Man, That’s the Last Time I Say Something Nice about the Guy!

by James A. Bacon

Serves me right. Just yesterday, I praised Governor Ralph Northam for not panicking in the face of rising COVID-19 cases in Southwest Virginia and slapping arbitrary, economy-stifling restrictions on the entire state.

Today he announced that he is slapping arbitrary, economy-stifling restrictions on the entire state. He is limiting gatherings to a maximum of 25 people, down from 250; expanding the indoor mask mandate to include all individuals five and older; prohibiting the sale of alcohol after 10:00 p.m., and making retail violations of physical-distancing a misdemeanor.

“COVID-19 is surging across the country, and while cases are not rising in Virginia as rapidly as in some other states, I do not intend to wait until they are. We are acting now to prevent this health crisis from getting worse,” Northam said. “Everyone is tired of this pandemic and restrictions on our lives. I’m tired, and I know you are tired too. But as we saw earlier this year, these mitigation measures work.”

Well, we’ll see if they make a difference or not.

The restrictions won’t effect me one bit. I always wear a mask in commercial establishments, don’t dine out much past 8:00 p.m., much less 10:00 p.m., and the Bacon family was already planning on limiting family holiday gatherings to no more than six or seven people. But our situation may be different from that of thousands of other Virginia families.

We keep on hearing that COVID restrictions are all about the “science.” I’d like to know what the “science” tells us about requiring six-year-olds to wear masks. I presume the rule applies to children in schools and after-school care. Children at that age are almost all impervious to the virus and are almost never carriers — and good luck trying to make them wear masks for hours on end.

I’d like to know what the “science” tells us about serving alcohol after 10 p.m. Is Northam worried about slobbering drunks failing to maintain social distance? I wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case but, again, show me the data.

What does the “science” tell us about punishing retailers who violate physical distancing, cleaning, and masking guidelines? Intuitively, it makes sense to do all those things. But intuition isn’t always correct. I’m not saying Northam is wrong. I just want to see the evidence that those measures make a difference.

Does anyone in Virginia’s press corps even ask?

The one restriction I am inclined to agree with is cutting the size of gatherings to 25. I’ve always maintained that public policy should focus on preventing super-spreader events. It just makes sense. But I’ve been wrong before. What does the data say?

We do have some data pertaining to that question. The Virginia Department of Health has identified 1,399 COVID-19 outbreaks responsible for 29,930 cases, or about 15% of all cases identified in the state. Forty-five percent have taken place in long-term care facilities, 23% in correctional facilities, and almost nine percent in colleges and universities. Schools and child care combined account for about 2% of all outbreak cases.

The most relevant category, I suppose, is classified as “congregate” settings, which, if I understand correctly, includes businesses and churches. They account for 5,309 cases, or about 2.6% of all confirmed COVID cases. It would be interesting to know the size of the settings where the outbreaks occurred. Surely that’s information that Virginia’s small army of contract tracers have gathered. Have there been any super-spreader events? Anecdotal reporting in the media suggests that there might have been a few. What is the data upon which Northam based his recommendation?

Does anyone in Virginia’s press corps even ask?

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42 responses to “Man, That’s the Last Time I Say Something Nice about the Guy!

  1. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    This is going to be ignored by significant number of Virginians. Not saying that is the right thing to do, but people have had enough.

  2. Congregate settings includes group homes and retirement communities too.

    VDH has tried to hide details on types of settings from day one until forced to disclose info. If people knew it’s not grocery stores and more often family gatherings like weddings and funerals causing community spread, maybe they’d be more careful about those. No mask mandates there, are there?

    Mathews saw over 100 cases from a wedding and another outbreak in September–possibly a group home if local chatter is correct, and another 20 since then. And that was after holding the line at 23 until mid September.

  3. I think Conservatives must defy the Governor. Let’s arrange for a weekend Conservative’s Camp at the Richmond Convention Center. Bring your sleeping bag for a mass “camp out” on the convention center floor. Masks prohibited. HCQ tablets will be handed out like candy.

    I don’t think the outbreak in SW Virginia is influencing this as much as the record number of cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and continued increases in North Carolina. We could shutdown I-95 and take temperatures.

  4. Statement from Del. Kirk Cox:

    “Late this afternoon, Governor Ralph Northam announced new COVID-19 restrictions. The Governor expanded his mask mandate and lowered the limit on in-person gatherings to 25 people.

    “The Governor made this announcement just days after telling the public he would not impose any new restrictions in Virginia. And he did it late on a Friday afternoon without holding a press conference or answering any questions. At the time of his announcement, a copy of his new executive order was not even available for the public to review.

    “This is exactly the kind of ham-handed announcement we’ve come to expect from this administration. Governor Northam seems to change his mind more than a kid in the candy aisle. It is yet another serious failure to lead at a time when Virginia desperately needs steady guidance.”

  5. Building on what Cox said…. Dude, if you want Virginians to comply with these measures, explain the justification for them. No one is going to trust you on blind faith.

    • Northam is afraid of DJ…..had to do something to calm Rippert down. Basically nothing draconian here. Putting if out Friday afternoon means most won’t hear it before the deadlines.

      • My whole point has been that some action was inevitable. However, a measured and methodical approach, announced in advance with scientific backing gives business owners a fighting chance. Two weeks ago, with cases spiking in parts of Virginia, Northam held a press conference saying everything was fine. Then he moved on to the critical issue of a statue. A few days ago he held a press conference, said everything was fine then moved on to a discussion of the election. A junior high school student could see that everything wasn’t fine. Cases were surging in Virginia. And our governor was in la la land, talking about statues and elections instead of COVID at his COVID update press conferences.

    • Yes, indeed, the Ripper is on a tear. And loves to contrast Maryland’s governor with Virginia’s, a potent contrast of leadership styles for sure. And there, I wholeheartedly agree with the Ripper.

      • Northam = Trump when it comes to communication skills. Remember the 6 Ps – proper planning prevents piss poor performance. Northam is like a guy walking down a train track watching the little white light getting bigger and bigger while wondering why some trees lose their leaves in the fall and others don’t. He more than a few bricks shy of a load.

  6. Fwiw, a friend’s father is 95, lost his wife last year, lives alone, nightly drives to one of two bars where he has exactly 3 drinks, flirts with the girls behind the bar, and then drives home. This behavior, including now dating a 30-something is driving his daughters crazy.

    Sunday, Nov. 1, he becamed highly confused, collapsed at the VFW, and was taken to the hospital. He tested positive for Covid. Aside from a fever and the confusion he exhibited, no other symptoms presented and was released to home quarantine that Thursday or Friday.

    His problem (admittedly tough to see one so far) is that on the Friday before he attended a soccer meet for some of his great grandkids where the entire family, except my friend, was gathered. He exposed them all — his other daughter and two sons, all who have co-morbid conditions, and a host of grand, and great grandkids. All of them are now in quarantine.

    Imagine how he’ll feel if…

    • No doubt everything he did is still allowable under Northam’s new rules. Maryland released a smart phone app that will tell you if you’ve been exposed to COVID. I have no idea how well it works, it was just announced Thursday. If your friend had that app and knew he had been exposed perhaps he would have skipped the soccer event.

      While Northam prattled on about statues Hogan was directing his state to build technology to use against the surge.

      • Different state. One under a really big set of rules, also known for an aliterative group of highly militant rightwing almost terrorists… almost if don’t consider kidnap and murder of government officials terrorist activities.

        Good news on the app, but for my friend’s dad, it was too little too late. Besides, it’s not clear he has cell coverage in wide swaths of the north woods.

      • “Maryland released a smart phone app that will tell you if you’ve been exposed to COVID.”

        Virginia encouraged citizens to download and use Covidwise some time ago. It has been using up my battery for weeks now.

  7. I almost complimented him for doing nothing, and now he proves what a horrible “leader” he is. Friday bad news dump. Explaining the “science” might have been a wise thing for us serfs.
    The restrictions are stupid. We know to protect the elderly with co-morbidities. Let everybody else live. Wash your hands. Don’t cough on people. If sick, stay home. Viruses virus. Trying to artificially stop them from spreading will just prolong the time they are around. My bet when an actual real, non-politicized accounting is done is that the experts have screwed the pooch and the costs exceed the benefits. By a lot.

  8. Is BR now the official wannabe mouthpiece of the Va GOP? You have to be supplicant to Kirk Cox for a comment? Why doesn’t he weigh in on his own? Is there funding going on? What’s the deal?

    • Now?

      • I’m sending Kirk money, not the other way around.

        • Okay. How about sending me some? $25 will do. Make that $41.34 for a 1/5 of Hendrick’s. I’ll buy the tonic. Got limes?

          Hey, read something interesting. HCQ make not help, but apparently, Cov-2 attaches to the cells using some enzyme ACE-2. ACE-2 inhibitors, prescribed for hypertension and diabetes, may provide some prophylactic properties.

          Of course, the bad news is that people taking ACE-2 inhibitors are also the most likely to die. Oh well!

          How do almonds help with hypertension? ACE-2?

    • Gee, Peter, you never wondered if I was on the payroll of environmental groups when I published their press releases in the comments. Do you have any more nasty insinuations you’d like to make?

  9. Here is what I wrote in the comments of Bacon’s Quisling-like bromance of Coonman the Con Man entitled, “Northam: Messaging, not mandates.” –

    “He won’t stay the course. He’ll panic and implement knee jerk restrictions without giving business owners so much as a moment to prepare.

    He’s not a libertarian. He’s a dunce.”

    The man is an empty suited, brain dead, buffoon of a clod-clown.

    My governor is an idiot and Maryland’s governor is not.

    Seriously, we need to end the dimwits of the plantation elite being elevated to high office in Virginia.

    He’s an idiot and only those who value dolts who came up from the Byrd Machine can’t see that.

    Seriously, you Richmonders need to get your heads on straight. If it walks like an imbecile and talks like an imbecile – he’s an imbecile, even if the imbecile is from somewhere in plantation Virginia.

    Wake up!

    • Gotta say you did nail it. The way he handled it just adds to the chaos and resentment.

      • I’m a little calmer this morning! But you just knew this was coming. The spike wasn’t going to bypass Virginia. Other governors were taking smaller, more manageable actions. Northam was busy talking about statues. You just knew he was going to sleepwalk into an overreaction.

        Watching Northam and Hogan is like night and day. Hogan is transparent, competent, analytical, logical and measured. Northam is none of those things.

  10. Question is: if and how the VDH is going to ramp up enforcement

    • Can’t help but wonder if C0onman’s staff went home for the weekend before finishing the Executive Order.

    • Enforcement? With a swarm of inspectors working on complaints filed by an army of snitches. People are only too happy to rat out a store, restaurant, or even their neighbor. Follow up story for somebody more energetic than me: What does this do to the annual GOP conference at the Homestead next month? And the Governor’s own recently-announced “in person” fundraiser at the Westin? Neither is intended as being limited to 25 people….

      • If he thought he could get away with it, I suspect the governor would require the GOP to cancel their meeting or hold it “virtually”, while allowing his own fund raiser to proceed as planned.

        But I am often accused of being too cynical…

    • They don’t need to ramp it up, they are already operating in a manner that would put the IRS and ABC to shame. They are already persecuting select establishments based on specious “anonymous” complaints, prosecution can’t be far behind. Several local establishments have received weekly phone calls from one of our local VDH employees, voicing the same complaints and threats each week, last Monday ramping it up to include misdemeanor prosecution of the patrons.

      On behalf of those establishments, I filed a FOIA request with both the State and local boards for copies of the complaints or any records of them. Not surprisingly, the response was bupkus .

      Given my cynical nature, it should come as no surprise that I pressed the issue and the administrators are now chasing their tails trying to give me an explanation.

      Coincidentally (or not), the day after each phone call from VDH, the establishment’s vendors that supply PPE equipment and “disinfection” services they readily admit are useless and simply window dressing call and remark on their calls from VDH the previous day.

    • You may recall, I’ve already ranted quite a bit about the way this has been handled, including correctly prognosticating how Coonman was going to try to redirect the public’s political ire onto small businesses along with a 1-800-Tattletale line. It wasn’t hard to figure-out, because the exact same thing has been done via Virginia ABC for decades.

      As previously mentioned, the anonymous ABC snitch line is used by competitors, disgruntled employees or patrons and others with agenda to harass businesses. When the harassment kicked-in it was almost always correlated with some event (new competitor, banned an unruly patron who had political connections, etc. We had one incident where the underage kid of an investigator in the local law enforcement kept coming home drunk, blaming us for serving underage. We went through hell for a few weeks until we figured out what was happening and our attorney had a little discussion with the Sheriff about it.)

      ABC has certainly been easier to deal with since the cHarlottesville cowboys debacles, but many of regulations are written in such a way that they can find something to harass you about if you get on the wrong side of the wrong cowboy/cowgirl. While I never saw it myself, I have heard of incidences where VDH and other agencies would start to concurrently ramp up inspections on the same business.

      VDH could, if they wanted to, like ABC, harass a business out of business. So far, in our experience, it appears to me that, as long as the business is doing their diligence to enforce the orders, the local VDH has been reasonable. But, the crap you’ve seen with the anti-maskers is real. I’ve experienced it personally, and I’m certainly not going to put my staff into the middle of it even at the risk of being issued a fine.

      Richmond telling small businesses to be law enforcement over a controversial issue is irresponsible, especially when the actual Police Association publicly opposed requiring Police to enforce the mask mandate on individuals (the deputies here aren’t wearing masks, even on a call.)

      But, this comes down the bigger issue of how our system is set-up to pass the buck… too many bad laws written by people with perverse incentives and narrow minds, Sprawling Bureaucracies© looking for a bigger slice of the pie, & the Cronies (big & small) trying to use force of government to their own advantage.

      So, yeah, nothing @Mom says surprises me. I’d definitely like to see a report on the FIOA info also.

  11. “It is perhaps a more fortunate destiny to have a taste for collecting shells than to be born a millionaire.” ― Robert Louis Stevenson

    Unless, of course, you’re both.

  12. So, Northam enacts restrictions and one of two things can happen… we have a surge and the Right says “See, they did no good”, or we don’t have a surge and the Right says, “See, it wasn’t needed, they did no good”. Of course, things could drop off (we all know that is unlikely) and the Right will say, “See, things are fine. They did no good.” See the common theme…?

    • As I noted on another string last week, really nothing much new to say….I guess I’m “the right” and I suspect these will help. I’m just not dumb enough to think any human intervention can stop this cold. But hey, been a long time since I was out drinking past 10 pm…And I haven’t been in a large crowd since leaving the General Assembly session in March. These are no skin off my nose.

  13. Why does it become political? Why the comment of “the right” will say this based on the outcomes of Gov Northam’s recent stupid edict? “The left” doesn’t make comments?
    My comment – the lockdowns and trying to stop what you don’t understand are futile. Search for virus and remote island and see. I can’t find it now but recently read about an island of stranded sailors and a virus reached there. How?
    Americans were not meant to live in fear. Protect the elderly. Wash your hands. Don’t cough on people. If sick, stay home. Get on with life.
    Another thing that should not have been politicized – at the first sign of symptoms, do the HCQ cocktail – works for many, avoids lengthy hospitalization, no need for Remdesivir, ventilators, etc. The key to survival is to avoid getting to that point. If it does get serious, then we pull out the big guns to treat.
    I think we are delaying the country developing natural resistance by trying to tamp down everywhere. It’s like building a fence 100 feet high to protect all the branches on all the trees in my yard so they don’t fall down after a storm. OK, they fall later and maybe cause more damage. I know, people aren’t trees. Try to get the point – something like 8000 people die each day.
    Let’s stop driving. Let’s stop swimming. People drown in bathtubs – let’s stop bathing. Quit living in fear. Use common sense.

  14. Another fine comment from Publius. Why is common sense and wisdom so hard to find today? One answer: all things today, large and small, are discussed through the lens of politicized ideology by half the population that drives out the discussion by the other half.

  15. A couple of memes I’ve seen on social media recently; (authors unknown):

    “I’m earing a cloth mask to stop a virus (top photo of masked individual). And I’m installing a chain link fence to stop mosquitoes (bottom photo of a fence installer)”

    And as a microbiologist my all time favorite:

    “Putting on a mask to walk ten feet through a restaurant and then taking if off when I get to my table is one of the dumbest things I’ve done in my entire life and I’ve done a lot of dumb things”.

    For kicks, ask your favorite HVAC person about air handlers and flow rates in commercial retail spaces and you will see just how silly are six foot separators.

    And mom, we’re coming to your Thanksgiving meal even if we have to label it a “peaceful protest”!

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