COVID-19 is raging but states are opening their economies

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It was astounding to hear Chuck Todd of MSNBC Wednesday when he was talking to a guest about opening up the economy. Todd said, “I know there’s no clear answer …” No Chuck! There is a clear answer, from the medical professionals. The only way to partially open the economy is with robust testing of asymptomatic people, by the millions. And then it will only be completely safe when there is a vaccine.

This weekend some states are opening their economies, none more so than Georgia where spas, massage parlors, barbers, hair and nail salons and bowling alleys. Bowling alleys? Even here in sunny Southern California the mayor of San Diego is going to try opening the beaches, but only for people looking for exercise or for fishing. That of course includes surfing. *“Catch a wave and you’re sittin’ on top of the world.”

La Jolla Shores Beach, empty during the coronavirus lock down of California
(Tim Forkes)

On Saturday (April 25) San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, SDPD Chief David Nisleit, and Lifeguard Division Chief James Gartland were at Mission Beach explaining the rules of this “Phase 1” of the beach openings, which begins Monday, April 27. The state’s Stay-At-Home order remains in place, people on the beach are still required to observe social distancing rules and wear face coverings, except we assume, when in the water swimming or surfing.

The major restriction is you can’t go to the beach to hang out and get a tan. Already surfers in particular are seeing the … gray area … in these rules. Surfers don’t stay in the water the entire time they are surfing. Anyway, there are details that will obviously be ironed out as this phase gets started.

Pacific Beach in San Diego on a
normal summer day (Tim Forkes)

People can use the beach for running, walking, swimming, surfing and fishing. No pleasure boating, no motorized watercraft, but anything that requires a paddle for propulsion is allowed: canoes, kayaks and paddle boards. As police chief Nisleit put it, you can go to the beach, get in your exercise or fishing, and then go home and adhere to the Stay-At-Home order. No shopping at Hamels, but you might be able to get some treats at Ocean Ice Cream or a burger at Kono’s, which is up the coast in Pacific Beach. But don’t expect Belmont Park to be open. Also, parking will still be closed off. The chief said parking restrictions would be gradually lifted when the city moves into Phase 2. One more caveat: the city rules can be over-ruled by country rules.

As we have been seeing since Friday people are going to the beaches all over Southern California, and Governor Gavin Newsome has been pleading with people to stay at home. Probably knowing he’s fighting a losing battle Newsom announced some beaches can be open, per local rules, but social distancing — physical distancing — needed to be observed.

Many beaches will remain closed, but some will open with restrictions similar to those in San Diego. All the beaches in Orange County — except Laguna and Seal beaches — are open, but the government is telling outsiders to stay out! Local rules! And observe social distancing rules.

The coronavirus is now the leading cause of death in Los Angeles County. Despite all the precautions the residents are taking, COVID-19 is claiming more lives than the flu, emphysema and heart disease. According to the Los Angeles Times, 89% of those deaths had underlying health issues. The more testing that is done, the more we learn about the disease and about how it has spread and even how long it’s been here. And with more testing restrictions can be gradually lifted. People that are high risk, or people that live with high risk individuals will still be warned to stay at home once restrictions are gradually lifted.

Apparently the run on toilet paper has slowed down at Costco
(Claudia Gestro)

Personally I plan to stay home until there is a vaccine, or there is some overwhelming evidence COVID-19 is no longer a threat. I’m not going to inject ultraviolet light or disinfectant into my body. We know Trump lied when he claimed he was being sarcastic when he suggested doing as such. He actually asked Dr. Deborah Birx if there was any evidence of using ultraviolet light and disinfectant as a remedy. She said no.

Like a lot of people I have social media profiles, including Facebook. It amazes me to what lengths pro-Trump supporters are going to in their efforts to refute the coronavirus reality. Some still cling to the trope that this is all a hoax.

Then there are the two doctors in Kern County who want the governor to lift the physical distancing and Stay-At-Home rules all together. The own a string of urgent care facilities in the county and they have been testing a lot of people. These are two guys with opinions I want to hear. The wrinkle in their argument is that they don’t supply us with any evidence to support their claims; no statistics about all the testing they’ve done, assuming they are keeping track of the numbers and results.

They also suggest other doctors are being pressured to list deaths as COVID-related. Now, in their video, which I won’t link to or even identify because I won’t help anyone spread misinformation, these two doctors tell us their opinions, based on their experiences. Like I said, no evidence presented, no letter or email telling doctors to list deaths as COVID-related. They offer nothing that can be peer reviewed.

Social media meme

As of this writing there are 735 confirmed cases in Kern County with four deaths and 277 recoveries. It has a population just over 900 thousand. Obviously not the hardest hit area in the state and maybe, just maybe it’s a county that can be opened about a little more than say Los Angeles County, or Alameda, Santa Clara, San Francisco or San Diego counties.

Made me wonder if there are any cases in Inyo County.

But these two doctors seem to be selling something other than recovery from the coronavirus. There is a strain of the anti-Stay-At-Home rhetoric that seems to think staying at home weakens our immune systems, doesn’t get us prepared to organically fight off COVID-19.

Our immune systems are powerful and wondrous bodily functions, but the evidence of the coronavirus is that over 50.000 of us — so far — didn’t have what it takes to fight off the disease. What the “Let Freedom Ring” crowd is telling us is that to have a vibrant economy we need to sacrifice those with the weakened immune systems and ill bodies. What the heck, strengthen the gene pool.

Sacrifice old people, fat people, diabetic people, immune disease people, cancer patients, and especially people of color, who are hurt the most by COVID-19. Yeah, one little factoid of this pandemic. People in the lower strata of the economic pecking order are feeling the brunt of the bad news. As well patients in long term care facilities — and the people that are taking care of them in those facilities.

Social media meme

Briar Oak on Sunset, considered one of the best nursing homes in California found, after testing everyone, patients and staff alike, 80 of the residents and 62 staff were positive for COVID-19. That isn’t the only nursing home with such tragic numbers. The state has released the data on nursing homes and found that these facilities are, as Dr. Michael Wasserman said, “… accelerators for this virus.” of the disease. Wasserman is the president of the California Association of Long-Term Care Medicine. He told Rachel Maddow, “Nursing homes across the nation cannot be afraid to test. It’s really critical.”

Testing was the key to locking down Briar Oak and containing the virus, keeping it from spreading to the other patients and staff.

There are pro-Trumpers in my Facebook friends list so I see a lot of the crazy shit that gets posted about how the pandemic is a hoax, or the numbers are being inflated to hurt Trump and the posts trying to convince us Trump didn’t mean what he said, whether it was on live TV during one of his coronavirus press rallies or the insane crap he posts on Twitter. He is blaming the media once again for reporting what he said in his public press rallies.

Anyone with a Facebook account can see the posts, one as crazy as the next. The Trump misinformation machine is in full swing. While experts from across the nation and around the world are telling is the worst is yet to come, that we need to prepare for another wave, the Trump junkies are trying to convince us it’s safe to open the economy, that this pandemic is overblown and the number of people killed by the disease will be minimal. As of today there are 939,249 confirmed cases in the U.S. and 53,934 confirmed deaths. There have been 5,184,635 tests, roughly 1.6 percent of the country.

When I finished my last post there were 826,240 confirmed cases and 45,373 deaths. An increase of 113, 009 confirmed cases and more importantly, 8.561 deaths, in just four days. That’s over 2,000 deaths per day. By the end of May we could be well over 100,000 deaths. Even though New York has flattened out the curve and California has done a good job of containing the virus, keeping the death toll low, there are hotspots across the country where the coronavirus is raging. And now places like Georgia, where the coronavirus has not been slowed at all, are opening up their economies. The outlook is, at the very least, questionable.

Social media meme

The United States is the least prepared nation in the world. The reason, every expert agrees, is the lack of federal leadership. No federal plan for testing, no federal plan for providing the equipment needed. A president who suggests people inject ultraviolet light or disinfectant as a remedy for the virus. Okay, I’ll buy he was just spitballing, but primetime TV is not the time or place to ask his coronavirus response team about it.

Donald J. Trump is the most dangerous threat to our national and domestic security and this pandemic is making that clear. We need to get rid of him as soon as possible.

* “Catch a Wave” by Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys

Top photo is a screenshot of San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer,
SDPD Chief David Nisleit, and Lifeguard Division Chief James Gartland