Northam will take away your Phase Three if you’re not good

Virginia covid-19
(© Ingo Menhard –

Ralph Northam, summoning his inner Debbie Downer, had his office send out a press release this evening that threatens to implement tighter public health restrictions just because.

“I am watching what is happening in other states — we are taking a cautious approach as we enter Phase Three and maintaining the current restrictions on bar areas,” the presser quoted Northam, on the eve of the state’s advance to Phase Three of his Forward Virginia reopen.

He could be claiming some sort of victory for a job well done, on a day when the COVID-19 Tracking Project reported the lowest number of Tuesday COVID-19 deaths since March 24, as test numbers are skewing toward younger populations where the infection fatality rate is comparable to the seasonal flu.

But instead, we get this from our governor: “If our public health metrics begin moving in the wrong direction, I will not hesitate to take action to protect the health and safety of our communities.”

Wonk, wonk.

The move related to bar seating is actually a wise one, if only in the interim. It’s kind of like with the continued requirement to wear facial coverings in indoor public spaces.

Whether either is more than theater, it feels like something.

The numbers in Virginia are all trending great. New reported cases are less than half what they were back on May 29, days before Northam moved the Commonwealth from Phase One to Phase Two, the state is currently averaging more than 10,400 administered COVID-19 tests per day — exceeding Northam’s goal pulled out of the thin air a couple months ago of 10,000 a day —and the percentage of positive tests has dropped to 6 percent from a high of 20 percent in mid-April.

The positive test percentage, it should be noted, trends with national numbers, and reflects, as much as anything, that more tests are being done now on subjects who aren’t symptomatic to begin with, as opposed to how things were done back in March and April, when tests were largely limited to people who were obviously sick.

Remember that back in March, at the beginning of the thing that we’ve been in the past three-plus months, we were told that there were many more people with COVID-19 exposure, the vast majority of them asymptomatic, than we were finding with our then-limited testing.

The number of tests being conducted per day is now nearly 10 times what was being done back on March 24.

If the number of positives was 10 times what we were seeing back then, we might need to Debbie Downer ourselves into self-submission.

It’s not.

The lethality, as we’ve been noting here on AFP since early April, is among those 80+ (50.9 percent of Virginia’s COVID-19 deaths are among those 80 and older, according to Virginia Department of Health data) and particularly among those in long-term care facilities (60.5 percent of the state’s COVID-19 deaths are among long-term care facility residents).

After early missteps that exacerbated the situation in long-term care facilities, we’ve taken steps to getting that back under control.

Meanwhile, the good news is the survival rate for Virginians 60 and under with COVID-19 is 99.95 percent.

Yes, wear your mask.

Yes, don’t rub elbows with people in bars.

But, seriously, enough with this virtue signaling from our governor.

We’re not children.

Treat us like the hard-working taxpayers who fund your $175,000 salary.


Story by Chris Graham

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