Floyd County now adds new COVID-19 cases in double digits each day. Last month, the county hit 1,000 cases and now has 1,183 with 13 new infections in Friday’s report from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH). Virginia’s total stands at 827,197 after adding more than 4,000 cases for the third straight day on Friday.
Hospitalizations rose by 253 in the Old Dominion on Friday. At least 35,414 have been hospitalized since the pandemic began, along with 12,242 deaths.
In Montgomery County and the city of Radford — home of Virginia Tech and Radford University — 13,490 infections have been reported since the pandemic began, with 113 deaths. Roanoke City and County and the city of Salem report 23,484 cases and 418 deaths.
Yet, medical experts at VDH says masks are necessary to fight the spread of the delta variant of COVID-19. So does Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases.
“We can’t have this very inconsistent wearing (of masks) where you have some states that absolutely refuse to wear a mask,” Fauci told CNBC. “It almost becomes a political statement. We have got to get away from that. If you don’t want to shut down, at least do the fundamental, basic things and the flagship of which is wearing a mask”
“People cannot feel safe just because they had the two doses. They still need to protect themselves,” Dr. Mariangela Simao, assistant director-general of the World Health Association, told a news briefing in Geneva recently.
“Vaccine along won’t stop community transmission. People need to continue to use masks consistently,” she added.
Dr. Lee Sevier, who treats COVID-19 patients and has seen too many die, puts it more bluntly: “Those who refuse to wear a mask are killers walking among us.”
Yet too many people in Southwestern Virginia, and here in Floyd County, resist the simple use of a mask to help fight the spread of the disease. At least one county Supervisor candidate for the upcoming state and local elections was escorted out of a public hearing by a deputy after she refused to wear a mask in inside the Floyd County High School auditorium this week.
The candidate, Republican Kalinda Bechtold, is running unopposed for the Indian Valley seat after Justin Coleman decided to not run for re-election. Indian Valley is a solid Republican area where Democrats usually don’t even field a candidate for the seat.
Bechtold’s actions at the school board meeting were illegal, since Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam required mask mandates for all public school buildings. She will replace Republican Coleman, a county sheriff’s deputy, who obeyed, and enforced, the mask regulations.
Another self-declared GOP conservative, Jennifer Miller, is running against incumbent Jerry Boothe, in his third time as a supervisor and who has served as a Democrat, a Republican and now independent.
Miller’s Facebook page prominently links to an article on the county GOP website entitled “Floyd County School Board Prefers Tyranny Over Liberty.” But the link goes to a “not found” notice, meaning the article was deleted and never existed. A search of the website also turned up nothing.
The county GOP prepared a petition to try and force the School Board to reject requirements by the Virginia Department of Education and Gov. Ralph Northam to protect transgender students in public schools. Floyd County schools had already implemented the regulations and the petition went nowhere
Such actions from the party are not surprising. Former County GOP chairman, and still current officer, Bob Smith has made homophobic comments in public comments before the Supervisors more than once.
Supervisors are expected to keep track of details. I know Boothe does. If Miller wins the seat to join Bechtold, is the failure to keep an invalid link on her campaign Facebook page an example of her attention to detail? If she wins, we could have two new supervisors who put partisanship above the needs of the county?
Will they set examples or ignore the law and recommendations of health experts?