- Hotter Inland
- Plum Tree
- Revenue Gap
- Willits 1949
- Project Roomkey
- PV Bridge
- BOS Agenda
- Mendo-Covid Update
- Prisoner Release
- Early Willits
- Velma's Farmstand
- Charcoal Ovens
- PSPS 2020
- PPP Recipients
- Motor Lodge
- Ed Notes
- Navarro Ridge PO
- Hotel Majestic
- Scissors Misdemeanor
- Visible Comet
- Yesterday's Catch
- California Surging
- Andy's Cafe
- Uncle Donald
- Corporate Denial
- Tremendous Disaster
- U-Auto Stop
- Nose Peeker
- Willits Gas
- Western Criminals
- Found Object
HOTTER WEATHER is expected in the interior this weekend. Ocean breezes will keep coastal areas seasonably cool. (NWS)
SUPES MASK UP WHILE MENDO BURNS
by Mark Scaramella
Small fines for not wearing a face mask in public was the primary item on Wednesday’s Board of Supervisors agenda and got plenty of attention both from the Supes and the public at large. But the County’s large and growing virus-related budget problems got almost no attention.
Darcie Antle, the county’s budget analyst, told the Board about a “sobering” “revenue gap” that is developing around the high number of staff hours and expenses being logged for the county’s pandemic response versus how much of this effort is reimburseable.
Antle said that the feds (via FEMA) only reimburse for overtime hours, not regular hours, responding to the virus; and of that, only first line workers, not management time, is reimburseable. In addition, lost revenue is not reimburseable, nor is paid time off if employees have to stay home when quarantined.
So far, more than 10,000 hours have been logged as “paid leave” for employees who have stayed home for one reason or another.
At the same time, according to one of Ms. Antle’s expense charts, Mendo has racked up over $4.5 million in covid-19 outside contract expenses (mainly testing and about $1.2 million for motel rooms for homeless and quarantined residents).
So far, only about 5% of the over 50,000 covid response hours — representing about $5.3 million — are categorized as “overtime.” As Mendo’s virus response costs increase with more and more people either infected or in contact with an infected person or testing positive, this has created the growing “revenue gap” that Ms. Antle referred to. Although Congress is working on another large bailout bill, which may help cover unforeseen local government expenses, it’s unknown when or if Mendo will get more federal bailout money than the partial amounts now being promised, and how much.
The Board showed very little interest in this grim news or in what’s being done to mitigate it.
CEO Carmel Angelo, logging in from her bedroom where she’s self-quarantined herself due to possible virus contact (she like many others is still waiting for her test results), insisted to the Board that her staff is trying really, really hard to keep expenses down, but that the response simply requires lots of hours. (When the CEO acknowledges a problem with versions of “we’re working really hard on this” — it’s always a sign that the problem is worse than is being reported.)
These newly detailed federal reimbursement limitations are on top of the previously reported basic limits of 75% of eligible emergency costs. Together they translate to millions of dollars the County has spent and is spending with no clear idea how much will really end up being reimbursed, or when. Of course, these gaps are on top of reduced property, sales and bed tax receipts associated with the growing economic impact of the virus.
In an odd, and perhaps even more disturbing, footnote to one of Ms. Antle’s Covid response summary charts (in a very small font, we should note), she reported that in 2020, so far, the County has held nearly 3800 (!) virtual meetings taking up almost 11,000 hours of meeting time with a total of about 20,000 “participants” — about 350 people averaging 57 participants per meeting (208 of the 350 were “active users”). That’s about 55 Mendo meetings PER DAY since Mid-March! Nobody asked how much of these meeting hours were reimbursable. But in general Mendo’s Most Important Product — management and officials sitting around in unproductive meetings, not doing actual work — is probably not going to be covered by the federal bailout package.
The incredible virtual meetings numbers may be exaggerated by the way the technology keeps count, but it still shows what Mendo’s top brass, virus or no virus, spends most of its time doing: meeting — with very little to show for it.
Summarizing, Ms. Antle said that Mendo has incurred almost $13 million in total covid expenses to date. Plus, she estimated an additional $2 million in lost revenue in the last fiscal year (ending June 30) and at least $2 million more in lost revenue for the current fiscal year (July 2020-June 2021). For a staggering total of almost $17 million of virus-related “fiscal impact.”
Ms. Antle said she “hopes” to get some $3 million in undefined “realignment” money from the state in October that will cover some of the “revenue gap.” She also expects to get about $8 million in federal reimbursements which, she noted, is “only a minor dent” in Mendo’s virus response tab. “We have a long way to go on this,” said Antle, adding that she is “continuing to track this so that we can recoup as much as we can.” Antle said there may be a few more dollars coming in for law enforcement reimbursements, but it’s not much and even then not clear at this point. Antle said she’d be back with new covid response numbers for the Board’s July 21 meeting.
At the conclusion of Ms. Antle’s “sobering” report, Chair Haschak said, “Thank you.” No other supervisors said anything on the subject.
Project Roomkey has been extended one month. Project Roomkey is a collaborative effort by the State and County to secure hotel and motel rooms for vulnerable people experiencing homelessness.
Health and Human Service Agency Special Investigation Unit personnel will be enforcing health orders this weekend, including on the coast. If they are unable to resolve concerns, they'll contact the Sheriff for further problem solving.
POTTER VALLEY BRIDGE, 1910
THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETING AGENDA for the Tuesday, July 14, 2020, meeting is now available on the County website: https://mendocino.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx
Please contact Clerk of the Board at (707) 463-4441 if you have any questions.
Mendocino County Board of Supervisors and Executive Office
501 Low Gap Road, Room 1010
Phone: (707) 463-4441
I’m sure by now many of you have heard that the State of California is planning to release another 3,500 inmates from various prisons in the State. I’m here today with Mendocino County Probation Chief Izen Locatelli and we wanted to discuss with you our upcoming plans to handle this new challenge.
The California State Prison System will begin releasing inmates from various prisons from across the state tomorrow, July 9, 2020. We’ve been told the inmates will be tested for COVID-19 prior to their release, however, we have concerns regarding the validity of the tests.
The Sheriff’s Office, Probation Office and Public Health are working together to create safeguards in the new processes being created to track recently released offenders, to avoid those testing positive for COVID-19 from slipping through the cracks.
This also causes us concern for public safety due to the types of crimes these subjects have been incarcerated for. Many times an individual may have an extensive criminal history, including violent crimes, however the State may have them listed as nonviolent offenders if their current offense was nonviolent.
The filter the State has in place takes into account
• individuals who have less than 180 days to serve
• can’t have a current serious or violent case(s)
• excludes sexual registrants
• excludes current domestic violence incidents, and
• must have a risk assessment under 5. (The California Static Risk Assessment (CSRA) uses an offenders past criminal history and characteristics to predict their risk to reoffend).
This comes at a time we’re suffering from personnel shortages, high crime rates, the looming Public Safety Power Shutdown (PSPS) and fire dangers which are rapidly approaching. We’re worried the workload is being completely shifted to the counties from the State.
The State has left us in a position to create plans, housing and care for these recently released offenders, but has not provided State personnel or funds to help with this sudden increase in workload.
We’re also concerned about how the recently released offenders will be transported from the prisons to their housing.
Currently many of these inmates are homeless. Chief Locatelli and I are working with the Public Health Department and the CEO’s Office to institute a testing and sheltering plan for inmates coming from prisons which are known hot spots for the COVID-19 virus.
Plans to house persons who don’t have housing, and isolate and/or quarantine them if necessary, are underway. We are working closely with the Mendocino County Public Health Department to ensure all of these needs are met.
We’ll continue to do all we can to help mitigate the public health and safety concerns this creates, while continuing to serve our communities.
(Mendocino County Probation)
VELMA'S FARMSTAND AT FILIGREEN FARM
Velma’s farm stand is open Friday 1pm-5pm and Saturday 8:30am-1pm. We will be offering an array of vegetables and fruit including tomatoes (early girls, heirlooms, sungolds), blueberries, new potatoes, peaches, spring onions, herbs, carrots, celery, cucumbers and more. There will be fresh flower bouquets and 2019 olive oil for sale as well (available in half gallon, 1 liter, and 500 ml). All products are certified biodynamic and grown by Filigreen Farm.
Please email Annie at email@example.com with any questions or more information. We can accept cash/card/EBT/check. Please respect social distance rules (maximum 3 people in the stand) and wear a mask at all times.
REDWOOD VALLEY CHARCOAL PLANT
REMEMBER MATT PENDER? He’s PG&E’s Lead Flak Catcher on Planned Public Safety Power Shutoffs who appeared before the Board of Supervisors last year in a failed attempt to explain to Mendo that PG&E had a handle on the planned shutoffs. Events last fall demonstrated that Mendo’s skepticism about Pender’s empty promises and non-answers about PG&E were more than justified as huge swaths of their “service area” were powered down as their outage status website broke down under predictably high usage for days with Supervisor Williams becoming Mendo’s only decent source of outage information. [see Mendo v. PG&E]
Mr. Pender popped up again on Tuesday in a virtual town hall convened by state Senator Mike McGuire to assure us that:
“We will have an entirely different and better system in 2020 than 2019.” It couldn’t have been much worse, so that’s not necessarily good. Pender insisted that their shutoffs would be “smarter because we have upgraded [their website] to an entire new system; smaller because we divided the grid into smaller sections to make sure only the people who really need to be turned off because of high risk will be turned off, and shorter because we doubled the amount of helicopters for inspecting our lines, and added two aircraft with infrared cameras so we can inspect our lines at night.”
An “entire new system”? Smaller grid sections? More helicopters with infrared?
We guess that’s an improvement, assuming (generously) that it’s true. But given PG&E’s pathetic track record, we’re not particularly confident that this year will be much better than last year.
FORGIVABLE DISASTER ‘LOANS’ FOR THE MONEYED CLASS
The half-trillion-dollar loan program advertised as a lifesaver for the country’s struggling small businesses is again under fire after the Small Business Administration (SBA) on Monday released a list containing hundreds of recipients of the program, revealing that several private equity-backed chains owned by members of Congress and dozens of publicly traded companies and corporations received millions.
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)—a part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES)—first drew scrutiny after it quickly burned through its initial $350 billion allocations by helping large public companies secure multi-million dollar loans while many small businesses missed out. There’s also the fact that the big banks administering the program on behalf of the government are expected to net hundreds of millions of dollars in fees.
If at least 75% of the loan is used for payroll, it becomes “forgivable,” according to the SBA. (And the other 25% can be used to line the pockets of the owners as it gets conveniently included in the “forgivable” amount.)
Here are a few of the companies which received large or otherwise notable loans in the North Bay:
— Ygrene Energy Fund, a Petaluma company that offers energy efficiency financing and has received millions of dollars in venture capital investments, according to news reports, received a loan of between $5 and $10 million to cover 229 employees.
— The Francis Ford Coppola Winery, named for its movie-director owner and based in Geyserville, received a loan of between $5 and $10 million to cover 469 employees.
— The parent company of Napa County’s French Laundry restaurant received a $2 to $5 million loan for 163 employees. Thomas Keller, the company’s owner and celebrity chef, is suing his insurance company for failing to pay for losses due to the pandemic.
— Piatti Restaurant Company, which owns and operates Mill Valley’s high-end Italian restaurant, received a $2 to $5 million loan for 459 employees.
— 23 Bottles of Beer, LLC, the parent company of the North Bay’s Russian River Brewing Company, received a $2 to $5 million loan for 196 employees.
— The Girl and the Fig, a popular restaurant in the city of Sonoma, received between $1 and $2 million for 138 employees.
— Then there are the politicians. According to Bloomberg News, Paul Pelosi, the husband of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, the longtime San Francisco congresswoman, holds an 8.1 percent stake in the San Rafael-based EDI Associates. EDI in turn has an investment in the El Dorado Hotel, located in the city of Sonoma. EDI Associates received a loan of between $350,000 and $1 million for 52 employees. A spokesperson for Nancy Pelosi told Bloomberg that Paul Pelosi was “not involved in or even aware of this PPP loan.”
— Congressman Devin Nunes, a Republican who represents the Central Valley, has reportedly outdone Pelosi on the loan front. Nunes owns a stake in Alpha Omega Winery, according to financial disclosure forms. The St. Helena winery received a $1 to $2 million loan for an unreported number of employees.
(Courtesy, the North Bay Bohemian)
WHAT ABOUT MENDOCINO COUNTY?
One of the biggest beneficiaries of Trump’s forgiveable “loans” is none other than Ukiah’s mental health services monopoly Camille Schrader Inc., who, along with her subsidiary non-profits got million of dollars in “loans.” (The “loans” are categoriezed by range of dollar value, not the specific amount).
- $2-5 million, Redwood Community Services, Inc., 631 S Orchard Ave, Ukiah
- $350,000-1 million, Redwood Quality Management Company, Inc., 350 E Gobbi St, Ukiah
- $350,000-1 million, Tapestry Family Services, Inc., 169 Mason St Ste 300, Ukiah
- $150,000-350,000, Manzanita Services, Inc., 410 Jones St Ste C1, Ukiah
Two high profile local Republican law firms got good sized checks also. (They’re lawyers, after all, so they’ll have no trouble figuring out how to convert their government loans into “forgivable” handouts):
- $150,000-350,000, Carter Momsen PC, 305 Main St, Ukiah
- $150,000-350,000, Law Offices Of Duncan M. James, 445 N State St, Ukiah
Several other local government-hating Trumpers got big handouts too (some of which such as local trucking and logging outfits are legitimately eligible small businesses which we haven’t bothered to list here, but still…)
- $1-2 million, Retech Systems LLC,100 Henry Station Rd, Ukiah
- $350,000-1 million, Factory Pipe, LLC (aka Ross Liberty),1307 Masonite RD, Ukiah
- $2-5 million,"J. A. Sutherland, Inc., 1199 State St., Ukiah (doing business as Taco Bell)
- $150,000-350,000, Mendocino Private Industry Council,2550 N State St #3, Ukiah
- $150,000-350,000, Selzer Realty & Associates Re/Max,551 S Orchard Ave., Ukiah (Mr. Selzer writes a weekly right-wing realty column in the Ukiah Daily Journal which features frequent denunciations of government help for renters and workers.)
Several other local businesses and non-profits receiving “loans” caught our eye:
- $5-10 million, Mendocino Community Health Clinic, Inc., 333 Laws Ave, Ukiah
- $1-2 million, North Coast Opportunities, Inc., 413 N State St, Ukiah
- $350,000-1 million, Stanford Inn, 44850 Comptche Ukiah Rd, Mendocino
- $350,000-1 million, The Homestead Exchange Cooperative, Incorporated, 721 S State St, Ukiah (Ukiah Coop)
- $150,000-350,000, Cold Creek Compost, Inc, 6000 East Side Potter Valley Rd, Ukiah
- $150,000-350,000, Community Care Management Corporation, 301 S State St, Ukiah
- $150,000-350,000, Ford Street Project, Inc., 139 Ford St. Ukiah
- $150,000-350,000, Patrona Restaurant and Lounge,131 W Standley St, Ukiah
- $1-2 million, Sparetime Supply, Inc., 475 E San Francisco Ave, Willits
- $350,000-1 million, Solid Wastes Of Willits, Inc., 351 Franklin Ave, Willits
- $150,000-350,000, Mariposa Natural Foods, 500 S Main St, Willits
- $150,000-350,000, Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens Corporation, 18220 N Highway One, Fort Bragg
- $150,000-350,000, Thanksgiving Coffee Co, Inc-Gp, 19100 S Harbor Dr, Fort Bragg
- $350,000-1 Million, Anderson Valley Health Center, Inc., 13500 Airport Rd, Boonville
Most of Mendo’s SBA paycheck protection “loans” are administered by the Savings Bank of Mendocino which takes a nice cut of all the loans for their “administration” but Savings Bank takes no risk at all since it’s not their money that’s being, ahem, forgiven.
MOTOR LODGE, SOUTH OF WILLITS
VIA THE INDISPENSABLE MSP this morning comes this item about one of my favorite athletes, the great Oregon distance runner, Galen Rupp, as he puts the lie to masks being a breathing impediment:
Galen Rupp, decorated USATF distance runner, in 2011 won the US Nationals 10k while wearing a mask to help with his asthma and the increased pollen count.
Dude with asthma won a national race, with a mask on. I repeat this guy ran 10,000 meters (6+ miles) in just over 28 minutes, with a mask on. The same mask you and I are being asked to wear.
Yet you can’t put one on to go in the store for 10 minutes because “it’s really hard to breathe in those, I have Asthma. Anyone with asthma would tell you how hard it is to breathe in one of those.”
TRUMP'S QUEEG SYNDROME was in plain view Thursday morning in several paranoid tweets that Obama and Biden “spied” on his campaign, complaining “nothing happens to them," but the Supreme Court ruled that Trump may not be able to continue to hide his tax returns. How darned unfair. Referring to his allegation that Obama-Biden spied on him, Trump said, “This crime was taking place even before my election, everyone knows it, and yet all are frozen stiff with fear… Now the Supreme Court gives a delay ruling that they would never have given…for another President.” Wrapping up, Trump tweeted that he's accomplished “more than any President in history in my first 3 1/2 years!”
MEANWHILE, our sinking ship racked up another single-day high of coronavirus cases, with more than 62,000 people testing positive, while California reported Wednesday a record 11,694 infections. And in the Lone Star state another 112 Texans won't be needing their cowboy boots.
SADDEST statistic on the day: One-third of American families missed their July rent and housing payments. 10% fear they could lose their homes in the next six months as the pandemic rages.
THE APOCALYPSE is moving right along, replete with consequences, large and small, no one could have predicted four months ago when the first walls came tumbling down. It hadn't occurred to anyone that one effect of working from home would be the sudden corporate realization that they really didn't need all that expensive central city office space. And if millions of men no longer had to suit up to go to work well, there went Brooks Brothers, the venerable men's suits purveyor, which just declared bankruptcy. Thousands of women's clothing stores have also disappeared, as have all those downtown businesses dependent on the daily in and out tides of office pinkies.
DR FAUCI has apparently been moved off stage by Trump, whose daily Queeg-like messages are ever more irrational. If the so-called Deep State and its generals were as all-powerful as the libs advertise them, Trump would have been removed six months into his disastrous reign.
I CHECK FAUCI every day for reliable plague information. The doctor is not encouraging, which is why Trump has stashed him outtasight. This morning Fauci said that Americans are left waiting for more than a week for coronavirus test results as the surge surges, which means "you might as well not do contact tracing because it's already too late." In Mendo, of course, the lag time is greater, and Governor Newsom said just today that the system can't keep up because the demands on it are too many.
MEANWHILE, Trump wants to increase the school funding he has no control over to get schools opened in the Fall as one more sign that things are getting back to normal despite evidence that children and classes are unlikely to reappear in any significant numbers until a vaccine is nationally available.
MARSHALL NEWMAN WRITES:
Here is a postcard with an interesting postmark – Navarro Ridge.
Where was this post office located?
MAJESTIC HOTEL, WILLITS
DA UNHAPPY WITH THE JUDGE
UKIAH, Thurs., July 9. -- Judge Faulder To The Defendant's Rescue…
A Mendocino County Superior Court jury returned from deliberations Thursday afternoon with a guilty verdict against the trial defendant.
Defendant Vickie Bell, age 56, of Crescent City, was found guilty by jury verdict of a felony violation of assault with a deadly weapon.
However, after the jury was excused, Mendocino County Superior Court Judge KeIth Faulder invited a motion from the defense that he (Judge Faulder) override the jury's verdict and reduce the level of conviction to a misdemeanor.
When that motion was eventually made, Judge Faulder granted the motion and reduced the felony verdict to a misdemeanor-level conviction, over the prosecutor's objection.
The defendant was then placed on a grant of informal probation. The defendant was given credit for two days jail time she had originally served. No additional jail time was ordered.
This was the same disposition that the judge had offered the defendant BEFORE trial -- over the prosecution's objection. The defendant had rejected the misdemeanor disposition, a rejection that caused this week's jury trial.
As background, just before 6 o'clock in the early morning hours on November 1st of last year, the Ukiah Police Department responded to a 9-1-1 domestic violence call from a Mulberry Street residence.
On arrival, the officers found a man [allegedly her boyfriend] suffering from a chest wound. It was determined that the angry defendant had either thrown or plunged scissors into the man's left chest/shoulder area.
The UPD officers immediately began first aid until the ambulance crew arrived. The man was then transported to and treated at UVMC. It was determined that the man's chest wound from the scissors was approximately one inch deep.
It was reported that the defendant was angry because the man had been playing video games against her wishes.
The investigating law enforcement agency was the Ukiah Police Department.
The prosecution who presented the People's evidence was Deputy District Attorney Jamie Pearl.
(District Attorney Presser)
NEOWISE, THE BRIGHTEST COMET IN YEARS, IS VISIBLE NOW. How to catch it
CATCH OF THE DAY, July 9, 2020
ANGEL ALCAREZ, San Ramon/Ukiah. Unlawful sexual intercourse with minor; perp over 21, victim under 18.
ERIC BACH, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
PHILLIP CHAVEZ, Stockton/Ukiah. Possession of alcohol or drugs in jail, prior felony conviction.
SAMAYA CLEARWATER, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, criminal threats to peace officer, battery on peace officer, resisting, probation revocation.
JACOB DELOSSANTOS, Redwood Valley. Saps or similar weapons, tear gas, DUI, evasion, resisting, probation revocation.
FOX HOAGLIN, Covelo. Domestic abuse, assault with deadly weapon not a gun, controlled substance, paraphernalia, county parole violation.
RICHARD JOHNSON, Ukiah. DUI-4th conviction in last ten years.
DESI JOHNSTON, Martinez/Leggett. Vehicle theft.
PABLO MORA, Ukiah. Parole violation.
ERNEST SALO, Fort Bragg. Controlled substance (including transportation), paraphernalia, suspended license.
DAVID WOOTEN, Fort Bragg. Elder abuse with great bodily injury, probation revocation.
A GRIM TALLY: NEWSOM PUTS BRAVE FACE ON CALIFORNIA’S COVID-19 SURGE
by Barbara Feder Ostrov & Ana B. Ibarra
After being the first state to impose a stay-at-home order, California faces a battery of grim statistics as the state reopens — and is now poised to potentially send millions of children back to school next month.
Gov. Gavin Newsom tried to reassure Californians Wednesday that “we will get through this,” despite an alarming surge in the state’s coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.
The governor noted that the state is testing more than 100,000 people each day and has the capacity to treat as many as 50,000 patients at a time. He focused on state and local public health officials’ enormous efforts in recent months to bend the coronavirus’ deadly curve, including amassing large stocks of protective gear for health workers and setting up field hospitals.
But after being the first state to impose a stay-at-home order, California faces a battery of grim statistics as the state reopened – and now is poised to potentially send millions of children back to school next month.
Containing the virus in a state as large and populous as California was always going to be a massive undertaking, requiring planning for counties with more than 10 million people, such as Los Angeles, and those with just over 1,000, like Alpine County to the north.
Epidemiological models for California suggest that COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths will continue to rise statewide in the short term. The daily number of people who need to be hospitalized, now standing at nearly 6,000, could rise to more than 16,000 by Aug. 7, straining hospitals in the state’s hot spots for COVID-19 outbreaks.
On Wednesday, public health officials reported 11,694 new daily cases (including backlogged tests from Los Angeles County), 114 deaths and 6,100 hospitalizations. Three new counties – Napa, San Benito and Yolo – were added to the state’s watch list, which now includes 26 of California 58 counties. This list includes those counties that see increased transmission and hospitalization for more than three days.
Although Newsom on Wednesday compared California’s 7.1% “test positivity rate” – a measure of how widely the virus is circulating – favorably to those of other states like Arizona, California’s rate once again is on the rise after hovering under 5% through much of June. He acknowledged that “every decimal point is a point of concern.”
Newsom said the surge in cases has been driven in large part by a lack of people wearing masks and keeping an appropriate distance, mixing of different households and outbreaks in prisons and among essential workers.
Nursing home residents also have been devastated, with 14,646 total cases as of Wednesday, up about 7% since June 30. More than 2,600 have died. The workers who care for them also have been hit hard, with more than 9,600 stricken, 96 fatally.
Testing has re-emerged as a huge challenge, even as most public health officials believe it, along with contact tracing, is critical to containing the virus.
In the past six months, California has boosted capacity to as many as 103,000 COVID-19 tests each day, a significant jump from the March goal of 8,000 daily tests.
But with growing delays in test results from overwhelmed labs andtest sites closing over supply shortages, public health officials on July 4 asked California laboratories to prioritize patients with symptoms and those in hospitals, nursing homes or prisons.
Newsom said Wednesday the state would be rolling out a new testing strategy in coming days.
Sacramento County, for example, is closing five testing locations because UC Davis Health, which processes tests for these sites, is unable to get sufficient test kits from its manufacturer, a UC Davis Health spokesperson said.
In Santa Clara County, local public health officials were concerned enough about testing capacity that they recently ordered local hospitals and clinics to make testing more available and on Wednesday launched an online dashboard showing how private hospitals and clinics aren’t yet doing their share for their own insured patients, compared to the county-run free testing sites. The dashboard showed that while the county’s own sites ran more than 15,000 tests between June 25 and July 1, compared to about 5,300 conducted by HMO giant Kaiser Permanente, which insures and cares for about a third of the county’s residents.
“We wanted to be clear with health systems that they needed to step up to the plate to at least test their own members,” said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, the county’s longtime former health officer and current testing czar. “We can’t maintain testing everybody in this county with our staffing and (lab) capacity. Everybody has to step up.”
And Californians remain worried. A new statewide poll, conducted in late June as COVID-19 cases were surging ever higher, found that 77% of Californians say they are concerned they or a family member will contract the disease. And 53% of those polled felt that the state was reopening too quickly compared to 43% three weeks ago, according to the poll conducted by Ipsos for the California Health Care Foundation.
From the beginning of the pandemic, Newsom and his team have pointed to hospitalizations and intensive care cases as key indicators of the state’s well-being and ability to reopen.
Those have been rising since mid-June. Over the last two weeks, hospitalizations spiked by 44% and ICUs admissions went up 34%. The state’s hospitals continue to work to increase capacity, but those in hotspots like Imperial County were forced to place patients in hospitals outside county lines.
After an early national shortage on tests and protective gear, Newsom touted the state’s expansion of testing and its ability to secure millions of surgical face masks and N95 respirators. The state succeeded to the extent it’s now sending masks to four other states, he said Wednesday.
But the California Nurses Association, which early in the pandemic rang the alarm on the shortages of protective gear for their members, said that while the situation has improved in some parts of the state, some nurses are still reporting that they can’t get a hold of a new N95 respirator every day.
“Nurses are still reusing masks, and nurses are still relying on decontamination methods,” said Stephanie Roberson, government relations director with the union. If nurses are still trying to clean their old masks, then maybe there aren’t enough to go around, she said.
Roberson said that the union has asked the state for more transparency about which hospitals are getting these masks.
Dr. Bob Bernstein, former health officer for Tuolumne County and a longtime epidemiologist for the U.S. Public Health Service, said California was able to initially bend its COVID curve because people “were largely adhering to the recommendations” to shelter at home, wear masks and wash their hands.“Then there was an easing,” Bernstein said. “We’re not testing enough, public health departments are overwhelmed… We’re a diverse state and the consequences of that are that, overall, our situation isn’t as good as we’d like it to be.
“Newsom and the health officers are all advising the right things but not necessarily getting consistent cooperation.”
(Courtesy, CALmatters.org, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics.)
HORROR CLOUDS EVERY PAGE of Mary Trump’s book about her Uncle Donald.
“You can see why President Trump doesn’t want anyone to read this thing. It gives the lie to many of his most cherished myths about himself, including the howler that he’s self-made.”
CONVERSATION WITH THE AUTHOR of "Industrial-Strength Denial: Eight Stories Of Corporations Defending The Indefensible, From The Slave Trade To Climate Change"
WHERE ARE WE?
So where is America six months into a pandemic?
We are a slow moving train wreck without an engineer, speeding up and soon to go off the tracks, further deepening the chaos of 50 states going in all directions.
We are a ship without a captain that will soon hit the rocks of reality, and many good people will be lost.
We are a tractor-trailer without a driver, the brakes have failed, and we’re going downhill fast.
We are a bicycle without handlebars, and we’re about to leave the road.
We are jumbo jets without pilots, full of family and friends, and about to crash into the heart of America.
We are a country being burned by the wildfires of COVID-19 while the fire chief sits in his White House still saying there is no crisis and everything is tremendously beautiful.
We desperately need a real leader to steer this sad ship of chaos to a safe harbor before the “real” second wave washes over us later this year.
U-AUTO STOP, WILLITS
About a month ago I made a list of all the grocery stores in Marin and Sonoma counties I had visited since the shelter in place began in mid-March. I had been to about 23 stores. Normally I go to coffee houses and hang out but since they have not been available I've been going to markets to check them out or buy a few items or use the restroom since gas stations won't let us use theirs.
I've noticed that the smaller markets tend to be much more uptight about face masks. Sometimes my mask isn't covering my nostrils and the "greeter" at the door will ask me to pull it up over my nose. That has never happened at one of the big box Safeway or Lucky stores.
At a Walgreen’s down the street from me last night that is smaller than most drugstores, after the two clerks behind the checkout counter gave me three orders ("Stand over there on the dot," etc.) within 10 seconds, I angrily shot back, "Do you have any more orders to give me?" I went there to buy a few items, not join the military.
My guess is that the smaller markets and drugstores are more paranoid about Covid-19 because people are closer together than in a huge market or else they are paranoid about getting sued because they are a smaller financial corporations whereas a huge corporation likes Safeway can much more easily absorb lawsuits.
WILLITS GAS STATION
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
When Solzhenitsyn came to the U.S., he was shocked at the level of respect, even admiration and emulation, that criminals were held in. Movies, popular books, the casual attitude they had of criminals being justified because they were ‘sticking it to the Man.’
He’d detailed that in his last Gulag Archipelago opus, going over the psychology of jailers and other bureaucratic thugs, but was equally outraged by the so-called petty criminals of those who got sent to the camps for their crimes. Of course, Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner, and they were treated far worse than the criminals by the psychotic guards. But Solzhienitsyn also had to watch his back when criminals and other informers were around.
There hasn’t been enough push-back on the entire psychological profile and lifestyle of criminals in the West. If we’re not praising them for bold and ‘justified’ revenge on an oppressive system, we’re downplaying it as class ‘correction’ and the passing, mild, eternally existing problems of ‘bored youths acting out’.
It’s all bullshit. Go through the crime novels starting in the early 60s (precursor to the ‘free everything and everybody’ movements). Donald E. Westlake (also, pen name Richard Stark) wrote countless novels centered on the protagonist as total shithead who successfully robbed banks, rare emeralds, loaded safes, killing, along with his team, any good guys who got in his way. Occasionally, the bad guys were worse than the protagonist, as if the author were throwing the occasional sop at moral concern.
We’ve been trained to glorify violence and criminality since the 60s. It’s cool, and it’s even righteous, doncha know! (I’ll leave out Black hip hop, which, of course is even more apropos to the current linkages.)
There was a video a week or two ago showing a ‘Yout’ screaming at his wide screen TV, “I need the money” during the end of a basketball game in which his wager was going belly up. He threw heavy shit through the screen, smashed another TV, swore up a blue streak, then started fighting with his bros. My first thought: why wouldn’t he smash everything to shit? All he has to do is head downtown during the next riot (sooner than later) and shop for a better model at the smashed up retailer. Looting pays. Just make sure your mask doesn’t slip during Covid lockdown, and you’re good to go!