By Jennifer Welsh Zeiter
President Donald Trump’s guidelines for opening up America are worth reading, containing very useful information, and calls for re-opening America on a statewide, or county-by-county basis, at the governor’s discretion. We should start with phase one of re-opening Laguna Beach by May 1.
As of Thursday, Laguna had 36 residents with confirmed cases of COVID-19 (0.16% of the city’s population), no deaths. Per Dr. Gregg DeNicola of Caduceus, last week his clinics treated only one positive case, down from the two to three per week before that, and all of his 20 patients are recovering, without hospitalization. Laguna appears on a downward trajectory of symptoms, documented cases and positive test results. Orange County hospitals are nowhere near capacity and can treat patients without crisis care. Sufficient testing capabilities are available for those with symptoms. Data coming out of recent random antibody blood test studies in Santa Clara County (Stanford study) and LA county (USC study) are showing that the amount of people who have been exposed to or have had CVOID-19 is actually 55 – 80 times higher than the reported numbers, which means that the actual fatality rate from C-19 is more like 0.1 %, not 3 to 4%.
Let’s continue social distancing, and practice hygiene and sanitation now normalized as part of our daily behaviors. Elderly or immune-compromised, or pre-existing condition high risk should continue to minimize outside physical contact. But the rest of us should be getting back to work, slowly phasing back into business and economic re-opening. Not all at once, but headed in that direction.
I disagree with Mayor Bob Whalen’s letter to the Board of Supervisors this week asking for closure of the county’s remaining beaches and trails, and disagree with the continued closure of our beaches, parks and trails. The 37 Laguna residents with positive cases are more likely to have resulted from the infected people traveling outside of Laguna, not people coming into Laguna. Start slow, keep parking lots closed for social distancing help, but open the beaches, parks, tennis courts and trails. As local Dr. William Anderson recently penned, opening the beaches and parks is important to our mental and physical health. The sun’s Vitamin D is good for all. Let’s not let NIMBYism take on a whole new meaning. Signage can be installed to notice requirements for social distancing, enforced by citations if needed. Use those ugly digital signs at city’s entrances to message blast visitors that social distancing will be enforced and cited. Locals already know. If residents don’t feel safe, stay home and practice your own social distancing. Borrowing a quote from Candace Owens, “my freedom doesn’t end where your fear begins.”
I listened to Tuesday’s City Council which voted unanimously to open the Farmers’ Market. Is the Council picking shutdown winners and losers? I like the Market. But, it’s a public forum, mostly non-Laguna vendors bringing in non-local shoppers, drifting from stall to stall, selecting produce, in close quarters, handling merchandise and exchanging currency. Is it essential? No, we’ve done without it a month. Vendors agreed to take extra hygiene and distancing precautions, but so would other businesses if allowed to re-open. What standards justify the Market re-opening and not other local businesses? Why not dry cleaners, retail stores, copy shops, others, or City Hall? Shouldn’t Laguna allow many more businesses that agree to adopt enhanced hygiene/distancing precautions to open too?
Let’s start phasing back in Laguna’s re-opening by May 1. Put precautions in place, but let’s move forward before more lives are destroyed, not by COVID-19, but by fear.