Northam: Messaging, Not Mandates

Northam during an October press conference. Image credit: Virginia Mercury

Despite a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases, hair-on-fire national media coverage, and the imposition of tighter restrictions in neighboring Maryland, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C., Governor Ralph Northam is holding steady with a relatively light regulatory regimen for Virginia. As the Virginia Mercury puts it today, “Northam is stressing messaging — not mandates — to curb rising COVID-19 infections.”

Good for Northam.

After some missteps early in the epidemic, the governor appears to have struck a reasonable balance between slowing the spread of the coronavirus and keeping the economy open. Northam is asking Virginians to exercise personal responsibility. Wash hands, wear masks, and limit gatherings.

“I’m not saying don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, but if you’re planning to gather with people outside of your household, think about ways to do it more safely,” he counseled during a news conference, his last before Thanksgiving. “Consider how the space is ventilated. Or think about ways to have gatherings outdoors — especially if the weather is like it is today.”

“I’ve said all along, this is not about carrying a stick around,” Northam said. “This is about carrots. And I really encourage Virginians to follow the guidelines — not just for themselves but for the people that are working in our hospitals. And frontline workers in our grocery stores.”

All sound advice — and practices we intend to follow in the Bacon household. Indeed, with cases surging all around, it looks like Thanksgiving will be a nuclear family affair for the Bacons  — a less fulfilling but safer experience. (I don’t call the shots. I just go along for the ride.)

A large swath of the Virginia population has a libertarian streak. People don’t like being ordered around. Sadly, for some, refusal to wear masks became a political statement, a form of defiance against truculent government authority. This reaction is unfortunate on two grounds. First, such behavior makes it easier for the virus to spread. Second, the most likely victims are the friends and families of the mask rebels themselves.

If Northam is urging people to don protective face gear but making mask-wearing voluntary, there’s not much to push back against. Now refusal to abide by basic virus-fighting protocols becomes not an act of rebellion but an act of stupidity.

Conservatives and libertarians should back Northam as long as he maintains his current posture. We believe in exercising personal responsibility. Northam needs to know he has our support as he faces inevitable pressure from those who believe that more draconian, authoritarian responses to the epidemic are called for. Let us show the world that a free people can do the right thing.

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8 responses to “Northam: Messaging, Not Mandates

  1. “Conservatives and libertarians should back Northam as long as he maintains his current posture. We believe in exercising personal responsibility. Northam needs to know he has our support as he faces inevitable pressure from those who believe that more draconian, authoritarian responses to the epidemic are called for. Let us show the world that a free people can do the right thing.”

    No truer statement, the early draconian measures to “flatten the curve” should’ve been far shorter than they were. However, perhaps the Governor saw the error of his ways regarding the economy of Virginia. The school system is another catastrophe all together with an inept BoE who should’ve been working on contingency plans as soon as the state shutdown.

    Retrospectively looking back at my own Junior and Senior years, I can feel for these students missing out on all those events that culminated those high school years.

    • I’ve come to his defense more than once, usually then beaten on a bit by others here….He does continue to two-step on the schools, I think because as a pediatric specialist he understands the damage being done to the kids. I’d be happier if he said something out loud to confirm my suspicions.

      Just finished an interview and said this is what to watch for: If the state or the hospitals themselves clamp down on non-emergency procedures again, that will be the sign real problems are ahead. I am totally confident the industry and the government are attuned to that.

      • “If the state or the hospitals themselves clamp down on non-emergency procedures again, that will be the sign real problems are ahead.”

        I would disagree. The hospitals in SWVA were completely closed down while having less than a dozen [I believe it was a single digit] C-19 patients: no re-hab, no surgeries, no nothing. What medical problems went missed or untreated for those few?

      • “Just finished an interview and said this is what to watch for: If the state or the hospitals themselves clamp down on non-emergency procedures again, that will be the sign real problems are ahead. I am totally confident the industry and the government are attuned to that.”

        I could see that, however when they previously did that they were on the way to bankrupting the hospitals too. Those elective procedures keep lots of people employed and that’s where the money is made to stay open.

    • 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.

  2. A good and sensible response by Northam. Credit comes where credit is due.

    Yesterday, a technician came to our house to install an new gas log. No face mask, but we maintained our distance. A big man, I sensed he had some problems breathing with a mask while working.

    Recently, I’ve seen a number of people driving in closed vehicles with masks on. Seems bizarre to me.

  3. The Richmond apologists on this blog crack me up. Listen to Larry Hogan’s Coronavirus update from yesterday and tell me we have even an adequate governor. Hogan conducts a fact-based adult conversation with the people of Maryland. He tightens the indoor dining rules a bit. He steps up enforcement of existing rules.

    Which governor is the doctor?

    https://www.baltimoresun.com/coronavirus/bs-md-coronavirus-restrictions-rolled-back-20201111-clp6fhuwzjaubmfqd2cntyie24-story.html

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