Not literally forever.
Just for a period that’ll feel like forever.
This is the first time I’ve found myself moving towards the “reopen now” position. A few dozen protests with Gadsden flags and AR-15s didn’t move me an inch. But deciding that the biggest city in the world’s fifth largest economy should chill for most of the summer might have finally flipped me.
Los Angeles County’s stay-at-home orders will “with all certainty” be extended for the next three months, county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer acknowledged during a Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday…
As other California regions have seen a decline in the number of reported infections and COVID-19-related deaths, L.A. County, the state’s most populous, continues to see growth on both fronts. The county reported Monday an additional 566 people who tested positive for the virus, and an additional 39 deaths, bringing the death toll to 1,570. L.A. County’s death count accounts for more than half of the state’s total.
I understand them not wanting to reopen the county at a moment when cases and deaths are increasing, but a lockdown starting today and running through July would be longer than the lockdown we’ve experienced from the start of the epidemic until now.
To put this in perspective, California has fewer coronavirus deaths than Connecticut, a state with less than 10 percent of its population. It has fewer than one-tenth the number of cases per capita that New York does and ranks in the bottom half of U.S. states in deaths per capita. Gavin Newsom and the relevant local officials have done a bang-up job of smothering the outbreak by smothering the economy, but the plan right now seems to be to smother it until it stops moving.
At least beaches in L.A. County are reopening. Provided you wear a mask, that is. And no sunbathing. “Only active recreation — surfing, running, walking and swimming — will be permitted.” No chairs!
The LA Times looked at Newsom’s guidelines for reopening counties across the state and found them to be, ah … exacting:
A Times data analysis last week found most big California counties are not close to meeting Newsom’s standards. The Times conducted an analysis to see which counties could pass just the first two criteria — whether deaths have stopped in the last 14 days, and whether there is no more than one case per 10,000 residents in that same time period.
Most of California failed that test. In fact, 95% of Californians live in counties that don’t meet that standard, The Times analysis found. Not a single county in Southern California nor the San Francisco Bay Area met the criteria.
*Zero deaths* for two weeks? I.e. the phony Chinese benchmark in Wuhan, which is almost certainly communist propaganda?
You’ll be in lockdown forever, Angelenos. It’s the only way to be sure.
Other state officials are looking further ahead to fall and planning to keep things locked down then too:
The California State University (CSU) system said it plans to cancel all in-person classes for the fall and to continue instruction online…
“This virtual planning approach for the next academic year is necessary because of the evolving data surrounding the progression of COVID 19,” White explained to CSU trustees.
White said non-partisan researchers and health experts forecast additional waves of infection coupled with the flu season in the fall. He added the public immunity rate is very low, and it is not likely a vaccine will be developed during the academic year.
I’m tempted to predict that California’s going to see an exodus, although probably not among college kids. Why would they leave? Schools everywhere in the U.S. will be closed down this fall in anticipation of a second wave. Regular working stiffs might be a different story, though. If you’re one of the many Californians who’ve grown tired of the tax burden and cost of living, an indefinite lockdown might be the last little bit of motivation you need to finally pack up and go. Great Depression II could end up looking like the opposite of the original Great Depression: Instead of dust-bowlers migrating west to California in search of a better life, Californians might head east to the dust bowl for work.
By the way, the national picture today is looking up:
US daily numbers via @COVID19Tracking. Much better than past Tuesdays.
Newly reported deaths
One week ago (5/5): 2,527
Newly reported cases
Newly reported tests
Positive test rate
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) May 12, 2020
We’ve improved in all relevant categories since last week. That positive test rate is especially encouraging since it’s reliably in single digits now. For a long time last month it hovered in the gory range of 20 percent. We’ve now increased testing to the point where it’s less than half of that, which means we’re creeping up towards the level of surveillance we’d need nationally to feel confident about detecting new outbreaks. Not only that but the number of daily new cases is down by 50 percent from the 30,000 or so per day we were averaging in late April. And we haven’t had a day with more than 2,000 deaths in a week.
If you want to treat all of that as reason to proceed full speed ahead towards a grand reopening on the Sweden model, fair enough. I’ll leave you with this.
Total reported covid-related deaths per capita: Sweden vs U.S. pic.twitter.com/zHStLO65pf
— Scott Gottlieb, MD (@ScottGottliebMD) May 12, 2020