Supervisors rescinded public health orders. People died. Who’s responsible?

Barbara Feder Ostrov, contributing writer
Cal Matters

Hi Barbara:
I just read your great CALmed article from June 16th about how Public Health Officers were being threatened and quitting. You also linked to the Orange County Board of Supervisors’ meeting on May 26th. I watched most of that video. (especially the comments starting at 2:09)

I saw the Sheriff say he wouldn’t enforce mask laws. I saw people stand up and threaten Orange County Chief Health Officer Dr. Nichole Quick. They rejected the order to wear masks with factually incorrect or misleading information.

In this March 2020 photo, Orange County, Calif., Chief Health Officer Dr. Nichole Quick listens during a coronavirus press conference in Santa Ana, Calif. D.r. Quick resigned Monday, June 8, 2020, after receiving threats over her order for residents wear to face coverings when near others in public to protect against the coronavirus. Quick is the seventh senior health official to resign in California since the pandemic began and the officials suddenly faced unprecedented pressure, criticism and threats, said Kat DeBurgh, executive director of the Health Officers Association of California. (Jeff Gritchen/The Orange County Register via AP)

It’s July 5th and cases are rising in California in multiple counties. Governor Newsom’ has mandated mask wearing statewide.

Have you spoken to Dr. Quick and other Public Health Officers since?

I want to know what they are thinking. They deserve to say, “I told you so.” but also I’d like to know,

What do they want the people on the board who opposed them to know? What do they want them to do now?
What do they want people who spoke out about masks in public meetings to know? Or do?

On May 12th I wrote a story about Riverside County’s vote on May 8th to rescind the county face-covering mandate with a “strong recommendation” to social distance and wear face coverings.
Here is the link :County With 2nd Most COVID Deaths In CA Rescinds Pandemic Orders

I’m working with a resident of Riverside county to create a 2 minute comment to the Board of Supervisors.
He wants to show them the evidence that they failed the community.
He also wants to show the errors in their reasons for rescinding orders

1) People don’t need an order to wear a mask, they will follow a recommendation just as well as a mandate
2) Mandating mask wearing will hurt businesses. The “economy” will do better when masks are not required.

In your article you talked to Kat DeBurgh the executive director of the Health Officers Association of California.

Do they have data that the PHOs in other states use to show city councils and the public why they need to mandate certain actions?

I’m looking for data that PHOs use to show how the spread of infection is reduced which in turn saves lives.
But I’m also looking for something that shows that saving lives keeps “The Economy” going. I realise that “keeping the economy going” is a vague term, but in America it appears that the only way that some politicians can be convinced to save lives is if it can be shown that saving lives is good for the economy–as they define it.

If that kind of data is unavailable, is there information that shows what happens when politicians willfully ignore data on the spread of infection?
(Do PHOs have the results of maskless indoor gatherings and events that show the spread of illness leading to death?)

People on the left often talk about being “data driven” but it looks to me that the type of data that is driving politicians are calls from certain types of businesses and rising stock prices.

Do PHOs have data to show politicians that rising infections & deaths come from a failure of people to wear masks?

Do they have data to show politicians that in America mandated masks and enforcement is necessary?

I’m looking for a case history and data that can be given to city councils and supervisors around the country

“This PHO ordered mask wearing on May X.
People threatened the PHO with death.
The board reversed the order on May XX.

Since then XXXX people have gotten infected XXX people have died.

Not all things are equal, but in County Y they wore masks starting around the same day in May.
Since then only XX people have gotten infected. Sadly X people still died, but it much lower than XXX in Counties R&O

Conclusion: Fewer people got sick and died where mask wearing was mandated AND enforced.
Fewer people getting sick and dying is BETTER for “the Economy” because it enables some businesses to open.

Maybe they use something like this graph that shows hospitalizations due to COVID-19 infection, with local and state-wide Executive Orders, such as school closures and California’s Safer at Home order.

I know this next part isn’t in your brief, but my friend wants the BOS who heard the recommendations of the PHOs and rejected them to be held accountable.

  1. PHOs made the right call, they bore the brunt of the threats from ordering mask wearing when the BOS didn’t support them.
  2. The Supervisors who lifted the mask order wanted the credit for “getting the economy open” but that opening has had horrible results.
  3. The Supervisors should tell the public that ignoring the PHO’s orders was a serious error in judgement. (Provide charts of the data as evidence)
  4. This is the number of humans in their community that got sick and died because of the Supervisors’ decision to overrule the PHO
  5. The economic benefits following their decision to overrule the PHO didn’t materialize as the supervisors expected

The PHO was right. The Supervisors were wrong.

From this point forward the BOS MUST support PHOs orders. The mask mandate was and is right.
The BOS needs to instruct the sheriff to enforce the state’s orders.
Businesses need to enforce the orders. Businesses that do not will be fined or shut down.
They personally need to model mask wearing.

The community as a whole needs to understand that the tragic results of the BOS decisions were predictable. The BOS knew what could happen and voted to rescind the orders anyway.

Whether or not they bear a legal responsibility for their decision depends on state and local laws. Personally I believe they bear a moral responsibility for the lives lost because of the decisions they made to rescind public health orders during a pandemic.

Thank you for your work, I look forward to any updates on your article.
Twitter: @Spockosbrain

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