I am a highly concerned Contra Costa County citizen, father, and doctor. I fear for the “health” of our county, and therefore I with other highly competent physicians, recently asked Contra Costa County Public Health Director Dr. Chris Farnitano legitimate questions regarding the rationale of his current county health policies.
The statements herein are my own and should not be attributable to anyone else but myself.
My first and foremost statement is to my colleagues. I understand that this is not “winter as usual.” I am extremely PROUD of the bravery, diligence, and resilience of my medical colleagues and the allied health professionals who have gone to battle every day fighting this disease on behalf of their patients while knowingly putting their own lives at risk. They are true heroes! I also salute the administration of my hospital system in how they have partnered with the medical personnel in combating inpatient disease. Together, these groups of individuals have provided and continue to provide outstanding care to the people of our community.
However I have grave concerns regarding the rest of our county.
I am highly critical of how the county is handling the rest of the community–specifically with regards to mandated closures of schools and businesses. These extreme policies do nothing to affect hospital census. In addition, we now know what was initially feared: closures of businesses and schools lead to immediate loss of livelihood which is followed imminently by loss of life.
Contra Costa Supervisor John Gioia spoke on behalf of county health director Chris Farnitano and stated, “all of the orders have been based on strong science and good data…they (Drs Mazolewski, deBoisblanc, and Hopkins) are citing data that our health department believes is not reflective of accurate current thinking…”
Here is the evidence against lockdowns and closures of schools and small businesses especially in the outdoor setting.
- An early 2020 study out of China, scientists evaluated the mechanisms of transmission of COVID19 and identified 318 case clusters involving 1245 patients in 120 provinces. The ability to contract-trace in China is extraordinary. Of all these patients in this study of case clusters, only one person-to-person transmission was identified to have occurred in an outdoor setting. When they included another 6079 cases with “sufficient descriptions,” they did not find any further suspicious outdoor transmissions. Therefore, over 99.9% of COVID19 transmissions occurred in an indoor environment.
- Shelter-In-Place (SIP) hypothetically would only aid in the initial pandemic wave of a naïve virus. The only reason to mandate such a policy would be to limit the initial surge in hospitalized patients due to a relatively unknown virus with limited treatment options.
- Currently California finds themselves in a very aggressive SIP mandate by Governor Newsom but the state alone is the cause of the ENTIRE country’s current overall “rise” in COVID cases as per the Mercury News. SIP did not stop this current “wave” in California.
- Masks were only intended to hypothetically combat disease transmission in an indoor environment when people could not socially distance. Masks are not intended to block outdoor transmission since outdoor transmission is rare –even without masks.
- The CDC and pediatric societies have stated on numerous occasions that it is much safer for children to be in an in-person learning environment and that all schools should open.
So if closures of businesses and schools do not help, do they hurt the community for which they are instituted?
Ever since the onset of Shelter-In-Place policies, many authorities have argued that these policies will result in numerous non COVID deaths due to immediate socioeconomic despair, lack of acute medical care (heart attack and stroke for example), and lack of ongoing care (e.g. chemotherapy for cancer). These fears have now been realized via published data. One such study on the CDC website states that there have been 100,000 excess non COVID deaths as compared to the average of the last 5 years in the US. The age group that suffered the most excess deaths by percentage was the 25-44 year old age group. They suffered a 40-50% excess death rate for most of the study period. Their deaths did NOT follow the pandemic waves of the virus. Their deaths were due to non COVID means and in this age group, it most likely equates to socioeconomic premature deaths. In terms of life of life-years lost, this is extraordinary. Also noted by this study is that these deaths occurred early after Shelter-In-Place orders were instituted. In other words, loss of livelihood led to immediate loss of life. SIP mandates do not lower COVID deaths and even if they did, it would be at the expense of killing healthy people via non COVID deaths.
Just last week two further articles were published supporting this. SF Gate reported that San Francisco suffered 3.5 times more overdose deaths than COVID deaths in 2020. The CDC reported that they recorded the most overdose deaths in a 12-month period ever! It is clear: closures of schools and businesses lead to measurable and immediate deaths most notably of the healthy young population who virtually have no risk of dying from COVID.
The Contra Costa community should feel safe in providing and engaging in ALL outdoor endeavors including all business types. By doing so, you are not subjecting others to increased risk of COVID transmission, and in no way are you contributing to any surge in hospitalized patients.
One final thought. Another major reason against these types of unprecedented closures is because of the enormous effort it takes to monitor and enforce these “new” rules. Because of this, valuable resources are taken away from the most at-risk individuals in our community–those that live in assisted living and skilled nursing facilities. All available county resources should have been directing towards protecting these individuals. In our county, we now find ourselves in the midst of 20-30 outbreaks (early December) in these facilities housing our elderly. These individuals comprise most of our deaths in the county.
We still await a response from health director Farnitano—or at least Mr Gioia.
The Globe reported on the letter sent to county health director Chris Farnitano by Dr. Mazolewski, Dr. Michael deBoisblanc and Dr. Brian Hopkins. Dr. Michael deBoisblanc was fired from John Muir Hospital as Medical Director of Trauma and Regional Transfer Services.