It’s what you do — and what you tell your government to do — that will get the economy humming again and do so safely.
Rule #1: Expect zero from the government and figure out what you can do each and every day to solve problems related to management of COVID-19. It’s what you do — not what the government tells you to do — that matters.
Every town is different. The following is about Santa Cruz CA and their local paper the Santa Cruz Sentinel. Santa Cruz has lots of tourists and a U.C. facility.
A “take away” from reading several stories in the 5/29 Santa Cruz Sentinel: Local government bureaucracy grinds on and on doing little to re-open the economy. Local health officials trend along with what state officials say to do.
Put the three 5/29 Sentinel stories regarding COVID-19 together and you read that Santa Cruz County Public Health Officer Dr. Gail Newel is miffed that Gov Newsom did not do as she expected. “The governor is not following the cadence that was expected” she says.” That’s a low whine. Gail Newel thinks Santa Cruz has taken “a very thoughtful approach” and now working “fast and furious” to re-open. Don’t hold your breath, Santa Cruz folks. This local public health officer is part of the ‘too little and too late’ crowd. More businesses will flounder. There will be more domestic abuse. And more depressed kids.
One wonders why Santa Cruz County has such a low death rate from COVID-19. Is it low because of how the health officials count? Health official Gail Newel says that the state health statistics which currently list 3 deaths and not 2 for Santa Cruz County are in error because the third death had the virus but that person did not die from the virus.
So when a cluster of elderly living in a Santa Cruz county group home who have diabetes and high blood pressure and obesity die after infected with COVID-19 from a staff person that means those persons did not die from the virus but rather from their pre-existing conditions and therefore should not be counted in the local COVID-19 count? Is it the way in which Santa Cruz County health officers count deaths? A way that makes for such a low count?
How many residents in any Santa Cruz county long term facility have died since COVID-19 (early Appril) became a serious health problem? Were any of those persons tested for COVID-19? Since testing is not mandatory for long term health facilities / nursing homes and only now, three months into the pandemic, state government suggests that a testing plan be made …. There is no easy way to know how many have died due to the virus while living in a nursing home.
Look elsewhere how COVID-19 deaths are counted. All over the USA health departments are counting deaths which include a positive COVID-19 test as a death due to the virus. But not Santa Cruz County according to health officer Gail Newel.
Rule #2: Isolation is bad for the soul and hard on people. We punish people by locking them up — remember that. Do what’s sensible to stay mentally healthy.
Take specific actions that put money into other people’s wallets. Deliberately buy take out to help local restaurants stay afloat. Go to hardware stores and stock up on items you will need in the future.
Drive around in your car and smile and say hi and count those ‘contacts’ as part of your social routine. Remember who and why you smiled at others. Those smiles break social isolation. Yours and other people’s. You help others and yourself when you smile. Not a crocodile smile but a real smile from the soul.
Rule #3: Set a daily schedule for yourself that includes what we have learned helps manage COVID-19: Take your daily temperature before and after your in-home or out-of-home work. Yes you should have a daily “work” routine. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. Keep your hands off your face as COVID -19 gets into your body via eyes, nose and mouth. Keep your distance from other people as best makes sense socially. Masks? You figure it out. Just another way to control people, for sure. They are easily contaminated. You breath in the CO2 you just exhaled.
Rule #4: Learn how to advocate for the most vulnerable who are the most likely to get COVID-19 and die from it. Remember — 40-50% of all COVID-19 deaths occur to elderly persons with pre-existing conditions who are living in long term nursing facilities. Since that is where the bulk of deaths occur it only makes sense to do all that’s possible to ensure that staff are healthy and residents are tested and isolated from others when they test positive.
What you will learn from the news in the Santa Cruz Sentinel is that CA government has done squat — nothing — to ensure the safety of the most vulnerable citizens. There are no required testing, isolation and contact tracing plan of all residents and all staff persons.
Learn how to advocate for persons in your CA town and city. Those are our veterans, retired folks, farm workers and others who are cared for by a variety of persons. Staff persons help get the elderly to the toilet, help feed them and when necessary may diaper them and routinely give medicines to them.
Remember two thirds of all Americans take 3+ medicines on a daily basis. These nursing home staff persons have close physical contact with the vulnerable elderly. And if the staff have symptoms it’s easy to pass along the virus to the residents.
How to advocate for our most vulnerable that are in group facilities? Go visit these long term housing facilities. Call them. Contact them any way you can.
In the Santa Cruz Sentinel 5/29 had the following: The State Department of Public Health issues a letter saying facilities should draft testing plans for all residents in settings without cases and all residents who have been exposed to the virus. That this Letter says it would be a good thing …. means that three months into the pandemic our CA state government and local government have no standards in place and no ‘blue print’ to offer so testing, isolation and finding others exposed is routinely done of persons in long term facilities.
One way to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is to require daily temperature testing of staff and that they fill out a brief questionnaire as to possible symptoms they had during work. Couple monitoring of staff with appropriate testing of all residents.
Santa Cruz County has about 10-12 long term care facilities which care for about 1,066 persons. The staff that care for them are not highly paid R.N’s but LVN and others without letters after their name. They may or may not be trained in how COVID-19 spreads. Some may live in crowded living conditions which exist in pockets throughout Santa Cruz County. Keeping a close watch on symptoms by staff and residents is crucial to keeping our most vulnerable safe.
Another way to reduce COVID-19 is to take the needed tests to the facilities. That way testing of staff and residents will be frequent and regular. A handful of churches in mid-County currently fund a truck which provides showers for the homeless. That’s been going on for a year or so. What about a truck that would go around to the long term care facilities and brings test kits to these facilities?
Now is the time to politely ask your county health officer and other government officials to provide immediate and regular testing of all staff and residents of local nursing homes.
As individuals we can do lots to stop COVID-19 in its tracks. Government can test and should test immediately and regularly those most likely to die from it — the elderly with pre-existing conditions.
What say you? What do you suggest that can help re-open your CA town safely and now?
written by licensed psychologist Cameron Jackson DrCameronJackson@gmail.com