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As the number of confirmed Coronavirus cases in Virginia near 15,000, Governor Northam has doubled down on his restrictions to keep businesses closed. He most recently said he will not consider reopening until more testing can be done and we see a 14-day downward trend in cases.
When making the case to reopen Virginia, it is important to clarify the most misunderstood phrase during this pandemic: ‘flattening the curve.’ It appears many people have wrongly interpreted this to mean stopping the spread and preventing any infections or deaths. It does not. The purpose of flattening the curve was to slow the spread of the virus so that we could avoid overwhelming our healthcare system and exceed our inventory of PPE, ventilators, and hospital beds.
That said, Virginia is far from exceeding its medical capacity.
As of April 8, only 27% of ventilators were in use statewide. Of these, most were not being used for COVID-19 related cases. Regardless, Virginia still has 80% of its ventilators available.
There are more than 5,000 hospital beds still available. Only one hospital in the state has run into some difficulty obtaining PPE. The rest have been running smoothly.
As of late, Virginia cases, despite harsh lockdown orders, are continuing to rise and fall repeatedly, currently trending upward.
So, if the spread appears to be inevitable, the confirmed cases continue to rise and fall unpredictably despite drastic measures being taken to slow the spread, and Governor Northam has locked down the entire state by issuing stay-at-home orders, it begs the question:
Is it even working?
Antibody testing suggests that the lockdowns have not worked in slowing the spread of the virus. In LA county, infections were 55 times higher than reported after discovering that most people who had the virus were asymptomatic and never knew they were carriers. In New York, 1 in 5 people tested positive for antibodies, also revealing a dramatically higher infection rate than originally thought.
So, in two of the most infected places in the country, with two of the strictest lockdown order in place, the virus was, nevertheless, widespread. Why then, is Virginia, that has hundreds of thousands fewer cases than California and New York, and has not even come close to overrunning the healthcare system, facing similar restrictions?
Currently, the number of nationwide deaths from COVID-19 is listed as 55,258 on the CDC website. However, they include “probable cases and deaths” in that number, making for a potentially large margin of error. They go on to list 33,513 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, with 14,910 Pneumonia/COVID-19 deaths and almost 6,000 influenza deaths. The Coronavirus numbers are intentionally inflated and loosely counted.
The total COVID-19 deaths for ages 15-54 is 2,639. Compare that with the 26,667 deaths among those aged 65 and older.
It is common knowledge that experts were wrong about nearly every prediction. They estimated a 3-4% mortality rate, but as antibody testing has revealed, those estimates were a dramatically overestimated. Researchers who have countered this narrative estimate that the death rate could be as low as .06 to .5% nationally. Imagine, then, how much lower the death rate is for young, healthy adults with no underlying health conditions.
Let me be clear. I am not suggesting that the entire country, Virginia included, disregard any and all safety precautions and return to the way we lived our lives before the outbreak. It is important that high-risk people stay home as much as possible, until we learn more about the virus and how to properly mitigate it.
I am suggesting, however, that it is time to allow people to practice responsible self-governance. I am confident that Virginia, as well as the rest of the country, would do so if Governor Northam relaxed his restrictions. This has been the case in Wyoming, one of the least infected states in the country, where the Governor has refused to implement lockdown orders. This is also true of New Mexico. With less than 3,000 cases, mayors and citizens alike banded together in defiance of their Governor’s attempted lockdown orders.
What Governor Northam seems to overlook is the fact that quality of life is an important aspect in all of this.
The virus has unknowingly spread despite the protective measures that have been set in place. Governor Northam must realize that the people of Virginia not only want to go back to work, but need to. Governor Northam has forgotten that the economy also saves lives. The economy is pertinent to life and to the quality of that life. This fact should be recognized by allowing those who are at minimal risk of harm to return to work and demonstrate the importance of redeem the economy and the businesses, both in Virginia and the rest of America, that have been lost due to the excessive restrictions from elected officials like Governor Northam.
If Virginians could operate businesses at even half capacity, the economic benefits would be momentous.
The people do not want to continue sitting at home while their economy and mental health crumbles.
Open Virginia. Let people take responsibility for their lives. If suffering is a certainty, let it be accompanied with the same degree of dignity and responsibility.
“I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.” – Thomas Jefferson.