Northam’s Scare Tactics

by Kerry Dougherty

It was a gird-your-loins kind of day in Virginia on Monday. While we were on the radio in the morning, our producer handed me a bulletin announcing that Governor Ralph Northam was holding a press conference in the afternoon, on the subject of COVID.


I can’t repeat what I said off the air. But on the air, I reminded listeners that these press conferences fill many of us with dread.

The point of yesterday’s presser? To scold and scare Virginia’s unvaxxed. To begin pushing vaccines for children, even though they aren’t yet approved. And to field a couple of softball questions from the poodles in Virginia’s press corps.

Apparently Northam believes his recent mandate — that state workers must be vaccinated or produce regular negative COVID tests — have not worked to his satisfaction even though 80% of Virginians over 18 have had at least one shot and 60% are fully vaccinated.

True, some folks are simply refusing to get vaccinated. And the governor likes to point to a couple of rural counties that have exceptionally low vaccination rates to imply that the redneck factor is at work. That’s not the case in Tidewater where African Americans have lower vaccination rates than any other group. In Norfolk — hardly a bastion of MAGA types, the city is overwhelmingly Democrat — 43.8% of blacks are vaccinated while 48.9% of whites have taken the shots.

Echoing Biden, Northam said he was losing his patience with those who refuse the vaccine.

So the governor resorted to hyperbole:

“If you … still don’t want the shot then I hope you give some thought to how your family will remember you.

“Give some thought to what they’ll do without you. Think about how you want your obituary to read because you’re taking a foolish, dangerous chance and it affects many more people than just you.”

Oh please.

This sort of rhetoric, from a medical doctor, is unprofessional. Northam knows darn well that this disease is survivable by close to 99% of the people who contract it. Yet he persists in engaging in crazy talk.

Polls have consistently shown that Democrats overestimate the death and hospitalization rates from COVID, probably because the news sources they turn to relentlessly push panic porn.

Gallup just released a fascinating study that included actual hospitalization rates among the vaxxed and unvaxxed, using raw numbers from March of 2021. It’s wonky but worth a read.

Here’s the money quote:

We calculate that the hospitalization rate for the vaccinated population is 0.01% (or 1 in 10,914), and the rate for unvaccinated adults is 0.89% (or 1 case in 112 people). In both cases, therefore, the correct answer is less than one percent.

Look, I believe COVID-19 is a serious virus and I don’t want to catch it. While it’s survivable by most people, some become critically ill. Oh, I also believe folks ought to get vaccinated.

That said, if people decide not to take the shots, no amount of hectoring and lying will get them to change their minds.

In fact, exaggerating the likelihood of death may have the exact opposite effect. Many Americans have already lost faith in public health officials.

Until doctors like Northam admit that people who contracted COVID — millions of them — have natural immunity and may be protected as well as those who are vaccinated, we can’t have an honest discussion about vaccines.

So, Northam and his ilk will continue to resort to insults and scare tactics.

If they don’t work, what’s next?

This column has been republished with permission from Kerry: Unemployed & Unedited.

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66 responses to “Northam’s Scare Tactics”

  1. I part company with Kerry on this particular issue. I don’t have a problem with Northam using moral suasion to try to persuade people to get vaccinated. I chatted with a neighbor a couple of days ago, who told me that both of her brothers do not trust the government and had refused to get the vaccine. Now one of them is in the hospital, and is facing the prospect of being put on a ventilator. (I recall that Northam referred to how big and invasive the ventilator tubes are.) Now the guy is ruing his decision not to get vaccinated. Similar stories are repeated frequently in the media.

    Kerry may be right that only one in 112 unvaccinated Americans wind up in the hospital. And I do agree with her that people should be allowed to make their own decisions based on their personal beliefs and tolerance for risk. I don’t support mandates. But for most people (excepting those who have survived COVID and carry natural immunities), getting the jab is the smart, rational thing to do. If Northam wants to “scare straight” the unvaccinated, frankly, I think that’s part of his job.

    What Northam and other Democrats have failed to address is the reason why such large sectors of the population — among both African-Americans and rural Whites — have such low trust in government. The tendency is to think of rural Whites as ignorant Trump voters and Blacks as victims of systemic racism. That kind of simplistic thinking won’t get us anywhere.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      re: ” What Northam and other Democrats have failed to address is the reason why such large sectors of the population — among both African-Americans and rural Whites — have such low trust in government. ”

      You don’t think the GOP and right-wing media has anything to do with that?

      1. Stephen Haner Avatar
        Stephen Haner

        No, I think CDC blowing in the wind has done quite well all by itself. No mask. Mask. Two weeks to bend the curve. Long lockdowns. The vaccine miracle! Oh, the vaccinated must remain fearful! Sometimes the mixed messages come the same damn day. Boosters for all! No, boosters only for some! And they killed the J&J shot outright!!

        1. LarrytheG Avatar

          seems like only folks on the right really think that AND spend a lot of time saying so AND promoting the voices of “smart people” who are more than willing to share their opinions NOT based on epidemiological science, just their opinions.

          Can you imagine where we’d be on this if Trump was still POTUS?

          1. Merchantseamen Avatar

            I assume you “think” that “Climate Change” is “settled science”.

          2. LarrytheG Avatar

            Not at all but the folks with the academic background and career work I trust more than the folks who have little or no background and more opinion than knowledge.

            And I fee that way about ALL science – whether it’s Cancer or genetics or paleontology, you name it , not just climate.

          3. John Martin Avatar
            John Martin

            I would hope he thinks that since it is

          4. Stephen Haner Avatar
            Stephen Haner

            Yeah, everybody would trade places and the LEFT would be spreading the misinformation bulls&^$. Just like they did pre-election. You never get a second chance to make a first impression….

          5. LarrytheG Avatar

            Half our problem is the folks spewing disinformation and misinformation – the right wing media , blogs and folks right here in BR.

            It’s not about “first impressions”. It’s about simple truths about who is doing what and why we have people who cite conspiracy theories and believe “smart people” over credentialed folks.

  2. Paul Sweet Avatar

    My wife and I got vaccinated in April hoping it would help end lockdowns and mask mandates. Unfortunately a new panic set in.

    It isn’t mentioned much, but it seems that a lot of medical professionals are refusing to get vaccinated. Do they know something that the government won’t admit?

    Why are people who have recovered from Covid being forced to get vaccinated?

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      Why? Because people spread disease – even people who have been infected and recovered – even some vaccinated people.

      That’s the science and the reality that some people refuse to accept, with others actually spreading doubt and misinformation.

      This is a disease that is highly contagious and has the ability to re-infect even those already infected once and even those that are vaccinated.

      That’s the simple fact. It’s not a conspiracy – it’s a reality.

      1. Packer Fan Avatar

        Oh, I understand now. If I get the vaccine, I can still be infected and can pass it on to others, but if I don’t get the vaccine, I can still be infected and can pass it on to others. There are all kinds of side effects I can get from the vaccine, but no side effects from not getting the vaccine, other than I might get the infection if I’m not vaccinated (and I might get the infection if I am vaccinated). Wow! That science stuff sure is confusing! Especially for those of us who grew up in SW Virginia.

        1. LarrytheG Avatar

          Yes you can. But the infection levels are different.

          The “side effects” from the vaccine are very, very small on the order of side effects from other vaccines unless you are predisposed to disinformation and lies being promoted by others.

          Millions of people have gotten the vaccine.

          Can you tell me how many people in Virginia have died from the vaccine?

          Yes, the science is confusing, in part because this is a different disease that we’ve seen before and are still learning about it and in part because of people who are willingly spreading lies and disinformation.

          People want certainty and absolutely unvarying information from science – and it’s just not there at the level we’d like.

          But tossing that away to then believe what is clearly disinformation from dubious sources is frying pan into the fire type stuff.

        2. Nancy Naive Avatar
          Nancy Naive

          Your chances of death or hospitalization drops to very nearly zero.

          1. DJRippert Avatar

            Which makes me wonder why those who are vaccinated are so very, very worried about those who are not. The unvaccinated are about as likely as the undead to put you in the hospital or to kill you.

          2. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            I’m not. Not vaccinating is a self correcting problem. The only worries I have are 1) needing an ICU bed for an ingrown toenail, or hemorrhoidectomy, and 2) the virus mutates easily. Now, I always thought on 2 that “it’s a poor parasite that kills its host,” but people who know this virus are saying, “mutations of coronavirus will get worse.”

          3. DJRippert Avatar

            The mutation argument is full of holes. COVID respects national borders about as much as Biden respects national borders. Until the whole world is fully vaccinated or COVID just dies out (like the so-called Spanish Flu did) Americans failing to get vaccinated represent a very small relative risk of being the hosts for a mutation.

            If you really worry about the unvaccinated creating mutations you should support an air-tight prohibition of travel and immigration into the United States.

          4. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            Yeah, but they ain’t helping… AND THEY’RE CLOSER. If a particularly deadly variant pops up in, oh say, Hong Kong rather than New York, Pfizer has maybe an additional month to make OUR vaccine.

          5. how_it_works Avatar

            It takes a month for an infected individual to get from Hong Kong to New York?

          6. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            I’m guessing it would take a month longer for a person from Hong Kong than a person from NYC to intersect a chain of persons that gets TO ME!

          7. LarrytheG Avatar

            It’s also HOW it spreads and how fast.

            And we have far more “legal” folks moving around with disease than at the border.

            As you say, NOTHING will be air tight – agreed but that would be the difference between NO laws against drunk driving and some no?

          8. how_it_works Avatar

            Apparently, animals like cats and deer can catch COVID. Can they spread it to humans? The Chinese think so. It’s reported that they killed several cats that were infected with COVID to prevent the spread to humans.

          9. LarrytheG Avatar

            It’s not so much personal fear but the overall impacts on how business and society “work”.

            Do you want the ER to turn you away because they are maxed? Do you want the airline to require masks and one or more idiots raise hell and divert the plane? Ditto in restaurants and other businesses.

            Do you want infections to continue to the point another mutation takes place than then affects everyone who is vaccinated?

          10. Packer Fan Avatar

            My chances of death are 100%. It’s just a matter of which of the many possibilities kills me. And many of those possibilities are statistically much more likely to do it than COVID, with or without the vaccination.

          11. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            Oh, okay. Take the next 20 days on a ventilator to do it. Be my effing guest.

        3. Merchantseamen Avatar


      2. Merchantseamen Avatar

        If you are vaxxed and I am not why do you care? If you are vaxxed and wear a mask. Why do you care if I am mask free? If you are vaxxed and wear a mask and still frighted like a little girl. STAY HOME. We international travelers figured that out some 40 years ago.

        1. DJRippert Avatar

          Exactly right. The odds of being hospitalized after being vaccinated are 1 in 10,000. And what are the odds of dying after being hospitalized for COVID? About 1 in 7? So, the odds of dying from COVID after vaccination are 1 in 70,000? Something like that?

          And what are the odds of dying from seasonal influenza and pneumonia?

          15.2 per 100,000. Or, one in 6,579.

          There are vaccines for both seasonal influenza and pneumonia.

          Will those with seasonal flu & pneumonia vaccines use the same level of fear porn against the many Americans who don’t get those vaccines?

          Will employees be mandated to get seasonal flu and pneumonia vaccines?

          Will lockdowns and masks be required for seasonal flu and pneumonia?

        2. LarrytheG Avatar

          are you saying that if you want to drink and drive, I need to stay home?

          1. DJRippert Avatar

            You might as well stay home because there are people out on the road right now who are legally drunk. At any time of the day or night there are drunk drivers on the road.

            Drunk driving laws slowed drunk driving but didn’t end drunk driving.

            So, if you want to be completely risk-free then, yes … you should stay home.

          2. LarrytheG Avatar

            Yep but is our response to tell everyone else to run and hide?

            Yes, we have laws, and yes, they don’t take it to zero but there IS responsibility AND accountability for irresponsibility.

            No one wants risk-free but they also want the idiots who run red lights kept in check at the same time the more sane of us keep our eyes open anyhow.

            You drive drunk and I SEE YOU – you better have some luck cuz I’m on the phone to get you some attention.

          3. DJRippert Avatar

            So, where do you draw the line? Stop serving alcohol at taverns with parking lots? Mandatory breathalyzer checks in all cars before the car can be started (that one was actually in the infrastructure bill)? The risks are low enough now that I don’t fear driving and I don’t need the government mandating another $500 addition to my car.

          4. LarrytheG Avatar

            It’s an issue of what people do themselves to be considerate and careful of others versus those who don’t give a rip and in the process actually do harm others,

            We end up with laws to try to inhibit those behaviors but as you point out, you can’t stop it entirely but it still boils down to people who act with wanton disregard of others.

            We see that and acknowledge it even if we won’t advocate for even stricter laws.

            But I have little sympathy for those folks when they do run afoul of rules or shoot themselves in the foot,

            Right now – as you know – software can very likely detect drunk driving. The car knows when it weaves and varies it’s speed, goes too slow, etc.. right?

          5. Merchantseamen Avatar

            Not at all. I don’t drink. However you are comparing apples and oranges. Why are you so fearful? Are you healthy? Are you sickly? Please tell me why the government(s) are so adamant that everyone needs this vaccine. I don’t think you can.

          6. LarrytheG Avatar

            Just the opposite. I don’t like idiots driving drunk nor other idiots running red lights or smoking at the gas pumps or equivalent – not getting vaccinated – when that can end up harming others – in their own families as well as others. It’s irresponsible.

          7. Merchantseamen Avatar

            So….you did not answer the question. Why so adamant? It appears you are near the point of cheering on the government to hold people down and give them the jab? An unproven jab at that? You label people as irresponsible. That is your opinion not fact.

          8. LarrytheG Avatar

            Not adamant at all and not cheering on the govt to force vaccines, but weary of the anti-vaxxers and their ignorant and irresponsible attitudes – and I’m not alone by a long shot – even Conservatives are getting on this train.

            The vaccines are not exactly “unproven” given the millions of people who have gotten them.

            I don’t necessarily label people as irresponsible. I do label behaviors – like driving drunk, smoking where others are, driving in ways that endanger others – things that there are laws about.

            We have folks who engage in irresponsible behaviors that can and do harm others and their response sometimes is that it’s their “right” and besides they don’t care anyhow – ergo and inevitably rules and laws to deal with them since they are unwilling and unable to do it themselves. Others take action in response.

          9. Merchantseamen Avatar

            Well…..You go ahead and sit on your intellectual white horse and tell everyone how it is your way or the highway as you peer down your long nose. You cannot change peoples behavior by calling them names and such. The Bible belt tried to legislate behavior many years ago with “mandates” against pornography, prostitution, drugs, etc. It does not work. Have a good day.

  3. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Well, 1 in 112, eh? Nearly that of flipping a coin and achieving 7 identical outcomes in a row (1 in 128). So, I’ll play a game. You bet a dollar. Flip the coin, and if it comes up with 7 heads or 7 tails in a row, I’ll give you $256. I get to say when it ends. In the long run, you have a 2 to 1 edge, but I’ll play that game all day long.

    Now, we could reverse it, and I’ll give you $100 every time it fails to come up with 7 in a row, but if it does, well, make it Deer Hunter.

    Would you play Russian Roulette with a 128-shooter?

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      I believe the 1 in 112 statistic is the odds of being hospitalized, not dying.

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        Go for it.

  4. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    “We calculate that the hospitalization rate for the vaccinated population is 0.01% (or 1 in 10,914), and the rate for unvaccinated adults is 0.89% (or 1 case in 112 people). In both cases, therefore, the correct answer is less than one percent.”

    Just to put this in context. If we were discussing hazard chemicals in your drinking water, the acceptable risk of serious health impact (i.e., cancer risk) from exposure baked into the drinking water standard is 1 in 1,000,000. You think 1% or a 4X order of magnitude increase in risk is acceptable. It is not. Neither is 0.01% (1 in 10,000) but that is a sight better than 1%.

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Now to add to that, imagine if lead, or arsenic, were to mutate.

    2. DJRippert Avatar

      The odds of getting lung cancer among men who have never smoked is 1.8%. The odds for smokers is 14.8%. Should cigarettes be banned?

      At some point people have to be allowed to make their own decisions and mistakes.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        their “own” decisions and mistakes – that affect no one else? yes.

        when it can affect others ? what then?

        1. DJRippert Avatar

          I thought the vaccine was incredibly effective at preventing hospitalization or death. If the odds of even going to the hospital are 1 in 10,000 and the odds of dying are 1 in 100,000 for the vaccinated then … where is the harm to others?

          Remember, your odds of dying from seasonal influenza and pneumonia were 1 in 6,579 in 2019.

          Seems like you leftists ought to raising more hell about everybody getting those vaccines than COVID.

          But seasonal flu and pneumonia aren’t highly politicized issues I guess.

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            If you look at the disruption in all manners of society and business over Covid, it’s clearly a level up from flue and pneumonia which also, by the way, urge vaccination and I’m willing to be the folks that got the COVID shot got the others and the ones that did not – also did not but what REALLY funny are those that diss the science and diss those that got the shot but then got the shot themselves and now the booster.

            what is that about? If you really think the anti-vaxxers are righteous then why run with the leftists?

          2. DJRippert Avatar

            Now that the odds of the vaccinated even going to the hospital are 10,000 to 1 it gets hard to understand why those of us who got vaccinated are all that worried about those who have not.

            Society and business should not be any more disrupted by COVID than by the seasonal flu and pneumonia.

            I would agree to higher insurance rates for the unvaccinated as soon as the obese pay more too.

          3. LarrytheG Avatar

            Ya’ll miss the point. I could care less how many unvaccinated come to grief over their own ignorance and obstinacy compared to innocent folks who got hurt because of those who would not be careful.

            It’s one thing to be obese and another to engage in behaviors that clearly put others at risk.

            Have you even been getting gas and saw another customer with a cigarette?

            what do you think about that behavior?
            Is that equivalent to eating too many potato chips?

          4. DJRippert Avatar

            “It’s one thing to be obese and another to engage in behaviors that clearly put others at risk.”

            Who do the unvaccinated put at risk … besides themselves? In a statistically relevant way.

            We could eliminate all highway fatalities if we lowered the speed limit nationwide to 15 mph and put regulators in cars to prevent those cars from going any faster.

            At some point we vaccinated people are safe enough to to quit wringing our hands over the unvaccinated.

          5. LarrytheG Avatar

            They are much more likely to become infected and infect others.

            It’s the simply dynamics of a contagious disease.

            No – you’re wrong about the highway speeds.

            It’s not speed by itself that causes accidents – reckless driving – stupid driving – irresponsible driving. Speeding is but one way.

            In terms of vaccinations – when can we board a plane without masks?

            when can we go to the doctors office and sit in a waiting room with people sitting next to us rather than every other chair?

            When can people be assured they can go to the hospital for a procedure without having it delayed or postponed because of unvaccinated patients eating up all the resources?

            When can I go to a salad bar again?

            When can I attend a party where there is shared food like chips and dip?

    3. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Remember, THIS IS NOT the study. This is a Gallup, hopefully statisticians and not writers, Back-of-the-Envelope analysis of some of the numbers in the study. Likely they are close, but still, as likely to be wrong. Not by an order of magnitude.

      There is one thing that’s missing too. Hospitalization outcomes if ventilated. People who survive after ventilation are effed up for months afterwards.

  5. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Another fun one of those low probability thingys. TSA backscatter ionizing X-ray whole body scanners was one of the two backscatter scanners approved for whole body scans. The other was RF, like your microwave oven.

    The aforementioned X-ray scanner has a 1 in 30,000,000 chance of a single dose induced fatal cancer for the person scanned. Can’t imagine for the guards standing next to it all day.

    Coincidentally, we have 30 million air travelers per month. Talk about unreasonable searches.

    Fortunately, the X-ray variety were removed after only 3 years.

  6. Stephen Haner Avatar
    Stephen Haner

    Politics. Pure politics. As was made evident again last night at the debate. The game is blame Youngkin and other Republicans for the refusal of others, others to take the vaccine (even though by example Youngkin and most Republicans also took it.) But it is becoming more and more clear that the real refusal to accept the vaccine is just as deep or deeper in a very different group (never called out.) Big national news yesterday when LeBron James announced he’d taken it. Yesterday.

    Chuck Todd had a good question about, gee, do you disagree with other mandatory childhood vaccinations already in place? Any expert, please, what current childhood vaccines became mandatory less than one year after their initial use? None I bet. I bet they had years and years more testing before that happened. Seriously. I can understand a parent saying, we’d like a bit more time and experience. At 66, I pushed into the line.

    Me, I got #3 Saturday at a Kroger pharmacy with no waiting, and my lunch companion (former GOP legislator) had a similar easy time over the weekend.

    1. John Martin Avatar
      John Martin

      you bet? You bet? Why not get the facts?

  7. Kathleen Smith Avatar
    Kathleen Smith

    If the he hospitalization rate for unvaccinated 1 in 112 is true, what are the chances of getting COVID? How many people have died? Tout your thinking to the parent who may have lost a child. Knowing the child was a very low statistic doesn’t help that parent at all.

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Since June 1, over 100,000+ have received the posthumous Herman Cain Award. You can look it up. These are given to people who have declared on Facebook that they will NEVER get vaccinated, and have subsequently died of Covid. A screen capture of their Facebook page and their death notices are on display on Reddit.

      1. DJRippert Avatar

        Sounds fishy to me. June 1 was 120 days ago. That’s 833 COVID deaths per day by people who declared on Facebook that they would never get vaccinated? I doubt that many Americans in total have died from COVID over the past 120 days.

        1. Nancy Naive Avatar
          Nancy Naive

          I think they went for the backlog starting in April.

          Subscriptions! I misread that.

          1. DJRippert Avatar

            Just remember, I am always here to help liberals get their facts straight.

  8. James Kiser Avatar
    James Kiser

    37% of the hospitalized are the vaccinated and another 16% are the immunity compromised. This according to the CDC’s own study of hospitalized patients. So Gov Blackface as usual is lying.

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      The vaccines aren’t working nearly as well as was originally thought.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        they are working less well than before with the advent of the delta variant and some risk to further mutation.

        Is this the “fault” of the CDC or what?

        It’s sorta like the CDC knows the “truth” but is not telling us until after the fact?


  9. John Martin Avatar
    John Martin

    “This sort of “rhetoric, from a medical doctor, is unprofessional.” No it isn’t.

    “have natural immunity and may be protected as well as those who are vaccinated” they are not, that is a lie

    1. Matt Adams Avatar

      “have natural immunity and may be protected as well as those who are vaccinated” they are not, that is a lie”

      There has been no conclusive study to call that statement a lie and if natural immunity is invalid a vaccine would be invalid.

  10. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Interesting study.

    “It’s a bell-shaped curve of disease resistance versus host tolerance. In other words, this enzyme is trying to kill the virus, but at a certain point it is released in such high amounts that things head in a really bad direction, destroying the patient’s cell membranes and thereby contributing to multiple organ failures and death.”

    Perhaps, in a gaia sort of way, the individual’s immune system is recognizing a grave threat to the species and is destroying the body to stop the spread.

    If so, it may be the only altruistic act a Republican can perform.

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