Life is quite dire here in Los Angeles. Area hospitals are so overwhelmed that ambulance crews have been advised to restrict their oxygen use and not transport patients who have virtually no chance of survival. The city’s Covid infection rates, already among the highest in the country, are expected to accelerate. Governor Gavin Newsom predicts a “surge on top of a surge.”
“Everyone should keep in mind that community transmission rates are so high that you run the risk of an exposure whenever you leave your home,” L.A. County Health Director Barbara Ferrer is on record as saying. “Assume that this deadly, invisible virus is everywhere, looking for a willing host. Don’t let that be you or someone you care about.”
I’m no Dr. Fauci, but it seems obvious to me why Angelenos are at such great risk.
Americans were warned not to travel during the holiday season, but LAX, among the busiest international airports in the country, remained open. On Sunday, the airport experienced the busiest travel day since the pandemic started.
Even if you trust the airline industry’s assurances that catching Covid at 35,000 ft. is unlikely because of the filtered cabin air, passengers with Covid can transmit the disease when they are on the ground. L.A.’s first Covid patient was a passenger traveling through LAX.
In March, a retired New York City surgeon with Covid traveled to L.A. and quickly spread the virus among those he came into contact with, including an assisted living facility where a 32-year-old nurse and a dozen others later died. A Covid passenger on a flight from Seoul died a day after arriving at LAX. Passengers on both flights were never alerted to their exposure, which speaks to L.A. County’s seemingly non-existent contact tracing capabilities.
Of course, travel isn’t the only reason for L.A.’s Covid predicament. One can easily contract the disease at the neighborhood Costco, Home Depot, Target, Best Buy, and other big box chain stores that are allowed to remain open. It comes as no surprise that 71 staffers at my neighborhood Costco tested positive for COVID. The store was packed when I visited in early November and there was no sanitizer to wipe down the carts.
Covid precautions vary even within the same chain. Cashiers at the Whole Foods in West L.A. diligently wipe their counters after every transaction. Not so at the Whole Foods in Venice, Santa Monica, or Brentwood.
L.A. restaurants weeks ago were forced to close their outdoor seating despite little evidence that dinning outdoors was responsible for spreading the virus. But Hollywood gets the kid gloves treatment despite about 80 Covid cases believed to have resulted from various productions. The county health department merely “urged” filmmakers “to consider pausing” productions but didn’t mandate a shutdown. I love The Kominsky Method, one of the Covid spreading productions, but I can survive if the season premier is delayed.
I don’t condone, but I understand, those who challenge the stay-at-home and other Covid edicts of California’s chiseled face governor. A few weeks ago, he was photographed without a mask at an enclosed fancy-schmancy Napa restaurant hanging out with lobbyists from – you ready for this? – the California Medical Association. Leadership is by example and Newsom displayed a poor one.
Most troubling of all is this: Only about a third of California’s 1.3 million vaccine doses have been injected into patients.
Given the dire circumstances of L.A. County, one might expect hospitals and clinics would be open 24/7 administering the vaccine, as is happening in Israel where already more than 10 percent of that country’s population has been immunized. Yes, I know that Israel’s population is a fraction of California’s, but I’m confident that if Newsom asked the Israelis to oversee California’s inoculation program, they’d do a much better job than he’s doing.
It seems clear to me that California has but two choices: We go the way of Australia’s Victoria and shut the place down entirely until the virus is eradicated or ease up on the restrictions. The state’s half-assed measures clearly aren’t working.