Does Northam Have a Plan to Battle a COVID Resurgence in Virginia?

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

by DJ Rippert

The second (or third) time around. America’s polarized political situation has all eyes on the upcoming presidential election. Millions are voting early and millions more will vote by mail. There is a good chance that the final results will not be known on the morning after Election Day. If true, America’s attention will be riveted on the election through November and quite possibly into December. Meanwhile, COVID cases are surging in the U.S. and parts of Europe. Yesterday, the U.S. recorded 906 COVID-related deaths. That number had been averaging between 700 and 800 since early autumn. Virginia’s record in managing COVID has been mediocre to date. Not terrible but not great either. The state ranks 30th in per capita COVID-related deaths. Over the last seven days Virginia has recorded the 21st most cases of COVID among U.S. states. As evidence of a resurgence of COVID mounts, Virginians ought to wonder whether the state is ready to react to such a resurgence if it occurs.

When in Rome … Italy has imposed regional lockdowns in response to a surge in COVID-19 cases. On Saturday alone Italy recorded 20,000 infections. In per-capita terms, that rate is 33 per 100,000 people. The corresponding U.S. rate is just under 27 new cases per 100,000 people. In other words, we’re not far behind. Starting a week ago Italy announced a new tightening of the coronavirus rules. The result has been rioting in various areas of Italy, especially Naples. Additional tightening of the COVID restrictions in Italy are expected as early as today.

Sauerkraut. Germany has experienced a surge in COVID cases and has started tightening COVID-related restrictions. As in America, the German reaction has been regional. Per the France24 news service, “If an area records more than 35 new infections per 100,000 people over seven days, masks will become mandatory in all places where people have close contact for an extended period.” These new restrictions are causing strife in Germany. Germany’s national disease control center was attacked with incendiary devices last night. Security guards at the center, named the Robert Koch Institute, were able to quickly extinguish the blaze. Also last night, German police broke up a 600-person fetish party in Berlin saying, “There were just too many for too little space.” Rumors that Hunter Biden was involved in the party are considered to be “fake news.”

Elsewhere in Europe. Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov has tested positive for COVID-19. Belgium is facing a shortage of doctors, nurses, police and teachers as Europe’s second wave of the coronavirus pushes Belgians into illness and/or quarantine. On Friday Spain reported almost 20,000 new cases and 231 more deaths. As AP reports, “Political jockeying over pandemic measures, however, has muddled Spain’s strategy and made it at times difficult for the national government and the country’s 19 regional governments to coordinate measures. The latest spat is over whether to introduce curfews, as other European countries have done.” One is left to wonder if American Democrats will blame Trump for Spain’s lack of federal/regional coordination.

1918. The Great Influenza of 1918 (also known as the Spanish Flu) came in waves. The first wave (in early 1918) was bad but the second wave (in late 1918) was much worse. While there is no evidence that the coronavirus outbreak hammering Europe right now is worse than the first outbreak, there is always the possibility that the two waves might affect people in different ways.

Sure as God made them little green apples. Is there any serious doubt that the increased cases in the U.S. and the resurgence in Europe will eventually come to Virginia? There is little reason for doubt. As we all saw during the first wave, the virus migrates across geographies at its own pace. Texas was relatively unaffected by the plague in New York until ‘Rona got to the Lone Star State. Then it was Katy bar the door. Today, Texas has the 17th highest per-capita death rate from COVID-19 among U.S. states. The time to prepare is before the onset of a second wave, not once it happens. What’s happening right now in Europe and in areas of the U.S. outside of Virginia is coming to Virginia.  et on it.

Northam’s prior failures. As noted, Virginia came through the first wave of the virus with mediocre, or average, results. There was a nursing-home debacle, a testing debacle and some curious personal behavior by our unmasked, non-socially distanced governor in Virginia Beach. Unemployment in Virginia is somewhat better than average at 6.2% making the state 19th best in the country.  Will we do better (or possibly worse) with the new outbreak? The answer to that question comes down to preparation. Has Virginia used the recent relative respite from COVID-19 to stockpile PPE, develop an inventory of ventilators, prepare to expand hospital capacity, ensure that high volume testing can be performed? Are we better prepared now then we were in April?

Paging Dr Northam. The original coronavirus wave hit with a bang. We went from a seemingly obscure illness in China to chaos in New York in no time. Predictably, the disease rather quickly made its way to Virginia and, as has been previously stated, we mounted an average response. Now, at home and across the Atlantic, the winds of resurgence are blowing. The disease is stalking the Old Dominion. It will eventually find us. Does Ralph Northam have the state properly prepared for the next round with the heavyweight beast that is COVID? It’s high time for Virginians and Virginia’s press outlets to start asking Ralph Northam what he has done to prepare us for what is coming. It’s high time for Ralph Northam to clearly and publicly articulate the preparations we have taken for the next wave of COVID-19.