Collette Gaal was nice enough to forward me a link to a recent story in the L.A. Times by James Rainey and Rong-Gong Lin called “Heed the Lessons of 1918” about the Spanish Flu which killed 50 million people worldwide, including 675,000 Americans.
The article states: “The really important lesson of 1918 is to keep interventions in place as long as possible,” said Alex Navarro, assistant director of the Center for the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan. “Because once the controls are removed, it’s very difficult to reinstate them.”
The Michigan center, along with the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, compiled and analyzed historical accounts of the 1918 plague. Their research found “a strong association between early, sustained and layered use of [non-pharmaceutical interventions] and mitigating the consequences of the epidemic.”
It then talks about how San Francisco and Los Angeles each responded.
The first signs of the pandemic became apparent in mid-September 1918.
San Francisco quarantined from October 18-November 16. L.A. quarantined about three weeks longer, from October 11-December 2.
The article suggests that quarantining longer and social distancing was more effective than wearing masks (San Francisco “obsessed on a singular response to the disease: face masks.”)
Both cities suffered a second wave of infections. San Francisco’s was more severe.
Overall, CDC research estimated that L.A.’s “excess” death rate (the number who died of influenza above the normal yearly expectation) was 494 per 100,000 residents. San Francisco’s rate was 673 per 100,000.
With that as a backdrop …
California’s stay-at-home order was issued March 19. To match L.A.’s response a century ago, our current order would be lifted May 10.
To heed Navarro’s advice and “keep interventions in place for as long as possible,” perhaps the current orders remain in place until May 31. That would literally keep orders in place 40% longer than they were in place a century ago.
And on June 1, you open. Because honestly, that’s as long as possible – though not long enough, perhaps, for those who are still collecting a paycheck or maybe don’t need one – and you have a summer. The general idea of distancing is a good one. You don’t have large events. Maybe relax the rules so restaurateurs can seat even more people outside when the weather is nice.
But we need to have a summer. And people need to work and feel useful. And us ants need to replenish our stores. As Alterra Resorts CEO Rusty Gregory is fond of saying, “Don’t let perfect get in the way of good.”
Like it’s gotten in the way of workforce housing development and placing roofs on ice rinks.
There’s no perfect, risk-free plan. Life is not risk free. It’s about playing the percentages. If we dicker and dawdle and have no summer and then get a second wave in November, Mammoth may wake up and realize Bridgeport is the rightful county seat because it has a larger population.
And from Page’s desk …
At Wednesday’s joint Mammoth Council/Mono Supervisors meeting, significant time was devoted to the local economy, as a dependency on tourists and visitors has left many businesses high and dry during these lean times.
“We need to have this work its way through [the region] … at a rate that doesn’t overwhelm our community,” Frievalt said, “and recognize that long-term economic impacts are significant.”
*Lunch aside: Nice of the Chief to think long-term. But you can’t have a long-term without a short term and a medium term. Long-term is a luxury right now.
Mono County Economic Development Director Alicia Vennos has been working with a newly-formed economic recovery task force for the area and reiterated the importance of feedback from local business owners.
“Travel is our lifeblood,” Vennos said, “and we’re literally in need of a desperate transfusion.”
To highlight that need, Vennos reported out the results of a local business survey that found only 7% of county businesses are able to operate as normal, with 45% stating that they are not able to operate at all. Businesses cited cash flow and the return (reopen) process as key concerns moving forward, as very few have received state or federal loans.
According to the survey, five businesses have already closed their doors for good, with 38% of responding businesses saying that they have a month or less before they would have to do the same.
As part of the reopening process, Acting County Administrative Officer (CAO) Bob Lawton explained that safe interactions need to become second nature and that businesses would have to change practices to ensure employee and customer safety. He cited changes undertaken by Vons in Mammoth Lakes, as an example for others to follow.
Supervisor Fred Stump was impressed with the consistent evolution of both town and county agencies to get information out and adapt to circumstances.
“Since we’ve never been thrown in a bathtub like this before,” Stump said, “we are sharing the rubber duck quite well.”
Mammoth Councilmember Cleland Hoff expressed dismay that residents were not complying with messaging about wearing masks in public and asked that messaging and social pressure to that end be ramped up.
Dr. Burrows jumped in, saying “public shaming doesn’t work…the message has gotta be louder than noise.”
Hoff responded, telling Burrows “I’m kind of surprised that you aren’t more interested in getting people to comply and your messaging is not working.”
Mayor Bill Sauser stepped in before things escalated. Later, Hoff told Burrows as he was signing off the call to “Get the **** off, then” before later apologizing and leaving the meeting. The spat serves as a reminder of the stress and anxiety that the pandemic has brought upon many.
Hoff later told The Sheet she thought her mic was muted.
But she also said it was inappropriate for a Councilmember’s remarks to be interrupted by a non-elected official.
Mount Baldy ski resort located in the San Gabriel Mountains reopened this week, the first in North America to do so. Mt. Baldy had closed on March 20th.
As golf courses are reopening in southern California, the resort has decided to follow suit. At 800-acres the ski area is more than four times the size of an average golf course and will be reducing occupancy by more than 90%.
Both Riverside County and Orange County announced yesterday they would be reopening their golf courses. While golf courses weren’t specifically included in lists of nonessential businesses during the pandemic, about 90% of them had curtailed operations in accordance with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order, officials said.
What else … I did find Urdi’s presentation at Council on Wednesday a bit perplexing.
It doesn’t take a survey or a rocket scientist to recognize that people are going to want to travel after restricitons are lifted, and because they won’t be flying and they won’t be going to theme parks, they’re likely coming here.
Where the hell else are they going to go? Palm Springs? McKenna and I did that once. signed the basketball team up for a summer hoops tourney. Played every game in an un-air conditiioned gym so all the games had to be scheduled at about midnight, when the gym had cooled to 90-degrees.
And I’ll apologize now (statute of limitations having expired) for sneaking underage kids into R-rated Clerks II. Horrible movie. Great A.C.
So if they’re coming here, why do we need to spend more than three nickels urging them to do something they’re gonna do already?
It was a self-defeating argument. We shouldn’t be spending anything on marketing right now. Nor enlisting an expensive ad agency to come up with a “reengagement” message.
Think of it this way. When you’re 20-year old and you’ve spent three months apart from your girlfriend, is a reengagement message required? Hell, no. Sex first. Talk second. Scratch that. Sex first. sex second, Talk third.
And the suggestion that all the Food Bank hours were volunteer, and that he and staff are working their regular jobs above and beyond that … come on. No one’s working 60 hours a week. Maybe there’s 4.5 hours work. How many pencils can a person sharpen in 4.5 hours?
It is admirable for a boss to want to protect his employees. I get it. But the world has changed. The golden goose is dead. And the Alice’s Restaurant charts and graphs razzle dazzle just doesn’t cut it right now.