OWN VOICE. ~ InPerspective by Gregg Dieguez —
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One of my neighbors is an intelligent Texan, which, regional rivalry being what it is, has led to some interesting conversations. Recently he tweaked me about how badly California was rolling out its vaccines, which led me to some comparative research about where “we” stand, where “we” is San Mateo County (SMC), California, and the U.S.
“The current supply coming to the various entities in the county from the state appears to be about one tenth [the rate required to vaccinate all by July].”
While there are some excellent philosophical insights in his post, what he DOESN’T describe is what steps he’s taking to resolve the problems. And HE’S our man in charge.
While our public health officer doesn’t seem to know, there are some objective ways to assess how we are doing in San Mateo County. By chance, I had interviews with two professionals from Vermont Friday. One is the managing partner of a large senior living facility in Burlington. “How many COVID cases have you had to date? NONE” (I know something about the quality of management there, and it is excellent). Then a conversation with a nationally known Vt. pediatrician: “How many vaccination sites are there in Vermont? FIFTY-FIVE.” Now let’s put that in context. Vermont is a state, but their population is about about 20% LESS than SMC [chart below]. But 55 vaccination sites in 38 cities compared to 1 or 2 here!? – that’s just astoundingly troubling. The chart shows some other comparisons: our county has a higher death rate and a higher current rate of positive tests, by about DOUBLE the state of Vermont. As a state, they’ve vaccinated more than double the proportion of their population than California has.
As my Texan neighbor pointed out (as did others on NextDoor) a few days back, Calif. was 49th in percent of the vaccine received that had been given (administered). We were ahead of only Alabama a week ago, then we fell to 50th. At the time, Texas was 6th. Very recently, California has risen to 42nd… Yoo Hoo! We’ve administered 54.6% of the vaccines. Vermont? 15th at 63.7%. Texas has fallen to 22nd but still 60.7%. Expect these rankings to change daily, and you can track vaccine administration performance HERE. But we’re doing a well-below average job in SMC and California with a supposedly ‘first world’ economy.
Finally, one wonders why almost 100% of the vaccine hasn’t been administered. One would think there would be waiting lines as the vials come off the trucks. Certainly there are supply chain issues involving trucking the deliveries to medical facilities, but there’s no escaping the above comparative measures of failure. Further, one wonders what we’re getting for our taxes here in SMC? We have among the most expensive cost of living in the country and we can’t establish vaccination sites anywhere close to Vermont?!? Recent reports are that Calif. isn’t properly counting illness at the workplace, which of course, hampers real understanding and control of community spread. And our state, supposedly a marvel of invention and industry, as well as high-cost, lags well behind the rest of the county in the most important health care job (vaccination) it’s had in 100 years!?!?
We’re all aware how the lack of leadership and competence at the federal level led to hundreds of thousands of deaths that could have been avoided with ‘first world’ management such as exists in all the other countries shown [chart at right]. And what is criminal is that the U.S. USED TO BE the preeminent country in pandemic preparedness. But the level of performance we’re seeing in the U.S., California and San Mateo County appears atrocious, and potentially criminal in the sense of mass manslaughter. Just as we need a Coronavirus Commission at the national level, we need an independent evaluation (i.e. one NOT conducted by our elected officials – a Special Counsel and/or a Grand Jury) at our state and county levels. At this point the only clear conclusion one can reach is that we’re performing terribly; causes, solutions, and firings or prosecutions to follow.
UPDATE 1/31/21: Trump officials actively lobbied to deny states money for vaccine rollout last fall. So, add this into the list of Federal and State problems:
“Top Trump officials actively lobbied Congress to deny state governments any extra funding for the Covid-19 vaccine rollout last fall — despite frantic warnings from state officials that they didn’t have the money they needed to ramp up a massive vaccination operation.
The push, described to STAT by congressional aides in both parties and openly acknowledged by one of the Trump officials, came from multiple high-ranking Trump health officials in repeated meetings with legislators.”
Mr. Dieguez is a native San Franciscan, longtime San Mateo County resident, and semi-retired entrepreneur who causes occasional controversy on the Coastside. He is a member of the MCC, but his opinions here are his own, and not those of the Council. In 2003 he co-founded MIT’s Clean Tech Program here in NorCal, which became MIT’s largest alumni speaker program. He lives in Montara. He loves a productive dialog in search of shared understanding.