Reality TV at Its Worst

by Kerry Dougherty

As members of Congress indulged themselves in a farcical hearing yesterday with Attorney General William Barr, Richmond had a televised spectacle of its own. Virginia’s folksy Governor Ralph Northam staged his own little show, a press conference, which featured the usual blame game.

Northam expressed concern about rising numbers of COVID cases in Hampton Roads and blamed it on selfish people and — wait for it — liquor consumption!

Without any supporting data, of course.

As a result of Northam’s apparent hunch, restaurants will once again be crippled as they’re forced to reduce indoor capacity to 50%, stop serving alcohol at 10 p.m. and close by midnight.

Terrific. Air-conditioned restaurants will be full of empty tables just as the climate turns Honduran and al fresco dining loses its appeal.

“This effectively closes all bars,” Northam boasted, forgetting that Virginia doesn’t even have bars.  “This is about stopping the spread of COVID-19 in Hampton Roads. … We all know alcohol changes your judgment. You just don’t care as much about social distancing after you’ve had a couple of drinks.”

Oh, please.

The governor has no idea where the increased cases originated because of the commonwealth’s appalling record on testing, which renders contact tracing nearly worthless.

Northam acknowledged that some test turnarounds are taking a long as “10 to 14 days.”

That bizarre lag time essentially means no one knows how many new Virginia cases there are right now. Or even whether cases are surging, plateauing or plunging. Most of the commonwealth’s latest data is out-of-date.

The best part of the presser was when the governor tried to blame President Trump for Virginia’s testing debacle. This, shortly after Northam said that politics shouldn’t be part of any discussion of the coronavirus.

“It’s just unacceptable — and I say this as a provider — to wait seven to 10 days for test results,” Northam said. “This started back in February, and there’s been no direction, no program, nationally. This is something that states had to do on their own, governors have had to compete with each other, and it’s been a chaotic process. And one that I believe could have been avoided with better leadership.”

Sorry Gov. Northam, but you’re the leader. Virginia’s testing mess is on you.

This column is a truncated version of the original published originally at Kerry: Unemployed and Unedited.

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