Virginia Sets up a Snitch Line

by Kerry Dougherty

Here’s something that will warm the hearts of every Karen in the commonwealth: Virginia’s Department of Health has opened an anonymous snitch line.

That’s right, no longer will these suburban tattletales have to give the side-eye to the unmasked or publicly berate people who disobey the governor’s arbitrary executive orders.

They can now loose government goons on the disobedient.

What fun!

Hey, with a little luck they’ll be able to get those with uncovered faces booted from supermarkets and small shops. Eventually ABC licenses could be yanked and businesses that just reopened could be shut down again. The possibilities for adding to the general misery are endless.
Best of all, if the snoops report infractions quickly, noncompliant people can be embarrassed, shamed and humiliated in public. After all, what good is a pandemic if you can’t morph from nosy neighbor to government informer?

All of this from the privacy of mobile phones.

I’m not going to link to the snitch line on the impossible-to-navigate DOH website. But it essentially urges Virginians to report people without masks, crowds larger than Gov. Ralph Northam has decreed to be safe, and reckless folks who engage in life-threatening acts such as tossing a Frisbee on the beach or splashing in a public pool rather than mechanically swimming laps.

Think about the possibilities.

Hey, want to close down a business competitor?

Report ‘em for maskless workers!

Have a church you don’t like?

Turn ‘em in for too many parishioners in the pews.

Are your neighbors throwing pool parties with 26 people?

Summon Virginia’s Stasi.

All of this over a virus that has infected less than one percent of Virginia’s population.

Sigh.

I learned about this chilling new development from State Sen. Mark Obenshain’s Facebook page.

Urging people to spy on their neighbors is disturbing. This isn’t North Korea, China or Iran. Yet.

It’s also overkill. Virginia has been lightly touched by the COVID-19 virus and our numbers improve daily.

In a state of 8.5 million, we’ve had just 1,586 deaths. Sadly, 945 – or about 60 percent – of those fatalities were in nursing homes.

This means Virginia’s general population has experienced 641 fatalities. That’s a death rate of about seven per hundred thousand.

If you happen to be in the supermarket cereal aisle and an unmasked person – gasp – walks by you, your chances of being infected are infinitesimal. Odds are, they aren’t carrying the virus and neither are you.

Even if they are, The Wall Street Journal published a reassuring piece this week, “How Exactly Do You Catch Covid-19? There Is Growing Consensus Surface Contamination and Fleeting Encounters Are Less Of A Worry Than Close-Up Person-To-Person Interaction For Extended Periods.” Experts told the WSJ that it usually takes 15 minutes or more of close contact with an infected person to catch the virus.

Nevertheless, Northam’s health department hotline is there to turn in such offenders. Of course it could backfire.

Someone ought to tell Northam what happened when New York Mayor Bill de Blasio opened a similar snitch service in April.

It had to be taken down almost immediately after mischief makers filled it with naughty photos and Karen memes.

It would be a pity if something similar happened in Virginia.

This column was published originally at www.kerrydougherty.com.

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40 responses to “Virginia Sets up a Snitch Line

  1. What’s the #? 🙂

  2. 1-877-ASK-VDH3

    https://redcap.vdh.virginia.gov/redcap/surveys/?s=Y4P9H7DTWA

    Gonna submit Kerry’s address?

    • The drop down menu is very helpful….see who the targets are! No listing for “Street Protests?”

      • The “targets” are those of EO 65, the businesses in the expanded openings. Ya know, those given dispensation to open at this time.

        “complaints related only to Executive Order 65 that involve cloth face coverings or capacity requirements may be filed with this form.”

        Street protests were never closed. Speaking of which, how’s the weather in Tulsa?

  3. How do you report somebody for not wearing a mask when Northam opened a loophole for unspecified health conditions to void the mask mandate? Do you walk up to an unmasked person and ask to review their medical records? Or just report them and let some bureaucrat from Richmond sort it out in a typically Nothamesque random and haphazard manner?

    Remember, Northam is the gutless wonder who won’t report COVID19 by nursing home because nursing homes are people. He is also the governor who watched protesters defy his various heath edicts with impunity. If there is another protest at a Confederate statue with a large crowd and COVID19-related complaints are filed will Northam really dispatch his jackboots to investigate? Or, will he decide, in his Animal Farm world, that some animals are more equal than others.

    It has become increasingly clear that Northam lacks the mental capacity and intestinal fortitude to be a competent governor.

    • How? By either the phone #or the webpage,

      The online form specifically says “do not challenge” but keep 6 feet separate and report, so yes.

      It’s not for reporting persons but the businesses in Phase II, which is why the list of business types is there, which any real journalist would have discovered.

      What they’ll do? Probably amass complaints on a specific store, and then threaten. Enforce? Probably won’t have to in 99% of the cases.

      Imagine you’re black and a cop pulls up next to you a a light and says, “Your left brake light is out.” What’s your next stop? AutoZone? Or the restaurant where you’re meeting friends for drinks and dinner?

  4. No doubt such a piece of defiance was surely submitted from a portable device in Tulsa….

  5. “…Ya know, those given dispensation to open at this time.” Dispensation to open. You need the permission of King Ralph to operate a business built with your own money, your own sweat equity, serving your own neighbors, who can decide for themselves whether to enter. In that one sentence Nancy Boy boils it down to the essence. King Ralph indeed. This all about control and the panic reaction to this disease, which basically kills those who are very old or who have put their own feet into their graves with obesity and heart disease, has granted unprecedented power to control the economy and transfer wealth from the disfavored to the favored. And the sheep bleat and accept it.

    • Wow! Must be hot in Tulsa. Good god man, take off the sport coat and loosen the tie. Heatstroke can be fatal.

      King Ralph? Isn’t he just following those wishy-washy federal guidelines?

      It is what it is. He has the authority. How are the court challenges going?

      OTOH, Virginia ain’t NY. Thank god. Or just Ralph, maybe.

      • He has the authority until enough people just say, no more, we will submit no more. After all, it’s not like the police are going to back up this crowd, not now. I don’t see them heading out to shut down 20, 30, 50, 5,000 defiant local businesses.

        • I know you can cite this from the top of your head, but which party was in control of the GA when the Bill authorizing a Govenrnor with such unforeseen powers was passed?

          Or perhaps, what was unforeseen was just which would be the Governor’s Party?

          Look, I feel your pain, the audacity of the man… or rather, you feel 1/50th of my pain, less actually, since Northam doesn’t have nukes.

    • I am beginning to think that I should abandon referring to Northam as King Ralph on several grounds:

      1.. The reference might be seen as a microagression toward John Goodman who played the title role in the movie King Ralph. I am not a fan of Goodman, but he might be insulted by the reference, hence a microagression.

      2. Kings have not been noted in history for establishing surveillance networks. That is more characteristic of the French Revolution and dictatorships of the right and left (I would argue at a later time that all dictatorships are left wing.) Many have even urged children to snitch on their parents and grandparents.

      Perhaps it is more appropriate to refer to Northam as “dear leader”, “governor for life” or my favorite my “Big Brother” Ralph.

  6. Just wondering… How many of you have lost someone close to you or know someone who has lost someone close due to COVID-19? Who genuinely believes this is a disease that we know so little about that it will be a while before we could know for sure what best protects us, but in the meantime, we must do the best we can?

    I just listened to a BBC report from Italy where in retrospect they believe they should have taken more drastic close down actions, even though the economy might be worse. One person didn’t have the “right” symptoms to be allowed to stay home but ultimately was diagnosed with COVID and recognizes that people died as a result. I can’t imagine being saddled with that.

    Have you ever received an evaluation in which absolutely nothing you’d done for an extended time was viewed as right, where the evaluator could not find a single action to even give a neutral score? I have.

    Frankly, government/leadership is in a no-way-to-win situation. Anything it does will be criticized and if it does nothing it will also be criticized. Leaders will be decreed by some to be weak no matter what. I happen to agree that our Governor isn’t a strong leader – he has been unwilling to stand up for citizens in too many ways – but I think calling him King and finding nothing right in his actions day after day hurts our democracy – and likely emboldens those who do not respect our system of laws but want to do what they want no matter who is hurt and expect no consequences. Already the US has more deaths per capita than most other countries. We have not been a leader in extinguishing this disease.

    There’s got to be a better way for us to respectfully disagree, discuss perspectives and ideas, and bring about needed change in a civil society.

  7. Thanks to President Trump’s recent interview with the WSJ we now know why people are wearing masks as it is to express their disapproval of him. This despite the fact that wearing masks is perhaps the simplest way to aid in bringing back the economy. The states need to be focusing on testing, tracing, and isolation.

  8. 1984 is not an instruction manual.

  9. Vaconsumeradvocate. That’s a good question but on this blog there is a strong element of scientific denialism about the pandemic. They ignore the 100k plus dead Americans and dismiss the threat as being mostly confined to nursing homes. This is the same bunch that dismisses climate change, despite overwhelming scientific evidence.

  10. “Already the US has more deaths per capita than most other countries….” Unlike a previous statement, that is correct. But we are behind or similar to several other Western democracies, and the pandemic hit us sooner than other locations. I expect Brazil, for example, to catch and pass us, if it is honest about this problem. Watch India, too. The southern hemisphere is heading into winter and I assume that is also their flu season.

    Didn’t hear the BBC report but the lockdowns were quicker and deeper in parts of Asia, certainly, and seem to have reduced the spread. They also were fine with the masking protocols, which Americans obviously are rejecting in droves. A relatively small uptick in Bejing has brought down a strong response. Is that a better way? The long term evidence will let us know.

    His Excellency’s royal status hereby revoked.

    And no, in reply, I know of no deaths among people I know or their families. I know of a few active cases who recovered.

    • All of those countries where the pandemic will rage long after our “first wave” has passed will be the tinderbox for a massive resurgence, too.

  11. It’s becoming apparent that not practicing social distancing and wearing masks leads to higher infection rates.

    The US FAILED to act in a timely manner. We had (and still do) disagreement from the head of the Federal government that encourages people to dismiss the reality of the virus, to not wear masks and in general to defy public health recommendations and the efforts of state government to manage the pandemic.

    Even now, people are demanding that we “re-open” schools and opposing proposed measures like split shift/split weeks to manage the virus. They want to go back to the way the schools were before and hang whatever the consequences might be as a result.

    We got have the people TRYING to do what is recommended and the other half threatening open defiance and worse… and we’re seeing the results in the states that re-opened too soon and too widely.

    There are no good answers – but blaming government for what the virus is doing is just plain foolish.

    • I think it’s the large, loud gatherings — whether street protests or gangs of drunks in bars. Yes, the Trump rally is madness. It has been interesting to see people inside the Y, where we don’t have to wear masks inside while working out. I see friends catching up, masks off, at what were normal distances from before – very close. Not just “hello” passing in the hall, but long face-to-face no-mask chats, sometimes with one huffing during exercise, something I’m not going to do except with close family.

      I won’t say which Y because some snitch will call it in, in hopes my workouts stop and heart risk returns….

      • Actually, the evidence now indicates that large gatherings outside are not resulting in much spread. This seems to be true for the protests and perhaps even more so as many of the participants were wearing masks. Additionally, social distancing out of doors further reduces the risk. It is about enclosed spaces, spacing, and duration. Too bad that Trump rallies tend to go on for so long.

  12. I’ve commented on matter several weeks ago. This was easy to predict, in part because Va ABC has done this for some time. Their 1-800 Tattle Tale line has been abused for decades by disgruntled employees, competitors and social conservatives to harass liquor selling restaurants. I wouldn’t be surprised to find-out its used by bureaucrats in other departments to harasses businesses they can’t otherwise find issues with. That’s how this will be used. The VHD number has been online for a while.

    I’m pretty sure this is all just Projection by Northram. The big question is if and how is this going to be enforced?

    Many retail businesses are struggling to enforce the “All Patrons Must Wear” requirement. Best practice is for employees to avoid confrontation and call the police. The Va Police Association has already stated this enforcement requirement is bad policy. The general consensus now seems to be that if a patron isn’t wearing a mask, as a business you have to assume they are taking a medical exemption.

    You can preach all day about whether people should wear masks, but much of the population (consumers) is down-right malevolent about it; they are not going to be told what to do.

    Many things look good on paper, but application in the real world is a different matter.

    Northram has put small businesses in a no-win situation. The Left will try to make small businesses out to be the bad guy, because they know they can’t send out the police to enforce this directly on the people. Thney have to do this indirectly by threatening business owners. But, the Social Conservatives set the example for using the tactic!

    FYI: You can’t be Consumer Advocate when you don’t understand consumers.

    Donoschik: (orig: Soviet Russia) A snitch, especially during the pandemic; someone who especially enjoys tattling on friends, neighbors and local businesses who don’t obey lockdown and isolation. Comes from the Stalin terror era when everyone feared the local tattletale working for the party. Sim: informant, squeal, sneak, snake, traitor

  13. Actually the word Russians use is “Stukatch”. A way
    if signaling that an informant is present is knocking you knuckles lightly in a table.

  14. The establishment of the complaint line is a mistake. It will encourage the kinds of crank calls that one commenter mentioned, It will be of little benefit to the administration, while adding fuel to the fire for skeptics like Kerry.

  15. vaconsumeradvocate: “Just wondering… How many of you have lost someone close to you or know someone who has lost someone close due to COVID-19?”
    That doesn’t matter. What matters is the stats. Objective not subjective data. Less that can go wrong when making decisions based on true fact/reality, not someones’ fear/anxiety/.
    Peter Galuszka: “They ignore the 100k plus dead Americans and dismiss the threat as being mostly confined to nursing homes. This is the same bunch that dismisses climate change, despite overwhelming scientific evidence.”
    100K dead to millions out of work, an economy in a shambles, education at this point mismanaged so badly as to cause worse futures for especially minority children, a good # of holes that can be pointed out in the “logic” used? Why weren’t shut downs used for measles or whooping cough outbreaks? Why aren’t masks good enough for criminals to stay in jail? When a majority of deaths are in nursing homes or other group settings, when we start looking at the true breakdown of ages and comorbidites, that shows us people are about the real areas of concern, not control. I don’t see people dismissing it: where do you? I see folks trying to get at the real problems using science/stats. If you dont’ think it is nursing homes, provide credible data for your assumptions. Where do you get your assumptions on climate change? I’ve seen varying degrees of proof against it and for it. I do not dismiss any of them but am waiting for more in depth data to see what are the best options that work now. Removing cheap forms of energy is something that works for America. Unless you want Germany prices, which can be 4x what we are paying (and I’d need to go back and pull that article), that would ruin our economy. Tunnel vision to “solve” a problem without considering all angles isn’t the answer.

  16. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/930052
    Whether the presence of antibodies to COVID-19 grants immunity remains unknown.
    People are probably not getting reinfected, and any positive results on retesting are more likely a result of residual viral RNA.
    The FDA’s relaxed standards and emergency use authorization for antibody testing was “a disservice to us” because of potential cross-reactivity with other coronavirus antibodies.
    For antibody testing to work in a disease that affects 2%-3% of the population, we need a test with at least 99.7% specificity.

  17. https://www.modernhealthcare.com/safety-quality/coronavirus-outbreak-live-updates-covid-19
    Coronavirus outbreak: Nursing homes represent more than 1 in 4 COVID-19 deaths
    https://www.roanoke.com/news/local/virginia-looks-to-reopen-nursing-homes-and-state-hospitals/article_5a42d2c4-1d0a-58de-b31d-119ff3b3e416.html
    Overnight, the number of deaths linked to long-term care facilities jumped by 40 to 945, and yet the total count of COVID-19 fatalities in Virginia rose by only three on Thursday.
    As of Thursday, 60% of Virginia’s 1,586 deaths came from nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
    “What gets me and actually makes me angry would be when [Public Safety Secretary] Brian Moran could get up there and tell you all about the prisons and they had so many cases at Buckingham and whatever, and Dr. Forlano would get up there and say, ‘Well, we can’t tell you. No we aren’t going to tell you.’ It was like night and day,” she said.
    Beginning in May, private nursing homes started reporting cases to the federal government, but assisted living facilities and group homes are under no obligation to make cases public. Virginia claims it is not permitted to identify facilities with positive cases, as state code extends them the same health privacy rights as people.

  18. https://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2020/05/26/nursing-homes-assisted-living-facilities-0-6-of-the-u-s-population-43-of-u-s-covid-19-deaths/
    2.1 million Americans, representing 0.62% of the U.S. population, reside in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. (Nursing homes are residences for seniors needing help with activities of daily living, such as taking a shower or getting dressed, who also require 24/7 medical supervision; assisted living facilities are designed for seniors who need help with activities of daily living, but don’t require full-time on-site medical supervision.)
    According to an analysis that Gregg Girvan and I conducted for the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, as of May 22, in the 43 states that currently report such figures, an astounding 42% of all COVID-19 deaths have taken place in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

    • V N says:
      “According to an analysis that Gregg Girvan and I conducted for the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, as of May 22, in the 43 states that currently report such figures, an astounding 42% of all COVID-19 deaths have taken place in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.”

      Yes. And the great majority of remaining deaths are also elderly people (over 70) with co-morbitities.

      And, overall in Virginia, the risk of death from Covid-19 is 7 in 100,000 or .00007%.

      Covid-19 is now a false crisis ginned to aggregate power, gain control over other people, and reek harm on our economy, all done for political reasons.

      Thus violence, rioting, looting and property distruction are now accepted activities in many American cities across the nation while GOP political rallies are evil.

    • The percentage of COVID19 deaths in nursing homes is fairly common knowledge and pretty much the same across the state and around the world.

      Does that mean that you also agree that Covid-19 is now a false crisis and all those states including GOP are trying to gain power, control people and harm the economy?

      A very large majority of people – somewhere around 80% do not believe that and do think the virus is real and that we need to continue wearing masks and socially distancing – as well as restrictions / guidelines for re-opening businesses and institutions.

      I recognize that not everyone agrees and some vociferously disagree and think in terms of a conspiracy among government to use the virus to “control” people.

      I do not agree with that and I think a fair number of others do not also.

      it’s not a “majority vote” that decides but when large numbers of people think there is still a problem – government tends to respond on that basis.

      I note that in some states like Florida that re-opened early on are now seeing a resurgence of infected – outside of nursing homes and as a result are re-instituting restrictions…

      I just think most people think the virus is very real and a danger to them and their families and support government actions to respond to it.

  19. “The percentage of COVID19 deaths in nursing homes is fairly common knowledge and pretty much the same across the state and around the world.”

    Grossly false statement. For one of many examples, the death rate is more that 20% higher in Virginia nursing homes than national average. New York is another nursing home death trap state thanks to its Governors incompetence, dishonesty, horrible decision making, and hiding of facts from public.

  20. You are correct. I was wrong. What I intended was that we know that half or more of the deaths are in nursing homes… but it does vary by state and country.

    ” Massachusetts had the highest proportion of nursing homes with COVID deaths, nearly 66 percent. That represented 247 of the state’s 376 nursing homes.

    — In 30 states, nursing homes’ share of COVID-19 deaths was higher than the national average of 26.7 percent. In some of the hardest-hit, such as Connecticut and Massachusetts, more than one-third of the state’s deaths occurred in nursing homes.”

    https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/nursing-homes-represent-more-1-4-covid-19-deaths-u-n1231547

    ” Virginia June 19 COVID-19 update: Virginia updates data to reflect 55 new long-term care deaths, now 1,000 of state’s 1,602 deaths”

    That increases the percentage of deaths in long-term care in Virginia to 62% of Virginia’s overall total of 1,602. (from WAVY).

  21. And what we don’t seem to know with any real clarity is why some states have so much higher rates. Is there a common reason why or specific failures in some states on standards or enforcement?

    I just am not yet convinced that Northam or VDH is anymore culpable that governors or health departments in other states with higher rates unless we actually can specifically identify the lapses.

    Even then – on a broader scale – every Govenor , GOP or Dem usually has successes and failures. A few like Mitch Daniels might come out smelling like a rose.

    In the end, Northam has to ride that tiger the best he can and after people will decide what kind of Governor he was, his successes and his failures – from both a GOP and a Dem perspective but ultimately from all Virginians.

    I’m just not going to condemn him. He’s not the best as a leader or an administrator, but he is the Governor – and I note in the news that he has changed his mind on identifying the nursing homes that have COVID19. Who knows how that came about but public pressure has to be one reason and it did cause change.

    What is the common link? I suspect it’s not just one thing and it’s not something that Governors can easily fix, for instance in high cost regions, many workers work at more than one job and bring the virus to the facility where it can spread unless there are scrupulous infection control and PPE is changed for every patient – when PPE was in short supply.

    There will be lessons learned, no doubt but I don’t think this is something most would agree to just put solely on Governors or even VDH folks.

    • Mitch Daniels has been President of Purdue University, that great institution of higher learning in the cornfields of Indiana, since 2013. BTW, observe the minimal to no tuition increases YoY there.

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