It’s About Time: Phase 3

by Kerry Dougherty

Finally.

After weeks of plummeting death rates, dwindling hospitalizations and a sharp drop in positive test results for COVID-19, slow-walking Gov. Ralph Northam announced that the  commonwealth can enter Phase Three.

But not until next week, on July 1.

Northam made the announcement at yesterday’s press conference.

For months, Northam’s pressers have been characterized by gloom and arbitrary rules that confounded the public.

From the governor’s nonsensical “we’re a commonwealth and we’re going to act like a commonwealth” to his ridiculous no-sitting-or-loud-music-on-the-beach edicts, these bi-weekly broadcasts have been a source of dread for many of us.

Phase Three should have happened weeks ago. Nevertheless, sometimes we must simply be grateful for the crumbs the governor sprinkles in our direction.

Beginning next week, restaurants and retail stores can open at 100% capacity as they attempt to regain a fraction of the money they’ve lost during the interminable shutdowns. Gyms can operate at 75% capacity, which may mean that my favorite elliptical will no longer have a “closed for your safety” sign on it. Public gatherings can have 250 people. And public pools can reopen for recreation, not only for tedious lap swimming. Oh, and hair stylists, who have suffered mightily through the various gubernatorial decrees, can return to business as usual.

But gird your loins, folks. There will almost certainly be an uptick in cases once people are moving about.

Remember, this is Day 104 of 15 Days to Slow The Spread.

Contrary to what some came to believe as the goalposts kept shifting, the shutdowns were never intended to halt the spread of the virus.

That can’t be done. This is a novel infection. Prior to March, no one had immunity to it. Most of us still don’t.

Bad modeling, which bred hysteria, and images from Italy where hospitals were overrun and people were fighting for ventilators, caused a panicked overreaction here in most places in the U.S.

“Slowing the spread” or “flattening the curve” meant slowing the rate of infections to allow hospitals to prepare for the influx of patients. Many of us are still going to catch it. In July, perhaps, instead of March.

Most folks who are infected will be fine. Many will have no symptoms, others will recover at home. For those who become seriously ill, Virginia’s hospitals are in excellent shape. There are more than 8,000 available beds and no hospitals are recording a shortage of PPEs or other equipment.

The lockdowns, which managed to slow the spread, exacted a terrible toll in other areas. Not only did about 840,000 Virginians lose their job, but students lost months of classroom instruction, addicts lost their support group meetings, churchgoers were unable to worship.

In May, The Washington Post reported that the country was experiencing a mental health crisis due to the panic and the shutdowns.

Data shows depression and anxiety already roiling the nation.

Nearly half of Americans report the coronavirus crisis is harming their mental health, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll. A federal emergency hotline for people in emotional distress registered a more than 1,000 percent increase in April compared with the same time last year. Last month, roughly 20,000 people texted that hotline, run by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Online therapy company Talkspace reported a 65 percent jump in clients since mid-February. Text messages and transcribed therapy sessions collected anonymously by the company show coronavirus-related anxiety dominating patients’ concerns.

Beyond that, the civil unrest sweeping our commonwealth and the nation has surely been exacerbated by months of stress, unnatural social isolation and unemployment.

We desperately need to get back to work. And play.

July 1 can’t come soon enough.

This column was published originally at www.kerrydougherty.com.

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12 responses to “It’s About Time: Phase 3

  1. Now Kerry can get back to her elliptical machine. It’s too bad that she has not been able to walk on the beach for her exercise.

    • And those bankrupt former small business owners and all the children who have been suffering through “virtual education” for months?

      They can take a walk on the beach, too, eh?

      It must be nice not to be terrified about your financial future. Thanks for letting the rest of us know how it feels.

  2. Amazing how this post underlines the point I made in my post earlier today

  3. At no point have the beaches been closed to walking, have they? Not even in April (cold, though….) People are driving this, not the state. Went back to the local Y today and discovered more machines were marked “do not use” than had been on Monday. Seems some Blue Nose had complained, too many were open, not all a full 10 feet apart….Even under Phase Three I suspect it will still be the One Objection rule – one complaint overrides the wishes of the majority. Likewise when you see a crowd of fools, that’s not the government rules either way. It’s just a crowd of fools. Enter the crowd, expect a case of COVID-19.

  4. Did anyone catch Mick Mulvaney? His “excuse” that they were slow to react is that the Aministration believed that COV2 was similar to MERS in deadliness and transmission (34% with R0 of 0.45).

    If this wasn’t an out-and-out lie, then they were idiots. WHO initially reported R0 between 2.5 and 4.5 and that was in the February 16th report on community transmission in Wuhan and surrounding districts. This was widely reported. For them to assume transmission nearly 10x less is just plain stupid
    .

    But, I expect a large number of Republicans will believe it.

    • I say this with no disrespect intended to the good doctor, but I bet 85% of what came out of Trump’s mouth early on was planted in his brain by Fauci or some other “expert”. That’s basically what Trump does, he hears what he wants to hear and repeats it. No question the risk was being understated, but I think it was wishful thinking. Not a new problem….

      • Yes, he does do that.. gloms on to the last thing he hears. The only question is, “Does he want to believe it?”, in which case he repeats it, or if not, then he says the opposite.

        By the way, according to him, he does not joke. Wow, a serious clown.

      • Naw… I don’t anything that Fauci says ends up in Trump’s brain but I think a lot of what FOX celebrities say DOES end up in his brain!

        And I think you way underestimate his own thoughts! He DOES have them and he has the instincts of banana republic Prez – and it’s why he seems so much more at ease with folks like Putin and Erdoğan instead of Merkel and other natural allies.

        bite my tongue… 😉

  5. Given what we are seeing in other states, I think it was prudent for Virginia to delay and almost surely we’re going to see a similar uptick but hopefully we have built in enough of a bubble to sustain it and not be where some of the other states are right now – with the Gov of Texas NOW telling people to stay home unless they have no choice.

    The thing about this is that the virus is pretty much doing what science said it was capable of. No, they did not have a 100% prediction score – they were all over the map, but looking at what is going on right now – it’s pretty obvious that it is every bit as bad as science said it might be.

    20% remain skeptics and consider the 80% to be brainwashed by media!

  6. I believe that “15 days to slow the spread” was the message on the card and was the line that VP Pence became famous for during the WH task force briefings. I am fine with the cautious approach taken by Virginia and with the responsibility shown by the majority of its residents. I feel much better being here than I would being in many other states at this point in time. While many of us are perhaps going to catch it in July, I intend to take all reasonable actions possible to avoid being in that group. I hope that Kerry is not one either despite her apparent lack of concern.

  7. VACCINE? ???
    What’s that…. it’s disappeared from the news,,, barely mentioned or discussed… will there ever be one,,, who knows,,, they don’t have one for the common cold…. , nor one for HIV…
    SO just how long is this NON Emergency going to go on????

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