Sonoma County’s COVID-19 case data shows a climbing line upward, marking hundreds of new positive cases each week and a quadrupling of deaths in just the last month. All predictions are for this line to keep moving upward across the page to the right where it might meet up with a “second wave” of coronavirus infections just when flu season gets here in a few months.
These calculations do not include any potential cases of increased disease spread from new social activities related to the opening of schools, however distanced the learning will be. These pandemic numbers also do not reflect the unhealthy impacts from crowded beaches, open parks, busy street dining, increased hospitalizations and any future street demonstrations or gatherings.
We are wearing our masks. We are washing our hands, aren’t we? We are doing our best to stay six feet apart and we are offering courteous reminders for everyone to do the same. We now have a “hotline” to report COVID-19 protocol offenders and we are keeping that line very busy it seems. But the virus keeps winning and we are losing. We have failed to flatten the curve and we are nowhere near crushing this virus. This outlook grows much worse when we pull the lens back to look at all of California or the entire United States.
We tried to have baseball again, but an entire major league team had to cancel games and go into quarantine. Schools tried to reopen back east but had to close after just five days due to a swarm of positive coronavirus cases. Do we really think it’s a good idea to have football players tackle each other just for our TV amusement? And, despite all the current political spins and hurled hoaxes, can you imagine how messed up our November election and vote counting will be?
We know everyone keeps saying we face a false choice of shutting down our economy too tightly versus risking increased coronavirus spread. But when we look at countries like South Korea, Japan, Norway and even China that are crushing the virus, we see the countries that locked down their society the tightest.
Like a patient with a nagging cough that keeps getting worse, it’s time to swallow some stronger medicine, no matter how bitter the taste. The strong medicine we can choose to take, or not take, is a return to what Sonoma County looked like in mid-March. Everyone was under strict shelter-in-place orders. Only very essential businesses like grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies and auto repair were allowed to be open. Our towns’ commercial centers looked ghostly with empty sidewalks and almost no cars. During those two months, Sonoma County recorded only two COVID-19 deaths and just 242 cases.
Yes, the economic costs of unemployment, lost jobs and permanent business closures have happened and continue to hurt. But what has been our reward? Last month we opened parts of our economy and public spaces to save more jobs and incomes but we have let the virus gain added control over our future — and for what will now be a much longer time.
It is not too late to re-pledge to “flatten the curve.” Both our health and incomes will suffer so long as the virus is in control. We cannot wait for a nationwide public health command or even until the Nov. 3 election. Another certainty we now see is that Congress is no match for the coronavirus.
We should “lock down” and only allow essential businesses to be open. Families should stay at home as much as possible. We should prioritize the health and safety of our many senior care and assisted living facilities. Beginning with our local and state elected officials, we should be demanding the massive economic relief it will take to recover from this harsh, self-administered anti-viral regimen.
When seeking a full and speediest of recoveries, half-measures never work and often lead to undue maladies. Let’s swallow the pill.