Sunday, December 13, 2020

Worth Reading

San Mateo County public health officer saying what any sane person would say: changing behavior is about education not issuing orders:

  • I’m not sure we know what we’re doing. (Please don’t misinterpret this sentence. The science and public health principles around disease transmission interruption – no gathering, mask wearing, social distancing, etc. – are clear. I’m referring to how to get you, the community, to change your behavior). I look at surrounding counties who have been much more restrictive than I have been, and wonder what it’s bought them. Now, some of them, are in a worse spot than we are. Does an unbalanced approach on restrictions make things worse? Maybe, maybe not. But I think there is a more likely explanation. When I look at the trend data, the Bay Area seems to mostly move as a region, and it seems to me to be pretty independent of individual Health Officers’ actions. 
  • The SAH order will make it more difficult for schools to open or to stay open. It is a very hard needle to thread to message that everyone must stay at home by strict order, but it’s ok for kids to go to school. I continue to strongly believe our schools need to be open. The adverse effects for some of our kids will likely last for generations. Schools have procedures to open safely even during a surge as evidenced by data. My earlier stated positions from June remain the same. 
  • Surely a hard, enforced, SAH order will certainly drive down transmission rates. But what we have before us is a symbolic gesture, it appears to be style over substance, without any hint of enforcement, and I simply don’t believe it will do much good. I think people should stay at home, avoid all non-essential activities, wear masks, and not gather with anyone outside their households. I’ve been saying this for about 10 months now. If you didn’t listen to my (and many others) entreaties before, I don’t think you’ll likely change your behavior based on a new order. I appreciate that some of you think I (or the government) have magical abilities to change everyone’s behavior, but I assure you, I (we) do not.
  • Being in the purple tier, the State has already put significant restrictions on businesses and the public space in San Mateo County. I am aware of no data that some of the business activities on which even greater restrictions are being put into place with this new order are the major drivers of transmission. In fact, I think these greater restrictions are likely to drive more activity indoors, a much riskier endeavor. While I don’t have scientific evidence to support this, I also believe these greater restrictions will result in more job loss, more hunger, more despair and desperation (the structure of our economy is, for the most part, if you don’t work, you don’t eat or have a roof over your head), and more death from causes other than COVID. And I wonder, are these premature deaths any less worrisome than COVID deaths?...
  • 1 comment:

    1. Sadly, both education and sometimes coercion are required, just like they are to limit drunk driving. Some people will not care about whether they endanger others. Plus, there are so many conspiracy theories out there that people don't believe there is a problem.