The almanac says summer is still about six weeks away, but the weather is warm, temperatures are expected to hit 90 in the Sacramento Valley, and mixed messages are pouring in about coronavirus restrictions and the stay at home mandate. Most people still can't go to work, but despite being told to 'shelter in place', that now doesn't apparently mean you can't go to the beach or out to the golf course.
Even watching Governor Newsom's daily news briefings. His short, staccato sentences and his frequent pauses makes it sound like he just got done running ten miles, but in just a few of those sentences, his voice tells us one minute that we're on the road to re-opening the state, and then comes back with “in a few weeks”. He then goes on tell us that today, whichever day it is he is speaking, has been the deadliest coronavirus day in the state.
In inland northern California, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in low. Six counties, including Yuba and Sutter, are telling the governor they want to re-open. The western half of Nevada County has had only a dozen cases total, but small businesses remain closed, and few have gotten those loans under the Payroll Protection Program. When asked why restrictions can't be lifted, you're told, if you actually get an answer, that relaxing restrictions now could lead to a 'second wave' of virus cases. Nobody wants that, of course, but if there are any signs of that happening, can't you just close things up again? Maybe it doesn't work that way.
There's also a little bit of hypocrisy here. Nevada County's Public Health Officer announced today that local golf courses can re-open. That's great, but several of them have been open the whole time. One just seemed to intentionally defy the order, and nothing happened to them. Another had a sign right next to its wide-open gate saying closed to the public, but members were out on the course anyway. Some virus-related modifications have reportedly been made like no ball-washing stations, but they have been open nonetheless.
Doing my part and staying home over the weekend (who are we kidding? I do that anyway), while watching the news I noticed that people are now just starting to do what they want. Maybe they think about wearing a mask, but they are still out and about, either enjoying the weather, soaking up some sun, or just doing any errands they can with businesses that are open. It seems like that brings up two questions simultaneously. Part of you says, “good for them. What's wrong with that?”, while at the same time, you ask yourself “I thought we were supposed to stay home”.
It's gotten to the point, at least locally and places where cases are low, that the ongoing threat is not real to people. Each county website has what they call a 'dashboard' which shows the number of cases, and the number of deaths. As of this writing, there have been 988.,451 cases in the United States—almost a million. Over 56-thousand people have died (equivalent to almost the population of Yuba City). In California, there have been over 45-thousand cases and 1785 deaths. We see these numbers on TV every day, but they are just numbers.
Don't get me wrong. I am not advocating this by any means, but we are not seeing the human element of this. No one wants to see dead bodies on the news, or even people suffering in hospitals, but at the same time, you know what they say about pictures. I was watching 60 Minutes a couple of weeks ago, and they showed rows of trailers parked outside New York City hospitals. They were using those trailers as a morgue. That's all I needed. I turned the television off at that point, but message received. Fortunately, that's not happening in California. A good thing, indeed, but it's another mixed message. If we aren't seeing people getting sick, why can't we get back to work?
We won't get into the President wondering aloud if we can inject ourselves with Lysol or scan ourselves with ultraviolet light, but the message starts at the top and works its way down. Be honest, and straightforward with people, and they will respond. When daily briefings, whether its from national, state, or local leaders, are informational instead of sideshows or stall tactics, people will respond appropriately.
One of the reasons, so we're told, that inland northern California has so few coronavirus cases is that social distancing is working. I'm choosing to believe that, and at this time, I still trust that the experts (doctors, not elected officials) know what they are talking about. However, while letting people somehow 'shelter in place' at the beach is great, it makes it look like health officials are bowing to public pressure. That's not in itself a bad thing, but if its okay to go to the beach, why is it not okay to go to work? No one wants more cases. No one wants people to get sick. But more than a few of us are beginning to wonder.
Silent Ken: Nevada County's Health Officer, Doctor Ken Cutler, modified his health order today to allow more outdoor recreation. He did so by statement, and this time didn't even include a YouTube video like he has in the past. Cutler has appeared in front of the Board of Supervisors and on 'virtual town halls' hosted by a local news outlet, but has still refused to address the media as a group. Like Stairway to Heaven, hmmm, it makes me wonder.
Ratings blitz: People who did stay home apparently were watching the NFL Draft. In what had to be the largest-ever Zoom meeting, the draft attracted 55 million viewers on ESPN, ABC, and the NFL Network. That's 50 percent more than watched a 'live' draft last year. While the whole idea of three networks televising a teleconference for three days, the NFL raised 100-million dollars in Covid-19 relief.