Nursing Home Carnage Continues in Virginia

by Kerry Dougherty

With nursing home deaths in the news, perhaps you’re wondering how well the Rajah of Richmond — Ralph Northam — protected the commonwealth’s most vulnerable citizens.

The answer: Not well.

As of February 16, there have been 908 outbreaks in Virginia’s long-term care facilities and 3,147 COVID deaths.

That represents a whopping 52% of all 6,047 confirmed COVID fatalities in the Old Dominion. Yes, you read that correctly, more than half of all Virginia COVID deaths occurred in nursing homes.

That ought to be a scandal. Especially since the carnage continues. But it’s rarely mentioned at the governor’s pressers or in the media.

For instance, of the 20 confirmed COVID deaths recorded yesterday in Virginia, 18 were in nursing homes.

Yet executive order after executive order issued by the governor appeared to ignore nursing homes, while cracking down on random activities, such as farmers’ markets, mask-less 5-year-olds and campgrounds.

Yep, according to Executive Order 72, issued on December 10, patrons of Virginia’s outdoor farmers’ markets and campgrounds must wear masks at all times.

That sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

Is there any indication that campgrounds are breeding grounds for COVID? Of course not. No doubt Northam suddenly realized folks were having fun in RV parks and decided to put a damper on it.

Same goes for the ridiculous rule that slapped masks on the faces of 5-year-olds last fall. No data was presented to justify such a sweeping order. No evidence of science behind the decree. Perhaps Northam saw small children giggling in a supermarket aisle and decided to wipe those smiles off their little faces.

Likewise, curfews that demand Virginians remain in their homes from midnight to 5 a.m. do nothing to curb the nursing home slaughter. Neither does banning the sale of alcohol after 10 p.m. Or limiting social gatherings to just 10 people.

It’s almost as if the governor is issuing arbitrary rules that make life miserable for ordinary Virginians to avert our eyes from the one area that is getting clobbered by COVID: Long-term care facilities.

Beyond that, Northam’s edicts appeared to do nothing to stop the inevitable peaks and valleys of this pandemic. Virginia’s latest spike and now the decline in cases and deaths follow the same pattern of almost every other state, including those without mask mandates, curfews and where bars and schools are fully open.

Cases and deaths rose with the order in place. Now they’re declining with the order in place.

Originally, Executive Order 72 was set to expire on January 31. The governor merrily extended it until 11:59 p.m. on February 28th.

That needs to be the end of it.

In a state with 8.5 million people, Virginia has had 2,900 deaths outside of nursing homes. There are currently more than 7,000 empty hospital beds, ICUs are at 78% capacity and not a single hospital in the commonwealth is experiencing a shortage of PPE.

Enough with the paternalistic curfews, Prohibition-style booze rules and arbitrary crowd limits.

Do something about the nursing homes, Governor. Get vaccines in the arms of Virginians. Makes sure public schools open five days a week, now.

And let members of the general public weigh the risks of their own behavior and make their own decisions.

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