Virginia GOP lawmaker claims social distancing is meant to silence conservatives


State Sen. Amanda Chase thinks Gov. Ralph Northam will keep the state closed so protesters don't storm the Capitol.

Virginia state Sen. Amanda Chase (R) claimed on Tuesday night that Gov. Ralph Northam was scheming to keep the state closed amid the raging coronavirus pandemic in order to prevent conservatives from protesting his progressive legislation.

In a video posted on her Facebook page, first flagged by Blue Virginia, Chase predicted incorrectly that Northam would extend his previous stay-at-home order on Wednesday afternoon beyond its current June 10 expiration date.

"I'm really suspicious," she said noting the "egregious laws" just signed by Northam, a Democrat, including, "restrictive gun laws, attacks on your Second Amendment, attacks on your First Amendment, attacks on life, allowing voter fraud by getting rid of the voter ID law."

"He is setting this so that when all of those laws go into effect July 1 and you're angry and you're upset and you want to storm the Capitol," she said, "he's setting it up — mark my words, so that you can't go out to protest because Virginia will still be under his executive order."

Chase was referencing a raft of progressive bills enacted by the new Democratic majorities in the Virginia Legislature, which Northam has signed into law. These include bills mandating background checks for gun purchases and extreme risk protection orders to temporarily disarm those deemed threats to themselves or others, a repeal of "medically unnecessary restrictions" on reproductive health care, and the elimination of strict photo ID requirements for voters.

Northam issued a statewide stay-at-home order on March 30 to help curb the coronavirus' spread. "We are in a public health crisis, and we need everyone to take this seriously and act responsibly," he explained at the time. "Our message to Virginians is clear: stay home. We know this virus spreads primarily through human-to-human contact, and that's why it's so important that people follow this order and practice social distancing."

Chase based her comments Tuesday on a model by researchers at the University of Virginia, released this week, that found the COVID-19 pandemic may not peak in Virginia until mid-August. Northam had cited the projection in a briefing Monday as evidence that "if we lift the stay-at-home order or social distancing too soon, if we rush to get our lives back to normal, the number of cases will spike higher and earlier."

"I'm sorry. I don't buy it. Not even for a minute," Chase said of the new projection. "I want to know what other health care experts he's talking to." She noted earlier estimates that the outbreak would peak in April in the state.

Northam's office did not immediately respond to an inquiry about Chase's allegations.

Chase also claimed, without evidence, that social distancing and unemployment would cause more people to experience "mental health issues" than COVID-19 and suggested there had been "new discoveries, new drugs that are actually working and getting people back to work."

"They're allowing people to... it almost seems like a cure for COVID," she claimed. "I mean, 24 hours later, people are recovering, instead of the three-to-four-weeks time period."

Chase appeared to be referring to the drug hydroxychloroquine, currently used to treat malaria patients, which Donald Trump and several high-profile Republicans have pushed against the advice of experts.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of Trump's White House coronavirus task force, has specifically cautioned against promoting the drug, saying there is no firm evidence it is safe for patients with COVID-19.

"In terms of science, I don’t think we can definitively say it works," Fauci told CBS News earlier in April. "The data are really just at best suggestive. There have been cases that show there may be an effect and there are others to show there's no effect."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.