Anyone here remember the very beginning of the nursing home crisis in Virginia?
Remember when we learned that a home in Henrico County, a facility where some residents reportedly had been stacked for a time like cordwood – three to a room – was in the midst of a deadly outbreak?
Last time I checked 51 residents of the Canterbury Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center had died. For a while it was the deadliest place in America.
Intelligent people demanded more information on nursing homes. They wanted to know which homes were having outbreaks, how many people were sick in each and how many people had succumbed to the virus.
The governor stubbornly refused to divulge that data even though he had it. Instead, like an oblivious doctor writing off the elderly, he claimed that privacy rights of nursing homes where people were dying trumped the right of the public to know what was going on behind closed doors.
His attorney general Mark Herring – another alum of the Virginia Democratic Blackface Club – backed him up.
No way the public could see this information, we were told. It would be illegal.
Meanwhile, the ghastly numbers kept climbing. Every day more and more people in unnamed nursing homes perished while the governor concerned himself with Confederate statues, Frisbee tossing and loud music on the beach.
I was one of the first to report on Twitter that the nursing home death toll had hit 1,000. Worse, that the percentage of Virginia’s fatalities had climbed to 62 in those death traps.
On Friday Northam used a common political trick to try to hide the fact that he was reversing his secretive policy nursing home information: a virtual document dump, right before a holiday weekend.
He ordered the Virginia Department of Health to put some — but not all — details about nursing homes on its website. Information the department and Northam sat on for months.
A spokesman explained Northam’s about-face with gibberish about the numbers being so high now that no one’s privacy could now be invaded. Apparently the death toll had to reach quadruple digits before the Northam administration would act.
Chew on that for a minute.
House Minority leader Todd Gilbert was incensed about the delay.
“I cannot fathom the reasoning behind the Governor’s announcement today,” Gilbert said Friday. “Families have sought this information — information they could use to protect their loved ones from a lethal threat — for months. Now, after the body count in nursing homes reaches 1,000, the governor has reversed course.
“If it is legal to release the information now, it was legal to release it when it was first requested,” he said. “Perhaps, had the governor not been distracted by his political rehabilitation, he could have realized this earlier and lives could have been saved. Incompetence kills, and there is a great deal of incompetence from this governor.”
Incompetence? That’s polite. Looks more like cold indifference to the most vulnerable members of our society.
Three months into Virginia’s nursing home catastrophe Northam is finally sending $246 million in federal funds to facilities for staffing, infection control and for PPEs.
Yep, the death toll had to hit 1,000 (it stands at 1,004 on Sunday) before the governor even addressed the simple issue of personal protection equipment for nursing home staff.
This governor wasted precious time imposing burdensome rules on healthy Virginians while ignoring the desperate needs of those most at risk of dying of Covid-19.
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