Tag Archives: COVID-19

Herd Immunity Versus Herd Insanity

by James A. Bacon

Like 450 other higher-ed institutions across the United States, the University of Virginia will require all students to be fully vaccinated for the COVID-19 vaccine if they want to return to classes this fall. The mandate extends to the 2,800 students who got the virus and now enjoy acquired immunities. Oddly, the mandate does not include university employees, even though they are older on average and more likely to catch and spread the virus.

Virginia may be reaching herd immunity as the number of confirmed cases rapidly approaches zero, but UVa can be fairly said to have reached herd insanity — the phenomenon of following other colleges and universities issuing vaccine mandates because everyone is issuing them.

A couple of days ago I wrote a post asking the university to reveal UVa President Jim Ryan’s justification for asking the Board of Visitors to approve the mandate. No explanation is forthcoming. The university says that the president’s “working papers” are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. Judging by the comments on that post (150 at this point), readers were more fixated on the scientific and moral dimensions of the policy than UVa’s lack of transparency, so I turn to that issue today.

While pro- and anti-mandate advocates were contending on Bacon’s Rebellion, Aaron Kheriaty and Gerard F. Bradley published a column in the Wall Street Journal that clarified several aspects of the debate. Continue reading

Don’t Ask Questions. Just Do What We Tell You.

by James A. Bacon

Walter Smith, a University of Virginia alumnus, was miffed when UVa leadership mandated that all students must be vaccinated if they are to return to the university in the fall. His daughter, a UVa student, had caught the COVID-19 virus, lived through 10 days of quarantine, acquired natural immunities, and was at near-zero risk of spreading the virus. He saw no purpose in exposing her to whatever dangers might be associated with taking the vaccine. Moreover, he had concerns about health-privacy violations as well as philosophical objections of a civil-liberties nature.

You may disagree with Smith’s characterization of the vaccination mandate — which has been adopted at most other Virginia public universities, incidentally — as “un-American, un-scientific, [and] totalitarian.” But if you believe in transparency, then you should be concerned about what happened when Smith tried to ascertain UVa’s reasoning for the requirement.

News reports were worthless. In May Smith wrote UVa President Jim Ryan and Rector James Murray to ask the justification for the mandate. Ryan did not respond, but Murray did. He wrote: Continue reading

Throwing Kids into the Volcano to Appease the COVID Gods

by Kerry Dougherty

Am I the only one who noticed that once Joe Biden became president news outlets lost interest in the COVID scorecards they featured prominently during the pandemic?

Remember those screaming headlines about cases and deaths that ginned up the hysteria daily?

Just a memory now.

But guess what? I’ve been quietly keeping track of the stats ever since May 2020 and there’s very good news.

In all of Virginia yesterday there were only 90 new positive COVID tests. Continue reading

VA Employers Stuck in COVID Time Warp

By Steve Haner

First published this morning by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy.

Despite the stunning and rapid success of the vaccines in arresting the spread of COVID-19, if you enter a Virginia workplace you go back in time to the pre-vaccine era of doubt and fear.

Virginia acted in haste in adopting permanent workplace rules related to COVID 19. Now that the Centers for Disease Control has relaxed many of its requirements and conceded that others were not backed up by evidence, the state’s employers are in limbo. The workplace regulations are now badly out of step.

There was no allowance for vaccinations in the regulations, which became permanent in January just as the population was starting to get shots.

Governor Ralph Northam was warned this would happen if the temporary COVID-19 rules were made permanent but barreled ahead to the applause of organized labor. The regulations carry the weight of law and can be enforced with severe sanctions, whether or not they are in direct conflict with the latest CDC guidance. Continue reading

COVID-19 Killed the American Work Ethic

by Kerry Dougherty

Sometimes nothing will lift a kid’s mood like a McDonald’s Happy Meal.

On Tuesday I was running a raft of errands with a 5-year-old strapped into the back seat. As it crept past lunchtime and she was clearly starving, I saw the blessed Golden Arches.

While we idled in a long ribbon of cars at the Hilltop location we were entertained. The police were placing two suspects under arrest just inches from our windows.

What luck!

“What are they doing, Kerry?” asked my granddaughter,  transfixed by the drama.

“They’re making the bad guys put their hands on the truck so they can pat them down and make sure they don’t have guns.” Continue reading

The COVID Restrictions Have Been Lifted!

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

We now have been a week without state-imposed COVID restrictions. No social distancing. No restrictions on venues opening. I can go to my grandson’s graduation tonight. Kerry can go to the beach without a mask on. We all can go to Flying Squirrels’ games.

As of May 28, the Governor lifted all social distancing and venue restrictions, two weeks sooner than last promised. But, you would not know that from Bacon’s Rebellion, on which folks have been quick to criticize the Governor. What about all those predictions that “King Ralph” would find some pretense to continue with the restrictions?

By the way, after a rocky start, Virginia is among the top states in the country in the COVID vaccination rate.

No Vaccination Mandates for Community Colleges

Glenn Dubois

by James A. Bacon

In stark contrast to the University of Virginia, James Madison University, and the College of William & Mary, the Virginia Community College System board has decided not to require students to be vaccinated in order to attend classes in the fall.

“I believe it is in the best interests of our faculty, staff, and students to encourage everyone to get their COVID-19 vaccine,” said Chancellor Glenn Dubois in a prepared statement today. “However, we will not require an individual to be vaccinated to attend or to work at one of our colleges.”

Community colleges find themselves in a different situation than the four-year residential colleges. First, as Dubois said, community colleges don’t have residence halls. Second, they lack the public health infrastructure such as hospitals and clinics that make it feasible to support densely populated on-campus living arrangements, including the creation and protection of personal student health data like vaccination records. Third, Dubois said that mandating proof of vaccination might create an “unintended barrier” to student enrollment. 

Still, the community colleges’ decision could be seen as an implicit rebuke to four-year colleges that are mandating vaccinations. Continue reading

Paul Marik: COVID Quack or Pandemic Hero?

Dr. Paul Marik

by James A. Bacon

Across the state of Virginia, the fatality rate for COVID-19 patients entering hospitals has been 37.7%. Put another way, nearly two of every five patients died, according to Virginia Department of Health data. But in Norfolk, only 25.8% died. What accounts for that disparity? One possibility is that the dominant hospital in Norfolk is Sentara General Hospital… which is affiliated with the Eastern Virginia Medical School… where Dr. Paul Marik, an EVMS professsor, may have co-developed an inexpensive but highly effective treatment for COVID-19.

Marik is virtually unknown to Virginians. The only local news story I could find about him, dated about a week ago, tells how he was reprimanded by the Virginia Board of Medicine for prescribing controlled substances to five people who were not his patients. That article noted only in passing that Marik has written more than 400 peer-reviewed journal articles, 50 book chapters, and four books about critical care, and that he has developed a new treatment for sepsis.

You will get a very different picture of the 63-year-old South African native by reading, “The Drug that Cracked COVID,” written by Michael Capuzzo and published in Mountain Home, a Pennsylvania magazine. Other than to say that Capuzzo obviously did an enormous amount of research for the article, I cannot testify to its fairness, balance or accuracy. But from a surface reading, the reporting seems credible enough that Marik’s story at least warrants telling.

Marik and four U.S. colleagues who are experts in critical care developed an early treatment protocol for COVID-19 centered on the generic drug Ivermectin they dubbed I-MASK. If the article is to be believed, the protocol has saved millions of lives in poor, developing countries desperate for affordable ways to respond to the pandemic. But the protocol, developed through trial and error in front lines of hospital treatment, did not meet the gold standard of randomized clinical trials demanded by COVID guru Anthony Fauci, the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and Big Pharma. With the active cooperation of the masters of the media/social media universe, the “follow the science” crowd has worked to suppress the findings of Marik and his colleagues. Continue reading

School Closings Negatively Affect Female Employment

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

by D.J. Rippert

Mom at home. An article from The Center Square summarizes a number of studies relating COVID-19, school policies during the pandemic, and the number of women in the workforce. A study by the journal “Gender & Society” characterized the matter as a “tidal wave of women” leaving the workforce in 2020. Center Square notes that, “Researchers found that women primarily left the workforce (in addition to layoffs and job closures) to help educate their children when schools reverted to virtual learning and children were no longer physically at school.” Statistics indicate that the employment gap between mothers and fathers was less in states where the schools stayed open for in-person instruction, either full-time or part-time. As the article states, “But the gap grew by an average of 5% in states where only virtual learning was offered, such as in California, Delaware and Virginia.” Continue reading

Would Someone Please Explain the “Science”?

COVID positivity rates for students (left) and employees (right). Source: UVa COVID Tracker.

by James A. Bacon

Let me get this straight. The University of Virginia has just announced that all students returning to the university starting July 1 must be fully vaccinated, or they will be barred from entering the grounds. But employees, while urged to get vaccinated, are under no such mandate.

Exemptions will be allowed for individuals on medical or religions grounds, but those without vaccinations will be required to be tested multiple times per week.

“This approach will enable our students to return to a residential academic setting where they can live, study, and gather together safely,” reads an email signed by President Jim Ryan, Provost Liz Magill, and other senior administrators, according to UVA Today.

UVA Today, the mouthpiece for the Ryan administration, gave no explanation of why students, who are younger and more resistant to the virus, are required to be vaccinated, while employees, who are older and more vulnerable, are not. Continue reading

As COVID Recedes, Focus on the Other Epidemic

by James A. Bacon

From the Fauquier Times: According to Virginia Department of Health data, the number of Virginians who died from drug overdoses in 2020 increased 41% the previous to to 2,297. Local officials attributed the surge to the COVID-19 lockdown. “The pandemic has had a devastating impact,” said Jan Brown, executive director of SpiritWorks Foundation Center for the Soul, which operates a recovery center in Warrenton. “We’ve seen more people relapsing. We’ve seen more deaths because of the isolation. People are using alone. Help can’t get to them in time.”

Then there’s this factoid from Carol Bova’s series in Bacon’s Rebellion about the Ballad Health merger: 30% of Wise County babies are born addicted.

More than 11,000 Virginians have died with COVID. By any other yardstick of comparison, an increase in the number of opioid deaths last year, 670, would be considered a calamity. Overshadowed by COVID, the leap in opioid deaths attracted little notice. COVID is fast receding. Will opioid addiction retreat as well? Continue reading

Masks on Kids: State-Sponsored Child Abuse

by Kerry Dougherty

If you came here expecting to find fountains of gratitude to Virginia’s governor for restoring liberties he should not have removed in the first place, you’ll be disappointed.

Ralph Northam was prepared to keep the commonwealth’s face mask mandate in place for months, until he was blindsided by the CDC on Thursday night.

THEY forced his hand.

The sudden about-face from the CDC — the same clowns who just a few weeks ago were weeping about “impending doom” and who as recently as last week insisted that vaccinated people should continue to mask up in indoor settings — is a sign that they’ve been lying to us all along.

They’ve been blowing smoke about masks. About the risk of outdoor infection. And about the fatality rate of COVID-19.

And they’re still lying. Now they’re lying about the need for children to wear masks while the people most at risk of serious illness from the virus are vaccinated and mask-free.

Insane. Continue reading

Will Northam Cling to Mask Mandates?

Yes, I burned a mask yesterday. It felt good.

by Kerry Dougherty

Well, the ball’s now in Ralph Northam’s court. The CDC announced yesterday that it’s recommending vaccinated people lose the masks.

Indoors and out. Imagine that!

And, no, the science didn’t magically change yesterday. Many of us knew all along that a piece of cloth couldn’t stop a virus.

What changed is that the Biden administration is up to it’s wrinkly neck in problems. Gas lines, inflation, a border crisis, poor employment numbers and a war brewing in the Middle East are quickly eroding the president’s popularity. Getting rid of masks — which normal people hate — is a way to curry favor with the public.

There is no need for vaccine passports, although the CDC seemed to set the table for them. Predictably, Karens are screaming for them.

They miss the point. Vaccines are widely available, so those who aren’t vaccinated are on their own. The vaccinated should mind their own business. It matters not if the maskless guy next to you hasn’t gotten the vaccine. You’re protected! Continue reading

Has COVID-19 Killed the Urban Renaissance?

Image credit: “Has the Pandemic Changed Cities Forever?”

by James A. Bacon

If you’re looking for a good Sunday read, consider an article by Tim Sablik, “Has the Pandemic Changed Cities Forever?“, in the Richmond Federal Reserve Bank’s Econ Focus. Sablik does a fine job of sketching out the big issues identified by the nation’s leading urbanologists as they ponder the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on urban development.

In a nutshell, Sablik argues that (a) the epidemic has clobbered the urban cores of American metros as knowledge workers have drastically changed their work habits and personal preferences, (b) that the pendulum will swing back partially as the epidemic subsides, but that (c) things will not go back to the way they were. There are profound implications for cities and counties in Virginia as they plot their futures. Reading Sablik essay is a good place to start any re-evaluation. Continue reading

Shots for American Kids While Indians Are Dying for the Vaccine?

by Kerry Dougherty

It was yet another gird-your-loins day in Virginia on Thursday.

Gov. Ralph Northam held a briefing on COVID-19, which could only mean one thing: more disappointing news from the Rajah of Richmond.

Northam said he may lift his now-14 month-old emergency order- – an abuse of power by any standard — in June.

If Virginians continue to get vaccinated in numbers that please him, that is.

No, he will not tell us what that number is. He’ll know it when he sees it.

Alas, masks will still be with us. After a series of idiotic rules from Richmond — no sitting on the beach, no music on the beach, school closings, gym closings, curfews, alcohol sale restrictions — Northam is now deferring to the nuts at the CDC to decide when masks can come off.

Lucky us.

Best of all, the governor is giddy at the notion of Virginia’s children getting vaccinated against a disease that poses almost no risk to them. So far he said, 63,000 Virginians aged 16 and 17 have gotten the shot! He can’t wait till it’s offered to 12-year-olds. Continue reading