It’s Good to Be King

by James A. Bacon

Wise King Ralph, in his wisdom, announced yesterday that he would delay implementation of the Phase 3 rollback of emergency economic-lockdown measures. He reached that decision even though Virginia’s COVID-19 metrics show that the epidemic is receding rapidly. Unfortunately, despite declaring previously that he would be guided by those very same metrics, Wise King Ralph did not share his thinking with the populace, nor did the fawning court media deem the contradiction worthy of notice in today’s new coverage.

Here’s all he had to say: “I want to have more time to see how the numbers look before we make changes, especially as we see surges in other parts of our country.”

For the edification of Bacon’s Rebellion readers, however, I am publishing the the metrics, published on the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) COVID-19 dashboard, said to be “statewide key measures.”

The graph above shows the seven-day moving average of total confirmed COVID-19 cases. The seven-day average smooths out the blips caused by random daily volatility. And the trend since late May has been steadily downward.

This graph shows hospitalization data. The seven-day moving average of hospitalized COVID-19 patients is moving steadily lower. The number of patients in the ICU and on ventilators, measures of how acute the cases are, also are trending steadily lower.

Finally, the seven-day moving average of the percentage of COVID-19 tests confirming the presence of the virus is heading steadily lower.

The VDH dashboard does not track COVID-19-related deaths, which would seem to be the ultimate indicator. If both hospitalizations and deaths are declining — as they are — does it really matter if the virus is spreading in the population? As docs and hospitals get better and better at treating the virus, its impact becomes hard to distinguish from that of a nasty flu virus.

It is becoming increasingly evident that an appropriate set of policies at this point would include:

  • Focusing state resources on controlling local outbreaks, especially in long-term care settings which still account for 57% of all COVID-19 deaths in Virginia.
  • Maintaining restrictions on large gatherings (excluding left-wing protests and riots, of course) that could act as super-spreader events.
  • Encouraging employers and places of commerce to enact common-sense sanitary and social-distancing precautions.
  • Encouraging individuals to continue wearing masks and self-isolating as they deem appropriate.

Please, Wise King Ralph, your subjects implore you to let them return to their jobs and routine daily activities.

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17 responses to “It’s Good to Be King”

  1. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    The crisis will not be lifted until all the social and economic changes being sought on the basis of the “emergency” are achieved. Regs are rushing through. Executive orders still in force. And The Circus comes to town to do the real damage in August….

    1. sherlockj Avatar

      I will be surprised if Northam doesn’t reconsider calling the GA into session in August. Too much uncertainty about what they might do to put him on a leash relative to his “Emergency” powers.

  2. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    I have always been skeptical of the special session happening in August. Somehow the RTD assumes that it will occur then. The time line does not favor an August session. Before there can be a special session to consider budget changes, there has to be a final close of the state’s books for FY 2020 (about the middle of July), revenues have to be re-forecast, agencies have to submit decision packages on budget cuts, and the Governor has to consider those proposals and put together a budget package that reflects the new revenue forecast. I think it would be late September at the earliest before a special session could be reasonably called. Don’t forget, although he has committed to calling a special session, the Governor would not have to have the GA come into special session in order for him to implement budget cuts.

  3. Tom Banford Avatar
    Tom Banford

    Really James. You ask does it really matter that the virus is spreading in the community. Yes it does matter as vulnerable people have to be exposed to it by someone. When it is known to be spreading in the community people will not feel free to resume their activities and businesses will not see full occupancy. The economy can not recover while the virus is spreading in the population. I see no problem with the set of policies you spell out but I would point out that the protestors are not all “left wing” whatever that means to you. Finally, if you are worried about a “king” you should be focused on the federal level.

    1. “The economy can not recover while the virus is spreading in the population.”

      That’s true only if the virus is extremely deadly. If the health care system gets better at treating the virus, as in fact it is, the fatality rate of COVID-19 will resemble that of the flu.

      The other factor to consider, which seems to elude our governor entirely, is that the economic shutdown has health effects, too. We just can’t measure them precisely. Northam is basing policy entirely upon the COVID-19 numbers that he can see, while ignoring the negative health impacts of his policies that he cannot see.

  4. Tom Banford Avatar
    Tom Banford

    This virus is plenty deadly as looking at 200K dead Americans will attest too. Our deaths are ten times higher per capita than other countries. Surviving a painful illness and / or expensive hospital stay is no picnic and is something most people want to avoid. How many of those folks partying in Jacksonville, Fl where they all tested positive for the virus along with most of the other patrons of the club are now making their way to VA. as will the scores of others that they will infect? There is a balance to be had that involves testing, tracing, and isolation. As we finally move out of this first wave, we need to learn and prepare for the second wave coming in the winter.

  5. WayneS Avatar

    “Our deaths are ten times higher per capita than other countries.”

    Will you please be kind enough to provide data to back up this claim?

  6. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    Absolutely false. As of today we are 7th on the per capita list. Belgium, UK, France and others still higher. South America catching up. You have to go way, way down the list to find countries where our death rate per capita is ten times higher. Banford is a new member of the “keep the fear alive” team.

    1. djrippert Avatar

      Well he came to the wrong blog. There are more anal retentive number crunchers on this blog than all of the other blogs in Virginia added together. Except, of course, Cranky. Cranky plays the numbers game at a whole different level.

    2. Tom Banford Avatar
      Tom Banford

      Sorry meant to say “some” other countries but why are our deaths so large? Everyone needs to judge their own “fear” as you choose to call it. I will admit that 20 years in the US Navy made me part of the “common sense” team. I will repeat there is a balance to be had which involves testing, tracing, and isolation. Does this really seem so unreasonable?

      1. Matt Hurt Avatar
        Matt Hurt

        I think everyone claims to be on the “commonsense team”. The problem is that not everyone agrees on what is commonsense.

      2. Steve Haner Avatar
        Steve Haner

        Why did we get hit so hard? Plenty of PhD’s will be won with the research, but at this point I would say: 1) Slow reaction, in large part due to intentional lies from China, 2) botched early testing and 3) failure to see and respond to the incredible vulnerability in nursing home populations. How states handled that had much to do with their level of deaths (since that’s who it kills.) Hey, I’ve been one saying “sure” to the mask efforts, the crowd size limitations. Perhaps I’d add American reluctance to accept impediments to personal mobility, etc.

  7. djrippert Avatar

    Elvis has left the building and COVID19 has left Virginia. Well, maybe not. However, this virus has been spreading along geographic lines in the US and around the world. The US may be past the peak while Brazil is under siege. Virginia may be declining while Arizona is rising.

    It’s time to reopen Virginia.

    Northam’s bungling continues apace. One set of rules today, a new set tomorrow. No checks or balances from the legislative or judicial branches. Just one power drunk governor playing God with people’s lives.

    Does ANYBODY understand Northam’s plan for reopening K-12 public schools in the Fall? Of course, even an understandable plan might not matter given King Ralph’s willingness to abandon other plans he has put forth.

    1. Steve Haner Avatar
      Steve Haner

      The long term goal there is to kill the SOLs. Make it too unsettled to do them in 2021 either. Testing is systemic racism, you know.

  8. I think the open-up-now blatherers commenting on this post should read the following article carefully:

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