Senator questions Northam’s decisions

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, June 3, 2020

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We all grew up being told more, bigger, and better is good.

Such phrases as “keeping up with the Joneses” was the mantra of the ’60s and ’70s. If the neighbors got a new car, then some felt they “needed” to buy a new car. The battle went on and on with much of our society. It continues on in much of what happens in our world today.

It made some sense to get the public’s attention by closing down things for a couple of weeks when the coronavirus started spreading quickly across America. It was something that was very deadly that no one knew much about. Then, some governors decided that they had to be more compassionate than others. Instead of incrementally extending that two-week closing of America, one governor after another decided to dictate more harshly how they could reign over us, their subjects, than the next state. They made speeches about we had to follow the science in these decisions. I agree, we do need to follow the science. However, we need to be open to listening to what the science is telling us. Not just use it to justify decisions already made.

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Governors made the simple decision that if a couple of weeks’ quarantine is good, then months-long quarantines must be great. They did not look at the science or the sand eroding around their feet. While they, and most of us, have been focused on the deaths directly caused by coronavirus, some have died because medical providers were prevented from closely monitoring the physical and mental health of some, while others died because they were afraid to go to hospitals and clinics when needed. If hospitals’ and providers’ opinions had been treated with the respect they deserve, some of those losses might not have occurred.

If governors had been seriously looking at the science and the data behind it, they would have seen that those in nursing homes and in assisted living were the most likely to die from the virus. They were ignoring that 40% of the deaths were occurring there and instead focused on inserting themselves into our lives. Early reports out of Washington state were of how bad the nursing home mortality was once the virus got into the nursing home. Studying that was apparently too complex for the scientists at the CDC.

Likewise, instead of bankrupting businesses with blanket-mandated policies, governors could have given suggested guidelines and trusted people to make the right decisions. Most would have figured out ways to operate while protecting customers and employees alike.


Some thought that masks would be an excellent way to protect themselves from the virus. The experts at the CDC, who we rely on to be the experts on disease, assured us that masks would do no good; they blocked nothing. Then the same people assured us that the opposite was true; that everyone needs to wear a mask.

Now, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has taken the step to dictate that everyone must wear a mask when out in public. He did this because it was the simplest way to do it, not the best. If he had been better focused on not the simplest solution rather than the best solution, it might have been more helpful for everyone. Showing people how to safely put on and take off a mask would help. Encouraging one to frequently wash a mask would help. Teaching people how handling a mask can make them safer or not handled correctly makes them a greater danger. Explaining to the public that while masks can help keep them safer, most of them are not well contoured to your face, therefore, they will not prevent all viruses, germs, bacteria from getting into your body.

In addition to them not preventing everything from getting into your respiratory system, they also give wearers a false sense of security. Without a mask, one might avoid walking directly in front of another. With a mask, many are less likely to be as cautious around others.

If Gov. Northam had not chosen the simplest solution, he would not have created nearly as much angst with Virginians.

FRANK RUFF JR. serves as the 15th District senator in Virginia. He can be reached at Sen., (434) 374-5129 or P.O. Box 332, Clarksville, VA 23927.