandable.
The position held by Americans with left-of-center political beliefs is hard to fathom. While few liberals will openly say they are in favor of “open borders” the sum total of their beliefs seems to indicate that “open borders” is exactly what they seek.
This issue is important for Virginia because some areas of Virginia have very low numbers of foreign born residents, while other areas have very high numbers of foreign-born residents. For example, the 2010 Census found that 12.9% of people living in America were foreign born. Virginia had 11.4% of its residents recorded as being foreign born. However, Arlington County (Virginia’s 6th most populous county) had a foreign born percentage of 28% in 2000. Social services are affected by immigration. The cost of teaching English as a second language in public schools is directly impacted by the percentage of residents born in foreign (non English speaking) countries.
Author’s apology in advance – this is a long post. By far the longest I have ever published. However, this is a complex topic with both liberals and conservatives more than willing to misrepresent the data. I saw no way to properly handle the topic with brevity.