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By Diana Diamond

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About this blog: So much is right — and wrong — about what is happening in Palo Alto. In this blog I want to discuss all that with you. I know many residents care about this town, and I want to explore our collective interests to help ...  (More)

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Coronavirus: my early April thoughts – and fears

Uploaded: Apr 5, 2020
I wake up in the morning. Is it Friday? Or maybe it’s Tuesday or Wednesday. What day was yesterday?

Is yesterday just going to be like today, and what about tomorrow? Will it all be the same?

I get up, grab a cup of coffee, read the paper, get dressed, and no longer ask myself what I should wear today. Yesterday I wore my white sweater, but what difference does it make? I used to dress according to what I was doing that day, but now, no one sees me, except on Zoom, from shoulders up.

I am not complaining, just housebound, bored and trying to have some sort of virtual social life. I am especially appreciative of my TV, my news channels, my newspapers, Zoom, Netflix, Kindle, and, of course, my telephone, which is next to my ear a good part of the day.

I am one of those people who need social contact. My husband doesn’t. Opposites attract.

The times are a changin’, as Bob Dylan wrote. We are entering a new world. People in hundreds of countries are affected by the coronavirus, and no scientists have yet come up with a way to control it – other than self-isolation and self-quarantines, which Californians and locals are doing a great job of.

I went to Safeway yesterday, because I was out of fresh produce, which should help us stay healthy. I was halted at the front door by an employee who said we had to wait until enough customers came out before we could go in. Good idea. I stood patiently. I was told I couldn’t bring my recyclable bags in because they may carry germs which could affect the baggers. Okay. I was told the county imposed a limit on the number of people in the store to 60 plus staff – but it seems there were a lot more inside. I wasn’t nervous until checkout time. The new rules are that only one customer can be at the checkout stand at a time, and Safeway said the rest of us should stand on one line until the next checker was available.

Okay, except there were 30 people on line, stretching from the checkout stand to the milk and egg shelves in the back. The six-foot apart rule was ignored. I asked the person behind me to please stand back and he declared, “No way. I am keeping my place in line right next to you.” I was uncomfortable about the lack of distance.

I am sure Safeway will try to iron out these distance wrinkles.

We are living in dangerous times. This awful virus isn’t going to quell until all of us in the U.S. self- isolate, and governors in the 10 remaining states (as of writing this) finally decree a stay-at-home policy.

And then there is the facemask issue. At first the CDC ((Center for Disease Control) told us face marks are not necessary unless you think you have COVID-19. This week the CDC apparently changed its mind telling us to wear masks when we go out. Were they telling us the truth from the beginning? Or were they trying to prevent people from buying masks that health officials needed more? I can accept the latter, but would have preferred knowing their rationale from the beginning. Can I really trust the CDC as much as I once did? Being honest brings credibility. And BTW, where are these masks – four weeks after the outbreak? CVS and Walgreen tell me they still don’t have any (or hand sanitizers). My neighbor is making her own and kindly gave us two masks.

As we all know, this virus knows no boundaries, no state lines. It travels whimsically, and frighteningly; it morphs along the way, so scientists are constantly tackling a new and recreated version of the virus.

I am angry that our government still cannot provide us enough hand wipes in our stores, that decent facemasks are hard to find, that medical personnel cannot get enough gowns and gloves to wear – how can we not have enough medical gowns? They are a cheap disposable product that we can’t seem to manufacture. And the most recent shortage: nose swabs, it was reported, are unavailable around the country. How in the world do these shortages occur? What happened to planning ahead for a pandemic outbreak?

These are my worried emotions this early April day. This federal government seems so absent in protecting us against this horrible virus. Dr. Fauci has pleaded with the president to take more action. Trump said he doesn’t want to wear a facemask.

What a terrible symbol that is for Americans who wan this virus to end.
We need your support now more than ever. Can we count on you?

Comments

 +   21 people like this
Posted by Wartime Leaders vs bone spur 'leaders', a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Apr 5, 2020 at 12:24 pm

"Dr. Fauci has pleaded with the president to take more action. Trump said he doesn't want to wear a facemask."

That's the ballgame in a single shot. Trump was so concerned that his bad decisions, ineptitude and inabilities were so obvious, that he didn't want the country to understand the real danger.

It sure makes one wonder why he didn't use the WHO test procedures offered in January to ramp up test production in late January and early February. Was he trying to hide the dangers for political and popularity reasons? His brief, minuscule rise in 'favorability' ratings last week are mostly gone, already.

Local Governors, on the other hand, have taken decisive action and are recognized by the public:

"Fully 77% of voters trust (Gavin) Newsom and state government to be responsive to the pandemic and future disasters while only 44 percent believe the federal government is capable" (PPP CA poll 2 days ago)


 +   19 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Apr 5, 2020 at 12:26 pm

I think the biggest fear is not of getting the virus, but the fear of fear itself.

As many I know are doing, I am avoiding as much news as possible. I check in once a day and then try to ignore it as much as possible, unless I have to go grocery shopping. I plan to do that a day ahead and am fearful, not of catching the virus, but of not being able to get the items I need. There have been times that the items I need have not been able to get, I have had to buy a different brand or a different size to what I would want, but I do usually come with enough supplies to last until someone in the household ventures out into the fray again.

I spend my days reading, watching movies, exercising in whatever way I can both in the house and going out for short walks, we are working in the yard, in the house, but more importantly we are trying to do some normal things. We are cooking and baking, we are doing laundry (less than normal), we are checking in with family, friends and neighbors in whatever technological method we can. We have been watching youtube videos of music we love, bringing flowers from outside into the house, drinking a little more wine and eating a little more dessert. We have been enjoying church live stream services, prayer meetings, zoom bible studies, etc. The last week of Lent is about to start with Holy Week. There will be Good Friday services with are somber, and Easter Sunday services which are jubilant. He is Risen. He is Risen Indeed.

At this time, I think it is much more helpful to enjoy the good things we can enjoy, rather than to be fearful of what we are lacking.

Our motto for this time has to be "This also will pass".


 +   22 people like this
Posted by chris, a resident of University South,
on Apr 5, 2020 at 12:28 pm

Americans are notorious for their dismissive attitude toward government, particularly the Federal government. Is it any surprise that an institution that is disrespected and underinvested in comes up short when it counts? The countries that have done the best have more respect for their national governments " Germany, Taiwan, Singapore.


 +   20 people like this
Posted by Diana Diamond, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Apr 6, 2020 at 11:56 am

Diana Diamond is a registered user.

Alas. I just read an AP article in the SJ Mercury that talked about the inordinate delays in getting necessary equipment to fight this virus. MSNBC also reported that hospitals are running out of thermometers!
Anyway, to quote the Merc article:
"The federal government had made an effort to prepare for a surge in the need for ventilators, but it was allowed to languish Since 2014, HHS has paid a private company, Respironics Inc., $13.8 million to develop a cheaper, less complicated ventilator that could be bought in bulk to replenish the national stockpile.
"In September (2019), HHS placed a $32.8 million order with the Dutch-owned company for 10,000 of the new model, set for delivery by 2022."!!!! (Italics and exclamation points are mine.
2022!!!!!
If this is a "war," as True complained, what a terrible way to fight a war with such inordinate delays.

Diana


 +   27 people like this
Posted by YP, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Apr 6, 2020 at 7:35 pm

another political motivated hit job article as Diana just confirmed in her comments, and Johnson wants us to contribute to local journalism? How about fair and balanced journalism ??


 +   28 people like this
Posted by @YP, a resident of Mountain View,
on Apr 7, 2020 at 2:29 pm

"Fair and balanced journalism"?

First off, it's obvious that you've overdosed on Fox "News" -- you know, the network that kept insisting that the COVID-19 pandemic was a "hoax" right up to the point when the death toll reached into the thousands (of course, now they're blaming Obama for all of this).

Wake up, and realize that this nation is led by an incompetent whose sole talent is in ripping off people.


 +   19 people like this
Posted by eenee, a resident of another community,
on Apr 8, 2020 at 11:58 am

eenee is a registered user.

Yes the federal response is absolutely horrifying. And then you have Jared Kushner throwing his two cents in to say that the federal stock piles are not the state stock piles. Huh? Do any of these people know how government works?

We all know the pandemic experts were fired back in 2018 by Bolton at the direction of Trump and now Trump knows nothing about that. If there were ever a reason not to give him a second term it would be the handling of this pandemic


 +   16 people like this
Posted by Diana Diamond, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Apr 8, 2020 at 12:55 pm

Diana Diamond is a registered user.

YP --

OF COURSE YOU MUST KNOW THAT AN OPINION COLUMN, AS MINE AND SEVERAL OTHE BLOGGERS ARE, ARE OPINIONS, AND NOT STRAIGHT REPORTING ON A NEWS STORY. THEY ARE CALLED OP-EDS (OPPOSITE THE EDITORIAL PAGE) AND TYPICALLY HAVE RUN IN THAT FASHION. BUT NEWSPAPERS ARE CHANGING, SO BLOGS ARE NOW ALSO SERVIE AS OPINIONS. PLEASE DON'T CONFUSE BILL JOHNSON'S BALANCED REPORTING PAGES IN THIS NEWSPAPER WITH OPINIONS AND COMMENTS PEOPLE OFFER.

DIANA


 +   13 people like this
Posted by RickMoen, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Apr 8, 2020 at 2:42 pm

RickMoen is a registered user.

Dear Ms. Diamond:

Suggestion about awkward encounters such as you describe at Safeway: Please consider yelling loudly for a Safeway staffer immediately, to help require that the checkout line be spaced out rather than bunch up. (You don't seem like a yelling person, but this calls for an exception.) This being a vital public health matter, the miscreants need to get corrected, stat.

Although Health Department rules dictated to food stores prevent customers from bring in reusable bags, as a reminder, that doesn't prevent using them: You just have to employ a bit of lateral thinking. When I was told this new requirement, I nodded, put the cloth bags back in the car, and fetched a shopping cart. At checkout, I declined the paper bags (with or without the 25 cent legally mandated charge) and just placed groceries back in the cart as the checker rang them up. Paid up, went outside, reached the car, and only then bagged the groceries in my reusable cloth bags.

I've found no statement by the CDC prior to first proven community spread of SARS-CoV-2 in the USA (Feb. 26). On the other hand, there were a couple of claims to that effect by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, a political appointee to the Cabinet (formerly a pharmaceutical lobbyist and executive) who as hand-picked by You-Know-Who in late 2017. I get the impression that many are conflating politically motivated statements by this HHS apparatchik with ones by the CDC.

CDC, for its part, has been quite clear in its publications that face masks such as surgical masks have been much needed as a substitute in time of need for N95 respirators when medical workers cannot get adequate supplies of the latter. To my knowledge, in its publications and statements to the broader public, until the last few days it merely did not urge the public to adopt face masks, the implied logic being to help medical workers get them (as we desperately needed).

In short, to the best of my ability to tell, CDC has been notably honest, surprisingly so given the immense political pressures, domestic and international, they need to swim through at all times.

-- Rick Moen
(Web-searching my name finds my contact info, if needed)


 +   14 people like this
Posted by mauricio, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Apr 8, 2020 at 3:39 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

The United States military develops detailed war plans for combat scenarios and exercises regularly to prepare for contingencies. The Defense Department gathers intelligence, scans the globe for impending threats, pre-positions forces and equipment, stockpiles supplies and trains its forces. Maintaining readiness is the military's most prized prerequisite for battlefield success.

In the case of coronavirus, the Trump administration shelved the war plan, or pandemic “playbook," prepared by the Obama administration. It disbanded the National Security Council office established to provide early warning and ensure preparedness, and disregarded the intelligence community's warnings that a global pandemic was likely.

Meanwhile, it repeatedly sought to cut funds for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health and key parts of the Department of Health and Human Services, while letting the government's stockpile of ventilators deteriorate.

Worse, the Trump team wasted two critical months, as the virus swept to our shores, before starting to send forces into battle. Its failure to act quickly, upon receiving warning in early January of a novel coronavirus, to create and distribute enough functional tests to track the disease, or to help states add hospital beds, procure critical equipment and recruit health care workers, ensured we started the fight trapped behind enemy lines.

In wartime, we expect our leaders to provide truthful accounts of the enemy's treachery and a sober rendering of the costs of battle, as Franklin Roosevelt did after Pearl Harbor. By contrast, President Trump spent weeks playing down Covid-19, comparing it to the flu, and in January claimed: “We have it under control. It's going to be just fine." That caused many Americans to discount the threat and resist essential social-distancing measures.

Wartime presidents take command. They don't shirk duty or deflect ownership. Yet Trump takes no “responsibility at all" for his missteps. He falsely blames his predecessor, impeachment, governors, health care workers and China for his failure to engage the battle early and effectively.


 +   34 people like this
Posted by Donate early and often, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Apr 8, 2020 at 6:52 pm

"PLEASE DON'T CONFUSE BILL JOHNSON'S BALANCED REPORTING PAGES IN THIS NEWSPAPER "

in all caps no less!!!! Seriously???? Balanced reporting??? Bill has his finger on the balance. And he has been crying poverty for years


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Mountain View Resident, a resident of North Whisman,
on Apr 9, 2020 at 11:58 am

Perhaps now more than ever is the time to discuss our opinions with our neighbors with understanding and kindness. Everyone will have thoughts and perspectives that are different from one another (even our family members and loved ones) yet there is nothing more important than being able to differ in opinion while thinking of the other's mind and heart and feelings. 'This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.' These words were spoken today on Holy Thursday.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Marcus Welby, a resident of Rengstorff Park,
on Apr 11, 2020 at 12:03 pm

Full blown blame on the Coronavirus pandemic is the Chinese government for being relaxed on the wet markets. To stop any future pandemic virus, wet markets in any country must be shut down permanently!!!
This virus is bad but not as bad as disasters of war, biohazardous, nuclear, or other powerful sources.
How about protecting the eyes from the virus? Masks are of no help if your eyes are exposed.
The health care system in America must change rather than business profit over people. It is a disaster like this crisis.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Wartime Leaders vs bone spur 'leaders', a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Apr 11, 2020 at 1:10 pm

> To stop any future pandemic virus, wet markets in any country must be shut down permanently!!!

Hunting too, I suppose, based on that logic. If I go catch and eat an animal that came in contact with an animal that was bit by a bat, and then come back to paly....


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Marcus Welby, a resident of Rengstorff Park,
on Apr 11, 2020 at 3:19 pm

To: Wartime Leaders vs bone spur 'leaders'
You made a good scenario to consider as anything can happen... touching or eating roadkill is a health risk too.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Wartime Leaders vs bone spur 'leaders', a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Apr 13, 2020 at 9:33 am

> good scenario to consider as anything can happen... touching or eating roadkill is a health risk too.

Okay, got it. Any one calling on eliminating 'wet' markets also supports a ban on hunting.

Good to know. Tell me how that flies.


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