You’re a Mean One, Governor Grinch

One of my University Heights neighbors is ready for Christmas—and that with Thanksgiving still two weeks away. What immediately follows? Black Friday, which will be a bust for many, if not most, local retailers—and perhaps every other business—now that Governor Gavin “Grinch” Newsom has dumped San Diego County back into the most restrictive lockdown tier; aka Purple. The shutdown supposedly will curtail rising COVID-19 infections caused by SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2) and, thus, save lives. But at what cost to livelihoods?

Perhaps the holiday decor isn’t meant to be a commentary on the current state of affairs; either way, I make it one. I used Leica Q2 to capture the Featured Image yesterday. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/800 sec, 28mm; 9:12 a.m. PST. The Grinch is appropriate metaphor for the Gov, while the ravens feed on the economic dead that another shutdown murders. Bones picked clean of flesh by the carrion flock hang nearby. How funny! That is the same skeleton seen sitting in a car—on March 29.

Data Directs
Bureaucrats banter around phrase “follow the science”, which is absolutely insane advice. The biological and medical research about the Novel Coronavirus is too immature, too rapidly evolving, and will be for some time—that despite Pfizer’s promising vaccine announcement made on November 9. Public policy should come from data derived from real, on-the-ground conditions. Newsom instead chooses an arcane metric based on the number of daily new cases; more than seven per 100,000 effectively restricts all meaningful activity in any affected area.

The data reveals a clear policy plan, and one that I argue local health and political officials should adopt in defiance of Newsom’s color-coded nonsense. In San Diego County, confirmed COVID-19 cases from mid-February to November 7 total 60,169 as reported on the 10th. Median age: 35. Number of deaths: 908. Median age: 77. Only five percent of people passing away, die only from COVID-19. The rest suffer from complications caused by comorbidities.

Sensible Strategy
Looking at those stats alone suggests a plan of action, which a deeper data dive supports:

  1. Send K-12 students back to school.
  2. Reopen all businesses and entertainment venues.
  3. Let people return to regular routines (mask mandate recommended).
  4. Isolate older residents and anyone with compromising chronic conditions.
  5. Create new jobs through services to support citizens quarantined for their safety.

The County’s COVID-19 charts illuminate the same sensible strategy. Figure 8 shows that confirmed cases are highest among 20-39 year-olds, who are active and most likely to engage in the greatest risk-spreading activities—group gatherings and brewery or pub visits, for example. Their case fatality rate is quite low, looking at Figure 13. In fact, for people under the age of 40 the CFR is consistently near zero. The youngest, healthiest people are most likely to catch COVID-19 and least likely to die or even require hospitalization (Figure 9).

Rapidly Reopen
As age increases, so does the CFR. Breakdown of County-wide COVID-19 deaths (not the same as CFR but as meaningful for our purposes):

  • 0-19: zero percent
  • 20-29: 0.4 percent
  • 30-39: 1 percent
  • 40-49: 3.8 percent
  • 50-59: 9.9 percent
  • 60-69: 18.3 percent
  • 70-79: 22.9 percent
  • 80+: 43.7 percent

For their safety, older folks and/or those people with at-risk underlying conditions (Figure 14) should be asked to voluntarily isolate. They would be rewarded for their sacrifice by receiving food deliveries and other services. Everyone else should be allowed to work, while maintaining practices such as social distancing and wearing masks; where appropriate. Send kids to school. They’re unlikely to catch COVID-19, spread it, or die from it.

Looking at all these charts as reference points, the overall trend in deaths is down, with the highest among people over 60. Confirmed cases is declining for all age groups, while hospitalizations are falling for the youngest and oldest people who are confirmed COVID-19 and flat for ages 20-59 years-old.

So, why is it that the Grinch is shutting down San Diego County when widely reopening up is simple common sense?