The Strange Case of the Pandemic Patriots

by Peter Galuszka

In rural Southwest Virginia, the coronavirus pandemic has gotten so bad that Ballad Health, a major health care provider there, is suspending elective surgery for a month.

System-wide, Ballad, which also operates in adjacent states, had 45 available beds as of Wednesday, only 13 or 14 of them ICU beds, according to the Virginia Mercury.

In Southwest Virginia, the number of beds occupied by COVID-19 patients has soared from an average of 76 a day in late April to 361 as of Wednesday, the Mercury reports.

Meanwhile, in other rural parts of the state, such as Campbell County and Appomattox County, public officials are protesting the “tyranny” of Gov. Ralph Northam’s COVID 19 restrictions, such as closing bars at 10 p.m. and not allowing people to congregate in groups larger than 25.

“Free people have a duty to push back against these restrictions,” said County Supervisor Charlie A. Watts II, according to The Washington Post.

Is this the same state? How strange since the pandemic is pushing to new heights as more people contract the disease and die. Public Enemy No. 1 is, of course, Northam, a Democrat that conservatives like to pummel. Ironically, compared to other governors, Northam has actually been fairly moderate. This week he announced he is not ordering more restrictions although he urges caution.

Perhaps the nay-saying supervisors in Central Virginia should visit northeastern Tennessee bordering Virginia where refrigerated morgue trucks are being driven in because local funeral homes can’t handle the load of freshly dead bodies.

Yet some counties are even considering penalties for public officials who enforce rules set by the State Department of Health.

This modus operandi is familiar. About a year ago, some rural counties actually considered expanding militias under the watch of local sheriffs. Was there a crime wave? A protest? No. Nada.

Not to conflate issues but self-styled militiamen are now showing up at county board meetings considering countermoves to Northam’s restrictions, saying they are un-Constitutional.

In Campbell County, Daniel Abbott, an officer of the self-described  Campbell County Militia, practically started to cry as he spoke, The Post reported. “I look at what has taken place over the last couple of months in America and I have been ashamed. We thank you for standing up for a protecting the people you represent.”

What is hard to understand is the logic here. Let’s say a local chemical plant has an explosion and toxic gases are spewing out from it. Wouldn’t it be the right thing to do to evacuate nearby residents? If that is done, should anyone listen to complaints that their Constitutional rights are being violated?

Here at Bacon’s Rebellion, there is a constant effort to diminish the pandemic and attack Northam. There has been any number of truly boring stories chewing over endless health department data to make it look like the effort to control COVID 19 is some kind of socialist plot.

Of course, the same writers don’t believe in climate change and try to diminish efforts to control carbon pollution.

As for Northam, the motives are obvious. He’s a Democrat and there’s a race to replace him next year.