Category Archives: Public safety & health

Account for All of the Costs

by Bill O’Keefe

Opposition to Dominion’s offshore windfarm has come mainly from critics who cite technology, economic, and energy-system concerns and problems. Unfortunately, these have only been persuasive enough to slow down the reckless rush by Dominion and its allies in the General Assembly to obtain SCC approval. What about the impact on human health?

Where is the public health consideration? Windmills are notorious for killing birds and bats, but the significance of this is not explored. After all, what are a few birds and bats worth when it comes to saving the planet? Well, the answer is more than advocates will admit. Killing bats has a human health effect.

Mosquitoes are at the top of bats’ menus. Mosquitoes are the bane of outdoor enjoyment and a boon for the insect spray industry. As a result, most of us give little thought to the dangers of mosquitoes; but they are not trivial.

According to the World Atlas, “These swarming yet stealthy insects have proven to be more than just an annoyance to the human race. In some parts of the world, female mosquitoes (the ones that do the biting) do not just leave behind an itchy red lump, but sometimes also diseases such as dengue, West Nile, yellow fever, Zika, chikungunya, lymphatic filariasis, and the big one: malaria. Each year, somewhere around 725,000 to 1,000,000 people die from mosquito-borne diseases.” Continue reading

Violence Prevention and TATs: A Dissenting Opinion

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

There has been a lot of discussion on this blog  about violence prevention committees and threat assessment teams (TAT). There have been disagreements over whether the University of Virginia is in compliance with state law as well as lamentations about the lack of enforcement where it is considered that an institution is not in compliance with the requirements of state law.

First of all, I am not sure how the requirements would be enforced. The statutes provide no mechanism or provide authority to any agency to enforce them. The statutes themselves are fairly broad and, as has been shown in the discussions on this blog, there are various ways of interpreting those statutes. If push came to shove, I suppose one could go to court and seek a writ of mandamus against a college or university requiring it to rectify some omission or error in its policies regarding its  violence prevention committee or threat assessment team. I am not sure who would have standing to bring such a suit — faculty and students, probably; parents of students, maybe; alumni or interested citizens, probably not. Such a case would likely be expensive for anyone filing suit.

More importantly, I would advocate abolishing the requirement to establish a violence prevention committee and a threat assessment team altogether. It is an overly bureaucratic and inefficient way to deal with the potential for violence on campuses. In addition, the use of TATs can lead to abuse. Continue reading

Virginia Should Enforce Threat Assessment Laws. Noting Lack of Compliance Not Enough.


by James C. Sherlock

I have written about the Threat Assessment Teams (TAT’s) of two state universities, the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech.

I assessed Tech to be compliant with state law. I reported that UVa is not. That of course raises the issue of the rest of Virginia’s colleges and universities.

The Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) in 2014, with far more resources and access than I, found the state of the TAT’s serving the commonwealth’s fifteen four-year state institutions of higher learning (IHL), its community colleges and private IHLs to be as a group a hot mess (my term).

I will follow this article with an assessment of the compliance of the current policies of Virginia’s fifteen public IHLs.

The 2014 report did not have the intended effect of standardization and professionalization of threat assessment and intervention in Virginia. Preliminary reviews of the policies of each IHL show them still to be all over the map in terms of compliance.

I am reasonably sure that if DCJS redid its survey tomorrow, it would result in similar findings and recommendations. Perhaps at this point the government should actually enforce the law rather than just reporting on the lack of compliance.

One wishes that had occurred years earlier. Continue reading

Petersburg Resumes Important Actions Against City Code Violators — Homeless Needs Increase

Travel Inn was shut down by the ACE team in June. Courtesy Joyce Chu, Progress Index.

by James C. Sherlock

Sometimes absolutely necessary actions have more than one outcome.

Such is the case in Petersburg.

Joyce Chu of Petersburg’s indispensable Progress- Index last evening initiated a multi-part series on the impacts of the city’s closure due to safety violations of two motels used by otherwise homeless people.

Her first article makes a case for more government and charitable services for the people affected by the closures. Good for her. No one wants people living on the streets and everyone wants the kids in school.

She explains that the California Inn, OYO and Travel Inn motels, among a group of low cost motels right off of I-95, were

also hotbeds of crime, drug overdoses and prostitution mixed in with families with children, according to former residents and homeless advocates.

She points out that Petersburg has resumed (after a lengthy period when it did not) enforcing its zoning codes. A team called the ACE team — Abatement, Compliance, and Enforcement — is on task, run by the Fire Chief.

Code enforcement is an absolutely necessary step to revitalize the city.

So is helping those adversely affected.  -Hotel owners should be forced within the limits of the law to assist. Continue reading

You Dirty Rat!

Photo credit: Greater Greater Washington

From Orkin’s 2022 list of “rattiest” cities in the United States:

4. Washington, D.C.

25. Norfolk

33. Richmond

In the list of cities with the most rodents, Chicago took the top spot, followed by Los Angeles and New York.

By counting total rat populations, Orkin’s methodology skews to big cities. I’d like to see a ranking of cities by rat-to-human ratio. — JAB

Stress, Fuzzy Symptoms, and Long COVID

by James A. Bacon

WHRO Public Media tells the story of Chesapeake nurse Megan Temple, who contracted COVID-19 in October and has dealt with “long COVID” ever since. She got over the initial illness quickly. But in the weeks and months that followed, during which she also recovered from abdominal surgery, she developed an array of mysterious, shifting symptoms.

She suffered severe chest pains, lost muscle coordination, experienced brain fog, lost hair, and experienced vision changes. At one point, she couldn’t sleep for 48 hours or sit for more than minutes at a time. “It sounds very strange, but I just felt like I was going to die,” she said, “like my body was going to shut down.”

Before I go any further, let me make it indisputably clear that I am NOT saying that the symptoms are imaginary. Something is occurring. But when symptoms are varied, vague, impossible to measure, and make their appearance after haphazard time intervals, I think we need to take a closer look.

Humans are cognitively disposed to attribute causation to events that occur in proximity to one another. When Event A occurs before Event B, people are inclined to say Event A caused Event B. If someone recovers from COVID and later experiences brain fog, they assume that COVID caused the brain fog. Perhaps there is an underlying medical connection between the two. But perhaps the brain fog has another cause, and the timing was a coincidence. I suspect that’s true in many cases, if not most of them. Continue reading

Widespread Fallout from School Closures

by Kerry Dougherty

I feel sorry for 1st-grade teachers.

Not only do they have the tough task of teaching kids to read, but they are now dealing with children who lack some of the most basic skills needed to learn. Skills the children should have learned in pre-school and kindergarten.

An admissions officer from a local private school said recently that they continue to see “COVID anomalies” in children entering the 1st grade.

Anomalies? Like what?

“Many of the children don’t know how to hold a pencil,” she replied.

Seriously?

Then again, what did we expect. When the governor forced youngsters into remote learning – some for more than a year – the tykes didn’t master pincer movements. They were simply propped in front of computer screens for hours at a time. No need to use their little hands.

Chew on that for a moment. Continue reading

Who’s Scared of Monkeypox? Not Me.

by Kerry Dougherty

Read the increasingly hysterical stories about monkeypox and you’ll learn that public health officials are “scrambling,” “grappling” and “struggling.”

They don’t know what to do to slow the spread of this nasty, but rarely fatal disease.

The WHO has declared a public health emergency, its highest level of alert. The Biden administration may do something similar soon now that 3,591 Americans have been infected. That will supposedly free up more vaccines or something.

The fact is, these “experts” know EXACTLY what to do. They just won’t do it.

Let’s be brutally honest here. So far, the WHO says 98% of the cases are in gay men who have multiple sex partners. Often strangers. Yet the same experts keep warning the rest of us not to be complacent about monkeypox. Continue reading

Violent Crime Now the Top Public Health Concern

Community violence and crime constitute the No. 1 “public health issue” that concerns registered voters in Virginia, finds the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA) in a poll released today. Fifty-one percent of the 800 Virginians polled selected the issue.

The No. 2 concern was healthcare work shortages, which logged the top vote from 25% of respondents. (The VHHA press release did not indicate which other concerns, such as COVID-19, that people could select from.)

The poll also found that: Continue reading

No, Your Middle Schooler Doesn’t HAVE to Get the HPV Vaccine

by Kerry Dougherty

Virginia Beach Delegate Tim Anderson took his sons to see the new “Minions” movie two weeks ago at the Regal Cinemas at Town Center.

They were settled in their seats when a disturbing image appeared on the screen.

The movie wasn’t offensive. But a public service announcement from the Virginia Department of Health was. It told the audience that a vaccine against HPV — the human papillomavirus — was required for entry into Virginia middle schools.

Trouble is, that’s deceptive. While that vaccine against a common STD is listed with the mandates, parents can decide if they want their child to receive it. Continue reading

Mamas, Let Your Babies Grow Up Before Getting Vaccinated

Source: Virginia Department of Health

by James A. Bacon

About 21,000 Virginia children aged four and under have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in the three weeks since the shots were made available, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch. That amounts to only 5% of the age group, observes reporter Eric Kolenich, but it’s significantly higher than the national average of 2%.

I’m double vaxed and double boosted. But, then, I’m 69 years old. Nearly 3,800 Virginians in my age bracket have died from the virus. Only 13 children under the age of nine have succumbed.

I don’t proffer unsolicited advice to my daughters. They’re intelligent women capable of making informed decisions about my three grandchildren, and I’m not inclined to meddle. But if they sought my counsel (which they haven’t), I would advise against vaccinating the little knuckleheads.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, nearly 160,000 cases of COVID have been reported for the 0-to-9 age bracket. The chances of little guys getting the virus are high. But only 942 have been hospitalized, and only 13 have died. Continue reading

Democracy Dies in Drabness

City of Charlottesville office building… no, my bad, that’s an East German Stasi office building.

by Jock Yellott

Charlottesville’s City Hall used to be open to its citizens. We could go talk to people. Ask questions. Learn.

No longer. Front door locked. A guard in an air conditioned box. A citizen has to justify going inside. Where? Seeing whom? Why?

The guard calls upstairs to where I’m supposed to go, but no answer. She calls somebody else to let me in the door. I climb the stairs to the second floor and find… a newly installed second locked door. With camera. And a buzzer system.

I need to deliver something to the City Attorney. Buzz. Nobody answers.

The City Council Clerk? Buzz. Nobody answers. No surprise there, the clerk’s office door is usually shut with lights off. Last time the job was open was 2018, salary advertised at $70,532.80 to $137,538.96. My tax dollars at work. Or, not. No way to know who’s actually working if we can’t go in City Hall. Continue reading

The Variants Are Coming! The Variants Are Coming! The Worst One Yet!

by Kerry Dougherty

Looks like it has arrived.

I’m talking about the eagerly anticipated “Mid-Term Variant.” You know, the “worst one yet, the shape-shifting” variety. It’s the terrifying BA.5, which is spreading right now. And if that doesn’t have you trembling and reaching for an N95, the BA2.75 is on its way. From India!

This one is nicknamed “Centaurus” to compound the sense of danger.

Best of all, Centaurus is expected to surge in the fall. Just in time for the mid-term elections. Back under the beds, everyone!

Mail-in ballots are next. You didn’t think the left was just going to lay down and lose, did you?

They’re already busy across the country ginning up the fear and ignoring the fact that although the new versions of COVID are highly contagious they’re also milder than the original.

And medical “experts” continue to scold Americans for not getting boosters. Yet even they admit that the horrible-worst-ever-shape-shifting virus “easily evades” the current vaccines. Continue reading

New Fed Policy Would Hide CMS Data on Patient Safety Records of Hospitals

by James C. Sherlock

One of the most disturbing commentaries I have read in a long time relating to federal efforts to improve hospital patient safety reports a major step backwards in that program.

I have written here many times of the power of the hospitals over Virginia’s politics. A proposed new federal rule shows that power at the federal level. It would negatively affect your ability to understand and compare the patient safety records of hospitals.

The Biden administration Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services (CMS) proposes to hide from the public a CMS rating that helps consumers view relative patient safety grades of hospitals. As important to the hospitals, perhaps, no one would be able to report on that information.

It also proposes to waive $350 million in fines for hospitals that violated existing regulations.

CMS for the Secretary of Health and Human Services is, with this rule, exercising the extraordinary powers the Secretary gives himself by constantly extending the Declaration of Public Emergency for COVID.  And yes, that is legal.

Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA) submitted a 17-page letter of comment. It of course supported the waiver of fines.  On the issue of suppressing patient safety data, the VHHA wrote, unsurprisingly:

“VHHA and its members are supportive of the proposed suppression (of data) in the HVBP program.”

The letter also encouraged CMS to also suppress pneumonia mortality measure because of the potential overlap with COVID- related pneumonia.

The only way that could happen since CMS is already suppressing data with a primary or secondary COVID diagnosis is if there was no reported COVID indication in pneumonia cases.

The proposal itself represents a major scandal.  A total of 1,533 comments, now closed, were submitted on the proposed rule.

They comments from doctors and patient safety groups were unsupportive.  Hospitals were very supportive.  The Virginia Department of Health sent a short letter on the larger rule, but did not comment on data suppression.

The result: political healthcare rules courtesy of the Biden administration and the hospital lobby.

The following article is reprinted by permission of Kaiser Health News. Continue reading

No Patient Should Ever Be Left Alone

by Kerry Dougherty

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis this week signed the Sunshine State’s “No Patient Left Alone Act,” guaranteeing that Floridians can have their loved ones with them when they are hospitalized, ill or in long-term care.

What’s truly unbelievable is that this needed to be legislated. The importance of family visits was always considered common sense. It was key to compassionate care.

Unfortunately, common sense was sacrificed on the altar of hysteria during the pandemic.

Panicked Democrats and morons at the CDC turned America’s nursing homes, hospitals and hospice centers into lonely outposts for the infirm. Eventually, these isolated hellholes became death chambers where authorities imprisoned elderly patients – alone – for more than a year.

Put a prisoner in solitary confinement and you’re committing a human rights atrocity. Yet “healthcare” providers happily locked nursing home residents in their rooms for a year or more. Many dementia patients died – alone – in the fetal position, without a visitor or a hug in months. Families watched their loved ones die over Zoom and then were forbidden by idiot governors to hold funerals. Continue reading