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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Following the science or doing what I say not what I do

Uploaded: Dec 17, 2020
The most unusual holiday season of our lives is roaring upon us as public health officials in the Bay Area and California strive to keep us “safe” by acting like grinches.
It’s striking to see the restrictions that are being applied here and compare them to what’s going on elsewhere in the country. One common factor—blue state governors, His Highness Newsom included—are far more authoritarian than governors in other states that have focused their efforts on vulnerable populations and trusted people to make smart decisions themselves.
Yes, the virus is spreading rapidly and yes there are issues with intensive care unit space. There are other devastating health and economic effects of the shutdown as well.
Closing schools—perhaps necessary at the onset without any real knowledge—and then delaying reopening is severely damaging some children for life. Poorer, younger students, often Brown or Black, have limited internet capability and are falling further and further behind. The state has a huge education gap between Asians and White students and those Black and Brown.
Prison officials know that the number of students reading below grade level in the 3rd grade is a sadly accurate predictor of the demand for prison beds 15 years later.
A study published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that 24.4 million students from the age of 5 to 11 lost an average of 54 days of instruction in the spring. The researchers said that equated to 5.53 million fewer years of life because of lower educational success. That’s nearly four times the estimates 1.47 million years of life that would have been lost should schools have remained open.
A McKinsey study that examined three scenarios (including in-person schooling resuming in January) found a $110 billion annual earnings hit that disproportionately effects Black, Hispanic and poor students. The report pointed out that greater educational achievement is linked to improved health, reduced crime and incarceration levels and increased political participation.
The school shutdown has seen teen suicide and depression soar. I previously reported that suicides in one summer month in the Bay Area totaled more than all of 2019. The CDC surveyed Americans about their mental health in May and June. It found 1 in 4 teenagers had seriously considered suicide in the last month. That’s almost 2 ½ times higher than the rate was in 2018. Suicide is the second leading cause of deaths after accidents for teenagers.
Pleasanton was set to resume in-person and hybrid instruction Jan. 7 and the county has approved the plan. Until the county moves back into the red tier for 14 days, schools cannot reopen. Trustees voted unanimously Tuesday evening to reopen pre-kindergarten through 2nd grade as soon as it is allowed. Grades 3rd through 5th will open a week later followed by middle and high schools a week after that. A plan for middle and high school reopening will be presented at the Jan. 14 board meeting.
The frustration that some Pleasanton parents are feeling resulted in a demonstration last week. The district has been operating small groups of students onsite who were identified as having particular needs. As I have previously reported, one friend is monitoring four students, two of whom had never logged on prior to returning to the campus in October
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo released the results of COVID-19 tracking from September into November last week. It showed that 74% of the spread was traced to social gatherings. Health care situations accounted for 7.8%, while elementary and high school students were less than 0.5%. Restaurants and bars accounted for 1.43%. So why is Cuomo closing bars and restaurants and indirectly encouraging the activity he’s decrying—we are social creatures and want to gather.
Assuming these numbers are similar for California then the mandate to close outdoor dining is absurd. Politics and power are at the core. Last week, it was striking to see a Los Angeles restaurant owner, who had invested thousands in an outdoor dining area, shutting down while a catering crew was setting up right next to her restaurant to service a film crew.
Yes, contrary to the first order, the television and movie industry, thanks to a strong lobbying push, is now considered essential.
You see photos of Newsom dining at the French Laundry in a private room with no masks, no social distancing and plenty of wine flowing (the tasting meal is $350 at the Napa Valley landmark), there’s no credibility left.
The disasters with Employment Development Department paying millions in checks to prisoners and still facing a huge backlog in legitimate claims from frustrated citizens call out how poorly his administration is functioning.
The good news is that these fiascos may drive a spike into his political ambitions.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Jennifer, a resident of another community,
on Dec 17, 2020 at 10:09 am

Jennifer is a registered user.

Newsom has never had any credibility. We learned that when he was mayor of SF.

Posted by Darlene G, a resident of Alamo,
on Dec 18, 2020 at 7:41 am

Darlene G is a registered user.

I agree 100%. Logic and common sense have not been used in the decision making and neither has collateral damage. Protect the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions and let the rest of us resume working, schooling, living. Gavin Newsom has created a huge, devastating mess.

Posted by George, a resident of another community,
on Dec 18, 2020 at 8:58 am

George is a registered user.

You title this “following toe science or do what I say, not what I do", and offer (DO) nothing here in the positive to try to break the group mentality of ‘stupid' other than whine about the politics. This virus doesn't care about your politics or where you live, and it's dictating a lot of policy because ignoring it is ignorant.
It would be more helpful for you to push the *science* of separation, mask wearing, and NOT gathering (under less-ideal situations) which the CDC and Fauci, have recommended over and over and over. (If only you could “SAY" this...)
If folks actually behaved for a spell, this thing (now with fledgling vaccines) could maybe get slowed down and beat. But no, people are stupid en-mass, so someone has to play the “mean parent". That's really what this is about. But writing that apparently doesn't make for good, old inflammatory diatribe for a blog.

Posted by Beth, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Dec 18, 2020 at 10:36 am

Beth is a registered user.

I agree that having everything closed down has a terrible impact on everyone. But I don't agree with your seeming opinions about how Newsom and his administration and their policies are the cause of all these problems. We have an extremely contagious virus here. The more people who gather together, the more people get it. That should be obvious to everyone by now. Yes there are groups that aren't going to get very sick if they get it. But they interact with other people. My son, who is 40, works in a grocery store. His risk of getting exposed to Covid is high although his risk of getting really sick from Covid isn't that high. But he lives with me, and my risk for complications IS high.

Tim, I don't see you commenting about how many people in the communities are not putting in the effort to help keep the cases down. We were asked not to travel during the holidays. Look at the number of people traveling at Thanksgiving. I expect the same will happen for Xmas. No surprise, the hospitals are now full from Thanksgiving.

The dumb thing to me is that people are so busy pushing against policies that stem from advice according to current science data that they are prolonging this misery for everyone--including themselves. I am as tired as everyone else to be living under this pandemic and I am feeling quite sad that I won't see my daughter over the holidays this year.

Are the restrictions that are currently in place all the right ones? I'm sure that some of them are on things that really wouldn't pose much risk if someone had the chance to study the situation closely. I think that overall the state government's goal is to keep people safe and that the list of what should close are best guesses based on current data and projections. It would be impractical for the health administrators to be evaluating individual situations for possible exceptions. Unless we work together we are never going to get through this.

Posted by Kevin, a resident of Castlewood,
on Dec 18, 2020 at 11:55 am

Kevin is a registered user.

Thank you Beth and George! Very well stated!

Here is terrible news of 8 nuns who died of Covid within 1 week. One wonders how they were infected - how did the virus get into the retirement house? Did one of the workers go to a bar or restaurant? Did one of the workers's kids pass the virus to the worker who then gave it to the nuns?

Web Link

Posted by NeedToDoBetter, a resident of Ruby Hill,
on Dec 19, 2020 at 2:01 pm

NeedToDoBetter is a registered user.

Sorry, but this article read like a Kayleigh Mcenany "press briefing" complete with all sorts of meaningless math and fake stats to try and look legit.... I would hope at this point, since we are all stuck in the Purple Tier our local journalists would be writing more useful articles.

Posted by DKHSK, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Dec 20, 2020 at 8:28 pm

DKHSK is a registered user.

"Birx travels, family visits highlight pandemic safety perils"

Web Link

Safe link to AP.

So let's get this straight, all you quarantine-loving people. Dr Debra Birx, you know, the White house Corona virus coordinator who continues to dictate that we visit with ONLY our immediate family, traveled with THREE generations of her family over Thanksgiving.

Gee, Gavin Newsome, Nancy Pelosi, Dr Anthony Fauci (caught not wearing a mask at a baseball game) and now Dr. Birx all caught not following their own GD rules. Many other politicians as well.

And all you do is follow along not seeing what is in front of you.

Please stay at home and quarantine yourself so your that your complete idiocy does not contaminate anyone.

I'd rather take a chance on COVID.


Posted by Jake Waters, a resident of Birdland,
on Dec 21, 2020 at 7:52 am

Jake Waters is a registered user.

We can complain all we want at the arrogance, the utter madness, and the disingenuousness of the elitists and the powerful, but until we push back, we will be doing this for another year. Newsom is creating fear that he seems to get away with over and over again. The fear of more cases- they are not cases, they are positive and false positives of an indication of the virus at the time of the test. The hospitals are surging- they always surge around this time of the year. The deaths are going up- we know they are over reported and information is leaked about that fact all the time. We live with a new strain of flu (sometimes more deadly then the previous) every year, but we never panic.

I take a lot of flack for my stance on civil disobedience, but it is my way of doing something to fight back. When you listen to one source, you live in isolation.

Posted by BobB, a resident of Vintage Hills,
on Dec 21, 2020 at 3:49 pm

BobB is a registered user.

Gavin Newsom deserves no sympathy for his behavior. His apology isn't sufficient. He is an arrogant jerk.


When was the last time someone in your office was in intensive care or in a coma with the flu? Can you remember a year when both the president of the United States and the prime minister of England were both hospitalized and receiving oxygen for the flu? Covid-19 is not influenza.

Just because our leaders act like ignorant fools doesn't mean the coronavirus has magically gone away or is any less dangerous.

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