OWN VOICE. ~ InPerspective by Gregg Dieguez & Bruce Laird
Is this a Pandemic or a Test? Mis-management or Mass Murder? The Second Wave, or we never finished the First? Where do we stand as a country, a state, and a region?
U.S.A. vs. The World
We’re first worldwide in volume of daily new cases and running 2nd to Brazil in daily new deaths. We’ve risen to 7th worst in the world: at 395 Deaths per Million as of July 1st. Yes, we are highest in Total Cases and Deaths, but we believe population-adjusted metrics are the fairer comparison. Considering that we WERE the World Leader in Pandemic response for generations, with outposts in over 30 countries for early detection, the model of vaccine development, and had a complete Pandemic Playbook and a Pandemic Response team at the White House, our recent failure to perform against CV-19 is atrocious mismanagement, undoing decades of international leadership.
Several countries in even a more direct path of the Chinese virus were able to hold their deaths per million below 35: Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea; several others suppressed their initial outbreaks early enough to hold deaths/M below 30: Iceland, Australia, New Zealand. Even Germany, in the middle of a continent filled with cross-border travel, held their Deaths/M to 108. Compared with Germany, the U.S. has an excess of 93,000 deaths; compared to those other well-managed countries the figure is 120,000 and climbing. We’ll save the ‘how and why’ for a future column, but let’s just register where the U.S. stands today in handling CV-19 cases compared to Europe (chart at left – click to enlarge).
We discussed how Iceland overcame their massive outbreak in a prior article. Other European countries like Italy, Spain, and the UK also had massive outbreaks and high death rates. But they have all controlled them. Our daily case rate, adjusted for population, is over five (5) times as high as all of Europe. They are trending DOWN, we are trending UP, rapidly.
Talk about an international embarrassment, Europe is now banning travel from the U.S.
California vs. the U.S.
New York was the big news early, with a massive outbreak – but it has controlled it well past the peak. California was an ‘early adopter’ of CV-19, and did a very good job damping down the initial wave. But it has not been able to control the virus, especially in Southern California, and new cases are trending up. However, the states led by Republican Governors who discounted the virus, shut down late, and opened up early, have all shot up well above California. New York, like Europe, is now banning travel from these states. Who can blame them?
Two factors hold me back from calling the Governors of AZ, FL, TX, and GA Mass Murderers. First, they were understandably concerned about the impact of a decimated economy on their ability to serve their residents – health care, police and fire services are all in jeapordy with the massive budget shortfalls these states face – especially those relying on tourism for revenue. They got no meaningful direction or assistance from the Federal government. In fact, ALL states were bidding against each other for critical supplies, which massively drove up prices, and states had their critical supply shipments seized by the Federal government so often that they took to clandestine operations with state police to protect the secret arrivals. The Governors had two choices: public health or their economy. We can debate whether those Governors chose wisely, or not, and whether you can get the economy back without first controlling the virus. And we can debate the lack of personal responsibility shown by residents of many states – personal reactions which have been shown to be based on political views and media consumption. However, the states have been left to fend for themselves – unlike regions in all the countries mentioned above.
Second, those Governors were left with No Good Choices due to the incredible mis-managment at the Federal level. There WAS a Third Choice available. In fact, there are a number of successful strategies which have worked in all the countries mentioned above. They rely on a massive, coordinated, country-wide response to the Pandemic, because ‘there’s no such thing as a peeing section in a swimming pool’. And the U.S.’s failure stems primarily from the lack of effective Federal Leadership.
Bay Area vs. California
The California epidemic is progressing at very different rates in different parts of the state. Two Words: Los Angeles. That county is the CV-19 problem in California. Los Angeles has 25% of state population but 44% of the cases and 55% of the deaths. As a whole, the nine SoCal counties have 60% of the population, 77% of cases and 83% of deaths. Bay Area counties are 17% of the population, 10% of cases and 9% of deaths. But before you pat yourself on the back, things are not trending well anywhere. They are just Much Worse in SoCal.
The chart below shows sorted statistics for the 25 counties with the worst deaths per capita. Explanations for why the case rate in SoCal is so much higher than elsewhere include the theory that many American expats who had been living in Mexico came back to SoCal to access better healthcare systems. As they did that, they continued to re-seed the virus, because some were asymptomatic and brought it north with them unknowingly. Another theory: when the weather got hotter in May, many families and young people began flocking to the SoCal beaches, bars, and parks. They were not being careful about social distancing – and most were not wearing masks. There are also a wealth of stories about more rural areas where people resist wearing masks as a badge of personal freedom, instead wearing them as a matter of social responsibility. There is also resistance to bar closings and other aspects of social distancing. California may have better leadership than the states which mis-managed closing and reopening, but we have some of the same personality types. We’ve been through this before, with seatbelts. But the truer analogy is drunk driving, because you risk not only your own life, you risk the lives of all those around you.
 Studies on brainwashing by Conservative Media demonstrate the effect of that media on individual responses to CV-19:
Summary article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/06/25/fox-news-hannity-coronavirusmisinformation/
Published studies underlying the above article’s conclusions:
 Data from New York Times interactive website, “California Coronavirus Map and Case Count.”
Mr. Dieguez is a semi-successful, semi-retired MIT entrepreneur who causes occasional controversy Coastside. He lives in Montara. He loves to respond to comments. Mr. Laird is another semi-successful, semi-retired MIT entrepreneur but with more degrees, living in Los Altos. They roomed and caused trouble together back in the day.