On March 12, 2020, Governor Ralph Northam (D) declared a state of emergency in the Commonwealth of Virginia because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the SARS-CoV-2 virus that caused it.
On March 23, 2020, Northam imposed the first public health restrictions: Restaurants and gyms were closed and social distancing requirements were put in place. I complied. It was the right thing to do. We had to do what we could to slow the spread and prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed.
On March 30, 2020, Northam imposed a broad stay-at-home order and a prohibition on most public gatherings. I complied.
On May 29, 2020, Northam imposed an indoor mask mandate. I condemned the mandate as “pseudoscience,” which was perhaps too strong a word. I knew that only medical-grade N95 masks could reliably block out viruses, but I underestimated the effectiveness of simple cloth barriers in blocking respiratory droplets, which are the primary way this virus spreads. Simple cloth masks won’t stop individual, aerosolized virus particles, but they will stop the big globs of spit and snot that carry thousands or millions of them. But even though I thought the requirement was off-base at the time, I complied.
I came to support reasonable masking policies. Cloth masks are useful in limiting the spread of the virus in prolonged close-contact settings. They are unnecessary outdoors, and even indoors when social distancing of more than six feet is possible. But even when the requirements went beyond what was scientifically justifiable, I complied.. . . Continued