Tag Archives: Kerry Dougherty

COVID Confusion

by Kerry Dougherty

Looks like it may be safe to lose the grocery gloves. We can take it easy with the Clorox wipes, too.

No longer must we let Amazon packages marinate on the porch for days. Or scrub milk cartons with bleach in case some super-spreader touched it in the supermarket refrigerator case and left invisible viral bits on its waxed surface.

Yep, in a reversal of its earlier hair-on-fire warnings, the CDC admitted this week that it appears the Covid-19 virus is not easily transmissable from surfaces.

The CDC made another key change to its website, clarifying what sources are not major risks. Under the new heading “The virus does not spread easily in other ways,” the agency explains that touching contaminated objects or surfaces does not appear to be a significant mode of transmission, reported The Washington Post.

Now they tell us, 5,000 Clorox wipes later. Continue reading

Contract Killer Paroled in Virginia

by Kerry Dougherty

Let’s begin today with a quiz:

Where would you rather be during this COVID-19 epidemic, in a nursing home or a Virginia prison?

If you said “prison” you’re right. Of course any place in the commonwealth would be safer than a nursing home. As of 10 a.m. Tuesday, the Virginia Department of Health reported that 614 residents of long-term care facilities had died from the virus. That was an increase of 19 fatalities from Monday.

Horrific.

By contrast, only 5 inmates have died in all of Virginia’s correctional institutions since the beginning of the pandemic.

Yet we’re keeping frail people in nursing homes and letting criminals out of jail.

Meet the latest parolee: Horace Eugene Burnette III, who has the distinction of being the first man convicted of capital murder in Nelson County. He was sentenced in 1992 to life in prison plus 30 years for the murder-for-hire deaths of two women. He was released on April 2. Continue reading

Pass the Coppertone

Virginia Beach, 2016. Photo credit: Kerry Dougherty

by Kerry Dougherty

Virginia Beach is back.

Well, sort of.

At his press conference yesterday Gov. Ralph Northam bent to pressure from irate local politicians, desperate resort businesses and an increasingly disgruntled public by announcing that city beaches could reopen in time for Memorial Day.

“This is the tonic people need right now,” an ebullient Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer told me last evening. “People have been confined for months. Beaches to the north and south of us are open. This had to happen.”

Northam had promised a decision on beach openings on Monday. But Dyer became worried Saturday night when he saw a newspaper photo that seemed to show throngs of people shoulder-to-shoulder on the beach.

“I was down there from 2 to 4 on Saturday and it wasn’t like that,” Dyer said, explaining that when shot with a long camera lens, perspective on crowd size can be distorted. Continue reading

Pictures Don’t Lie. Or Do They?

by Kerry Dougherty

Virginia Beach is dancing a weird waltz with the governor.

Privately, city officials and local businessmen express fury over Ralph Northam’s capricious decision to ban sunbathing on the beaches. Publicly they’re groveling, as they beg him to reopen the sand before the tourist industry is a smoking ruin.

No one will want to come to Virginia Beach and stay in one of the city’s 11,400 hotel rooms if they can’t grab a chair and spend the day on the beach. That’s just a fact. They’ll head to Ocean City, the Outer Banks or Myrtle Beach instead.

As I’ve said before, if Northam has a study showing that sunbathers are more susceptible to the COVID-19 virus than fishermen are, he should produce it. Otherwise, he should let the people enjoy THEIR beaches and withdraw his silly no-sitting-in-the-sand edict.

The governor’s a doctor. He should want people outside soaking up Vitamin D, boosting their immune systems and enjoying nature. You know who’s getting sick? People who stay home. Just ask Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Earlier this month he said he was “shocked” to learn that 66% of the people who’d become ill in New York had been staying in their houses.

Saturday was a perfect day to get out of the house. After a cool spring, the day dawned warm and sunny. Temps climbed high into the 80s and the sun was dazzling.

Continue reading

Virginia’s Sloppy Prisoner Release Plan

by Kerry Dougherty

Are you concerned that Virginia has opened its prisons and hustled inmates out over fears of COVID-19?

Brace yourself. The news just got worse.

Not only are criminals being rushed out of prison, they’re being released without re-entry preparations. The cell doors open and the convicts are suddenly on their own.

What could possibly go wrong?

It wasn’t like this even a few months ago. Back in February the state boasted in a press release that Virginia’s recidivism rate was the lowest in the nation at 23.1%. One of the reasons offered for that impressive statistic was the Department of Corrections’ terrific re-entry program that prepared inmates to return to their communities with skills and support.

In the past weeks, however, under orders from Richmond, the DOC has been freeing prisoners at a manic pace with no time to prepare them for life on the outside. Continue reading

Who Has Ralph Northam’s Ear?

by Kerry Dougherty

Why appoint a task force if you’re going to ignore its recommendations?

That’s what many Virginia business leaders wondered last week when they saw Gov. Ralph Northam’s arbitrary rules for reopening the commonwealth.

On April 24, the governor merrily announced the formation of a “diverse” 24-member “Covid-19 Business Task Force” to advise him on how to safely reopen the commonwealth. The group included owners of a brewery, a vineyard, a bakery, a campground, and a gym, as well as representatives from Kings Dominion, the Hampton Coliseum, Walmart, the hospitality industry and others.

“These are Virginians who are thinking every day about how to protect the health of their staff and the communities in which they operate,” boasted Northam at the time. “They understand that our public health and business interests are aligned—we must take measures that both ensure the safety and confidence of consumers and prevent the spread of disease. Their input will continue to be critical as we plan a safe, consistent, successful path forward.”

As it turned out, according to The Richmond Times-Dispatch, their input was neither critical nor heeded.

According to  a number of task force members were as shocked as the rest of us when they saw Northam’s rules for reopening that were unveiled last Friday. Continue reading

Another Murderer Freed in Virginia

by Kerry Dougherty

Let’s see, who’s next on the Virginia Parole Board’s Get-Out-of-Jail-Free conveyor belt?

Oh look, it’s Irvian Cotton. Another murderer serving a life sentence.

They’re getting out of prison so fast, I’ve lost count of how many violent criminals have been sent home in recent weeks.

If you were in these parts back in 1985 you may remember Cotton. He reportedly roughed up his wife on Dec. 3, 1985. She had him arrested and moved out of their house with her two kids.

On December 17, 1985 – the day before prosecutors say 28-year-old Zsa Zsa Cotton was scheduled to testify against her husband – Irvian forced his way into her parents’ Suffolk home.

According to news reports, Cotton shot her three times at point-blank range in front of her children, ages 4 and 8.

Continue reading

Northam’s Ludicrous Beach Rules

by Kerry Dougherty

It’s beginning to look like something other than a concern for public health lurks behind Governor Ralph Northam’s irrational decision to keep the beaches closed indefinitely.

Although there is much we don’t know about COVID-19, study after study — from Australia to Stanford to Connecticut — indicates that while the virus is highly contagious, the chances of being infected while outside is considerably smaller than contracting it indoors.

Beyond that, you don’t need a medical degree to know that the best human defense against any virus is a healthy immune system. Vitamin D — what we used to call “the sunshine vitamin” — plays a critical part in keeping us healthy enough to ward off pathogens.

Yet, beginning Friday Virginians will be able to go to a hair stylist or a barber, they’ll be able to dine outdoors in cafes and they’ll be able to exercise and fish on the beaches. They will not, however, be allowed to SIT on the beaches, to relax and soak up the sun.

That means our hotels will remain virtually empty, because no one wants to visit a beach town and be required to do jumping jacks to be allowed on the sand. Continue reading

Death Comes to Virginia’s Nursing Homes

by Kerry Dougherty

Imagine for a moment that your grandmother is in a Virginia nursing home. You haven’t seen her since late February or early March when visitation was terminated due to concerns about the coronavirus.

Perhaps your grandmother has some dementia, making it impossible to chat on the phone to ask how she’s doing.

Worse, you’ve heard that at last count there have been 150 outbreaks of COVID-19 in nursing homes around Virginia. You’re now terrified that your grandmother is in peril.

That fear is real.

As of Thursday, 452 of the 769 coronavirus deaths in Virginia have been connected to long-term care facilities. That’s a staggering 59 percent of all fatalities.

Those were frail people who died alone and behind locked doors while their families begged for information.

I know what you’re thinking. Surely those with loved ones in nursing homes can go to the Virginia Department of Health’s special COVID-19 webpage and find out which long-term care facilities are experiencing coronavirus outbreaks.

No, they can’t. Continue reading

Behaving Like a Commonwealth

by Kerry Dougherty

Gov. Ralph Northam’s press conferences are weird, unsettling events. They’re free of the fireworks and drama that are a regular feature of the president’s wild pressers. But there’s a sense of quiet despair and dictatorial impulses about them.

Northam is frequently befuddled on these occasions, as he was last week when he was asked why Virginia’s nursing home deaths had tripled overnight. He had no idea. And as he was weeks ago when a reporter asked about his plans to help the homeless during the health crisis. Again, not a clue.

At other times, Northam displays flashes of irrational stubbornness.

On Monday, for instance, Northam was asked if he would consider reopening Virginia by regions. After all, there are four localities with no infections at all and more with very few positive tests or hospitalizations.

Northam’s answer ? No.

Northam responded as he has several times before, insisting that Virginia is a commonwealth and we’re going to behave like a commonwealth. Continue reading

Virginia’s Parole Board Frees Another Killer

by Kerry Dougherty

Well. They did it again.

Virginia’s Parole Board released another murderer. This may be the most psychotic killer yet.

And, no, these hairballs are not being released because of the COVID-19 virus. The Department of Corrections is freeing non-violent criminals nearing the end of their sentences. This is the soft-on-crime Parole Board setting killers loose. Because they can.

When Suffolk’s Commonwealth’s Attorney Phil Ferguson got to work Friday morning he found an email from the parole board that stopped him cold.

The board, in its infinite wisdom, had apparently released Patrick Schooley Jr., one day earlier. He was a murderer Ferguson prosecuted in 1979.

One he’d never forget.

Schooley, who was 15 at the time of the killing and 16 when he was convicted, abducted, robbed, raped and stabbed to death 78-year-old Bessie Rountree in her home on the evening of February 1, 1979. Continue reading

Another COVID-19 Symptom: Incivility

by Kerry Dougherty

It’s not just the lockdowns that are getting to some of us. The closed gyms, restaurants and beaches.

It’s the incivility.

It’s the venom and hostility directed at anyone who dares to question the state shutdowns or suggest they’ve gone too far or gone on long enough. Or – God forbid – wonders if they were wise at all.

The retorts are mean, ugly and untrue. They leave no room for debate.

You want people to die.

You don’t care about the elderly.

You’re selfish.

You care more about getting your nails done than people’s lives.

You’re willing to die for the Dow .

That last accusation was hurled at me when unemployment hit 24 million and I pointed out on Twitter that the number was catastrophic. Continue reading

Masks and Common Sense

by Kerry Dougherty

Have you ever longed to commit a crime, but hesitated because you feared being caught on a security camera?

You’re in luck. This pandemic couldn’t have come at a better time.

Just don a ballcap and some sort of mask — surgical, or better yet, a bandana — and your fears of being recognized as you indulge your inner thief will disappear.

If you’d walked into a convenience store all masked up two months ago, the clerk would have called the cops.

Now you can sashay through the doors disguised as just another virtuous citizen saving the world from COVID-19.

It’s a bandit’s dream.

Check out the guy who’s wanted by the Virginia Beach police. He was in a 7-Eleven on First Colonial Road last Thursday where the cops say he brazenly stole cigarettes and emptied a donation jar. Continue reading

Why the Secrecy about Hospital Beds and COVID?

by Kerry Dougherty

Anyone remember why the country is locked down?

I do.

With images of Italy’s collapsing healthcare system and Italian death panels doling out beds and ventilators in early March, we were told we had to take radical steps so that American hospitals would not be similarly overwhelmed by the COVID-19 virus.

“Fifteen days to slow the spread,” they told us.

And we complied.

Fifteen days became 30, which then became 45 and in some places — like Virginia — the shutdowns have no end in sight.

As you sit at home, worrying about your mental health, your job, your finances and your family do you ever wonder just how many beds are occupied by COVID patients in the hospital nearest you?

Good luck finding out. Continue reading

Virginia’s Leaders Traffic in Gloom and Doom

by Kerry Dougherty

In response to a Tweet I posted last week about Gov. Ralph Northam, a local priest responded by quoting a nun who’d seen one of the governor’s press conferences and thought Virginia’s leader was in need of prayers

“…that is a man without hope,” she said.

Amen, Sister.

Northam’s the captain of Team Apocalypse. The grim reaper of governors.

The people working for him? Equally glum and seemingly unmoved by the plight of ordinary Virginians who have been tossed out of work.

Instead of assuring folks that the commonwealth will reopen before small businesses are driven into complete ruin and families are buried under a blizzard of unpaid bills, Northam holds press availabilities that assure the public this shutdown will be long and painful.

There is not much light at the end of Northam’s tunnel. Continue reading