Distrust of the government, especially when the political party you support is not in the White House or the Congressional electoral majority, is an oft-referenced factor in the debate over COVID-19 vaccinations and state government or private-sector mandates on employee vaccinations. Thus far, the vaccination mandate issue has been dealt with at the state level. However, at the federal level, I will note that urgency in distributing COVID-19 Coronavirus vaccines to the American public seems to have been a bipartisan undertaking.
While stumbling somewhat in his initial response to COVID-19’s early 2020 arrival in the U.S., in a televised appearance on December 8, 2020, President Trump announced a COVID-19 vaccination Executive Order bannered as “Operation Warp Speed”.
“In a few minutes I’ll sign an Executive Order to ensure that the United States government prioritizes the getting out of the vaccine to American citizens,” Trump said, adding that, “While we begin to swiftly deploy the vaccine, we’ll continue to expand the availability of ground-breaking therapies … and we have millions of doses coming in”.
And so the torch of urgency in COVID-19 Coronavirus vaccination distribution was passed to the Biden Administration, which took the public health efforts that had gone before and continued to run with them. Leading us where? – Perhaps running in argumentative circles based on political leanings and flawed interpretations of the medical and public health data at play in what is defined worldwide as a viral pandemic with a fatal outcome rate somewhere in the 1.5% to 2.5% range of reported cases (compared to .02% to .04% for traditional flues).
As of August 8, 2021, as schools were about to reopen that translates into over 4.2-million reported deaths worldwide (2.1% of cases); 626,843 in the U.S. (1.7%); 11,558 in Virginia (1.6%); and 62 in Warren County-Front Royal (1.9%). With a large portion of this community refusing to be vaccinated and objecting to mask mandates in public schools, as indicated at the August 4 Warren County School Board meeting and the July 26 Front Royal Town Council meeting, one might want to consider a sobering statistic this reporter first found on the Augusta University/University of Georgia Medical Partnership website citing CDC and Associated Press reports that unvaccinated people are accounting for 98% to 99% of reported COVID-19 deaths.
“According to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the vaccine is so effective that ‘nearly every death, especially among adults, due to COVID-19, is, at this point, entirely preventable.’ She called such deaths ‘particularly tragic’,” in the story titled: “Staggering COVID-19 Statistic: 98% to 99% of Americans Dying are Unvaccinated”, adding, “As of July 22, 339.8 million vaccine doses have been administered – 56.4% of the total U.S. population, have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 48.8% of having been fully vaccinated.”
Perhaps ironically, as of late July, Warren County’s vaccination rate was reported at the same 38% mark that the state of Georgia’s was cited as in the above-referenced report, both nearly 12% below the current national average of 49.7%. As of August 6, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reported Warren County’s vaccination rate holding at 38.1%.
“New COVID-19 cases are surging where vaccination rates are low,” the Georgia Universities Medical Partnership site noted. And in his August 9 update, Warren County Emergency Services Coordinator Rick Farrall reported the county’s 7-day average new cases reported at “30 and rising” in the middle of the “Moderate” category (10-49 cases) while the statewide 7-day average was ranked “Moderate” at 19.1 cases. On Tuesday, August 10, according to the Virginia Department of Health website, Warren County recorded 16 new cases and one death the previous day (2 within the past week), raising the county totals to 3,309 cases, 63 deaths, with 129 hospitalizations.
The August 6 VDH Dashboard update (https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/covid-19-data-insights/covid-19-cases-by-vaccination-status/) demonstrates that 98.5% of COVID-19 cases in the Northwestern District (including Warren County) are in persons not fully vaccinated, that 97% of persons hospitalized for COVID-19 complications are not fully vaccinated and that 98.9% of those dying of COVID-19 are not fully vaccinated. As reported above, Warren County’s death rate per case is slightly higher at 1.9% than the state mortality rate of 1.6%.
Regarding the non-vaccinated COVID death rate percentage of 98% to 99%, the Georgia Universities Medical Partnership site noted: “Experts are hoping this staggering number of one-sided fatalities will be the wake-up call for more Americans to get vaccinated.” Augusta University/University of Georgia Medical Partnership Campus Dean Dr. Shelley Nuss added, “The best way to protect ourselves and others is to get vaccinated by one of the currently available vaccines. I strongly advise everyone to consider getting a vaccine and to discuss this with their health care provider. Cases are rising throughout the United States, in large part due to the particularly virulent Delta strain.”
But what about widespread online reports regarding deaths associated with COVID-19 vaccines? Closer to home, we talked to Dr. Cee Ann Davis, current Director of Winchester-based Blue Ridge Community Health, a Fellow of the American College of Preventive Medicine, and Adjunct Professor of Public Health at VCU. “There have actually been very few deaths confirmed directly attributed to vaccines,” she told Royal Examiner. “We are looking for deaths, not due to other causes, not those that would have occurred anyway and coincidentally occurred in a person who was vaccinated the same year. Adverse event reports can be filed by anyone and are filed without discriminating between those two situations – hence the misinterpreted numbers in the thousands” before any cause and effect is established.
Dr. Davis pointed to one example regarding the Johnson & Johnson vaccine cited from the CDC’s “adverse event” report page cited in a recent letter to the editor https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/adverse-events.html
“The site reports that of over 13 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, 39 cases of Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome have been confirmed. Not all died, and the deaths associated with this were a few days after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. That adds up to less than 39 directly attributable deaths.”
Of fears related to employer vaccine mandates and legal protections, Dr. Davis observed, “I think many people may be reassured to learn that Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) rulings, starting with Jacobson v Massachusetts in 1905 – upheld since more than 64 times by SCOTUS – forbids physically forcible vaccination and requires health exemptions. No one may be injected against their will. Virginia also respects religious exemptions, she noted.
As to a religious concern over the use of aborted fetal tissue in COVID vaccines, a search of the CDC website indicated that what is termed “fetal line” tissue has been used in the development and testing of several COVID vaccines; however, no fetal tissue of any kind is actually in a COVID vaccine. Fetal line tissue is explained as lab-grown tissue, often utilizing as a point of origin aborted fetal tissue from the 1970s and ’80s as the source. Sweden was cited as a specific source dating back nearly a half-century. So, the fetal line tissue utilized in the development or testing of some COVID vaccines is decades, generations of lab development away from actual aborted fetus cells. Whether that allays some people’s religious concerns is up to them.
“Hospital and medical system employees are already required to be immunized against measles, influenza, etc.,” Dr. Davis pointed out, concluding, “We are now in a pandemic of the unvaccinated, and cases are rising locally and nationally due in large part to the virulent Delta strain. The best available protection is full vaccination for all who are medically able to receive a vaccine.”
Medical and public health professionals are speaking, cases and hospitalizations are rising and people are still dying, 98% to 99% of them unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated. – But how many out there are listening as they make decisions for themselves, their families, and their communities?
Everyone age 12 and older can now get the COVID vaccine
Here are the COVID-19 vaccine locations in Warren County. Be sure to call and check on vaccine availability and appointment times.
Walmart Inc #10-5105
10 Riverton Commons Dr, Front Royal, VA 22630
CVS Pharmacy, Inc. #17367
10 Crooked Run Plaza, Front Royal, VA 22630
Warren County Health Department
465 W 15th St #200, Front Royal, VA 22630
CVS Pharmacy, Inc. #07509
800 John Marshall Hwy, Front Royal, VA 22630
409 South St, Front Royal, VA 22630
Check at https://www.vaccines.gov/ for other locations in our area.
Protect yourself and others. Remember the following when receiving your COVID-19 vaccine:
- Wear a cloth face covering or mask in accordance with CDC guidance
- Keep at least six feet of distance between yourself and other people not in your household at all times
- Respect the privacy of others when taking photos
Warrior Psychotherapy Services opens on Main Street
Niki Foster Cales of the Front Royal/Warren County Chamber of Commerce, along with fellow Chamber members and Supervisor Walt Mabe welcomed Courtney Patti to the community with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Warrior Psychotherapy Services is located at 130 E. Main Street in Front Royal.
Courtney Patti is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) with over 15 years of practice working with the chronic medical and behavioral health population.
Her experience includes working in facilities such as Children’s National Medical Center, Washington Hospital Center Outpatient Behavioral Health, University of Virginia Medical Center, Sheppard Pratt Health System, and Ft Belvoir Community Hospital working in both inpatient and outpatient settings. She received her Bachelors of Arts in Psychology and Minor in Religion from Sweet Briar College in 2005. Courtney received her Masters of Social Work (MSW) from Catholic University of America: National Catholic School of Social Services in Washington, D.C. in 2007.
Her specialty focuses on adults whose lives are impacted by depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and unresolved emotional issues. She is considered an expert in her field in formulating diagnostic and treatment recommendations, providing individual, couple, and family therapy.
Motion to bar press from hearing on Luckey indecent sexual liberties with a minor charges delays hearing to January 6
On Thursday, October 21, Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Judge Daryl Funk ruled in favor of a defense motion to bar the press from the courtroom during the hearing of accused child sexual abuser Dr. William R. Luckey. The ruling, at the request of Luckey’s defense counsel Shannon Johnson, resulted in a continuation of the scheduled hearing at which the alleged juvenile victim was expected to testify.
Court records indicate the hearing was continued to January 6 of next year on the morning docket with an anticipated start time of 10:30 a.m. The delay will allow press organizations to file responses to the judge’s ruling on their exclusion, making their case to be allowed in the courtroom for future hearings or trials where testimony by and about the alleged victim would be heard.
According to reports Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Samantha Meadows was poised to call at least three witnesses Thursday, including the alleged victim and case investigator Kristin Hajduk of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office. However, the youth’s testimony would have been by remote video hook-up, avoiding the necessity of an underage witness having to be in the same room with their accused abusers as they testify.
On June 25, 2021, the 72-year-old, retired (in 2015) Christendom College professor of 33 years and more recent teacher at the Padre Pio Academy at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Front Royal was charged with one count of “Solicitation of prostitution from a minor less than age 16” and two charges of “Indecent liberties … of a child less than 15”. Court documents list all three offense dates as June 22, 2021, three days prior to Luckey’s arrest. Original presiding Judge Nancy Reed initially denied bond in the case on June 30. However, upon defense appeal citing health issues and his long-term ties to the community, Luckey was released on a $50,000 secured bond on July 12.
Copies of warrants on those charges offered additional detail. Of the two indecent liberties charges, Luckey is accused of “with lascivious intent knowingly and intentionally sexually abuse a (age withheld by paper) female …” and “that the accused feel or fondle the sexual or genital parts of such child”.
Of the solicitation charge, the warrant alleges that Luckey offered “money or its equivalent to a minor under 16 years of age … with the intent to sexually arouse or gratify and thereafter perform a substantial act in furtherance thereof.” Commonwealth evidence indicated that money was ten dollars offered to the alleged victim to see and touch their “bottom”. The warrants indicate the money was refused by the child, but that Luckey followed through with the suggested behavior, leaving the ten dollars behind when he left the scene.
During initial hearings last summer the Commonwealth introduced recorded phone conversations between Dr. Luckey and his wife discussing her husband’s legal situation in the days following his arrest. Investigator Hajduk told the court that the couple knew they were being recorded on the phone line to the jail before introducing recorded segments of those conversations to the court and summarizing other sections. While the prosecution’s take on those segments was that they indicated an admission of some of the alleged behavior, the defense disputed that contention.
Rather, defense attorney Johnson argued certain conversational lines simply indicated Dr. Luckey’s reaction to the charges against him or social dynamics involved with those accusations. In fact, she told the court some of Dr. Luckey’s comments to his wife indicated a belief the charges “were invalid” and that his accuser could face the consequences of filing a false police report.
“This isn’t what happened,” Julie Luckey told her husband of specific sexual acts described in one of the warrants, later adding, “It’s not like you raped somebody.”
“No, it doesn’t say ‘Show me your hiney,’ Dr. Luckey seemed to laugh in response to his wife’s dispute over the content of the warrants. At another point in recorded conversations in the days after his arrest, Dr. Luckey told his wife his situation was a result “of 15 minutes of stupidity on my part.”
Whether that “15 minutes of stupidity” will be viewed as a criminal solicitation and abuse of a minor remains to be seen; as does whether future preliminary hearings or a potential trial will be viewed and reported by the media.
I-81 southbound slow roll scheduled in Frederick County on October 26th
A slow-roll is scheduled on Interstate 81 in Frederick County on Tuesday, October 26 at 11 a.m. This operation, managed by the Virginia State Police, will take place in southbound lanes between exit 307 at Route 277 in the Stephens City area and exit 302 at Route 627 in the Middletown area. All slow-roll activity will conclude by noon.
The slow roll is needed for blasting operations near I-81 that will take place on a developer’s construction site in the Middletown area.
All work is weather permitting.
Traffic alerts and traveler information can be obtained by dialing 511. Traffic alerts and traveler information also are available at http://www.511Virginia.org.
WCHS conducts National Honors Society induction ceremony
On October 14, 2021, Warren County High School’s National Honors Society chapter held an induction ceremony. The chapter inducted twenty-six (26) new members. National Honors Society is a national organization dedicated to scholarship, character, service, and leadership. These new inductees will be a part of an organization of incredibly impressive alumni.
All new members received a certificate and their membership cards. Mrs. Jyoti Vasishta, NHS advisor, stated in her introduction speech: “Our chapter is proud to have been inducting new members since 1963 and today’s ceremony indicates the continuing emphasis on excellence that we represent for our school and community”.
Last year’s new members were unable to receive an official induction ceremony due to the pandemic. A part of the ceremony was dedicated to recognize and honor these members. These members also received the certificate and the membership pin.
Mr. Kenneth Knesh, Warren County High School’s principal, delivered an inspirational speech to students and parents in the closing.
“Tonight you join judges, lawyers, teachers, military officers, Ivy League graduates and yes, even a current rocket scientist at NASA as members of our NHS fraternity. Now your name will be among those distinguished alumni who proudly call Warren County High School their alma mater. They went on to do great things and we believe that you are destined to join them in helping to shape the world we live in and become future leaders of this great country of ours. Be bold, be brave and be the light of someone’s world.”
New members include: Alyssa Albritton, Genevieve Blodgett, Anthony Carter, Zane Michael Clark, Nicholas Foltz, Amanda Genari, Lacie Glascock, Ginger Gouda, Ian Hoelscher, Arthur Kresge, Audrey Moya Machuca, Gabriella Mangene, John Martin, Emily Mawson, Haley Oyler, Cayden Patton, Mason Polk, Landon Pond, Nicole Ranney, Julianne Rappole, Mia Santillan, Sara Waller, Sebastian Ward, Leah Webster, Olivia Yates, and Brian Zook.
Former members include: Paige Arndt, Madeline Bryant, Aidan Grupac, Cayla Kleinschmidt (Historian), Griffin Martin, Maya McKean, Joanna Mendez-Dorado, Savannah Mitchell, Mavryck Lance Mora, Emma Mullins, Sydney Nalls (Treasurer), Margaret Plosch, Taye Russell, Nathalie Schelin, Jordan Searcey, John Schultzaberger (President), Kiersten Stives (Secretary), and Francis Treutlein (Vice President).
By Emily Mawson, NHS Inductee
FR-WC Anti-Litter Council awards Fall 2021 Clean Business Award to Twi-Lite Motel
On October 20th, 2021, Shiv Patel, co-owner and assistant manager of the Twi-Lite Motel located at 53 West 14th Street was presented with a framed certificate for the Fall 2021 Clean Business Award. The FR-WC Anti-Litter Council President, Justin Proctor nominated them for this award based on their efforts to maintain their parking and recreational pool areas clean and free of litter, cigarette butts and neatly presented to the public and their guests. They also were sited for having landscaping that accents and enhances the property as more than just another lodging facility in the entrance corridor to the Town of Front Royal. The ALC awards local businesses in the community with a framed certificate to recognize their contributions to protecting the environment through recycling and litter control and planting of landscaping and trees to improve the street views of the Town and County.
These contributions are made possible through a non-competitive grant from the Office of Environmental Education of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, which promotes educational opportunities for the recycling, reusing, and reducing of litter and waste products in our everyday lives.
The Front Royal – Warren County Anti-Litter Council’s Mission is: “To educate, motivate and participate in the prevention of litter and to assist the citizens of Front Royal and Warren County to become better stewards of our environment.”
For further information on becoming a member or other ALC programs contact: Matt Wendling or Chase Lenz in the Warren County Planning Department at (540) 636-3354 or via e-mail: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org