Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS

The Commonwealth of Virginia continues to deal with COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019), a respiratory illness that originated in Wuhan, China, last year and has since spread throughout the world. In an effort to slow the spread of the disease in the Commonwealth, Governor Ralph Northam (D-VA) has ordered many nonessential businesses closed and imposed other restrictions.

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) provides current information about this outbreak on their web site, which is a useful and informative reference. I began this post when VDH removed their chart of day-by-day increases in cases, which they have since restored, but they still do not provide the equivalent charts of hospitalizations or deaths. They also do not post a chart of the doubling rates.

I am making this post to provide citizens of the Commonwealth with this important information. These charts are all based directly on official data provided by VDH. There are some data anomalies present in VDH data; I do not correct or ‘massage’ any of the data so those anomalies are present in the charts below. I will update each of the charts as time permits.

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Primary elections for the Democratic and Republican parties will be held on June 23, 2020. They were originally scheduled for June 9, but have been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Off on a Tangent is making recommendations to party primary voters in each contested state- and federal-level primary race in Virginia. Primaries for the office of president were held earlier in the year and were reviewed in a separate article.

Political parties are private organizations that should not have any official standing in our political system, but Democratic and Republican primaries are held by the Virginia Department of Elections and are funded by Virginia taxpayers. The purpose of a party primary should be for members of that party to choose who will represent them on the general election ballot. Virginia, however, has an “open primary” system where any registered voter may vote in any one (but not more than one) primary each year.

This series of recommendations only applies to taxpayer-funded primaries. Both the Republican and Democratic parties are making some of their nominations at party conventions. The Libertarian Party, which currently qualifies as a major party under the Tangent style guide (section 10.70), nominates its candidates in party conventions.

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South Riding Proprietary

The South Riding Proprietary is a homeowners’ association (HOA) that acts as a defacto local government for the South Riding community in Loudoun County, Virginia. At the proprietary’s annual meeting on May 19, 2020, three seats on the Board of Directors are up for election. Members of the board serve three year terms. South Riding property owners may cast votes for these three board seats either by attending the annual meeting in person, or by submitting a proxy vote ahead of time. Proxy votes may be cast using paper ballots that were mailed to property owners, or electronically on the South Riding Proprietary web site.

The annual meeting must achieve a quorum (combining in-person attendance and proxy ballots) of at least ten percent of all South Riding property owners. If a quorum is not achieved, the meeting will be recessed for a period of less than thirty days. At the resumption of the meeting, a quorum of only five percent is required. The meeting may then be repeatedly recessed and resumed until the five percent quorum is achieved. The South Riding Board of Directors cannot seat members or perform any official work without a quorum.

Five candidates appear on the director ballot: Dr. Gopal Bethi, David Christopher Brent, Kip Lowe, Karen MacDowell, and Gary Smith. Property owners may vote for up to three candidates, and may write-in other names if desired.

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You might have come to my web site today looking for some kind of April Fools joke. I do one nearly every year. Sometimes they’re pretty funny (if I don’t say so myself). Last year, I broke with tradition by launching my half-serious presidential campaign. I thought it would be funny to leave people wondering if it was an April Fools joke or a serious endeavor. Surprise! It was both!

My original plan for this year was to continue the tradition. A month ago, when I started to set it in motion, I thought it would be funny to do something related to quarantines or viruses. That became less funny as time went on. As the COVID-19 outbreak moved from a Chinese problem to a worldwide problem, and as my local, state, and federal authorities took more and more serious action to try to slow it down, my original plans quickly got overtaken by events.

I considered doing something different for April Fools Day here on the site, but I ultimately decided against it. In part, I didn’t have enough time to start over. And even if I did, it’s hard to be hilarious in such a strange time. What could I joke about while I’m under a government-imposed house arrest? What’s hilarious in the midst of a widespread and deadly viral outbreak?

I don’t mean to discount the power of diversion. I’m still reading and enjoying the satire on The Babylon Bee and the The Onion. And I am not condemning those who chose to plow ahead with their April Fools plans . . . I especially liked the one from A Blog To Watch, since I’ve been really into wristwatches lately. Everybody is dealing with this crisis in their own way. Some deal with it with laughter. Some deal with it by not really feeling like laughing. This is, in almost every way you can imagine, uncharted territory.

I am a Catholic, and I coordinate the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) program at my home parish. This is the process by which adults—whether they be non-Christians or Christians from a non-Catholic background—join the Catholic Church. I went through this program myself in 2008-2009. So, not only do I have to stay home each Sunday, since there are no public masses being held in my diocese, but I have had to tell five people who were intending to become Catholics at Easter that we will have to delay their reception into the church that Christ founded. This is heartbreaking for me. I’m sure that it is heartbreaking for them.

And yet I am lucky. My day job was mostly work-from-home anyway, so shifting to full-time work-from-home was no serious problem. My income is unaffected. And even if it was, my family is financially stable and can ride out a storm for at least a couple of months. I am well aware that others are not so lucky. Even many people who thought they were in good shape a month ago have found themselves suddenly unemployed. This can be the consequence of poor planning or poor decisions, but when something like this comes along, that’s not always the case. Some are completely innocent, and are being ‘punished’ by circumstances anyway. Life is not fair.

There is a lot more that I could say about the COVID-19 crisis. You should not be surprised to hear that I have opinions about all of this . . . about how we got into this situation, about how our governments are handling it, and about the best path forward. I might post about some of this in the future. But, today, I mainly want to ask you to pray. Pray for the people who have been killed or harmed by this virus. Pray for the leaders of our governments (even those you don’t like) that they might make good choices. Pray for an end to this crisis.

And if you, like me, are lucky enough to have a stable income in the midst of all of this, please consider making a donation to a reputable charity that is working to help make things better for others. I personally recommend Catholic Charities USA, the American Red Cross, and the CDC Foundation.

Governor Ralph Northam (D-VA) has issued Executive Order 55 (PDF link), which orders all Virginians to stay at home amid the worldwide COVID-19 viral outbreak. According to a statement from the governor’s office, Virginians may leave their homes only for certain permitted reasons, including “to seek medical attention, work, care for family or household members, obtain goods and services like groceries [and] prescriptions, . . . and engage in outdoor activity with strict social distancing requirements.”

Northam also ordered all colleges and universities in Virginia to cease in-person instruction, ordered all public beaches closed, and ordered a cessation of all short-term private campground reservations.

An earlier order, Executive Order 53 (PDF link), remains in effect as well. It imposed a statewide prohibition on public gatherings of more than ten people, closed K-12 schools through the end of the academic year, directed that nonessential recreational and entertainment businesses be closed, and directed that dining areas at restaurants be closed.

Restaurants are permitted to continue offering delivery and take-out service. Essential businesses like grocery stores are permitted to stay open but have been instructed to adhere to federal social distancing guidelines. Other businesses are also permitted to stay open but must limit themselves to ten patrons at a time and adhere to social distancing guidelines.

These restrictions will remain in place until June 10, 2020, unless amended or rescinded by the governor before then.