Tag: public policy

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We Voted Today

My wife and I dropped off our ballots at Garfield Elementary, which is located in San Diego’s North Park neighborhood. Crossing the parking lot, we saw three people, presumably all poll workers, sitting in folding chairs under an awning outside the school entrance. We had forgotten about masks, which the trio suddenly pulled out and put on before walking inside. Then a brave one came out to meet Annie and I, holding in outstretched arms a yellow canvas sack that blocked the woman from the two pariahs—meaning us. We dropped in our mail-in ballots, and she rushed away. Gosh, I sure hope that wasn’t the trash liner.

Californians are being asked whether or not they want to remove the governor. Unfortunately, opponents and proponents have framed the recall election in terms of Gavin Newsom vs front-runner Larry Elder, which distracts from the reason for everyone going to the polls. The special election is absolutely about Newsom vs Newsom, whether or not he should stay in office or be replaced. Nothing more matters. The answer is Yes or No.

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California Reopens

But explain to school kids what’s different, because they have to wonder. While establishments of all types are open at full capacity, the classroom routine is little changed: Students must continue to wear masks—a requirement that baffles the frak out of me. Is it possible reason that most of them have not been vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19? For adults, the mask-mandate is only lifted for those people who have had the shot(s). Children are extremely unlikely to be infected, manifest the disease, become seriously sick, or die. So why muzzle them?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children ages 0-4 account for 2.1 percent of U.S. COVID cases; 10.4 percent for 5-17 year-olds. Deaths: Zero percent and 0.1 percent, respectively. Citizens ages 18-49 account for 4.7 percent of total deaths, so teachers are probably pretty safe—especially if vaccinated. So, again, I ask: Why muzzle the kids? This morning, my wife and I passed by Birney Elementary as students arrived; they all wore masks, and parents, too!

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Decisions, Decisions

On June 15, 2021, California will largely reopen—fifteen months after Governor Gavin Newsom shut down most businesses and institutions, also instructing citizens to stay at home, in an attempt to slow spread of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19. This sidewalk sentiment seems oh-so appropriate for near-normalcy returning. Granted, inflation rises, the housing market is insanely competitive, supply shortages increase cost for goods like lumber, and many reopening businesses struggle to hire enough employees—among other oddities. So normal isn’t nearly enough.

Newsom will free Californians four days before the traditionally celebrated Freedom Day/Emancipation Day—also known as Juneteenth. How ironic—or arrogantly preemptive—is that? But he is not relinquishing the emergency powers used to close down the state. How will that decision affect his chances during the special recall election that could, in a few months, remove him as governor? Surely some people will respect his maintaining authority, while others will say that he oversteps his gubernatorial powers. We’ll see soon enough.

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Be Ready for Face Mask Discrimination

Before the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns, my wife and I were devout Trader Joe’s shoppers. But we lost faith during the months when long lines of people waited to be blessed entrance into the small stores. Our attention turned to humbler grocery cathedrals Food4Less, Grocery Outlet, and Smart & Final, which welcomed our presence and provided as good (and often better) sustenance for considerably lower cost. But with California slowly reopening, we occasionally return to Trader Joe’s—more to reminisce while grabbing a couple bananas.

We also go there for rolls of quarters, as I did this morning. The previous two trips, when getting cash back and casually telling the cashier about my plans, I was told: “We no longer give out quarters”. But when I traipsed over to the service desk, the gracious employees willingly exchanged a Twenty for two rolls. Last time, the gentleman even opened their new cash storage safe—installed sometime during last year’s coin shortage and after the nearby Wells Fargo branch closed, and never reopened, because of the pandemic.

Something changed today.

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Pandemic Pollution

What a difference a year makes. In April 2020, when SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2), which causes COVID-19, seemed so dire and face masks were so difficult to find, I wrote about the perils of not wearing one—illustrated with a rare, discarded protective covering. Now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks, or social distance, in most situations—meaning: “except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance”.

Long before the unexpected change to pandemic public policy, just two days ago, face masks could be found littered all about the County. San Diego Union-Tribune spotlighted the debris along beaches in July 2020; early last month, ABC News reported that “discarded masks litter beaches worldwide, threaten sea life“; the local CBS affiliate, reporting about the April 24, 2021 “19th-annual ‘Creek to Bay Clean-up'”, explained that there has been a surge in ‘single-use plastics”— and the “biggest offender? PPE [Personal Protective Equipment], especially masks”.

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Happy Earth Day 2021

Good luck finding the field of focus in the cluttered Featured Image, captured today using Leica Q2. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/2, ISO 100, 1/640 sec, 28mm; 3:01 p.m. PDT. Location is nearby the house where appeared Calm, who was profiled in my “Cats of University Heights” series in February 2019.

Think of the photo as my metaphorical commentary on so-called Climate Change theory, which truth isn’t so clear as political proponents of the science would have everyone believe. The hubris of humankind is to put ourselves at the center of everything—and that’s as much taking blame as claiming credit. Much is clear that the planet undergoes a warming trend. Focus on carbon emissions identifies sole cause and people to blame. But the picture is more complex, or so I say, like the one here presented for your viewing.

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COVID-19 Cases: Five California Counties make the Top 10

Anyone care to explain why perennially locked down California ranks so highly for SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 cases or deaths? Situation is much worse than last I looked a few weeks ago. According to data collated by John Hopkins University, Los Angeles County still tops the list for confirmed cases (more than 1.2 million) and deaths (just over 23,000). But four other Cali counties also are in the Top 10 for cases: Riverside (sixth); San Bernardino (eighth); San Diego (ninth); and Orange (tenth). That’s right. Half. Only one county from Florida: Miami-Dade (fourth).

More disturbing, since I checked on March 11, 2021, California’s case fatality rate rose to 1.61 percent, which is comparable to Florida’s 1.63 percent—and the Sunshine State is largely open; Spring Break is underway, too. Four California counties are among the top 11 for deaths: Los Angeles (first); Orange (ninth); San Bernardino (tenth); and Riverside (eleventh). Miami-Dade is seventh.

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San Diego County Partly Reopens, But Not Soon Enough for Some Businesses

One year ago today, California bars, breweries, and eateries stopped serving customers indoors, shifting to delivery and take-out services only—as ordered by Governor Gavin Newsom. On March 19, 2020, he issued a “stay-at-home” order for all Californians that went into effect the next day. Restrictions would later lift only to be reimposednearly as harsh during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays as the pandemic‘s early-declaration days.

Today, after months of onerous prohibitions upon local businesses, San Diego County rose from the most restrictive tier, which permits malls and retailers to operate at 50-percent capacity; aquariums, churches, movie theaters, museums, restaurants, and zoos to allow customers indoors at 25-percent capacity; and gyms and hotels to operate at 10-percent capacity. Oh joy. Beat me with the stick, because it feels so good compared to the baseball bat you were whacking with.

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Fear is the Contagion

The four words of this essay’s title are exactly my reaction to learning about China’s massive quarantine for the Novel Coronavirus in late-January 2020. I warned my wife and anyone else to prepare for the spread of fear: How it would infect and disrupt distribution of goods and services; how panic would lead to supply shortages; how desperation might cause people to react violently. But following the World Health Organization declaring a pandemic, one year ago today, the outcome over 12 months is much worse than I expected.

Society didn’t suddenly break down from widespread contagion, like portrayed by Hollywood films and TV shows. Instead, the economic and social fabrics shredded over longer time, as well-meaning citizens obeyed orders to “shelter-in-place“, “social distance“, and close their businesses. My contention: When Science catches up with collated data, the forensic analysis will show that governments over-reacted with lockdowns that inflicted more harm than the virus that everyone feared. Meaning: The cure is far more damaging than the disease, which danger is overblown.

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The Twilight Zone of Pandemic Politics

Some things go so oddly together that you must stop and regard them and wonder. Today, while walking along Shirley Ann Place in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood, a “Recall Newsom” sign surprised me; it’s the first one seen anywhere here. My wife fixated on the Easter eggs hanging from a tree in the same yard. She missed the one thing, and I the other. Mmmm, what does that say about selective vision and being drawn to what interests you while having a blindspot for what doesn’t?

As strangely as the cheerful eggs and hopeful sign are juxtaposed, something else made the scene feel even more Twilight Zone-like: The house beyond with the American flag flew something different before the Presidential election: Old Glory with spray-painted BLM. Well, I couldn’t leave without photos, which were captured using Leica Q2. The Featured Image (warning: 27MB file), which is composed as shot, shows the street. The cropped companion brings together the three elements. Vitals, aperture manually set for both: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/200 sec, 28mm; 12:25 p.m. PST. The other is f/2.8 and 1/640 sec.

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Accidents are Inevitable

My relentless criticism of so-called “traffic calming measures”—part of the future Georgia-Meade bikeway—continues with a current look down Meade from Georgia. Click on the Featured Image hyperlink and take a close look at the activity at Alabama, where is the first of the traffic circles that replaces stop signs.

You are witness to a near accident—as two vehicles converge from different directions. Who should yield to whom isn’t always obvious, which is gravely complicated by poor visibility for some approaching vehicles and the speed with which many drivers enter the roundabout intersections. I can’t imagine how much more dangerous will these circles be when the route officially opens to bicycles.