by Kerry Dougherty
Hey, Virginia Democrats, read the room.
Rather, read the country.
As Democrats in the Old Dominion lawyer up and throw hissy fits in a mad attempt to keep forced masking in schools, their counterparts in four blue states spent Monday merrily rolling back the mandates.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday that mandatory masking would end in the Garden State on March 7. Connecticut’s Gov. Ned Lamont said he’d scrap school mask mandates on Feb. 28, although he’ll leave decisions up to school divisions. In Delaware, Gov. John Carney declared that mask mandates will be reversed on February 11, with school mandates ending March 31. And in Oregon — Oregon! — health officials announced that school mask mandates would be lifted statewide on March 31.
Coincidence? Not a chance.
These Democrats can read a room. The polling on mask mandates must be atrocious. They know that the November mid-term elections are going to be a bloodbath for their party if forced masking of kids — the most visible sign of gubernatorial overreach — stays in place through the 2022 school year. Continue reading
Letter from state Senator J. Chapman Petersen, D-Fairfax, to Scott Braband, superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools. — JAB
On Friday evening, February 4th, in my capacity as a parent, I received the attached press release from Fairfax County Public Schools which announced the ruling of the Arlington County Circuit Court on the Governor’s Executive Order No. 2 regarding “parental option” for any child masking policies.
The press release begins by lauding the Court’s ruling as an “immediate action to protect the health of the community and also reaffirms the constitutional rights of the school boards.” It then states that FCPS will indefinitely continue its policy of Forced Masking for” all students, staff and visitors, a regulation which is overwhelmingly supported by our staff and families” which “has been a critical safety measure during the pandemic, especially during the most recent surge.”
No evidence is cited for any of these statements, which are clearly opinions – not facts. Since FCPS has circulated its opinions via a public forum, I will respond in kind on the two key presumptions: Continue reading
by Kerry Dougherty
Amidst the cacophony of leftist celebrations Friday — the high fives, the gloating — over an Arlington County Circuit Court judge’s ruling that the forced masking of school children can continue in Virginia, one important wrinkle went unexplored by the mainstream media.
Once again, only Luke Rosiak, a reporter for The Daily Wire, had the curiosity to dig a little deeper.
That’s when he discovered that it appears the judge’s husband may be employed by one of the plaintiffs in the case.
If so, she never should have heard this case. Continue reading
My 92-year-old mother takes this COVID business very seriously, as one would expect from someone in a high-risk group. She’s double vaxxed and boosted. And she is assiduous about testing herself and others who enter her house. At the same time, she’s frugal, and a testing two-pack costs about $25 at the drug store. So, when the federal government promised to send every American two free test kits, she jumped at the offer.
The test kits duly arrived a few days ago, and my mother had an occasion to test herself. As she pored through the instructions, she came across Step 5, pictured above, which says, “Start the timer by clicking the ‘Start Timer’ button….”
By referring to the Start Timer button, the instructions implied that such a button was to be found in the kit. But it wasn’t. Continue reading
by Kerry Dougherty
It’s right there on the bottom left of my Virginia driver’s license. A little heart and the words “organ donor.”
I ticked that box years ago. I also joined the bone marrow donor list when a friend had leukemia and needed a match.
Donating our organs is the last act of kindness we can do on this earth. After all, you can’t take them with you.
But recent headlines about unvaccinated patients were being denied transplants are alarming to those of us who oppose vaccine mandates and are worried about a movement toward medical apartheid. Continue reading
by James A. Bacon
Megan Darling, a 33-year-old George Mason University business school student, received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine in March and April and came down with a case of COVID-19 in December 2021, from which she acquired natural immunity as well. Like other students, she has been informed that she must get the booster shot if she wants to continue her studies at GMU.
(As a student, Darling is not affected by Governor Glenn Youngkin’s ban on vaccination mandates for state and public university employees. Attorney General Jason Miyares has issued an advisory opinion stating that public colleges and universities do not have the legal authority to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for students, but there is no indication yet whether GMU will accept his interpretation.)
Darling, a former army medic, is the mother of a three-year-old child and plans to have more children. She experienced menstrual changes after receiving the Pfizer doses, and she’s concerned by the lack of data surrounding the effects of the booster on women’s reproductive systems. She wants to make her own decisions about her medical care.
Robert Fellner is a 37-year-old student at GMU’s Antonin Scalia Law School. He was double-vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine. On the basis of his personal research, he does not believe that a booster is in his best interests — young men are at modest risk of myocarditis — and he strongly objects to being coerced into receiving one.
Both have appealed to the GMU administration to no effect. Continue reading
Lauren, Jonah, Shamgar, and Elianah Connors.
by James A. Bacon
During an annual consultation with the University of Virginia organ transplant team in January, Shamgar Connors met with a social worker as part of a “psychosocial assessment.” The 42-year-old Stafford County resident, who was undergoing kidney dialysis 12 hours a day, was on the waiting list for a donor kidney. Hospital policy required him to get vaccinated for COVID. If he refused, he would be taken off the wait list. According to the progress notes recorded by the social worker, he stated he was “never going to take” the vaccine.
UVa Health referred Connors to a nephrologist, Dr. Karen Warburton, whose conversation I recounted in the previous installment of this series. According to her notes, she found him difficult to converse with on the phone. “He demonstrated hostility and a very closed approach to discussion around this issue,” she wrote. I listened to the recording, and I would describe his attitude as terse and defensive — not surprising, given that he’d been told he’d be taken off the wait list — but not hostile. Be that as it may, Warburton went on to write:
He first cited concerns based on his research of the science, then tried to claim a religious exemption…. I would want to explore his candidacy from a psychosocial standpoint with our Transplant Social Work team before we activate him on the list, even if/when he is medically ready.
Transplant surgeons have reasonable grounds (even if the science is conflicting and continually evolving) for asking patients to get vaccinated. Donor kidneys are in short supply, dialysis patients are dying every day because they can’t get them, and doctors want to ensure that those who do get them have the greatest possible odds of long-term (10-year) survival, which runs roughly 50%. COVID vaccinations, they say, improve those odds. But should the vaccinations be required for every patient regardless of circumstances? Continue reading
Shamgar Connors undergoing kidney dialysis
This is the second of three posts about COVID and kidney transplants.
James A. Bacon
In January Stafford County resident Shamgar Connors, who has undergone kidney dialysis for nearly three years, engaged in an annual consultation with the University of Virginia Health system’s organ transplant team. His conversation with Dr. Karen Warburton went like this:
Warburton: [A social worker] said you’re not interested in the COVID vaccine. It is a requirement for you to be active–
Connors: I just had COVID, so I don’t know, why would I get the vaccine?
Warburton: You may have had Delta, and that may not protect you against the Omicron variant, which is what we’re seeing now. Also, our policy is, in order to have people active on the transplant list and get a transplant, you need to be fully vaccinated. You’re on the list. You’re just not on active status right now, as we tied up all these other loose ends. In order to be activated on the list, you will need to get the vaccine. … Are you willing to do it? [silence] OK, so, you don’t want to move forward?
Connors: I’d rather die of kidney failure than get the vaccine. Continue reading
by James A. Bacon
You would never know it from meeting him over Zoom that Shamgar Connors is living under a veritable death sentence. He requires kidney dialysis 12 hours per day. His doctors tell him that the average life expectancy for his particular kidney disease is about five years…. and he started dialysis a year-and-a-half ago. He has been on the kidney-transplant list for about three years now, but the University of Virginia Health system has put him on “inactive” status on the grounds that he refuses to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
The lengthy dialysis treatments, Connors says, make him tired. If that’s true, one wonders what he was like before they began. During our chat, the former 8th-grade teacher came across as passionate, energetic and physically vigorous. He has gained national notoriety for his stand, conducting numerous media interviews and generating hundreds of social media responses as he rallies support for his cause. Strangers have showered him with love and support; one offered him her own kidney. Others say they hope he dies.
He has found his sense of purpose, and he shrugs off the ill wishers. “I’m going to stay as stable as I can and fight this,” he says. “I don’t want a solution just for me. God has put this cause on my shoulders. I’m going to fight for all the other people. There are people sicker than me who are desperate. … I’ll go out like a super-nova.”
Connors’ case raises profound scientific and ethical issues. Kidney transplants are hard on patients’ immunological systems, which makes them more vulnerable to infections, including COVID. Because donor kidneys are scarce, hospitals don’t want to give them to patients with lower odds of survival. UVa Health insists that transplant patients get vaccinated. Connors, who sloughed off a case of COVID over Thanksgiving, says he has acquired natural immunities. UVa says those immunities aren’t good enough. Continue reading
by James A. Bacon
For insight into Governor Glenn Youngkin’s approach to managing the COVID-19 epidemic, read the latest column by Marty Makary, a research professor at the Johns Hopkins University, in The Wall Street Journal. He argues that society is paying a high cost for disparaging the immunological resistance that arises from exposure to the COVID virus.
Some excerpts from his column:
Last week the [Centers for Disease Control] released data from New York and California, which demonstrated natural immunity was 2.8 times as effective in preventing hospitalization and 3.3 to 4.7 times as effective in preventing Covid infection compared with vaccination.
Yet the CDC spun the report to fit its narrative, bannering the conclusion “vaccination remains the safest strategy.” It based this conclusion on the finding that hybrid immunity — the combination of prior infection and vaccination — was associated with a slightly lower risk of testing positive for Covid. But those with hybrid immunity had a similar low rate of hospitalization (3 per 10,000) to those with natural immunity alone. In other words, vaccinating people who already had Covid didn’t significantly reduce the risk of hospitalization.
(The CDC study can be found here.) Continue reading
by James A. Bacon
I think Donald Trump might have enjoyed a longer honeymoon with the media than Governor Glenn Youngkin and Attorney General Jason Miyares. No, upon reflection, that’s not quite true. The media went into attack mode the day after Trump’s inauguration over the crowd-size controversy (a meaningless issue that Trump largely brought upon himself by his silly insistence that the crowd was bigger than it actually was). By contrast, the media waited three or four days to take out the knives for Youngkin and Miyares.
Hopefully, we can put at least one ginned-up media controversy to bed — the paranoid and ill-informed speculation that Miyares fired University of Virginia’s university counsel Tim Heaphy as a form of retribution for taking a leave of absence to work on the investigation into the Jan. 6 Capitol riots. There was never a shred of evidence to support the allegation and plenty of reason to believe otherwise, not the least of which was the denial of Miyares’ spokesperson at the time. Now Miyares himself has said emphatically on television (see the video clip above) that Heaphy’s involvement in the Jan. 6 investigation had “zero” role in the decision to cashier him. Got that? Zero! In case you missed it… zero! Continue reading
Senator Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax.
by Kerry Dougherty
Don’t look now, but Virginia may have its own version of maverick U.S. Senator Joe Manchin.
I’m talking about Democratic State Sen. Chap Petersen of Fairfax County. The lone member of Virginia’s General Assembly — from either party — with the stones to stand up to former Gov. Ralph Northam’s despotic executive orders last year and challenge them in court.
Petersen, a lawyer, didn’t prevail but he fought the good fight.
It appears Petersen may not be a fan of any executive orders, including the new one by Gov. Glenn Youngkin that reverses Virginia’s statewide school mask mandate.
That doesn’t mean Petersen believes kids should be wearing masks in school much longer.
In fact, in an email Petersen warned that if Fairfax County didn’t end forced masking by Valentine’s Day he’d join with Republicans in the Senate to pass a bill that liberates our school children. Continue reading
by Dick Hall-Sizemore
My grandkids have been homeschooled since they were old enough to go to school (going on 16 years or so now). Therefore, I don’t have a dog in this fight over school mask mandates. Neither do most of the commenters on this blog, I suspect.
Thus, a recent conversation with a friend who does have kids in public school (two K-5 boys) was most enlightening. I freely admit that this is one conversation and may not be representative. But this friend is smart, savvy, and observant and I trust his/her general observations.
When I mentioned that Monday would be the test of the governor’s Executive Order on school mask mandate, he sort-of rolled his eyes and lamented that policy was being based on the loudest voices. Most of the parents in our Henrico neighborhood school that her sons attended supported the mask mandate, she said. It was the few who did not that showed up at the school yelling at the principal and yelling at the teachers. Continue reading
by Kerry Dougherty
Good grief, they have no self-awareness, do they?
I’m watching hysterical Virginia Democrats lose their minds because the new Republican governor issued an executive order that actually RESTORES civil liberties to Virginians.
Yet, back when Ralph Northam was issuing one useless executive order after another, the left was silent. In fact, many of them cheered as the governor stomped all over the civil rights of Virginians.
They thought it was fine when the governor ordered every person over the age of 10 to wear masks in indoor settings.
They didn’t object when he lowered the mask requirement to five.
They didn’t care when he forbade sitting on the beach. Or when, in March 2020, he became the first governor in the nation to close schools — public and private — through the end of the school year. Continue reading
by Joe Fitzgerald
About one in 16 American adults suffer with chronic pulmonary disease. Serious health guidelines say they’re the primary ones who should not wear masks. Some of them still can, but a figure of 6% is about the maximum of adults who shouldn’t wear them.
The governor of Virginia, elected to eradicate a subject that isn’t being taught, has decided that removing masks from public schools is the hill he wants to die on.
The two possibilities are that he truly believes life-saving mask mandates in public schools threaten personal freedom, or that he wants to pick a fight early on to exhibit his strength as governor.
The latter seems more likely. And while even some people are his side of the aisle are smart enough to see what he’s doing, a lot of the people who voted for him aren’t. They elected a reality TV star as president and now a financial speculator as governor. Somehow the image of a private equity manager struck them as more John Wayne than Jacob Marley. Continue reading