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Coronavirus weekend update: Local leaders expect summer spike in cases

Original post made on Apr 25, 2020

With other states beginning to relax their public health restrictions, Santa Clara County leaders on Friday predicted a local spike in COVID-19 cases this summer and warned that the shelter-in-place order will be extended past May 3.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Saturday, April 25, 2020, 8:46 AM

Comments (47)

21 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 25, 2020 at 9:07 am

Donald Trump says the Federal government has more than enough testing capacity to make everyone safe. Why is this not reaching Bay Area residents?


37 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 25, 2020 at 10:08 am

Do you get the feeling our public health officials are ignoring actual results and real data and instead continuing to rely on flawed models and projections?

It's feeling more and more like chicken little. It's going to get worse! Extend the lockdown! Tighten the controls!

The data says the exact opposite. Great analysis below. Of course we need to keep social distancing. Of course we need to protect our vulnerable populations.

But over and over again, the policies being set, and the language coming from our public health professionals and governor do not appear to reflect the reality on the ground.

Web Link


53 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 25, 2020 at 10:34 am

The data says we cannot end the shutdown until testing is widespread enough to identify, isolate, and trace people carrying the virus. Or until a vaccination is available.


24 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 25, 2020 at 10:40 am

Hi @resident

Can you please share more about what data you are referring to, and how you draw that conclusion?


25 people like this
Posted by Keep Off The Grass
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 25, 2020 at 10:46 am

Unless travel into California is severely restricted (from other coronavirus infested countries & US states where businesses will be opened for everyday business), it is not unreasonable to expect a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego & Santa Clara counties are leading the state in COVID-19 cases & related deaths & they are all densely populated areas.

When/if that reckless & irresponsible Las Vegas mayor opens up the city's casino, hotel & food court businesses, the COVID-19 numbers will most likely go flying off the roof given the influx of domestic & foreign guest/visitors.

Best to close off California & build a figurative 'wall' based on exclusion for the time being.


10 people like this
Posted by @Dan
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 25, 2020 at 11:22 am

Dr. Scott Atlas? Sure, an M.D., but not an epidemiologist. And given that he is affiliated with Hoover...definitely coming in with an agenda (which he showed throughout that wretched op-ed).

Sorry, but the evidence in favor of the current policy is on far more solid ground that what you are advocating, sport...


21 people like this
Posted by TimR
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 25, 2020 at 2:10 pm

"Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." We will never be able to fully satisfy the Doctor Codys of the world, and at some point we'll have to benchmark our county against other counties, states and even countries rather than lofty ideals. For example, right now CA as a whole has about the same deaths per 100K as Germany. Santa Clara County is even better--maybe as good as it's going to get. We can't wait around forever dreaming of perfection. Or, to use another tired quote, "no risk, now reward."


20 people like this
Posted by @TimR
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 25, 2020 at 2:34 pm

Spoken like someone who doesn't care if the death toll continues to rise -- much like a whole number of southern governors who are "opening up" their economies (without considering that their states' ICUs will be filled to overflowing soon).

Or do you have something against people who actually know what they are doing?


11 people like this
Posted by @a resident of Mountain View
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 25, 2020 at 3:13 pm

Spoken like someone who doesn't know what the facts are, because you don't look at facts on the Dashboard. If you did, you'd know the death toll continues to DECLINE, not rise. And you'd know that only 15% of our ICU's beds are being used by COVID-19 patients (with about half not being used at all). You're entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.


19 people like this
Posted by S_mom
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 25, 2020 at 3:14 pm

@ @TimR
Spoken like someone who is oblivious to the unprecedented burden is for low income families. I think some people think we are going to somehow get down to 0 deaths or avoid deaths entirely. I thought the idea was to make sure our hospitals could handle all the cases so that anyone who got it could get the best of care -- not that we were planning to stay inside until we got a vaccine so that no one at all would get sick. Our hospitals are not at all full, we haven't even touched our surge capacity. They need to allow low income individuals to resume making a living within reason -- with masks and as much distancing as possible, construction should restart, gardeners and similar services should resume, etc. I'm not saying we start going to the movies again or reopen schools, but I don't think our current numbers can justify not allowing low income familes to earn an income.


13 people like this
Posted by @All the Deniers
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 25, 2020 at 3:48 pm

And right on cue, all of the "experts" come out of the woodwork...

I guess all of you geniuses somehow missed the point made by Santa Clara County officials: We are nowhere near the plateau as far as cases are concerned. Until we are -- and that is a point that is yet to be determined -- the need for preventative measures needs to continue.

And as for "S_mom": Why aren't you paying your gardeners *something* right now? You could at least that much...and as for your concern for low-income workers, all I seem to remember is how prior to the pandemic, the Town Square site was filled with contempt (if not worse) towards these individuals. Now, because these same individuals are no longer able to serve the needs of the privileged of Palo Alto, there is *suddenly* a concern for these same people.

The hypocrisy is beyond belief.




11 people like this
Posted by TimR
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 25, 2020 at 4:10 pm

@All the Deniers,
You do know that Palo Alto is ranked as the "most educated" city in CA, with over 80% of residents having at least a bachelor's degree, right? We might not all be experts in infectious diseases, but we know a thing or two about other things, like economics, social science, etc. As for the opinion that our county not being at a plateau, that's based on the belief that there will be a surge, but the surge is already running very late, and it's looking like it will be a no-show. Look for yourself at the bar chart. Cases, indeed, leveled off. I assume you're rather educated, too, so maybe do a little research and thinking for yourself on this issue. That's how a democracy works.


7 people like this
Posted by @TimR
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 25, 2020 at 4:18 pm

Sorry, sport -- anyone who uses a badly written op-ed piece to argue for lifting "shelter in place" does not show much in the way of any intellectual capacity. And having a bachelor's degree most certainly does not equal being intellectually brilliant by any stretch of the imagination.
So let's stop with the charade, and just admit that a lot of people posting here have no regard for expertise, and would rather follow what they saw recently on social media.



8 people like this
Posted by gin
a resident of another community
on Apr 25, 2020 at 4:34 pm

for all the naysayers and doubters and "entitled" folks who consider shelter in place a hoax or overreaction ---- okay,then if you insist on violating the shelter in place guidelines/rules or do disruptive protests then you must WAIVE your right to medical care if you get the virus and need medical care, including intensive care services, because you've endangered everyone (911 responders, health care professionals, police, etc.) with your behavior and those folk have to put their lives at risk to help you survive the pandemic. Ready to sign?


22 people like this
Posted by Messifan
a resident of Ventura
on Apr 25, 2020 at 4:50 pm

Some relevant facts for Santa Clara County:
1. 165 covid patients hospitalized, 72 in the ICU. The hospitalizations are the lowest in weeks.
2. Despite more testing, the number of new cases per day is decreasing to like 20 per day.
3. Testing in the last week increased significantly.
4. Test positivity rate of 8.86% is the lowest I have seen.
5. Lots and lots of available ventilators.
All taken from the county covid dashboard. Everything positive. We won.

For those who think that only experts can understand the disease, I will remind you of a few places we have been along the way.. Remember the discussion started with epidemiologists in England claiming a minimum of 1.2 millions deaths in the States. That was followed by Gavin Newsom, who has experts, declaring 56% of the state would get the disease. That was followed by Gavin Newsom predicting the surge that never happened and spending 1 billion on PPE to prepare for the non-event.

So now we are onto the spike if we let up and the second wave in the Fall. Maybe. Maybe not. It is not that I know more than the experts. Rather, it is that no one knows anything. It is not knowable. We are in unchartered territory. I think we need to balance common sense, like wearing masks when indoors in public (why not) and testing more and quarantining those positive, with some opening because millions are suffering (not including me personally). A blanket extension of the current order makes no sense to me.

Most of all, I hope people will start questioning. The covid situation is not difficult to understand.


21 people like this
Posted by S_mom
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 25, 2020 at 5:06 pm

@All the Deniers
Of course I'm paying my gardener and housekeeper, and continuing to pay all ongoing expenses whether or not we are receiving the services, and donating to many local and national organizations. My family is completely comfortable in this shelter in place, this is not at all self interested. But many people live paycheck to paycheck and have been receiving no paycheck for more than a month -- how can they continue like this?

And are you really suggesting that we continue at this pace (5 new cases in Palo Alto in the last week) until we reach a "plateau"? From the numbers we have reached a kind of plateau in the sense that we are finding fewer and fewer cases, but it would take decades at this pace to reach herd immunity (we'd have a vaccine well before then of course).

I would like to trust the experts, but I'm not sure they are equipped to weigh all the societal costs -- they can only give an educated guess as to the numbers of coronavirus illness and death (based on not very much information). Someone needs to weigh that against the societal harm. We don't stay inside for the flu even though we could prevent deaths by doing so -- we assume all kinds of risks by living our lives. I realize that the coronavirus could potentially kill a lot more people than the flu so I do think it is valid to retain a lot of our current sheltering, for anyone who can afford it. Big companies should still work from home. But low income people should be allowed to make a living in reasonably safe working conditions (masks, socially distanced) while our numbers are as low as they are. We can revisit if the numbers get substantially worse. But I think it is very privileged to say we all need to stay inside on a "just in case" theory. Anyone privileged enough to be able to do that can continue to, but we should give people in more desperate circumstances the choice to remain sheltered or earn a living, at least while our numbers are this low.


22 people like this
Posted by Open the tennis courts
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 25, 2020 at 5:14 pm

Open the tennis courts for singles. A few other California counties and cities have done this already. Doesn't make sense to allow runners and joggers (like me) spitting out droplets left and right while not allowing two people to stand over 100 feet away from each other.


8 people like this
Posted by @Messifan
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 25, 2020 at 5:16 pm

"Most of all, I hope that people start questioning. The covid situation is not difficult to understand."

Of course it isn't -- when you choose to misrepresent things!

The bit you mentioned, where there are *only* 20 new cases a day in Santa Clara County? Well, that's still too high to lift "shelter in place" -- health experts consider 1 case per million as the maximum rate of infection that would allow for easing of restrictions. And as it so happens, lifting restrictions *now* would cause new rate of infections to go way up -- something I'm sure most people will not want to happen.

And as for the study by English experts that forecast a minimum of 1.2 million dead in the United States? You (conveniently) left off the crucial part: This was the predicted number IF THE UNITED STATES TOOK NO MEASURES TO DEAL WITH IT. Got it? If "shelter in place" were not enacted, that's what would have happened.

We are nowhere near out of the woods yet. And pretending that we are is irresponsible beyond belief.


17 people like this
Posted by Messifan
a resident of Ventura
on Apr 25, 2020 at 6:54 pm

@resident of Mountain View

I misrepresented nothing. You are incorrect. It was over 2 million if we did nothing 1.1-1.2 million under the best circumstances. Quote from the article is below. In any case, you don't mention Newsom being wrong about everything so far. So you believe his current predictions? Why?

As to health experts saying "1 per million," who are these experts and why would we listen to them? To get to 1 per million in SC county, that would be 2 cases per day. That is basically zero and beyond extreme. 2 cases per day is 730 cases per year at 1% death rate is 7 deaths per year. Based on county size we expect 60 deaths per year in the county due to flu in the best flu year of 10k deaths. As flu deaths are 10k-60k per year, I see now that at 20 cases per day at 1% death rate=70 deaths means we are already down to a good flu year death level.

We will never get to 2 cases per day unless there is a cure. As there are no effective treatments now or vaccines until at least next year (and maybe never), so your proposal is shutting forever. It is "irresponsible beyond belief" to suggest a policy that will crush this country.

Quote from Brisith study: "Perhaps our most significant conclusion is that mitigation is unlikely to be feasible without emergency surge capacity limits of the UK and US healthcare systems being exceeded many times over. In the most effective mitigation strategy examined, which leads to a single, relatively short epidemic (case
isolation, household quarantine and social distancing of the elderly), the surge limits for both general
ward and ICU beds would be exceeded by at least 8-fold under the more optimistic scenario for critical
care requirements that we examined. In addition, even if all patients were able to be treated, we
predict there would still be in the order of 250,000 deaths in GB, and 1.1-1.2 million in the US."


8 people like this
Posted by Messifan
a resident of Ventura
on Apr 25, 2020 at 7:00 pm

In regards to my previous post I am not considering the vast undercount due to lack of testing, but still I think we are already at reasonable safety levels to slowly ease up.


4 people like this
Posted by @Messifan
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 25, 2020 at 7:04 pm

The fact that you continue to misrepresent the facts -- and do so egregiously -- convinces me that (1) you don't know what you are talking about, and (2) I have no need on my part to take you seriously.

Oh, and (3) Messi is highly overrated.


6 people like this
Posted by updates?
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 25, 2020 at 11:21 pm

Why are the # of new cases and deaths being updated for San Mateo County but not Santa Clara County on the PAO site?? Web Link


6 people like this
Posted by Gus
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 26, 2020 at 8:05 am

" health experts consider 1 case per million as the maximum rate of infection that would allow for easing of restrictions."

That's got to be the dumbest thing I've ever read on PAOnline. Congratulations.


24 people like this
Posted by forever
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 26, 2020 at 8:42 am

Officials keep moving the goal posts, first it was "flatten the curve" to make sure our hospital systems are not overrun . So now we are giving ventilators to other states and restarting elective surgeries, so is our hospital system overrun? . So flattening worked, but now it's testing and tracing, but soon that won't be enough. Need more antibody testing , but wait even if you have antibodies how long do they last to prevent reinfection? Need the vaccine. On and on it will go.

Outside of the highly dense NY/NJ/Conn metropolitan area about 25-30,000 people have died in the remainder of the USA. Why can't we continue to practice social distancing, wear face masks while loosening some restrictions. And yes protect the most vulnerable especially those elderly in nursing facilities .

It's been 6 weeks!! We were told the flatten the curve not make it disappear. There will be more cases and deaths for months and months to come and we need to accept that fact but can't remain SIP forever. Meanwhile 26,000,000 unemployed, hundreds of thousands if not millions of lives destroyed or lost through depression, suicide, drug abuse. That's the other side of the equation, who is tallying that total and tradeoffs? With each passing week more and more businesses will throw in the towel no matter the government aid.









19 people like this
Posted by forever
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 26, 2020 at 8:49 am

@ open the tennis courts
totally agree with you along with golf courses, what is unsafe about playing on a golf course??. Unfortunately it's bad optics as can you imagine when businesses are told they can't reopen but people are allowed to go out and play tennis and golf, wouldn't go over well with many folks.

But your point is well taken, after 6 weeks of SIP and flattening the curve it's nonsensical and frustrating to me that we can't begin to smartly loosen some restrictions. We shouldn't necessarily be focussing on essential vs non-essential but safer activities/businesses vs unsafe activities like bars, sporting events, festivals , concerts etc


6 people like this
Posted by Chris
a resident of University South
on Apr 26, 2020 at 11:37 am

S-mom,

You are comfortable sitting at home, but you want to expose vulnerable low- Income people to the virus so they can service your whims.

What is so important that you want to endanger them? Guess what? Very few of these jobs will come back while the customers are concerned for their safety. Unemployment payments have been supercharged to keep all legal residents alive with basic needs.

There was a strong consensus early on and most Americans still agree that we we need to be able to test sufficiently and trace all new cases and enforce quarantines.

Read about how Taiwan succeeded in not having to shut down.. it will embarrass you as an American how weak willed we are.


5 people like this
Posted by S_mom
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 26, 2020 at 12:09 pm

@ Chris - I want to give people a choice about their risks -- some, I'd guess many -- may feel that it is worth the risk to have some income. How do you know unless you are in their situation? Anyone who is able and wants to can and should still stay home. I think it is through a lens of privilege that it seems obvious to us that the best choice for everyone is to stay home. I do think that if our hospitals start to get full or if we see a huge jump in cases we need to go back to mandating that everyone stay at home -- it is justified when our numbers look bad. But it's not justified to cause known harm while our hospitals sit idle and our numbers are so low.

Also, I note that you have already indicated by your wording that you realize that unemployment only goes to documented ("legal") residents and don't seem to think it's a problem if anyone else isn't being "kept alive with basic needs." I could also question your motivations...


16 people like this
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Apr 26, 2020 at 1:29 pm

S-mom,

There is no mention in your comments of testing, tracing, and isolating.

It is not just irresponsible to put low-Income people in a position where they have to work in unsafe conditions themselves, this will result in spreading the disease to their families and contacts.

Minorities are suffering disproportionately in NY, and the Latinos are suffering the most in Santa Clara County.

Even commentators on right-wing Fox realize that is a prerequisite to gaining control of the virus.
You seem to have completely ignored this.


8 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 26, 2020 at 2:40 pm

Does anyone know when we will learn whether or not Santa Clara County and/or the City of Palo Alto is extending the shelter-in-place order?


3 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 26, 2020 at 5:52 pm

... waiting with bated breath.


7 people like this
Posted by Reason
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 26, 2020 at 7:13 pm

We've been in lockdown mode for a month and people are still getting sick. WHY? and more importantly, WHY DON'T WE KNOW EXACTLY WHY so we can stop it?

Hygiene is what you do to prevent the spread of illness. At some point, we have to stop being in reactionary mode around hygiene and start doing just the effective things.

Don't get me wrong, I'm alarmed at some of the politicization of the pandemic response and people turning their right to endanger everyone else into a bully-baby-rightwing tantrum, but I am also want to know how we get out of this safely. Don't we have to have a better idea of why the existing cases are still happening?


19 people like this
Posted by Chris
a resident of University South
on Apr 26, 2020 at 7:33 pm

Reason,

We need to test, trace and isolate.

Even though they are not currently doing this completely or publicly, the authorities probably have an idea how the cases are spreading. Before they loosen the restrictions much, they need to get this system in place.

Remember what happened in 1918, when SF loosened up too soon and the 2nd wave was worse than the first.


4 people like this
Posted by PAResident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 26, 2020 at 11:46 pm

So here are some things I've been mulling over -
* Vaccines take time to develop. I don't think we've had vaccines for the previous SARS-COV viruses either. Their trials ran into issues where the vaccine caused people to fall sick.
* 1-2 years is an optimistic estimate of how long it takes to develop a vaccine
* Even the ups and downs with remedisivr trial results show how hard it is to find therapies for this thing. It's going to take time.
* This thing is going to come back with the flu season next fall/winter. Do we really want to wait until then or should we try to utilize this summer?
* Shelter in place was really only a means of flattening the curve - at least early on, people were talking about herd immunity and shelter in place being a way for that to happen gradually
* Its a hard problem, but we can build a smart plan. I'm hoping that folks smarter than build it.


5 people like this
Posted by PAResident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 26, 2020 at 11:49 pm

@Chris,
The 2nd wave of the 1918 flu was really bad everywhere - the mutation was deadlier. However places with a worse initial outbreak fared better against Round 2 as they had built immunity. The toll on Round 2 far surpassed the toll on Round 1. Round 3 had a lower toll than Round 2, but the virus had mutated again and even those who had contracted the flu in the first two rounds were not immune to the Round 3 mutation.


19 people like this
Posted by Someone who read the Imperial College study
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 27, 2020 at 2:29 am

@messifan

I was surprised by what you wrote -- that the imperial college study projected 1.1m deaths even in best case scenario, so I re-read the report just now.

You have misinterpreted or misunderstood or misrepresented the study.

Study projects:
- 2m deaths if nothing done.
- 1.1m deaths in the best case MITIGATION strategy.
- therefore, the study concludes MITIGATION is not a viable strategy and a more hard core SUPPRESSION strategy must be adopted. Suppression includes social distancing of general population. None of the mitigation options incldue social distancing of the general population

You should read the actual study if you haven't. The whole point of the study is that we should do social distancing, because if we don't, 1.1m will die in the best case scenario without social distancing. But with social distancing in place, we will be ok (until it's lifted or vaccines or cures are available)

That CA is not past ICU capacity is not proof that model was wrong. It may just be that we actually did avoid a disaster that could've and would've struck if social distancing was not enacted.


8 people like this
Posted by Someone who read the Imperial College study
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 27, 2020 at 2:31 am

Here's the actual imperial college study. Please read it before you spread falsehoods. It's dangerous to mislead others.
Web Link


7 people like this
Posted by Govlayoffs
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 27, 2020 at 6:25 am

We were told 2 weeks of Shelter in place for the hospitals. The target keeps moving. Time to hold the government accountable. What if they started loosing their jobs? We would be opening up May 1st with masks and social distancing...I guarantee it.


8 people like this
Posted by Messifan
a resident of Ventura
on Apr 27, 2020 at 7:25 am

@someone
You are right, I misinterpreted mitigation/suppression with no intention to deceive. I apologize. Thanks for correcting me. It was a small part of a broader argument that models are all over the place, which is true. See the Mercury today (Web Link). Models created by various experts are all over the place and do not match the data. That is important when considering future policy.


7 people like this
Posted by RE Agent
a resident of Portola Valley
on Apr 27, 2020 at 10:14 am

The COVID-19 'stay at home' mandate is severely impacting our business & the opportunity to provide desired housing (albeit expensive) options for our valued clients...both sellers & buyers.

It is my extreme wish that this epidemic passes quickly so that those of us in the real estate industry return to assisting those in need of residency options.


5 people like this
Posted by Maurice
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 27, 2020 at 10:20 am

Why is the county offering such a short notice regarding an extension of the mandatory shelter in place order? This order ends in a less than a week. Planning (for work and home) takes time.

I understand that this is a time of emergency. However, the delayed decision-making by the county and state might cause some to conclude that local and state leaders do not take the crisis quite so seriously.


8 people like this
Posted by Jonathan Brown
a resident of Ventura
on Apr 27, 2020 at 11:10 am

WSJ today has an interesting piece by TJ Rodgers titled, "Do Lockdowns Save Many Lives? In Most Places, the Data Say No. The speed with which officials shuttered the economy appears not to be a factor in Covid deaths." The data comes from Web Link and Web Link. The local data suggests that the current shelter in place order has been overkill because we are way under capacity, to the point where Stanford Health Care is having to lay off workers. Clearly the balance needs to tip back towards allowing more activities with more sensible, tailored restrictions. Outdoor work and construction where social distancing can be maintained should be allowed (not just on politicians' pet projects). Barbershops, hair salons, household services and open spaces should reopen (including parking!). Summer camps and sports for kids should be allowed within appropriate guidelines. We can still ban mass gatherings like concerts and put into place sensible restrictions, but our low-income workers need to be allowed to make a living. Remote working for those who can do it should be strongly encouraged. The data support this kind of sensible approach much more than the blunt instrument of near-complete lockdown. For Jeff Smith to say that we have no other option than what is currently in place strains his credibility to the breaking point. People's agitation to do more will rise, particularly as they see little effort to enforce the order against gatherings in our parks and other places in the U.S. and abroad finding ways to open large portions of the economy.


5 people like this
Posted by Outraged
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 27, 2020 at 11:52 am

And God help us all now that Stanford has cut healthcare worker pay by 20%. So when the second and third spikes come there might be no one there to treat us. I hope that the community reaches out to Gavin Newsom and does everything they can to retain Stanford healthcare workers.


4 people like this
Posted by To @ outraged
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 27, 2020 at 12:19 pm

If the government refuses things like orthopaedic surgery, what do you expect Stanford to do with idled workers? No, they don’t all work fighting Covid 19.


2 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 27, 2020 at 3:38 pm

Posted by S_mom, a resident of Community Center

>> @ Chris - I want to give people a choice about their risks -- some, I'd guess many -- may feel that it is worth the risk to have some income.

S_mom: Sure, I want to, also. People who go out in fishing boats "should" be able to do that if the risk/reward ratio seems favorable to them. Back when I was a kid, the guys who put out oil well fires were legendary. (e.g. Red Adair).

The *error* that you are making is in thinking that one person can make an isolated risk-based decision with respect to COVID19. That is not possible.
This is a public-health problem. Your behavior affects my risk, and, my behavior affects your risk. We are regulating our collective behavior to handle this huge public-health problem. I know I've said this before, but, look at NYC. What a difference a week or two of less-than-vigorous action can result in. It only takes two weeks to go from "plenty of ICU beds" to overflow.

The fate of a North Pacific fishing boat doesn't affect my life expectancy. The behavior of thousands of high-touch service people does, and, the virus doesn't "care" how much they need the income. It is a virus. It replicates and spreads.

We had a good week last week. One week at a time. I hope we behaved well last week; if we did, this could also be a good week. I hope we behave well this week, but, I fear we aren't-- there seemed to be a lot more traffic today. Two weeks from now, I hope we are not sorry for what we did today.



2 people like this
Posted by S_mom
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 27, 2020 at 5:11 pm

@Anon I agree that one person's risk affects others w/r/t the virus, which is why I completely agreed with the shelter in place orders up until now -- if too many got sick it would affect the hospital availability for others. But what I said about choice was in response to "chris" above who said that it was irresponsible to put low income people at risk of the disease. I think there are people in dire enough situations right now that they might strenuously disagree about the risk assessment we are making for them. I think while our hospital capacity is so low that Stanford is cutting hours, we should give people a choice about whether to stay completely at home or resume earning a living. If the numbers ramp up again, we can go back. I've said this before, but I'm not pushing for back to normal, just some easing up for people who need to earn money and can do so in low-population work environments with social distancing and masks (construction, gardening and other home services, maybe some retail).

I don't think it's fair to compare New York -- they are so much denser and have much faster spread. We've apparently had community transmission since late January (the first U.S. case died in SCC February 6) and did not see our hospitals overrun by March 13 when the shelter at home started. So our infections may increase but it's unlikely to be at a rate that we won't notice. I think carefully monitoring hospital admissions and looking for any dangerous rate increase and tightening restrictions if that happens is a reasonable approach that would give many desperate people some relief. We may have to tighten up again in the fall, I'd hate to waste the summer unnecessarily for people who could be getting some much needed economic relief.


2 people like this
Posted by S_mom
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 27, 2020 at 5:22 pm

Also, I'll note that it sounds like they're considering easing restrictions much more at the end of May assuming no big change. I think that's also reasonable even if I think they could ease up more now -- a few more weeks of caution is fine. It just seems like a lot of the people who argue that we need to stay at home make arguments that make it sound like they think we have to stay home if it looks like we'll have any deaths -- essentially until we have a cure or vaccine. The "do you want Grandma to die" kind of argument, like we need to stay at home if anyone's grandmother could die. That's what gets me a little worked up -- I don't think it makes sense to shelter at home for 18-24 months even under almost any of the worst case scenarios (not saying we could never do this for any disaster, but just that it does not make sense even assuming worst case Covid scenarios). The effects (including deaths) of having huge swaths of the population not working for 1.5-2 years would be worse than the Covid death count.


2 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 28, 2020 at 11:14 am

@S_mom:

Unfortunately, many of the neediest and least-well-paid even in normal circumstances are being hit particularly hard by the closures and layoffs in the (broadly speaking) "hospitality industry". Bars, coffee bars, cafes, restaurants, various crowded entertainment venues. Add to that nail salons, hairdressers, etc. The problem that I have is that these businesses are, from the customer standpoint, "discretionary spending". Not really part of the core economy. And, at the same time, these are some of the highest risk locations and activities. From a public health standpoint, it makes sense to keep them closed until we have this under control.

The other issue that I would raise is that we just are not there yet. Here's a new analysis: Web Link


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