How 15 Days to Slow the Spread Became 475

by Kerry Dougherty

At last!

Four hundred and seventy five days after Gov. Ralph Northam first declared a coronavirus state of emergency, his latest order is set to expire today.

God willing.

I can’t be the only one holding my breath, wondering if the hysteria that Team Apocalypse is ginning up over the Delta variant will cause Northam to reinstitute emergency measures or suddenly extend them.

It can’t be easy to relinquish such broad powers.

Yet, as of yesterday, 89% of Virginians over the age of 65 had received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 81% were fully vaccinated. In Virginia’s largest city — Virginia Beach — there were exactly 9 positive tests. And statewide, only 202 people confirmed for COVID were hospitalized, down from 2,820 on January 14, 2021.

This is the time to stay calm and rational and let Virginians decide for themselves how to conduct their lives. For one thing, this variant appears to be less deadly than Covid-19, which itself had more than a 99% survival rate for most age groups.

Given all that has transpired in the past 15 months the single most important question to ask EVERY candidate running for state office this fall is this one:

Should the governor of Virginia have unlimited and endless emergency powers that are not subject to legislative oversight?

The only acceptable answer should be a hard NO.

Remember, this one man — Northam — closed our churches, synagogues and schools. He alone decided how many people could attend funerals, weddings and sporting events. For a time he ruled that no one could sit on a beach, or play loud music. He decided that alcohol sales had to stop at 10 p.m. and arbitrarily ordered Virginians to stay in their homes after midnight. He labeled many professions “non-essential” and shut them down. For a while, he tried to hide the alarming outbreaks in nursing homes with phony claims of privacy rights.

One man. One fallible man, with a history of poor judgment — see his medical school yearbook if you doubt me — who answered to no one.

No governor should have such sweeping power. It’s one thing to declare a brief state of emergency after a hurricane, freak snowstorm or major flooding, where power is out and roads are impassible.

It’s quite another to simply extend order after order, indifferent to the catastrophic effects such edicts had on businesses, education and the mental health of individuals. Especially children.

As a result of their governors enacting excessive coronavirus restrictions, several state legislatures acted to place limits on gubernatorial power.

Not Virginia. Not yet, anyway.

This column has been republished with permission from Kerry: Unemployed & Unedited.