- The Washington Times - Friday, December 11, 2020

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam just issued new coronavirus-tied restrictions that include curfews, tighter mask mandates and more restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings — supposedly because science tells him this is the right thing to do for citizens’ safety.

Don’t believe it.

The new shutdowns are based on lies and deceptions.

Look at the state’s COVID-19 numbers and it’s clear this latest lockdown is needless government overreach. And it’s no doubt based on politics.

Here’s what Northam has done, via executive order — meaning, Not A Law But Rather A Circumvent Of Constitution: Beginning Dec. 14, Virginians will face curfew restrictions between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m.; Virginians will have to wear masks in all indoor and outdoors settings where social distancing isn’t possible; and Virginians will have to keep gatherings to 10 people or fewer. Northam also sent out a special message to churches, “strongly call[ing] on our faith leaders” to “set an example” by wearing a mask, and scolding them that “worship with a mask on is still worship” and that “worship outside or worship online is still worship.”

The kicker is in the enforcement.

Northam is promising tighter oversight, stronger enforcement.

“This is not about getting people in trouble,” he said. “This is about everyone doing their part and reducing opportunities for people to get sick.”

And therein is the lie.

This is about politics and laying the groundwork to frighten people — to force people even — into taking the COVID-19 vaccine when it’s made available.

The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association’s COVID-19 dashboard indicates that in all of Virginia, there are currently 2,051 “confirmed positive COVID-19 patients who are currently hospitalized, and hospitalized patients whose COVID-19 test results are pending.”

Pending — meaning they may or may not be hospitalized for COVID-19. In other words, that 2,051 is the “combined number” of COVID-19 positive patients and possibly COVID-19 positive patients.

Virginia, according to 2019 Census counts, has just over 8.5 million residents.

So fewer than 2,051 of 8.5 million Virginians are currently hospitalized for COVID-19 — and for that we’re kicking civil rights, once again, to the curb.

VHHA also reports the number of hospital beds currently available — meaning not in use — meaning not in use by a coronavirus patient — at a total of 6,812. That number is broken into two categories: There were 3,117 beds already available in Virginia’s hospitals, but then the governor came along and ordered another 3,695. Why? Ask Northam. No doubt he will say it was out of caution, based on scientific projections for a mass uptick in COVID-19 cases.

The government is looking out for you, dontcha know.

But wait, there’s more.

VHHA also reports the current ICU Occupancy at 53%. Does that sound scary? Here’s the context — posted right on VHHA’s own site, in the teeny tiny fine print above the statistics: “Last year’s average ICU occupancy rate was 67%.”

Last year — before coronavirus was a blip on America’s radar. Last year — the ICU occupancy rate, on average, was around 67%.

Come on, people.

Don’t buy into the fear.

Come on, media. Stop fueling the stupid fear.

Case counts, positive tests, positivity test rates, hospital bed counts, ICU numbers — blah da blah blah blah blah. These things mean nothing without proper context.

So why the new crackdowns? Why the new executive-issued tyranny?

Aside from this being the Democrats’ way — to take an issue and exploit it for political power — another clue is this, an August headline from WRLC: “Virginia Health Commissioner says he’ll mandate a COVID-19 vaccine.”

Remember that?

State Health Commissioner Norman Oliver told 8News that he was going to mandate coronavirus vaccinations for Virginia residents, and that his authority for doing so is straight out of public health crisis law 101.

“It is killing people now, we don’t have a treatment for it and if we develop a vaccine that can prevent it from spreading in the community we will save hundreds and hundreds of lives,” Oliver said then.

Facing backlash, those comments were walked back a bit.

But Virginia’s Department of Health has since “established a Vaccine Unit to coordinate COVID-19 vaccination efforts,” the agency reported on its own website.

Fear is a powerful tool, a powerful motivator — a dangerously powerful tool in the hands of tyrants.

Which is another way of saying Democrats.

But guess what, righteous indignation is an even more powerful tool in the hands of free citizens. Time to lawyer up and fight the power. The livelihoods, lives and God-given freedoms of millions of Virginians are in jeopardy. And the facts are on our side.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE.

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