The COVID Surge — Virginia Hangs Tight

by Verhaal Kenner

As of July 1st, Virginia is now in “Phase III” reopening as our state’s COVID cases seem to be almost holding mostly steady despite record daily infections in a few hot spots such as Hampton Roads. Phase III means the reopening of non-essential retail and restaurants (with six-foot table spacing). The complete  set of guidelines, found here, covers everything thing from camp grounds and beaches to racetracks and shooting ranges.

According to CNN three days ago, Virginia was one of only 13 states not experiencing a significant surge in COVID cases.  The worst hot spot was a bar in East Lansing linked to 152 cases in the last week.

Nationally, the country just broke a record 55,000 new cases in one day; that’s a growth of over 90% within about two weeks. Even with a slew of renewed lockdowns and mask regulations, the trend means it will likely take many weeks to get back to where we were a month ago.

I’m impressed that Virginians seem to be largely acting responsibly and following practical guidelines. There are about 650 new cases a day in Virginia and with a population of about 8.5 million, it’s under the 10 per 100,000 threshold that New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are seeking to use as a standard for requiring travelers to quarantine for 14 days.

But looking around us, the Richmond Times Dispatch on June 25th carried an AP story about vacationers in Myrtle Beach, S.C. cramming into hotel elevators without a single occupant wearing a mask. Around the country we read of similarly shocking stories of thousands of people commemorating the end of government-imposed restrictions by recreating and congregating with wanton disregard for infection control. One group of young people in Alabama had parties with a reward for those who got infected first. (Perhaps Virginia’s relative success containing COVID can be added to our list of business-friendly advantages.)

The hard fact is that nothing has fundamentally changed regarding the pandemic and there is no basis for letting one’s guard down on infection control.  A phased opening is merely a chance for us to act responsibly and continue to use the methods established over the last two months.

Unfortunately, from the European Union’s perspective, we will now be excluded (along with countries like Russia) from international travel to the EU. Among the approved EU travel partners are Algeria, Australia, Canada, Japan, Rwanda, and Uruguay, who are all doing a better job at holding down infection rates.   This stunning graphic shows how poorly we have done at limiting infections compared to Europe.  (“One graphic explains why Americans are facing a EU travel ban.”)

The surge of infections is a multi-trillion-dollar second punch to the economy and will put in chaos such issues such as reopening schools and universities. (Re K-12, even though statistics show very few children get infected or convey the virus, the sheer quantity of interactions gives teachers reasonable concern.)  Keep an eye on local government budget and staff cuts and this fall and the impact it will have on unemployment.

The stunning reversal of infection control over the last three weeks was not some random event. Even though the surge is fueled by a minority of reckless individuals, the reversal can be seen as one barometer for the overall leadership and intellectual competence prevailing in the country. We should all be angry at irresponsible individuals but it’s also a wake-up call to examine why so many Americans embrace conspicuously irrational and dangerous behavior.

Verhaal Kenner is the pseudonym of a Richmond-area resident whose career includes several years in consumer and implantable medical device development.

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19 responses to “The COVID Surge — Virginia Hangs Tight

  1. https://reason.com/2020/07/01/covid-19-herd-immunity-is-much-closer-than-antibody-tests-suggest-say-2-new-studies/

    Maybe we’re just closer here in VA to that illusive “herd immunity” threshold. Us, NY, and some of the other northeastern states who seemed to climb the fastest in the early weeks. Whereas FL, TX, CA (and rural Western Virginia) got off to such a slow start, they have far to go to reach the level of virus penetration Northern and Eastern Virginia has reached. It’s a theory….

    • Tempered by “First, a few caveats: Both studies are based on small sample sizes and neither have yet been vetted by peer review.”

      Immunity from a “common cold” virus? Well, as fast as this stuff is spreading that common cold weren’t so common.

  2. Well… does Wise King Ralph get any credit or not? Let’s ask Kerry!

  3. Northam is the antithesis of fine looking politician and I’m convinced that some folks base their attitudes on his looks more than other things.

  4. Ran into some friends this weekend – they are Conservative and when we refused to hug, they informed us that the virus was a hoax and we were being silly. Other Conservative friends showed up – and they hugged each other and again we refused and again we were “schooled” about not being sufficiently informed about what was really going on with the virus.

    True story.

    • Hey, if Trump’s voters want to commit suicide, why should you care? Bottom line, and the weekend burning hair news coverage reinforced this: most will eventually get this. It cannot be stopped without totally wrecking the economy and bringing the education of the young to a screeching halt for a year or longer. Many people have chosen to take their chances and live until a vaccine appears. If no vaccine, herd immunity is the best hope. Everybody with a brain knows the viruses and bacteria are going to get us all in the end. I never thought any lock down would last long enough to really work.

      Trump is right that 99% will not die. The disease is not harmless to 99%, not by a long shot, but people have noticed that the fatality rates mentioned three months ago proved bogus.

      • Agreed. My first instinct is “let ’em sicken and die,” but there are two major problems with such a thought with additional detractions.
        1 the death of any of us diminishes all of us, especially since it uses valuable medical supplies in the process.
        2 it’s not instantaneous; there’s no guarantee the SOB won’t spread it before checking out.

        By definition, a disease that hospitalizes 5% cannot be 99% harmless.

      • If we’re all doomed to get it then why are states like Florida and Texas going back to masks and restrictions?

        Why don’t those states just come out and say: “we’re all going to get it eventually, and we’re not going to kill the economy and K-12 by pretending it’s not”?

        Mixed messaging going on?

        • I said before, given the choice between fast and slow, I choose slow. We might indeed be getting our vaccines this winter.

          • Been reading a bit about herd immunity and how long that process would take.

            And many experts are saying if we just stopped social distancing and masks – that it would take well into 2021 to get to herd immunity – and by that time hundreds of thousands will have died including many people under age 50 including doctors, first responders, teachers, grocery workers, etc…

            So we have a lot of people right now who basically are behaving in belief that masks and social distancing are not needed… i.e. “sooner or later we all get it” but do they REALLY understand the implications of that?

            We pride ourselves on being “knowledgeable” about the virus and that the MSM is biased and misleading but I ask: ” How many actually have a goodidea of how long herd immunity would actually take to play out?”

  5. Are you really going to trust a vaccine that Trump is pushing?

    😉

  6. from the New York Post that quotes CNN?

    and they don’t fully quote CNN?

    ” Study finds hydroxychloroquine may have boosted survival, but other researchers have doubts”

    Think I might wait to see if other researchers can replicate …

    I wouldn’t trust a word that the POTUS said about anything to be honest, much less treatments for COVID-19 or a vaccine – which I’m quite sure will be the “best vaccine on earth” if it comes from USA sources …..

  7. interesting chart:

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