Death rates from COVID-19 rising nationwide, in Virginia and in Floyd

The Virginia Department of Health reported 159 new deaths in the Commonwealth Wednesday, including one in Floyd County.

With vaccinations now set for the “B-1” tier (age 75 and older with conditions), Virginia saw another increase in COVID-19 deaths in Wednesday’s report from the Virginia Department of Health, rising by 159 in the 24-hour period that ended at 5 p.m. EST Tuesday.

Floyd County, which has not had a death recently, suffered one in the current report, raising its toll to 18. Roanoke Valley (city, county, and Salem) has seven deaths for a new total of 201 while Montgomery County reports 56 overall.

With the rate of vaccinations proceeding slower than expected, the deatly threat of COVID-19 is far from over.

Virginia reported 4,598 new cases Wednesday after the state passed 400,000 just three days ago for a total of 412,545. Floyd County’s 591 cases have increase fivefold over just 20 less than four months ago and will most likely top 600 this week.

Nationwide, medical experts worry about a shortage of available hospital beds as infections and deaths rise.

In Food Lion Tuesday, I overheard a hothead not wearing a mask still claiming COVID-19 is “a hoax” invented by those determined to get rid of outgoing president Donald Trump. I’ve run into him and others who also claim Trump was the only standing in the way of a hard of Satanic pedophiles trying to take over America and the world.

That ludicrous claim is a primary conspiracy theory promoted by QAnon, teh shadowy group that Trump liked because “I understand they like me.” They are having more and more problems spreading their propagada lies since Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets have purged such idiots from their rolls but they still have the “Dark Web” and other sites that pander to such trash.

As a newspaperman, I have mixed emotions about censorship, but I understand that the First Amendment of the Constitution applies to the American government and not private businesses. I admit a private relief when I see the bile spread by QAnon and, yes, even Trump curtailed. Twitter thew him off their platform and Amazon Web Services shut down the Parler forum that he was turning to as his new microphone,

Is hate speech protected by the First Amendment? In most cases, yet. Even the American Civil Liberties Union has represented Nazi groups when they spout their evil in public, but statutes exist to regulate speech when it promotes violence that leads to the riot that shut down the U.S. Capitol, where a mob of thugs stormed the home of Congress and brought about at least five deaths, including the murder of a Capitol Hill Police officer.

Which brings back to COVID-19 and the maskless ones who spread the virus without any concern of those who could be infected and die from their callous behavior.

“I have COPD,” said one man not wearing a mask in Floyd’s Circle K quick shop, where a sign on the door tells those entering to wear a mask.

“That’s odd,” I told him. “So do I, and I’m probably at least 30 years older than you.”

“I can’t help it if you are too stupid to realize that the mask could be killing you,” he fired back.

Yes, stupidity was part of the conversation, but where is came from is debatable.

I’m 73 years old and have more than just COPD as part of several “underlying conditions.” My wife, who is 67, has attmas and other respiratory functions, but we do not venture outside our home without masks, frequent hand washing and other precautions.

We try to only frequent grocery stores, pharmacies and other retail establishments that strictly enforce wearing of masks and practice social distancing. It’s not as easy at it should be, given the number of people who think practicing safety is “sissy” or “stupid.”

“Stupid is as stupid does,” Forest Gump said. Yes, it is and it does, all around us.