I may be wrong, but it seems we’re getting mixed signals on Coronavirus…

By Roger Straw, April 3, 2021

…and maybe heading for another surge

Roger Straw, The Benicia Independent

Things aren’t looking so good for coronavirus trends here in Solano County.  But wait…  the State is easing restrictions?

Here on the Benicia Independent, I have documented coronavirus weekday reports in Solano County since April of last year.  I’m a layperson, untrained in public health, but I’ve paid attention to the COVID spikes and trends we have experienced in the Solano cities of Benicia, Vallejo, Fairfield, Suisun City, Vacaville, Rio Vista and Dixon.

Recently increasing numbers of positive cases here in Solano County (292 new cases last week) are nowhere near what they were this January, when we averaged 274 new cases per day.  But modest upturns in the numbers have caught my attention, and have begun to make news in major Bay Area media (see below).  Our typically overly optimistic Solano Public Health officer has even issued a warning.  What gained my attention yesterday was these two seemingly contrary headlines:

    • SFGATE: Solano County may get bumped back into the COVID purple tier  “Too early to call it a surge now but that doesn’t mean it’s not the beginning of a surge only time will tell,” Bela Matyas, the county’s health officer told KRON. “We are now starting to get uncomfortably close to the level of the disease reported each day that would put us back in purple.”
    • SF Chronicle: California planning to dump color-coded tier system  “California is preparing to retire its color-coded tiered reopening plan as vaccination rates improve and coronavirus cases continue to drop, state officials said Friday, as several Bay Area counties prepared to move into a less restrictive tier next week.  Details about a so-called green tier — which would presumably allow almost all activities to resume in counties with very low threat from the virus — will be “coming soon” as part of the state’s transition toward shutting down the tiered system entirely, said Dee Dee Myers, the state’s top economic adviser.”

There are news stories like these all over the map, from rosy re-opening stories to dire warnings of a fourth surge.  This morning’s Vallejo Times-Herald is FULL of coronavirus articles with contradictory messaging: we’re winning against the virus, we’re losing the battle.

Cause for concern…

I am seriously concerned that Solano County is headed for another surge.  And I think the State of California is not helping.  Easing of restrictions at this moment in our national and local crisis is wrong.

My home state of Michigan is seeing new cases soar in recent weeks, to more than 5,600 cases a day from about 1,000 on Feb. 21.  The Michigan Governor is setting up 37 new ‘popup’ COVID testing sites for Spring Break, doubling down on vaccine administration, and asking for masking and distancing, but it’s clearly too little, too late.

Will California go the route of Michigan?  I hope not, but I’m worried I’m wrong.   Will Solano County Public Health officials learn to ignore the deniers among us, including certain County Supervisors?  Maybe it will come down to City officials again, and Benicia’s new City Manager Erik Upson will need to take it into his own hands to declare a public emergency, as did his predecessor.