Beware of former English majors wielding calculators.
Nevertheless, here goes.
Every single day it seems we see newspapers publishing hysterical headlines about “sharp increases” in the number of Covid-19 cases in Virginia.
Why is anyone surprised?
After all, the governor wasted weeks wringing his hands and whining about how he couldn’t get any tests. Coronavirus testing has finally increased in Virginia and so has the number of cases.
Death tolls are a better measure of the severity of the pandemic and harder to manipulate. Ironically, that’s where we can find reassuring news.
According to yesterday’s tally on the Virginia Department of Health website, 1,338 Virginians have died of COVID-19 since that first death on March 21. Every single one of those fatalities is a tragedy.
But it’s worth noting that of those people, 755 – about 56 percent – were nursing home residents.
That number is an absolute scandal.
Nursing homes across the country have turned into death camps where the virus runs rampant, picking off scores of frail and helpless residents day after day. Governors simply shrug and say that nothing can prevent such carnage. In Virginia, the Northam administration stubbornly guards the “privacy” of these long-term care facilities, keeping the public in the dark about where most of the deaths are happening.
All we have is the daily death count. And it’s ugly.
Here’s where a calculator comes in handy. Let’s figure out Virginia’s overall death rate from the coronavirus:
It’s about 15 deaths per 100,000 residents.
By contrast, New York’s death rate is 152 per 100,000 and New Jersey’s is 128 per 100,000. Maryland’s rate is 40 per 100,000 and North Carolina’s is 8.
Let’s try something else. If we subtract the nursing home fatalities from Virginia’s total we get a rough estimate of just how deadly this virus is to the general population. Without those nursing home deaths, that total is 583.
According to my calculations, the death rate for the general population works out to about 7 deaths per 100,000.
That’s heartening. And ought to be enough for the commonwealth to reopen.
Yet, in spite of this modest death rate, the governor has kept a stranglehold on Virginia. He finally opened all of the beaches today – but beachgoers are inexplicably forbidden to play music or toss Frisbees – and he continues to ban indoor dining. Gyms are closed and pools are only open for lap swimming. Oddly enough, Ralph Northam waited until this point in the pandemic to suddenly demand that everyone wear masks in public buildings.
While we were focused on figuring out how this new mandate would work, Northam quietly amended his March 12 Public Health Emergency order that was set to expire on June 10.
It took almost full day before members of the press noticed that the governor had extended his emergency declaration INDEFINITELY.
That ought to be illegal. Giving a governor unlimited powers with no expiration date is a huge mistake.
Northam has bad judgment. We saw that with his appalling blackface yearbook photo and we saw it again last weekend as he sashayed down the Virginia Beach boardwalk ignoring his own rules on social distancing.
This arbitrary extension of emergency powers signals that Northam intends to continue to drag his feet on reopening the state, without regard for businesses that are dying or the commonwealth’s alarming numbers of unemployed workers.
Given the fact that the most dangerous place to be during this pandemic is a nursing home, the governor ought to turn his full attention to saving what’s left of that vulnerable population and stop worrying about whether 10-year-olds are masked up or kids are throwing Frisbees on the beach.There are currently no comments highlighted.