augusta free press news

Latest on the lockdown: Still in Phase One, face coverings, dumb questions from the media

Virginia covid-19
(© Ingo Menhard –

The energy behind the COVID-19 lockdowns is clearly dissipating. This much was obvious at Gov. Ralph Northam’s Thursday presser.

Northam, yes, talked up his new mandate, related to face coverings in public places, that goes into effect tomorrow.

There’s really no heft behind it. Businesses basically have the right to refuse service to people not wearing a face covering if they so choose.

Not required to. No real enforcement.

Northam declined to push localities that have been in his Phase One slow reopen to Phase Two this week, but he did everything but confirm that not only would that be coming next week, but that it is likely Northern Virginia, Richmond and Accomack County will be as well.

He then tried to temper the upset that he could no doubt sense from the citizens who pay the bills with their tax dollars by reopening the beaches effective this weekend, and also hyping how he’s allowing NASCAR to stage a race in Martinsville on June 10.

NASCAR had already announced that June 10 date at Martinsville last week. The folks there wouldn’t have announced that date without having already gotten somebody in the governor’s office to sign off on it ahead of time.

Northam talking it up today was performance theater.

It’s all performance theater at this stage.

The metrics all look good. Lots of testing being done. Cases on the decline.

We still need to know more about the situation in nursing homes, which is independent of what we’ve done to ourselves with the lockdowns.

Just over 57 percent of the deaths in Virginia have come among nursing-home residents, who make up .3 percent of our population.

Roughly 6 percent of the resident population of Virginia’s nursing homes are confirmed COVID-19 cases.

The incidence rate among the rest of us: .4 percent.

The first question from the press asked Northam not about any of that, but rather, if we are making a choice, in reopening the rest of society, between health and wealth.

Seriously. That’s the first question.

On a day when the Virginia Employment Commission told us that more people have filed for unemployment during the last 10 weeks than did during the entirety of the 19-month Great Recession of 2007-2009.

If you need to know why you’re being asked to wear face coverings in public, that first media question is why.

We let ourselves get whipped into a frenzy, and now we need to talk ourselves down.

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press