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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Masks or no masks?

Uploaded: Apr 28, 2020
Are you getting frustrated or confused by the health experts yet?

A recent order from the Bay Area health departments requires covering your face when you are infrequently out in public—doing essential tasks such as grocery shopping. This came after the Centers for Disease control and these same health officials earlier said masks wasn’t helpful or necessary. If wearing facial coverings is good public health policy in April, why wasn’t it in March?

I hope you’re enjoying your enforced social distancing and stay-at-home because health officials announced that it will continue in six Bay Area counties throughout the month of May. When I told my bride about it, it prompted a profanity in response. If you’ve followed the modeling—remember our governor said publicly that 25 million Californians would contract the virus. In hard-hit Italy, the number of cases today is nearing 200,000 and Italy is a country of 60 million people compared to California’s population of about 40 million.

What’s been frustrating is seeing just how badly the models have missed and wondering just how nasty the disease is. Two Stanford physicians, in separate articles, pointed out that it may not be anywhere near as dangerous to younger and middle-aged people without underlying health issues.

Writing an opinion piece in the New York Post, physician Scott W. Atlas from the Hoover Institution at Stanford wrote,” Multiple recent studies from Iceland, Germany, USC, Stanford and New York City all suggest that the fatality rate if infected is likely far lower than early estimates, perhaps under 0.1 to 0.4 percent, i.e., 10 to 40 times lower than estimates that motivated extreme isolation.
“In the Big Apple, with almost one-third of all US deaths, the rate of death for all people ages 18 to 45 is 0.01 percent, or 13 per 100,000 in the population, one-eightieth of the rate for people age 75 and over. For people under 18, the rate of death is zero per 100,000. Of Empire State fatalities, almost two-thirds were over 70 years of age. And regardless of age, if you don’t already have an underlying chronic condition, your chances of dying are small. Of 7,959 NYC COVID-19 deaths fully investigated for underlying conditions, 99.2 percent had an underlying illness.”
Another Stanford doctor, John Ioannidis, in an interview with Allysia Finley of the Wall Street Journal, found the same trend. He examined the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was docked in Oakland. There was 700 passengers and crew infected and nine died. Based on that, he wrote that the fatality rate could be as low as 0.025% or as high as 1 percent, similar to the seasonal flu.
The Finley article also pointed out that Stanford had done a study that estimated between 2.49% and 4.16% of the Santa Clara County population had been infected—50 to 85 times the number of confirmed cases and with a mortality rate similar to that on the cruise ship. A similar study was done in Southern California and found the virus is 28 to 55 times more prevalent in the population.
Atlas wrote, “…due to fear and the single-minded focus on COVID-19 regardless of cost, other people are dying. Critical medical care isn’t being provided. Millions of Americans have missed critical health care for fear of encountering the disease, and people are dying to make room for “potential” coronavirus patients.”
To prepare for potential hospital overcrowding, the governor banned elective procedures. That limitation was lifted last week, but not in time for Stanford Health Care (including ValleyCare) employees who will either have to take a 20 percent pay cut over the next 10 weeks (perhaps longer) or use paid-time-off.
Both Stanford physicians argued that those bans resulted in bad outcomes unrelated to the coronavirus. One ValleyCare emergency room physician told a friend that the ER was “like a morgue” it was so quiet in the first month of the shutdown. The Stanford letter announcing the pay cut noted that the traffic in the emergency room was down 40 percent.
Here’s hoping, as the physicians opined, that the cure isn’t more costly than the disease.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Jennifer, a resident of another community,
on Apr 28, 2020 at 7:44 pm

I am confused by the medical experts, so I'm not watching the news, getting all my news online, and only listening to MDs and RNs (family and friends). I'm torn between continuing to shelter in place and the frustration of lets open everything back up -especially employment. With CA being the largest state, I believe we'll be the last to open. Newsom is on a roll. As far as the masks, they're extremely uncomfortable, who knows if they're really effective and why the heck weren't we wearing them earlier? Life in the Twilight Zone. We're all hoping the cure isn't more costly than the disease.

Posted by DKHSK, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Apr 28, 2020 at 9:37 pm

DKHSK is a registered user.


Six weeks after this stupid lockdown and only NOW, they are requiring masks?!

First they told us that masks wouldn't help. Then six weeks later, after the peak is reached and we're in decline, NOW they tell us to wear masks.

I would take this seriously if anyone in Government exhibited any common sense.

They don't.

I don't wear a mask when I am out.

Arrest me.


Posted by C. R. Mudgeon, a resident of Danville,
on Apr 29, 2020 at 10:01 am

C. R. Mudgeon is a registered user.

Good article, Tim. But surely you know why we were originally told that masks were not needed, or were "innefective". It was a case of medical experts "lying for good intentions". They were worried about not having enough masks for medical staff at hospitals, and so they told us that there was no benefit to the public at large. Then, once masks became more plentiful and available, they changed the tune....

One other little tidbit, that I read about in a George Skelton (LA Times) column a few days ago, is that Newsom, completely on his own (no state legislature involvement), and in semi-secret, placed a $1 billion (yes, it was stated to be one BILLION dollars) order for masks, to a Chinese company. Apparently the order was placed a couple/few weeks ago, and according to Skelton's recent column, half was paid up front ($500 million?). And so far, no masks have been received. Wow!

Posted by DKHSK, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Apr 29, 2020 at 10:34 am

DKHSK is a registered user.

Check this out.


"My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed. I have instructed the NYPD to proceed immediately to summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups. This is about stopping this disease and saving lives. Period."

New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio (DEMOCRAT)

Him, not available for comment.


ps hi Tom.

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Apr 29, 2020 at 9:42 pm

I was in Beijing 2002 when SARS erupted 11/2002.
Everyone donned masks and continued with their normal daily routine.

I too put a mask on my face. I remained in China through end of February 2003, when I returned to the states. I was never subjected to quarantine or other restrictions when I returned. I passed through customs, resumed my normal routine upon arrival back home.

With COVID-19, I put my mask on third week of March 2020, I will continue to wear my mask until a vaccination is developed and I am vaccinated against COVID-19.

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Pheasant Ridge,
on Apr 29, 2020 at 10:43 pm

Wow, looking for any reason to discount this aren't you? Well just take a look at the data CDC just released if you
Can find it. Look how yearly death rates Have spiked tremendously this year compared to any previous year. And yes it's COVID-19 related death. I imagine you won't believe it anyway, and have some fake news/ I don't believe in science retort. just keep Living in your bubble and chances are you'll come out of this Just fine and even more defiant and resentful than you are now. I just lost a lot of respect for pleasanton weekly for even allowing an uniformed voice to spout dangerous rhetoric in such a sensitive time. Tim , take your soapbox somewhere else.

Posted by DKHSK, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Apr 29, 2020 at 11:48 pm

DKHSK is a registered user.

Word is that the Governor will instruct all Police Chiefs in the State to close ALL State Parks and Beaches effective May 1st.

So basically being outdoors will be illegal.

Thanks Democrats. The authoritarianism you've always claimed would come from the right, seems to always fall from the left.

Reap what you sow.

Posted by BT, a resident of Del Prado,
on Apr 30, 2020 at 1:07 pm

As an asthmatic who became very ill as a result of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, I greatly appreciate my neighbors who wear masks at the grocery store and other places where social distancing is difficult. It greatly reduces the risk of transmission of the virus to others, including me, and given that its impossible to reliably determine whether you are contagious, a universal mask-wearing protocol makes sense. This disease targets the most vulnerable persons in our community, causing terrible suffering to the sick and to their families. Temporary precautions, while inconvenient, demonstrate the kind of small-town, neighborly respect I've come to love about Pleasanton.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on May 1, 2020 at 3:12 pm

I wear a mask whenever I go out.

That's what TEAM PLAYERS DO! Hip-Hip HOORAY!

Posted by BobB, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on May 2, 2020 at 9:50 am

BobB is a registered user.

"For his Covid-19 work, the Stanford scientist John Ioannidis is being accused of the same bad science he has criticized."

" Ioannidis may simply be “so attached to being the iconoclast that defies conventional wisdom that he's unintentionally doing horrible science.""

Here is some background on Ioannidis and his latest pronouncements about COVID-19.

Web Link

Posted by DKHSK, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on May 2, 2020 at 8:10 pm

DKHSK is a registered user.

I'm shocked that Tim hasn't closed this thread!!!!

Hi Tom.

Posted by Stevie, a resident of another community,
on May 3, 2020 at 5:03 pm

“Life in the Twilight Zone." ~ Jennifer's post. I've so been thinking of “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" Web Link

I'm glad that finally there are more voices speaking out on the costs of what we are doing. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, the charts here Web Link are good conversation starters, showing that for every death 16-1400+ Americans are needed to try to save them. Below the charts is a thought provoking list of costs that will affect many as we continue on our trend (i.e. impact to our physical and mental health, loss of dreams, etc.). In the end, most of us are going to survive and we need a life to live.

But, since I have very little impact on changing any of this, I'm going to stick to the “Covie Covid" cartoons Web Link I've found as at least I can laugh while acknowledging the situation we are living in.

Posted by Stayback, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on May 4, 2020 at 6:30 am

Wear a mask or risk public humiliation.....I will personally get really loud and tell you to wear a mask and stay 6 ft from me in a store or in line. The only way to get Covid to go away is to starve it's transmission by wearing masks, not getting too close, and wearing gloves or disinfecting your hands often!

Posted by dknute, a resident of Golden Eagle,
on May 5, 2020 at 11:53 am

dknute is a registered user.

I'm wearing the mask when i go to the store or downtown to pick up takeout....i think the testing is good, but tonly necessary in order to get the 'count down'...the count, being the infected, deaths, and recovered numbers in line. If you test negative today, it only ensures you'r e Good can get infected tomorrow...For that reason the percentages of deaths to disease are only good for the number of cases, not the total population....for that figure, you could surmise that 327000,000 people living here with 67,000 deaths results in a very, very small percentage.....0002048....That's pretty small...and that number will never be published because it would not keep you "in your place"...It's a matter of control, first, then science and health next...The real victim here is our democracy, economy, and Rule of Law... Governors do not, or should not make law....Our Lawmakers are not doing their job...The legislature could reign in the Governor, but they are not...they are as complicit as the next....They are not going to suffer the financial impact as the 'man on the street'....So, its not a pandemic in Sacramento or Washington DC...It's your money and your can change what's happening..In November...Vote your conscience...not your party.

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