Category Archives: California

Rush to reopen California economy is a mistake

The risk is the kind of second-wave surge that killed thousands in the Bay Area during the 1918 Spanish influenza

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that he will open up book stores, clothing stores, toy stores and florists for curb-side pickup. (By Area News Group File Photo)
By Mercury News & East Bay Times Editorial Boards, May 5, 2020

This is no time to go back to business as usual.

The intense longing for a return to normalcy in California and other states is understandable. But the rush to reopen businesses is premature and ignores the warnings of health experts and the basic science of the novel coronavirus.

The risk is the kind of second-wave surge that killed thousands in the Bay Area during the 1918 Spanish influenza. Indeed, a draft government report forecasts sharp increases in COVID-19 cases and deaths nationally beginning around May 14.

Yet Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that the next stage in reopening California’s economy will take place Friday. The governor said that he will allow book stores, clothing stores, toy stores, florists and other businesses to reopen for curbside pick-up. Associated manufacturers that support those retail stores will also be allowed to resume production. Some counties in more rural areas will be allowed to decide whether to reopen restaurants that have made accommodations for social-distancing dining.

Newsom’s gamble is similar to one Bay Area county health officials made last week in allowing construction projects to resume. It threatens the lives of workers and their families, neighbors and acquaintances. The economy will eventually bounce back. But lost lives can never be recovered.

The governor said the state was ready to move into “Phase 2” of the reopening process because it is on schedule with six different criteria: stability of hospitalizations, personal protective equipment inventory, health care surge capacity, testing capacity, contact tracing capability and public health guidance in place.

But California’s contact tracing capability is almost non-existent. Its testing capacity is at 25,000 tests per day in a state with a population of nearly 40 million people. That is equal to 62.5 tests per 100,000 people. Estimates by Harvard University researchers indicate that the minimum number of tests should be 152 per 100,000 people, meaning California is only doing 41% percent of the minimum.

It is absolutely essential that store owners and manufacturers follow the state’s new orders to ensure employee and customer safety. The failure to do so could result in a surge of hospitalizations, setting California back months in its recovery.

California isn’t the only state risking opening for business too soon. Governors in nearly a dozen states, including Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas are going well beyond Newsom’s orders.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp opened up movie theaters Monday after allowing hair salons, massage parlors and bowling alleys to resume business last week. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster told department stores and retailers that they could start allowing shoppers in their businesses. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee allowed restaurants, retail outlets and gyms to reopen last week. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine will allow general offices to open next week, along with retail businesses.

The moves threaten the governors’ credibility and residents’ confidence in their leadership.

In California, the decisions on when to open businesses should be based on science — not hope and a prayer.

COVID-19 – California will exceed 50,000 positive cases and 2,000 deaths today or tomorrow

By Roger Straw, April 30, 2020

California’s COVID-19 Statewide Update page shows a chart plotting the past month’s day-to-day numbers on new confirmed cases and deaths, an excellent resource for understanding where we stand in the midst of the pandemic.  Yesterday’s increase of 1,469 positive cases would suggest that California will exceed the 50,000 mark in cases sometime today or tomorrow.  We will surely top 2,000 deaths today.

Here is from today’s report:

How are COVID-19 cases progressing?

Data as of April 29, 2020 at 11:00 am.

There were 1,469 new confirmed cases Tuesday. The total number of deaths is 1,887, an increase of 78 from Monday.

Other charts show:

  • How COVID-19 cases are progressing in each county
  • Gender and ethnicity of those infected with COVID-19
  • Numbers on the current state of testing
  • Numbers on the current state of hospitalizations
  • Hospitalizations by county

Solano County’s COVID-19 Dashboard gives similar data.

COVID-91 – Complaint filed after So. Cal. nursing facility evacuated when staff failed to show up

Complaint filed with state over evacuated nursing facility yesterday

Magnolia Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, Riverside CA

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP News) — Riverside County officials have filed a complaint over conditions at a skilled nursing facility that was evacuated after staff failed to show up for work during the coronavirus outbreak.

Dr. Cameron Kaiser, the county’s public health officer, has asked state health officials for an assessment of Magnolia Rehabilitation and Nursing Center before the facility reopens. He also asked in his April 20 letter for the state to determine whether workers acted ethically and professionally when they failed to show up for their shifts.

“We believe that substantial ongoing issues relate to their staffing and infection control plans, and during our inspection of the premises subsequent to my commandeer order identified structural issues,” Kaiser wrote.

The complaint comes after Kaiser ordered the evacuation of more than 80 patients from the facility on April 8 when insufficient staff showed up to care for them.

No one answered the phones at the facility on Tuesday. Messages sent to administrator Larry Mays weren’t immediately returned. On its website, the facility posted a message saying the evacuation was the right decision and it was following up with residents and their families to ensure a smooth transition.

Skilled nursing facilities have been hit hard by the coronavirus, and residents are considered especially vulnerable due to their age and other health conditions and close proximity to each other. The Southern California county has reported more than 650 virus cases among residents and staff of nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe life-threatening illness, including pneumonia.

In his complaint, Kaiser wrote that Riverside County officials tested residents at Magnolia after learning of virus cases. Two days later, officials received a request for staff to cover three eight-hour shifts as the facility’s routinely scheduled workers weren’t showing up.

The county provided staffing for the next day and warned Mays that an emergency plan was required, he said. When the facility continued to have staffing problems, Kaiser ordered the evacuation.

The county took over the facility and evaluated whether it could be used to house virus patients, but found cleanliness issues and possible structural concerns with the flooring would have made doing so too expensive.

The California Department of Public Health declined to comment on the complaint, pending an investigation.

Gov. Newsom: 4 Stage Plan to Reopen California’s Economy

From Gov.ca.gov – Update on California’s Pandemic Roadmap, 4/28/20

Below is the powerpoint Governor Newsom used at his noon press conference today to outline the process for California’s road to modifying stay-at-home orders and re-opening the businesses and workplaces.  A good summary can be found at CBS8 San Diego(A print version is likely to appear soon on the Governor’s coronavirus page.)