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.

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43 responses to “How 15 Days to Slow the Spread Became 475”

  1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    “No governor should have such sweeping power.”

    Seems to me that this is a very short-sighted and reactionary statement.

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      Yes, you would consider the concept of personal freedom and limited government “reactionary.” Hell, had the General Assembly been forced to vote up or down on the edicts, Northam probably would have had them all approved. But at least there would have been a semblance of oversight and accountability.

      The big rule in this game: What goes around comes around. Next time it may be a Governor of a different stripe on a tear claiming an “emergency.”

      1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
        Eric the half a troll

        Why would you want a political legislative body trying to react to and manage an unfolding and changing public health emergency? Yes, to suggest that is somehow in our best interest is short-sighted and reactionary.

        Btw, did not the legislature (and the courts for that matter) have the opportunity to curtail the power of the governor during the pandemic?

        1. tmtfairfax Avatar

          What’s the difference between a political legislative body and a political executive officer, here the governor?

          But, yes, the GA could have acted.

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            wanna blame someone? blame the folks that gave that power, not the guy that uses it.

            Who should we TRUST to do the right thing in a pandemic?

            Not Conservatives. They’re whacked out on the issue.

          2. Eric the half a troll Avatar
            Eric the half a troll

            In terms of acting in an emergency, an
            executive officer can and will act, a legislative body will debate and delay action.

  2. Baconator with extra cheese Avatar
    Baconator with extra cheese

    I am still hoping for zombies.

  3. Stephen Haner Avatar
    Stephen Haner

    The loss of freedom that Americans rushed to accept in the face of screaming fearmongers should be a lesson to…..wait, look at this new cat video on TikTok! The princesses in Britain are fighting again? Stolen election! Evil racist statues!….. Sorry, what was your point? Can you say it again?

  4. Stephen Haner Avatar
    Stephen Haner

    Kerry, quoting Rand Paul, makes another key point. As the Fear Machine ramps up to use the so-called Delta variant as a club to restore their dictatorial powers, they ignore that it no more and perhaps even less deadly than previous iterations. Partly that is because the most vulnerable, 60+ in age, are the most widely vaccinated so the variant is hitting a younger population. But also, it is not in a virus’s evolutionary best interest to kill the host, on the contrary, and the variant that doesn’t is the mostly likely to take hold. Hooray for CDC holding on to current guidance despite the huge media pressure and not panicking, but not sure how long that will last.

    Damn but the ChiComs did a great job designing this nasty bug and really hope we didn’t pay for that….

    1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
      Dick Hall-Sizemore

      I agree that there should be a limit on a governor’s emergency powers. Many years ago, when I was dealing with emergency powers in connection with natural disasters, I was surprised at the breadth of the governor’s power under Virginia law.

      Over the last year, I have responded to the howls about Northam’s executive orders by pointing out that the Virginia statutes give the governor that power. The General Assembly has had many, many years to limit those powers, but neither Republican nor Democratic majorities made any attempt.

      Maybe now that the pandemic threat has eased, partisan sniping will stop, and rational heads will prevail in coming up with some commonsense limitation. The Democrats had best keep in mind Steve Haner’s warning: what goes around comes around.

  5. LarrytheG Avatar

    The REALITY is that this is not just Virginia. It’s going on around the world in most other countries also and if you believe Kerry and Paul and others here in BR, the rest of the world is also wrong.

    Of course, they won’t say that because they know how idiotic that sounds so they just try to target Northam as if he is the only one.

    Conservatism used to be principled. They dealt with the truth and the reality on issues. No more. If a lie furthers their ideology, it’s a plus!

    1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
      Dick Hall-Sizemore

      Larry, it is not a question of whether Northam’s decisions were right or wrong. The question is whether one person should have such broad, almost unlimited power.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        Agreed. But that power seems to be widespread around the world, no? Why is the argument so specific to one governor when it actually involves many governors in the US and their equivalent around the world in most all developed countries?

        Right now, Australia is locking down again. Canada will still not let US citizens across the border.

        Conservatives don’t like this – but going after Northam won’t fix it.

        If we actually have an emergency that affects lives – do we REALLY what the Governor to be unable to take the steps to save lives?

        We’d have more faith in legislators to make better and quicker decisions?

        1. The description on the website says: “Bacon’s Rebellion is Virginia’s leading politically non-aligned portal for news, opinions and analysis about state, regional and local public policy.”

          Since Bacon’s Rebellion focuses on Virginia, there is nothing odd, improper, or objectionable about the focus on Governor Northam and other Virginia officials.

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            Right, and we KNOW that has kept the blog posts and the discussions ONLY on Virginia issues. I WISH! 😉

            This “problem” was not a problem for decades, as most State legislators enacted similar laws and powers to the Gov to act in an emergency. It’s likely these laws were in place in 1918 in the prior pandemic or came about as a result of it.

            So after all these decades, what has changed that legislators, GOP and DEM did not know before.

            Kerry has been on this rants for more than one blog by the way. It seems like almost every other week, she’s got a burr up her butt about Northam.

        2. WayneS Avatar

          “If we actually have an emergency that affects lives – do we REALLY what the Governor to be unable to take the steps to save lives?”

          Name one person, including Kerry, who has opined on this blog that the governor should have no emergency powers. Just about everyone here except you has expressed concern about the amount/extent of the emergency powers granted the governor under Virginia law, but no one here has said they think the governor should have no emergency powers.

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            Not true again per your relentless errors. I’m asking WHY this is unique to Northam who is doing pretty much the same as most in his role. Why is this about Northam who is basically using the powers given to him and got that most like him around the country and the world. Are all those legislators around the world wrong?

          2. WayneS Avatar

            There is no error on my part, relentless or otherwise.

            The issue is the amount/extent of the emergency powers granted the governor of Virginia under Virginia law.

            Ralph Northam is the current governor of Virginia.

            Therefore, Ralph Northam is a part of the issue.

          3. LarrytheG Avatar

            Nope. This is a standard power granted to a very large number of gov/equivalent, not just Northam and legally given to him to use per the law. be honest and admit this, first, that this is NOt about just Northam.

          4. WayneS Avatar

            I never said it is JUST about Northam. I said it is about the powers of the governor – and Northam.

            A very reasonable man right here on the BR blog earlier today expressed his concern regarding the extent of the emergency powers granted the governor by Virginia law. Why don’t you go tell him how wrong he is.

            And if you accuse me again of trying to make this all about Northam I will [rightfully] call you a liar.

          5. LarrytheG Avatar

            This particular blog post is ragging on Northam – which is what I was commenting on Wayne, not you. Right?

            My point of view is this. Northam is not violating the law , he’s using powers granted to him by legislators, GOP and Dem, likely left and right so why focus on him for basically following the law?

            Beyond that, what exactly he is doing is not unlike most Governors who also follow their legislative laws.

            And, in fact, these powers are not unlike a LOT in the world and powers that have been granted for a long period of time – decades.

            So what has changed ?

            And why is the focus on Northam – instead of the folks who want changes to long-standing laws – long in place in other states and countries?

          6. LarrytheG Avatar

            Northam is a Gov with powers granted to him by GOP legislators , no?

            Why is Northam at fault?

          7. Stephen Haner Avatar
            Stephen Haner

            Let’s get a list from Nancy, Eric and Larry of the emergency executive powers they would want a Governor Donald Trump to exercise without restraint and start from there….

          8. Very good suggestion.

          9. LarrytheG Avatar

            trump was/is not restrained by law, unlike folks like Northam that DO follow the law!

          10. Eric the half a troll Avatar
            Eric the half a troll

            If DT was our governor, I still would want him to be able to act in the event of a public health emergency and I certainly would not want decisions to be handled through the legislative process.

          11. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            He could have acted as President… but.

          12. LarrytheG Avatar

            well, I’ll give you this. It’s consistent. And actually the POTUS already has that power, much more so than Northam and no shortage of EOs these days, both sides when they know they cannot get legislation.

            But what Conservatives are demanding is not even clear. I’m not sure I’ve even heard their proposals for actually limiting Governor declarations of emergency.

            All they have really said is not as long as current.

            The devil is in those details. I’m willing to be that even Conservatives will not agree among themselves what the specific limitation should be.

          13. LarrytheG Avatar

            Why don’t we START with the CURRENT laws that the GOP helped pass quite some time ago. What’s changed?

          14. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            If only he had been a governor. I believe what you desire is a horse, but our committee has for you a camel. Watch out, it spits.

            Well, what would you have done? How deep would the bodies have been if we stacked them in your front yard? (I think I already worked that out for you)

  6. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    One thing about Kerry, she surely brings out the Veranda Vikings. Steve, take off the helmet. The horns look stupid.

  7. DJRippert Avatar

    The Virginia Constitution was adopted in 1971 and was written by members of the Byrd Machine. It’s a ghastly document that seeks to enshrine a permanent political class with minimal ability for citizens to practice democracy.

    I have no problem with governors having substantial power during emergencies for a short period of time. Like 15 days. But Kerry’s point is well taken. When 15 days turns into 475 days problems occur. The governor’s emergency powers should require re-authorization by the General Assembly.

    One hallmark of American democracy is that the body with the shortest term is considered the most responsive to the people. The House of Representatives initiates revenue bills, impeaches federal officers and votes to elect the president if no candidate receives a majority of the electoral college. The thinking was that the American people could “throw the bums out” in two years or less if they didn’t like what was being done.

    Perhaps the approach in Virginia should be for the House of Delegates to re-authorize the governor’s emergency powers on a recurring basis.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      There are 49 other State Constitutions that do pretty much what the Virginia one does on this issue. No?

      Beyond that, around the world, in many other countries, we’ve seen similar restrictions.

      So, it’s not like Virginia is alone on this.

      And in my mind, I’ve yet to see any real concurrence on what it should be if not the way it is now.

      I’ve seen lots of opinions, like 15 days or 30 days but even less precise language as to what kind of things , what criteria would be used in allocating such restrictions.

      And my bet is that Conservatives themselves would disagree with each other – which is a reason why we don’t see changes if even Conservative legislators can’t agree on anything other than an arbitrary short term “no”.

      And I’m not opposed to it – as long as we have a way to quickly resolve the expiration of restrictions.

      Some of this is not really about the term/length – it’s opposition to any/all restrictions of a public health nature from the get go.

      People early on were opposed to ANY closings and restrictions… remember? It wasn’t about the length of restriction, it was opposition to ANY restrictions. some were advocating those who were older or had pre-existing conditions needed to stay in their homes while others just went about normal business.


  8. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Kerry for Surgeon General! Or, some other post for which she is highly unqualified.
    Mrs. Hindsight.

  9. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Of course, we could put together advisory boards to suggest emergency actions to assist the governor. Each board would consist of experts. Why, we could have had Virginia’s best epidemiologists. Oh wait, they might be faculty at UVa or VCU. Does VMI have a medical school?

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      You mean use real scientists? Good LORD. We already know how that would go over…. 😉

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        “Scientists do not join hands every Sunday and sing “Yes gravity is real! I know gravity is real! I will have faith! I believe in my heart that what goes up, up, up must come down, down, down. Amen!” If they did, we would think they were pretty insecure about the concept.” ― Dan Barker, Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists

      2. DJRippert Avatar

        Hopefully you are still wiping down your Amazon deliveries with alcohol and then quarantining the material for four days to avoid catching COVID through contact.

        1. LarrytheG Avatar

          What? Why? If one is vaccinated?

          Oh, I get it, you don’t believe the science!

          That’s why you wanted early on, to just let everyone get it, let folks die and the rest get herd immunity. Right?

          Isn’t that a fairly standard Conservative, anti-vax position now even?

          Ya’ll are… hmm… what’s the word…

          It’s not Northam. He’s just in the line of fire from you guys. Ya’l are after ALL of them exercising the same powers that Northam is. Right?

        2. Brian Leeper Avatar
          Brian Leeper

          I’ve heard that large quantities of gasoline work much better as a disinfectant. Especially when there are appliances with a standing pilot light located nearby.

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            perhaps for anti-vaxxers?

          2. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            You could drink it too. Mr. Trump pontificated on such

  10. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead

    199 days left in the reign of Lord Ralph Dunmore.

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