My View: We Spiked the Ball at the 20-Yard Line on COVID

By David M. Greenwald

The good news this week is that a vaccine started rolling out—slowly to the community, with a second vaccine just approved late on Friday. But the bad news is that we are really looking at another six months before we get the vaccine out to enough people to really start to end the pandemic. We can celebrate the accomplishment, but thousands of people are dying of this each day and that’s probably not going to slow any time soon.

Yesterday 250,000 new cases emerged nationally. On Thursday we set a high with 3600 deaths. California yesterday had 53,000 new cases—which is more than what the nation was getting just a few months ago. Los Angeles topped 25,000 and it was only a few weeks ago they were breaking daily records with 7000. These numbers are staggering.

To put these numbers in perspective, if the death rate averages 3000 per day for the next six months, that would be more than half a million near death and we would be approaching one million people having died from COVID.

All of this stresses the need for the community, our state and our nation to remain vigilant—or get more vigilant.

The sad irony is that we know how to limit the spread—masks and social distancing along with avoiding large gatherings. This isn’t rocket science. When this thing spins out of control, it really can get out of control and a lot more people can die if we lack hospital capacity. While we wait for the vaccine to get out to the population, tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, could die—really needlessly, at this point.

Imagine your loved one dying with the end goal in clear sight.

Polling this week shows that our habits are improving. A new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, for example, found that 73 percent of 1,676 respondents said they wear a protective mask every time they leave their home and may be in contact with others.

That number has gone up from just over half in May.

But there is still a large partisan split here which undermines the effectiveness of these measures. While 87 percent of Democrats and 71 percent of independents said they wear a mask every time they leave their house, just 55 percent of Republicans do.

However, another encouraging trend is that seven in ten Americans are willing to follow social distancing guidelines for another six months if needed.

However the poll found that at least one third of Americans hold at least one misconception about face coverings.

“Among adults who believe at least one misconception about face masks, six in ten (61%) say they think the seriousness of coronavirus is being exaggerated and half say wearing a mask is a personal choice (50%),” the poll states.

Still, these numbers are encouraging, that we can by and large make it to the finish line—we just need to tamp down the current surge.

Schooling remains a key point of contention. As a parent of two kids who are in elementary school, I get it. My kids are struggling. It’s hard to get them to stay in class. It’s hard to keep their spirits up. They miss their friends. They hate being stuck at the house. Distance learning, at least for young children, does not work well.

Despite claims that schools are relatively safe, that’s not what the data says. The first week of December US News reported that the COVID monitor showed that there had been nearly 250,000 student and staff cases across the United States since Aug. 1.

That’s more cases than in every U.S. state combined from January to April 1 of this year.

That number has only gone up. The COVID monitor currently reports nearly 400,000 cases—237,000 students and nearly 108,000 faculty.

CDC has shifted their guidance now, calling schools a “potential source of COVID-19 outbreaks, due to the number of individuals intermingling in close proximity for extended periods of time.”

There are of course ways to minimize contact—reduce the hours, reduce class sizes, go to hybrid models. I am not necessarily against those ideas once the overall community spread goes down again, but, right now, given the numbers state and locally, how does it make sense to open things up?

This is a short-term problem. Personally, I would suggest delaying the restart of the classes until February, and extend the school year into the summer. Get us to a place where the vaccines can get to our teachers and our students, and we can safely get these students back to their schools.

I have been disappointed overall by our nation’s lack of patience with regard to this disease. From the start people have dismissed the virus as a fraud, minimized the danger, and treated things as innocuous as masks as a freedom symbol. The result is here we are, nine months into this, and the pandemic continues to rage out of control and it is a huge threat to our communities and our nation—and the most vulnerable people are the ones suffering the most.

We need to hunker down. We are in the red zone, the end goal is in sight, but we still have some tough yards to go to get to pay dirt.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Keith Olsen

    Being that 80% of COVID deaths occur in people 65 yrs of age and older which represents roughly 52 million of our population if we were to quickly roll out the vaccine to them first we could get COVID deaths under control much faster and open sooner.  We already have 40 million doses of Pfyzer’s vaccine and another 8 million doses of Moderna’s by next week.  That about covers the 65 and older group.

      1. Tia Will


        I find predicting a date after which things will improve can be quite counterproductive. Take for example the claim that this “would be over by Easter”. Making premature predictions can lessen the credibility of future statements from the same source. Which leads me to wonder why you are targeting February as you timing for school re-opening?

        1. David Greenwald

          Your point is fair.  Part of why I put dates is to show trends.  Why did I list February?  As a point to re-evaluate things.  We can we buy time?  It looks like we could at least get vaccines to teachers by February.  What happens if it is March?  Then we have to push the time down the road.  The district needs to be thinking – buy time now, push the school year into the summer, maximize in-person instruction.  When does that happen?  That should be driven by data and vaccine availability.  Hope that helps.

    1. Chris Griffith

      I’m very curious because in today’s woodland newspaper they talk about healthcare workers the Frontline people that is are getting the covid shots first so I just kind of curious if they’re like dropping like flies?

      To me anyway it would seem that if you only have 950 doses of vaccine you would want to protect the people that are dropping like flies like the old people in the convalescent homes


      1. Don Shor

        Because the supply of COVID-19 vaccine in the United States is expected to be limited at first, CDC recommends that initial supplies of COVID-19 vaccine be allocated to healthcare personnel and long-term care facility residents. CDC made this recommendation on December 3, 2020, and based it on recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), an independent panel of medical and public health experts.

        1. Chris Griffith

          Well it looks like all of it’s going to go towards the healthcare workers and not a drop of it was going to go towards the ones in the convalescent homes.

          What another note I’m kind of curious about the death numbers of the people who met their demise from covid how many of them actually had  terminal cancer or an inoperable brain tumor or large amounts of fentanyl in their system but yet they tested positive for covid ?
          When I see numbers like this the first thing that comes to my mind is never let a crisis go to waste.

      2. Bill Marshall

        A few observations, guaranteed to make me more completely unpopular:

        Healthcare workers, who have contact with multiple “at-risk” folk, need to be protected, and hopefully removed from potential “vector” status… #1 priority… those workers are not readily replaced if they fall ill…

        Many folk in extended-care facilities don’t interact with very many others… low risk of being “vectors”… but high risk of illness/death, already… many have a ‘fuse’ of 1 -5 years, even without exposure/illness due to Covid… all life is precious, but if you look at the initial paucity of doses, one should look at how effective first priority innoculations are for community health or signficant prolongation/quality of life.

        First responders, like healthcare workers… #1st priority.  Same logic.

        I’d opine ‘frontline education’ folk… teachers, counselors, and even custodial staff, to the extent they come in a lot of contact with people or spaces occupied by people, should have a pretty high priority… if they haven’t gotten the vaccine, how can we ask them to serve when we open schools?

        Same for folk in the service sector… stores, restaurants, etc.

        I’d not put nursing/convelescent home ‘permanent residents’ in the top tier of priority…


        1. Ron Oertel

          “many have a fuse of 1-5 years”, even without exposure/illness due to Covid.”

          I believe that this is the “unspoken reason” that many don’t take the virus (and death count) seriously. And that the news media is complicit in overlooking that view, undermining its own credibility.

        2. Bill Marshall

          BTW, our daughter got her first shot yesterday… a neo-natal dietician @ a major Childrens Hospital… she wasn’t that thrilled to be in the “beta-test” cohort, but realized the wisdom of it.  We are content to ‘wait our place in line’… note that Fauci has recommended against ‘stretching’ the vaccine by just giving the first dose to more people… I agree, that would be “half-stepping”… better that fewer get the complete regimen…

  2. Chris Griffith

    Of all the healthcare workers Nationwide that have contracted covid how many of them actually died from covid. Granted a lot of them could have had compromised immune systems from being treated for cancer or something else but actually died from coronavirus.

    Have you ever noticed nobody simply dies from old age everything has to be associated with a disease or a cancer or something else.


    1. David Greenwald

      Looks like a couple of thousand.  But I think you are missing something in your question: health care workers are on the frontline, they interact with vulnerable populations everyday and so if they get sick, they are likely to spread it to others.  If you want to contain community spread, you need to hit the people likely to have contact with others.

        1. Bill Marshall

          You are correct, Ron O… we do not know enough yet, to know if the vaccines will protect an individual long-term, and certainly we don’t know if a successfully vaccinated individual can/can’t be a “vector”… but the odds suggest it will decrease risk, even if not eliminating risk… at this point, even just decreasing risk is a GOOD thing…

    2. Tia Will


      There is a very good reason that few death certificates simply list “old age”. That is because we have learned much more about the pathophysiology of aging. With the exception of individuals with progeria, no one dies just of old age, but rather of the failure of some kind of organ or process most of which we have names for unlike what used to be the case.

      1. Bill Marshall

        You are not incorrect, Tia, but it goes well beyond that, as to death certificates… particularly “primary cause”… Dad had stage 4 pancreatic cancer, and died… primary cause was listed as ‘cardiac’ arrest… he had no heart disease… somebody would have to ‘drill down’ to attribute his passing as due to pancreatic cancer…

        If Dad had contracted Covid in his last days of life, not clear how that would be “reported out”…

        Death certificates, sometimes attribute primary cause of death, due to ‘eating a gun’ to “cardiac arrest”… like the bullet thru the brain wasn’t the issue… sometimes thru carelessness, sometimes to ‘spare the family, to be able to collect life insurance’… the “”dark underbelly” of  some/many in the medical profession, and those who try to mine info from DC’s…

        Example… if a patient was dying of acute renal failure (life expectancy maybe 6 months), and they then contracted Covid, what was the CoD?  Same for stage 4 lung cancer?

        1. Bill Marshall

          This all gets to “we don’t know what we don’t know”…

          We want to believe we have some vaccines… and we do… but we don’t know how effective they will be in the general population… we don’t know how long they will give immunity, if they do… we don’t know if a “protected person” is capable of still being a “vector”, and expose/infect others… we don’t know if the virus has, or will mutate, and how that will affect the efficacy of the vaccine as to mutated virus… let’s leave at that…

          What we DO know is that masking, distancing, avoiding large indoor meetings of duration is a wise course of action, for sure until we do actually know more… I believe that after processing housands of voters, indoors, over the course of 4 days, where the poll-workers (10) spent over 50 hours together, inside, Oct 31- Nov 3, none of us tested positive.  They county would have ‘traced’ us… we wore masks, we did the hand-cleaning, we generally kept distance (many wore gloves, but I couldn’t… medical condition)… it seemed to work…

          As Alan, Tia, David, I, and others have said, (to the effect of) things look like they will get better… not clear when… in the meantime, doing all the things we were/should have been doing, is the only sane/prudent/responsible/ethical choice… talking about personal actions… specifically not speaking to other actions by the Guv or others… some of which, given what we can do as individuals, are ‘over the top’…

  3. Alan Miller

    I’d opine ‘frontline education’ folk… teachers, counselors, and even custodial staff, to the extent they come in a lot of contact with people or spaces occupied by people, should have a pretty high priority…

    While that makes sense from one perspective, you may be making the assumption that people who are inoculated also don’t spread the virus.  I heard a report yesterday that THEY don’t yet know if people who are inoculated don’t spread the virus, so apparently people who are inoculated are supposed to continue to wear masks.  My guess is on a mass scale, those who get the vaccine will stop wearing masks, and people who don’t want to wear masks will start claiming they got the vaccine.  Mark my words.  Therefore, the possibility exists that for awhile in early 2021, vaccinations plus bad human behavior will actually cause an increased spread of the virus, not to mention even more violent social encounters.  Happy new year, everyone.

    1. Bill Marshall

      Actually, some of points you made, as to whether a vaccinated person could still be a vector, I pointed out hours ago in a post… thanks for affirming it tho’…

    1. Tia Will


      Not necessarily. Use me as an example. I am 68 and therefore at risk. However, I have the ability to stay at home almost all the time. Giving me the vaccine would be less effective than giving it to someone younger who has to be out in public. If you gave it to the younger person, let’s say someone who does deliveries for people of all ages, that has the potential to be safer for more people than if you gave it to me. Also, younger people who have asthma or diabetes or cardiovascular disease should get the vaccine before me. My strategy will be to confer with my MD about the optimal timing for me, and the community as a whole given the totality of my circumstances and the amount allocated to our area.

      1. Keith Olsen

        We need to roll the vaccine out as quickly and effectively as possible.  So starting with the most vulnerable first, the oldest, and working down to the younger population is the only equitable way o do it.  We don’t have the time or the people to do it on a case by case basis.  If you don’t want the vaccine now then by all means you can turn it down.

        1. Don Shor

          We need to roll the vaccine out as quickly and effectively as possible. So starting with the most vulnerable first, the oldest, and working down to the younger population is the only equitable way o do it.

          I believe the operating principle is that risk is, in part, a function of exposure over time, as well as the principle that some populations are more vulnerable to complications when infected than others. So it would be logical to first vaccinate those with greatest exposure (which correlates to profession) and those who are most vulnerable (which correlates to age). A young person who works in a nursing home would be higher on the list than an older person who works from home and is able to avoid travel and exposure.

    2. Bill Marshall

      Wrong… contact likelihood is first… overall risk, next… are you saying a 96 yr old with severe dementia should go first, vs a 40 old essential worker with a family should be secondary?  Very interesting… the 96 year old might gain 2-3 months of life… if they were exposed to Covid… and they’d be unlikely to transmit, in any case…

      Interesting value system… as to priorities… I do not hold the same…

      As the POC folk are statistically @ higher risk of hospitalization/death, from Covid, should that be a priority rather than age?  For myself, a same-aged POC should get the vaccine first… I am statistically less at risk…

      With good efforts, and a tad of luck, we should be able to vaccinate all… but we’re not there yet… believe it is called ‘triage’ in medical terms… opportunity/outcome in financial terms… [or ‘benefit/cost’]… Sure glad you aren’t driving the priorities… I know I’m not.

  4. Alan Miller

    I believe that this is the “unspoken reason” that many don’t take the virus (and death count) seriously. And that the news media is complicit in overlooking that view, undermining its own credibility.

    I assume you mean liberal news media, and I’d agree.  Far right news media is doing just the opposite, claiming the numbers are so skewed because people are put down as Covid-19 deaths when they died of something else.  In this report the included pneumonia in that, even though pneumonia is a common result of the ravages of Covid-19:

    Seems both sides are doing this for political purposes.  Could we not get an estimate of how many deaths are people who died “because of Coronavirus” and those that died “with Coronavirus”.  I realize there are grey areas where the cause could not be definitively determined, but in order for both those who want to pump-up the numbers and those that want to de-legitimize the numbers for political purposes, it would be best if some straight talk would occur on this most important issue.

    1. Keith Olsen

      Totally agree Alan.  One thing that leads to suspicion though is the drop in flu deaths being reported.  We’re being told that the drop in flu deaths was due to people wearing masks.  If that’s true then why not a drop in COVID deaths too.

      1. Tia Will


        There are several possible explanations for the decrease in flu deaths that are not nefarious in nature:

        1. A milder flu strain this year as seen in Australia

        2. People who are the most susceptible self-isolating more.

        3. Higher vaccination rate for the flu due to people’s concern about COVID-19 ( I haven’t confirmed but it should be considered a possibility)

        4. And yes, people masking. We know that Davis for example with a higher compliance rate with distancing and masking than in Woodland and South Sac has been relatively spared even with the presence of the university. We have a lower rate of COVID-19 than do the areas with a lower level of masking, distancing compliance.


        1. Keith Olsen

          If masking is indeed keeping the flu numbers down this year than in turn masking should be keeping the COVID numbers down too, but we know that’s not true.  It just stands to reason.

    2. Ron Oertel

      I assume you mean liberal news media, and I’d agree.  

      The “what”, now?

      I prefer to think of them as the “progressive news media”, in reference to the conversation yesterday.


      But underlying it all is sort of an advocacy to do the “right thing” – rather than just report the news. And ultimately, I don’t think this works so well.

      1. Bill Marshall

        As to the topic, you’re right… the media has no place promulgating ‘fake news’ about mask use, social distancing, using common sense… that is ‘advocacy to do the “right thing”‘ and is patently inappropriate… they should just report number of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths… your “point” is taken… but I strongly disagree…

        1. Ron Oertel

          The potential problem with advocacy (from supposedly unbiased news organizations) is that it undermines credibility.  I think this can be seen in regard to some businesses which are objecting to restrictions (and I understand is even leading to a recall effort, regarding Newsom).  I really doubt that those businesses think they’re killing their own customers.

          Perhaps a related example is news media telling us that Trump’s claims (that they report) are false (as if we would “believe” him, otherwise). I’m not sure if this says more about the media, or their audience.

          I do compare this to the incessant reminders to conserve water, during periods of drought. Sure, it’s the “right thing to do” in a way (but without acknowledging how we got into this situation in the first place), and are continuing to do so. Actually, that’s true of the fire people, as well.

    3. Tia Will


      We ( meaning the CDC) do have that information. The way death certificates work is that no many how many conditions a person has, the proximate cause of death is the first listed on the death certificate by the attending physician, either from their direct knowledge or from an autopsy. If there are many diagnoses, the determination is made of the most likely to have led directly to death. So for example, a woman with diabetes, and metastatic liver cancer who contracts acute pneumonia and dies from uncorrectable hypoxia accompanied by high fever will likely have pneumonia listed first, even though either of the other two could have been fatal. Causes of death are reported to the CDC which does the compiling. Yes, there are incidental under and over-reporting. But the conspiracy theories are greatly over-exaggerated.


    4. Bill Marshall

      Could we not get an estimate of how many deaths are people who died “because of Coronavirus” and those that died “with Coronavirus”.

      Short answer is “no”… for all the political reasons you cite…

      I know of many “conservatives” who deny Covid is ‘real’, or not a big deal, and want to be first in line to get the vaccine (and want 100% guarantees it will ‘save’ them)… ‘conserving’ their health, am guessing…

      This is a virus… science and rational thought is in order… yet, it is not, as evidenced widely, and including on the VG…

      I know more than a few ‘conservatives’, almost all Republican, who deny the threat, reject precautions for themselves, but insist others do in their presence, and want to be first in line for the vaccinations… whatever…

  5. Chris Griffith

    Just curious since medical staff physicians and nurses seem to be giving themselves shots before giving shots to the  vulnerable within the convalescence system could these individuals within the medical field charged with manslaughter or murder they seem to be withholding medicine from those particular individuals maybe the district attorney should look into this.

    Just an interesting thought…


    1. Bill Marshall

      Chris… they are a) at risk, but more importantly, b) they are ‘modelling’… showing folk that they are not doing what they advocate for others… this is real important when dealing with anti-vaxxers, and for minority communities who are suspicious (rightly, or wrongly) of being ‘test subjects, guinea pigs’, etc.

      They took pains, on media, to show that across racial/ethnic lines, they are willing to “walk the walk” with new vaccines… if you cannot see that, I cannot assist you…

      As to,

      … the  vulnerable within the convalescence system could these individuals within the medical field charged with manslaughter or murder they seem to be withholding medicine from those particular individuals maybe the district attorney should look into this.

      that is just an inflammatory and a stupid statement to make… IMNSHO…

      Would your prioritize a person in a ‘health maintenance venue’ who is suffering from pancreatic cancer, Altzeimers, terminal cardiac disease, etc., over an ‘essential worker’ who is in otherwise good health, raising a family?  If so, that’s fine… I see different priorities… folk you refer to, are/or likely to be much less at risk, if their caregivers are first in line… and yes, I fully understand this will decrease whatever low opinion of me, by others…  will not apologize for it…

  6. Chris Griffith

    Oh I enjoy listening to your opinion so there is no offense taken in anything.

    We seem to be changing the definition of elder abuse. When does elder abuse start and when does it end . I would love to know but the new definition of elder abuse is in a liberal’s eyes


    And of course when should lawyers step in and start prosecuting people for murders and so on if they do withhold medicine from their patients it use the medicine for themselves.


    1. Tia Will

      When does elder abuse start and when does it end . I would love to know but the new definition of elder abuse is in a liberal’s eyes”

      If you are not a liberal, I strongly question your interpretation of what is true in ” a liberal’s” eyes. Just as I hope you would question me if I told you what conservatives think without providing a reference to what one or more conservatives have actually said. I am debatably one of the most liberal individuals here, but I imagine I would raise a few eyebrows if I said what I think about the management of those in my own age group.


  7. Chris Griffith

    To me and liberal in this case is somebody who has deep compassion towards the poor towards the elderly and towards the homeless and I just find it quite odd that in this particular case the elderly seem to be last in the food chain in receiving this shot instead of the first considering they’re the most vulnerable.

    By the way I am your age and I don’t consider myself elderly until you hit 80 or 90 😃


    1. Bill Marshall

      You are not listening… if the elderly, those in serious LT care facilities, are not ‘mobile’ what threat is there to them, or others because of them?

      If you want the vaccine before me, fine… I hereby give you my place in line… but I say again, if Dad, knowing he had a week or two to live, from pancreatic cancer, was offered the vaccine, knowing that it would be delayed to others, he’d probably say “F-off”… and Dad never used the F-word…

    1. David Greenwald

      Maybe but she is actually factually wrong on some points. Her tweet conflated essential workers — those who were allowed to continue reporting to work during stay-at-home orders — with first responders. The CDC put first responders alongside “high-risk health workers” for early access to the vaccine. Remember it’s not just vulnerability – it’s also attempting to contain spread.

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