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.

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

  1. I went into two stores over the weekend. In both cases, customers tried to enter without masks on.

    In one store, they were stopped and told they had to have masks or leave.

    In the other, they were asked but not stopped if they did not.

    The question is – how should this be handled by the states including Virginia?

    What should Northam do with respect to mask wearing?

    What else should Northam do (or not do)?

    Northam is in a lose-lose position. No?

    If he leaves it up to individuals to decide – COVID will probably run wild.

    If he tries to mandate things, the other side will go after him.

    • New word: Endemic. The pandemic is over and now the COVID bug is endemic. In a year there will be a vaccine, but probably no more effective than the flu vaccine, which still leaves 40, 50, 60,ooo to die every year from flu. And for political reasons many Democrats have aligned with the anti-vax crowd to discourage people from taking it. So cases will be still be breaking out, hot spots declared. The Mask Brigade still fooled and fooling into confidence by wearing thin, non-medical grade coverings. (Get the real ones.) Travel and leisure will still be dead. Larry will still worship at the altar of “Science I Agree With.”

      The Governor, the next president, either of them and/or her, will have to switch to a “here is how we live with this world we now have” message. The choice of total economic lockdowns and quarantine is clearly not acceptable. Another year without school is not acceptable. Our choices are as they have been, see this spread fast or slow, but it will keep spreading. The toll is semi-Darwinian, and if I needed to, I’d be getting my weight, A1C and BP back in line.

      • I somewhat agree with Steve but I do not think Dems oppose vaccines, they oppose some idiot in chief interfering with the process and the science politically.

        Yes, I believe in the science – as imperfect as it is – and it is – I still put my faith in people who have the credentials and background to understand more than I do folks who lack the background but have opinions and the rubes who put their faith in those who sound “smart”.

        The purpose of masks , testing, social disancing is to allow the economy and schools to open and stay open even as we have continuing infections.

        But we have folks who oppose the mitigations at the same time they insist we open? What kind of “logic” is that?

        And in terms of cruises, and sports and other congregating activities – it’s not the govt restrictions as much as it is people who are concerned about infections. It’s the flu – yes – but more like the Spanish flu than run-of-the mill.

      • It’s not all about lockdowns. Or masks. Regeneron seems to work. Eli Lilly has a monoclonal antibody cocktail of its own. These both treat COVID although neither is a cure. Will Virginia face shortages in a resurgence? Testing supplies and the quick turnaround of test results can help contain the spread and keep the hospital caseload manageable. Do we have enough testing supplies? Can we ramp up testing in a resurgence? Do we have contact tracers? If I come in contact with somebody who had COVID I’d want to get tested. But the only way I’ll know is contact tracing. Early detection and treatment lowers mortality.

        Is Northam ready?

    • Well, if I were Ralph … I’d realize that I can’t run for reelection in 2021 and there is no national office elections until 2022. So, I’d rather be safe than sorry. A serious under-reaction will be remembered forever while an overreaction will be remembered until there is a vaccine. More importantly, making sure there are enough beds, ventilators, PPE, treatment drugs, etc in Virginia now should be his priority.

      As of four days ago, things were getting pretty tight in El Paso ….

      • DJ, please do not encourage another return to the Phase 1/Shelter in place response from six months ago. The lesson of this fall surge is that whether you were tightly controlled or loosey-goosey, the bug is spreading again. So be reasonable.

        Larry, oh I’m stocking up to have the masks I need for 2021, including some more N95s, and the certified surgical masks (better than my first boxes). But a mask mandate from Northam or Biden will not increase compliance. And some Dem leaders like Newsome and Cuomo have said they do not trust FDA/CDC/Big Pharma — it is not just Trump — and will insist on their own tests. That could delay roll out in NY and CA by another six months! They are LOVING this crisis and will not let it go.

        • They don’t trust them BECAUSE of Trump, Steve. Did they distrust them before Trump? NO!

          The problem is what do we do if 1/3 or more of people REFUSE to wear masks? What then?

          We don’t want a lockdown. We want to do everything we can to open the economy and keep it open including the schools but what do you do when a significant number of people refuse to do the things necessary to keep it open?

        • Here’s your problem Steve:

          A federal health agency halted a public-service coronavirus advertising campaign funded by $250 million in taxpayer money after it offered a special vaccine deal to an unusual set of essential workers: Santa Claus performers.

          As part of the plan, a top Trump administration official wanted the Santa performers to promote the benefits of a Covid-19 vaccination and, in exchange, offered them early vaccine access ahead of the general public, according to audio recordings. Those who perform as Mrs. Claus and elves also would have been included.

  2. What is Ralph going to do? What is Trump going to do? Remember him? President? Running for for re election?

    • That’s over, one way or the other. All over but the counting (re-counting) and shouting. He deserves credit which you will not give him, for the emphasis on vaccine research and other treatments, and all the scorn you can apply for failing to set an example of reasonable mitigation. I honestly don’t get it, because the polling I’ve seen since April makes it clear his laissez-faire approach was rejected even by many of his supporters. Love him or hate him, he doesn’t get pushed by polls.

    • Looks like Mr. Galuszka needs to go back to school.

      Under the U.S. Constitution, which level of government has primary responsibility for health care of American citizens?

      a. County/district level of government
      b. Federal level of government
      c. State level of government
      d. Town/city/village level of government

      Answer: C
      Under the U.S. Constitution, states retain the power to protect the health and welfare of their residents. Consequently, states have the primary responsibility for public health functions.

      But don’t feel bad. Larry would have failed too.

      And what’s wrong with that? I thought you loved Governor Northam. Would you actually prefer that President Trump make all the decisions about health in Virginia?

      • sorta makes the CDC, FDA, and Health and Human services irrelevant, eh?

        How many folks have Medicare from the US Govt?

        THe VA for military?

        Medicaid for the low income?

        the “fail” here is those who see only one thing and say it is the only thing


        • “sorta makes the CDC, FDA, and Health and Human services irrelevant, eh?”

          Not irrelevant, but each level of government has its role. Leftists often get those mixed up.

          If you don’t like our governmental structure, then the framers have provided a way to amend the Constitution. That process is difficult, by design.

          • Actually I’d posit that right wing ideologues seem to have the problem. Most normal folks want the CDC to take the lead on public health and the FDA on drugs and vaccines.

  3. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    Endemic. Derived from the greek word endemos. “In the population”.

    Glad the pandemic is over. Whew! That was wearing me out. On to the endemic. It is hard to predict what Mr. Northam will do next. I sure do want him to get it right. Maybe his doctor “spidey senses” will be useful after all.

    The Carousel Ice Cream place in Warrenton closed for the season yesterday. Talked to the owner. He is preparing for no help or relief from the government for next season if there is even a next season. Might not be a bad idea for folks to plan on getting through this alone.

  4. Baconator with extra cheese

    I’m curious how any of this will be walked back in the future. A bunch of rhetoric laid out by the party likely to take almost all branches of state and federal government is extremely severe. Severe to the point of saying people who do not believe in the strictest of preventive measures should be considered murderers or guilty of manslaughter. The teachers’ unions supporting that party have also voiced outright rage at the thought of requiring them to take any risk of being exposed to Covid.

    • Just listened to Gottlieb on CNBC, predicting a very hard winter with new heights of infection, and describing how it follows the pattern of previous epidemics. This second (third?) wave should get us to a point where enough people have had it that combined with the coming vaccines, the rest of ’21 should be better. We’ll see. France has a strict mask national mandate. The mandate is not holding….

      Which should surprise no one. What medical advice is followed by all people? Don’t smoke. Limit your alcohol. Limit your sugar soft drinks, desserts, fatty meats, etc. Exercise. Being fat will kill you (now there is a new way.) Why is anybody surprised that the advice on preventing COVID is being ignored? Why should it be any different?

      • Isn’t Gottlieb saying what most other legitimate epidiemiologists have been saying?

        In terms of “masks not working”. Geezy Peezy.

        How about – if not enough people wear them – when they should – that they will be less effective?

        What is the alternative to the idea that if they “don’t work” – we should just stop wearing them?

        Why the mixed messages? i.e. – “use a mask but they don’t really work” ? Doesn’t this just further embolden those who won’t wear them at all?

        • The MANDATE is not working.

          • “Not working” at all or sufficiently?

            and the alternative is what?

            You can literally argue yourself into oblivion if you insist that any measure must be 100% effective or we do not use it.

            No vaccine is going to be 100% effective. Does that mean we should not develop and rely on vaccines?

            What is the logic?

            If we can accept vaccines that are not 100% effective, why not other measures?

          • You are being inane and rambling again. Clearly we develop vaccines and treatments. Clearly we encourage (the carrot, not the stick) mitigation efforts. But the “alternative” we must accept is that this is with us now permanently, just like other infectious and potentially deadly diseases. So we adapt. As bad as it has been, it still accounts for less than 10% of all deaths in the U.S. over the eight months, and our response has added tens of thousands of deaths from other causes.

          • Not at ALL “inane” to point out the gross inconsistencies in your reasoning.

            Nothing is going to be 100% so why make that your strawman that you can then knock down?

            And what is your real alternative if not masks?

            You like what Gottlib is saying but not other public health folks like him? what?

            What are you advocating FOR ?

            Youse guys are all over the map on this… this is no coherent strategy except for some in your ranks are saying “herd immunity” for the young and healthy and go die or hide if you are not.

            Ya’ll have no coherent strategy other than to carp and complain and whine… geeze..

  5. Isn’t it the “party of science” that doesn’t want doctors to tell patients they’re overweight because it’s “fat-shaming”?

    • Not exactly. Doctors can (and do) “advise” and “help” those with weight problems to manage their conditions better than if they did not have a doctor.

      And not all of them do that. There are some quacks and snake oil types to for the “anti-science” types of which we have a number of also.

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