Covid-19 and a City That’s Crying “Wolf”

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As a child, I was read Aesop Fables, a collection of fables credited to Aesop, a slave and storyteller believed to have lived in ancient Greece between 620 and 564 BC.I still remember “The Ant and the Grasshopper,” The Tortoise and the Hare,” “The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse” and “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.”

The wolf story goes: “There was once a young Shepherd Boy who tended his sheep at the foot of a mountain near a dark forest. It was rather lonely for him all day, so he thought upon a plan by which he could get a little company and some excitement. He rushed down towards the village calling out ‘Wolf, Wolf,’ and the villagers came out to meet him, and some of them stopped with him for a considerable time.

“This pleased the boy so much that a few days afterwards he tried the same trick, and again the villagers came to his help. But shortly after this a Wolf actually did come out from the forest, and began to worry the sheep, and the boy of course cried out ‘Wolf, Wolf,’ still louder than before.

“But this time the villagers, who had been fooled twice before, thought the boy was again deceiving them, and nobody stirred to come to his help. So the Wolf made a good meal off the boy’s flock, and when the boy complained, the wise man of the village said: ‘A liar will not be believed, even when he speaks the truth.’”

My concern here is something related to the City of Los Angeles.

Over a year ago, I signed up to receive emergency alerts from the city’s Emergency Management Department, and I appreciated the subsequent evacuation warning when the Getty Fire looked like it might threaten Pacific Palisades.

My understanding was that would only be used for emergencies. So, I was a little concerned when the shrill sound went off around 6:30 p.m. last night. Was it another brushfire? Was there a criminal at large in our town?

The alert simply said that all Los Angeles residents should be tested for Covid-19. That did not seem to rise to the level of an emergency that needed immediate action last night—there was no reason to grab my “Go Bag.”

My husband needed to be up at 3:30 a.m. for work and had retired early. Much to my chagrin, my phone and the loud alert system sounded again around 9 p.m., when he was already in bed. Was this a new alert, a fire, an earthquake? No, once again the voice recommended that all residents get tested.

I tried desperately to unsubscribe to the system because I didn’t want another alert in the middle of the night—for any reason. Finally, I just turned the phone off, thinking that would deal with it.

But at 10 p.m. the shrill warning system went off for the third time—even with my phone turned off—waking my husband. The emergency?? Residents should be tested for Covid-19!

Today I went to the website and unsubscribed from the Emergency Management Department’s alert system. There may be a real emergency someday that requires IMMEDIATE attention, but I know longer trust the City to know what it is.

The Covid-19 pandemic is a medical emergency and testing may be a good thing (I was tested before a trip and was negative), but it’s not a “life or death,” “middle of the night,” “stay or go” emergency.

As far as testing: If you don’t have symptoms that may mean you are asymptomatic, but if masks, social distancing and washing hands don’t work, then there’s no reason to verify that you are asymptomatic.

If you don’t feel good, stay at home, don’t share your germs – but that was true before the pandemic.

Testing will tell you if you have Covid-19 or some other respiratory illness. Those with Covid-19 should alert those they’ve come into contact with, but if masks and social distancing work, it also shouldn’t be an issue.

The bottom-line is that asking people to get tested does not constitute an emergency that needs to be broadcast repeatedly during the nighttime hours.

L.A. is crying “Wolf.”

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3 Responses to Covid-19 and a City That’s Crying “Wolf”

  1. Diane Elder says:

    The Nanny state. We also found the emergency alerts irritating last night. They are abusing the system. I’d like to know whose decision it was to send these out.

  2. Susie Gilman says:

    Sure is odd that you need to be overly reminded via and emergency system to go and test yourself for a deadly virus. If it were so deadly, we wouldn’t need to be alerted at all. I think they may be worried that we might forget to live in fear if they don’t remind us.

  3. Gretchen Arnold says:

    I couldn’t agree more … i too, wondered why I was getting this alert for a non emergency ..

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