California Cancels Christmas

Reading the list from my previous post, Cali life might seem so fab that you’re ready to move to the Golden State. Cool your jets and read on first. Earlier today, Governor Gavin “Gruesome” Newsom extinguished the light at the end of the holidays, by announcing even more SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19restrictions that assure Santa won’t shimmy down any California chimneys this Christmas Eve, even if wearing a mask or practicing social distancing. St. Nick Corp. isn’t an “essential business”, meaning one exempt from the onerous obstructions to living—or even breathing—under the benevolence of Governor Newssolini’s  auspicious authority.

Bigger than the new lockdown protocols is their nebulous nature. Newsom has organized the state into five regions, placing San Diego County with Los Angeles County, which has the greatest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases (e.g. infections) in the United States. He expects that ICU capacity will fall to 15 percent within the next day or two, which will be the event that steals Christmas from Southern California, if not statewide. But he was downright dubious about when this would happen, although he could confidently say that once the trigger pulls, the new shutdown order would be in place for at least three weeks. Do the math. Santa ain’t coming this year!

The Nice List
Conveniently, during the press conference, Newsom sidestepped “questions on whether data supports new business closures“, as SFGATE’s Eric Ting woefully reports. And what businesses are closing? That’s the wrong question. “Which ones aren’t?” is more appropriate. It’s a sorry group bound in shackles:

  • Hospitals, grocery stores, or anything else logically considered to be essential stays open (it’s a short list).
  • Offices providing critical infrastructure (whatever that means) can stay open. Everyone else works from home.
  • Restaurants can provide take-away and delivery services, but dining of any kind—even outdoors—is prohibited.
  • Preschool and day-care facilities that can’t operate remotely (gasp, can any) and schools already open can continue operations.
  • Retailers and shopping centers can remain open at 20 percent capacity. Imagine what that will do to Christmas shopping. Maybe Governor Grinch is more appropriate name.
  • Hotels and lodging establishments can conduct business but only when supporting critical infrastructure. If not, they can turn on the “No Vacancy” sign, even though all rooms are empty.
  • Outdoor recreational facilities can continue operating, but there are severe restrictions regarding food and drinks (non-alcoholic and alcoholic) and campgrounds can’t let people stay overnight.
  • Churches, which the governor doesn’t regard as essential as pot shops, can offer outdoor services only. Now how is that going to work for Christmas Eve and Midnight services when there’s also a 10 p.m.-to-5-a.m. curfew?

The Naughty List
Pretty much any other establishment must close, regardless the amount of lost business during the season that could lessen revenue losses caused by previous shutdowns. Were these operators really so wicked during 2020 that they’re not even worthy of coal in their Christmas stockings? Is Santa’s naughty list really so terribly torrid?

Among the banished businesses:

  • Aquariums, museums, and zoos
  • Bars, breweries, distilleries, and wineries
  • Barbershops, hair salons, and personal care services
  • Indoor recreational facilities and indoor or outdoor playgrounds
  • Amusement parks, casinos, family entertainment centers, live audience sports, and movie theaters

Nazi Germany
So that everyone can feel at home by staying home and not venturing too far away—or having family or friends visit from somewhere else—Governor Newssolini also announced the formation of a framework for restricting non-essential travel. I like to think of it as a taste of living in Nazi Germany and presenting identity cards to go anywhere. He prepares us for the future, because someday soon California might require proof of COVID-19 vaccination to travel or to receive essential services.

Don’t be frightened off by this travel advisory at Visit California:

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, California imposed a stay-at-home order and banned non-essential travel in most of the state beginning December 4. All visitors in the state should practice proper physical distancing and sanitation practices and are required to wear face coverings and follow all public health rules. California public health officials have recommended that visitors from out of state, including California residents, quarantine for 14 days after entering or returning to California.

Has anyone seriously tested the Governor’s mental faculties to see if perhaps he is suffering some Coronavirus-caused cognitive collapse? California is the world’s fifth largest economy. The state has been partially shutdown since mid-March, and now Newsom wants to cancel Christmas?

What insanity justifies shuttering a state that thrives on tourism and entertainment production and consumption; where the hospitality industry normally provides millions of jobs; and struggling small businesses provide massive employment and tax revenues? These places are like sharks, in the sense they can never stop moving. Closure is catastrophe.

Everyone gets one life, and that makes every person immensely valuable. There, I wouldn’t disagree with Newsom’s urgency to save lives. But how many healthy people must the crazy quest to crush COVID-19 kill to save a few folks that are hospitalized?

As of today’s press conference, ICU capacity for the five regions:

  • Northern California: 18.6 percent
  • San Joaquin Valley: 19.7 percent
  • Southern California: 20.6 percent
  • Greater Sacramento: 22 percent
  • Bay Area: 25.4 percent

These numbers are not outside normal limits. Ideal ICU occupancy runs 70-75 percent at most hospitals. Demand can surge during the holidays. That said, although 85 percent is often recommended in federal guidelines, the number typically is the stress point for capacity strains to buckle. From that perspective, the  Gov’s 15 percent figure has merit.

But, Doctor Grinch, some hospitals in my area allocate only 20 percent ICU capacity to COVID-19, having resumed surgeries and elective procedures that fill the other beds and generate revenue. Wouldn’t reallocation of hospital resources to accommodate any possible surge in critical Coronavirus cases make more sense than destroying the Christmas economy and millions of Californians with it? That’s just one of the many sensible solutions that someone not acting COVID crazy would consider.

By the way, Governor Newsom, don’t wait up to give Santa milk and cookies next year. He ain’t ever going back to your place. Bah humbug.

I used Sigma fp and 45mm F2.8 DG DN | C lens to capture the Featured Image on Dec. 22, 2019. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/4, ISO 3200, 1/100 sec, 45mm; 5:13 p.m. I worry that the iconic Lafayette Hotel, located in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood, may be one of the eventual, many collateral casualties of California’s crazy COVID-19 crackdown.