VIEWPOINT: Covid-19 Update, Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Homeless and Mask Shaming

L.A. COUNTY COVID-19 UPDATE

On May 15, NBC reported that “More Than Half of All Coronvirus Deaths in L.A. County Are Mostly at Nursing Homes.” Then on May 18, the county announced that of the 1,839 total deaths in L.A. County, 955 were elderly residents – particularly in nursing homes. That’s 52% of the reported deaths.

L. A. County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer

Additionally, L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer has said that 92 percent of those who have died in the county had underlying health conditions.

Back on March 19, Circling the News reported that five people in Pacific Palisades had tested positive for Covid-19. Two months later, on May 19, a reported 45 residents have tested positive for the virus.

A USC study (“Coronavirus Infections More Widespread Than Expected in L.A. County”), published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggested that hundreds of thousands of people may have been infected with the coronavirus without developing symptoms.

Researchers tested 863 L.A. County residents for antibodies and estimated that 4.65 percent of the adult population had contacted the coronavirus. If the results were extrapolated to the county’s population of about 8 million, it means about 360,000 adults had at some point contracted the virus.

The study is ongoing and additional rounds of testing are planned.

SHELTER FOR THE HOMELESS:

The CDC is recommending that the homeless not be transported to large centers. Judge David O. Carter has said that living near a freeway is not healthy.

Barbara Ferrer also reported on May 18 that 295 Covid-19 cases have been confirmed among the homeless population, 156 of whom had been sheltered.

On May 15, Judge David O. Carter ordered the City of L.A. to provide space in shelters or alternative housing for the estimated 6,000 to 7,000 county residents living near freeway overpasses, underpasses and ramps.

The L.A. Times wrote on May 16 (“Judge Issues Order for Los Angeles to Move Homeless Living Near Freeways, Citing Health Concerns”) that “Homeless residents living near freeways are not only at risk of contracting COVID-19 and spreading the disease throughout the community, but also of being exposed to lead and other carcinogens as well as being hit by cars, Carter wrote in the ruling.”

Now Mayor Eric Garcetti is citing the CDC Guidelines that advised local governments against clearing homeless encampments because it could “cause people to disperse throughout the community, increasing the potential spread of the virus.”

Last month, many residents in various parts of L.A. opposed moving the homeless into Recreation Center gyms for that very reason, but at least 20 centers began housing the homeless.

MASK SHAMING:

Masks and gloves have started to litter the streets around the town. Who will pick them up?

The mask shaming and threats on Nextdoor continue to reach new lows.

CTN did in-depth reporting on masks after a resident complained that some people weren’t putting them over their nose, while others were wearing them in their cars. Many others are continually upset with joggers/bikers that don’t use them while on local residential streets.

CTN looked for scientific studies and journalism articles that reported virus research and how Covid-19 spread. The resulting article (“Pacific Palisades Residents Sharply Divided about Wearing Masks”) was published on May 12. CTN was unable to find any research to support wearing a mask if one is outside walking a dog.

By coincidence, the next day, the Mayor and L.A. County Department of Health Director Barbara Ferrer announced that all residents should wear them outside. Where is the scientific evidence to support this mandate?

The closest I could find was a 12-page paper, conducted by researchers in the Netherlands and Belgium, about the possibility of getting infected by a jogger. “If the jogger had the virus and the person is in line behind the jogger, i.e. positioned in the slipstream . . . the first person moving near a second person about 1.5-meter distance or beyond could cause droplet transfer to this second person.” The study notes that “exposure increases as the distance between leading and trailing person decreases.”

The conclusion: This is possible, and one should avoid walking behind a person jogging, or keep a larger social distance. “Further work should consider the effect of head wind, tail wind and cross-wind, and different droplet spectra.”

But it was pointed out in subsequent articles that the study was flawed because it had no input from epidemiologists or virologists.

In a May 19 Wall Street Journal op-ed piece by Dr. Marc Siegel (“Will a Face Mask Protect You?”), he asked how much good does it do? And answered, “The science is inconclusive, but probably not much.”

He pointed out that the CDC based its revised mask recommendation on studies that found asymptomatic spread was far more common than had been thought. “But there have been no studies on masks’ effectiveness in preventing it,” Siegel said.

“Wearing a mask seems harmless, but it could provide a false sense of security, leading people to take fewer precautions. According to the World Health Organization, self-contamination and reuse or improper disposal of masks can hinder their effectiveness and turn them into vehicles of spread.”

CTN is happy to print the results of any scientific study showing that masks stop the spread of the virus outdoors. Even the CDC admits that wearing a face mask outdoors is a voluntary public health measure that “does not replace self-quarantining, social distancing or thoroughly washing hand.”

The CDC recommends “wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.”

Residents should ask L.A. City or L.A. County is to give us the scientific evidence that proves wearing masks outside or on the beach stops the virus spread.

All of us want to do what we can to stop the spread of Covid-19. This might mean we should all get tested or take an antibody test to find out if we’ve already had the virus.

I’ve heard people say they’re sad because they can’t hug their grandkids. Well, get tested. If neither of you have the virus, see them. Life is too short to stay holed up inside because of fear.

Most scientists predict that there’s a chance this virus will come back in the fall, much like the flu. Making everyone stay home now will not prevent that outbreak. Now is the time to figure out how to prevent the elderly from contracting this disease—how do we keep them safe and allow them to see their family?

That’s where the focus needs to be, not claiming that people want to see you dead because they are not wearing a mask outside.

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3 Responses to VIEWPOINT: Covid-19 Update, Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Homeless and Mask Shaming

  1. Cindy Simon says:

    the clearing of encampments under freeway overpasses has been mandated by the judge in order to prevent health risks of a wide variety for every person who resides there or walks through there. This is a safety and health issue that should be supported for the good of all LA residents. Our Mayor – instead of supporting this action – is now dithering about. It is up to all of us to challenge him and insist that the safety and well being of all LA residents be acknowledged. The mayor needs to support the clearing of encampments. Currently, his position on this issue earns him the name of “The Do Nothing Mayor”. We could change that – and provide leadership in this area

  2. Alison says:

    Thank you for this!

  3. Nina Madok says:

    What do you expect from a guy whose idea of providing “storage” to the homeless is giving them black garbage cans?

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