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The Deadly Cost of Misbehavior

The California Dept. of Public Health (CDPH) now warns that “disastrous consequences” will occur without a change in how we celebrate the winter holidays, and California will experience a surge on top of a surge on top of a surge. Many hospitals are already over capacity and high-quality medical care is beginning to be compromised as frontline healthcare workers “are beyond stretched to the limit.”

The substantial increases in C-19 cases in the healthcare system is happening at the very time when healthcare workers are needed to be healthy and available to treat the thousands of new COVID-19 patients, and all the other urgent cases that enter hospitals.

The Sacramento Bee reports that “Much like they did a month ago in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, health officials are once again issuing last-minute pleas urging people to scrap any plans for multiple-household gatherings this Christmas. The desperate ask comes as California approaches two months within its worst surge yet of the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths have all soared to record levels with no slowdown in sight, even as two highly efficient vaccines have already started deployment in limited supply. A large portion — but by no means all — of the state’s recent virus activity has come in the Los Angeles area. The local health office reported that the county of 10 million residents had an astonishingly low 30 intensive care unit hospital beds available as of Monday.”

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has confirmed that since Nov. 9, average daily deaths have increased from 12 average deaths per day to 84 average deaths per day last week.

To date, L.A. Public Health identified 634,849 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County and a total of 8,931 deaths.

All across this country, including this state and this county, too many folks are casually and carelessly ignoring public health orders to stay at home, don’t gather with people outside of family bubbles, and don’t travel during upcoming year-end celebrations.

A few days ago I conducted an unscientific study of traffic passing through Laytonville for 30 minute periods both in mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Using mostly license plate brackets as well as license plates as identifiers, I found that nearly 60 percent of vehicles appeared to be from areas other than Mendocino County.

According to CDPH, in the four weeks, from the Sunday before Thanksgiving to the Sunday before Christmas, California’s two-week average for daily new COVID-19 cases nearly quadrupled, rising from about 9,900 to more than 38,000. The test positivity rate has more than doubled in that span, from 5.9 percent to 12.2 percent.

I don’t expect this misbehavior to change with Christmas and New Year’s just around the corner. Of course, that means we’ll certainly see more deaths occurring during this two-week holiday period than any of the other holidays earlier in the year. Hospitalization, ICU care, and mortuaries will almost surely be on the verge of collapse. This is not a trend, it’s a slam-dunk certainty.

But there’s also another kind of misbehavior that has greatly contributed to people shunning doing the right thing.

Do I or should you blame them for their actions?

Nope, don’t think so. Many of these folks are the “untouchables” or the “deplorables,” so designated by our public sector elites, those politicians and bureaucrats who now form the ever-evolving-expanding overclass of government officials who know so much more about what’s good for you than you do.

Of course, they are completely immune from the lock-down orders and economic edicts they issue reducing you to “non-essential” status where you are shoved into unemployment lines, and small business owners — the main drivers of our economy — are ordered to shutter their doors.

Is it any wonder people rebel against this monolith that robotically dispenses orders that in many cases are not justified or buttressed by empirical data. As I predicted some time ago, courts are beginning to weigh in on some of these orders finding them devoid of constitutional and/or legislative authority.

Compounding disrespect of public health orders is example after example of elected officials and bureaucrats flagrantly violating their own orders.

Most recently coming to light is a caper involving Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus-response coordinator, who along with Dr. Tony Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease expert, are the most visible, trusted and respected medical professionals in the country.

Although I don’t know Dr. Birx, I like and admire her because she’s done the best she can in exceptionally trying circumstances given that her boss is Donald Trump. Yet even with her apparent stellar record of

assumed selfless public service in these difficult times, she comes up short of deserving the public’s trust.

According to the Washington Post, “If you will be traveling to see loved ones this week for Christmas, and anyone suspiciously asks what you’re doing or where you’re going, just answer, ‘I’m going to winterize one of my properties before I sell it. My family will be joining me for a meal while I’m there, and we will be there for 50 hours or so.’ Dr. Deborah Birx gave that answer for her travel right after Thanksgiving. She was accompanied by three generations of her family from two households. Birx, her husband Paige Reffe, a daughter, son-in-law and two young grandchildren were present. But this makes her look like just another government official who expects other people to make big sacrifices until the end of the pandemic that she herself is not willing to make. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has asked Americans not to travel over the holidays and discourages indoor activity involving members of different households: ‘People who do not currently live in your housing unit, such as college students who are returning home from school for the holidays, should be considered part of different households.’ After The Associated Press raised questions about her Thanksgiving weekend travels … she declined to be interviewed.”

This is just another illustration of what I’ve talked about before. Just because someone is in a position of leadership, never assume that makes them a leader. There’s damn few leaders around anywhere nowadays.

Remember this, before you can lead others, you have to know how to lead yourself.

That’s exactly why we’re in the predicament we’re in with this Pandemic and much of the public ignoring doing the right thing.

(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, and is also the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live:

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