By David M. Greenwald
Yesterday I got a call from staff at my kid’s school—we were supposed to have a Zoom video conference but it was called off at the last moment, as it turns out there was not enough staff to attend because they were out with COVID protocols.
Before the break, Interim Superintendent Matt Best told the Vanguard that they had no plans to go remote, despite UC having already announced even before the latest surge that they would do so. As of yesterday, they had not changed their minds, but one wonders how long before their hands are forced.
For now, I have bought better masks for the children and hope to keep them in school, but I’m more than a little nervous about the situation.
The seven-day average is just below 500,000 now. Up 239 percent over just two weeks ago. I figured we were heading for half a million a day, but I had no idea it would be happen this quickly.
It feels a lot like March 2020, only more cases. The difference still is that we know a lot more about how to prevent the spread of COVID than we did two years ago and we have two thirds of the population vaccinated, which, while not preventing infection, seems to be limiting hospitalization.
The NY Times noted that there is no appetite for shutting down again. But what has happened has been de facto shutdowns. We have seen a rash of sporting events cancelled because too many players are in COVID protocols—even with relaxing those protocols.
We have seen huge amounts of flights disrupted. And if teachers start getting COVID in large numbers, schools are going to shut down and go remote as well.
That’s already happened in places like Newark, Atlanta, Milwaukee and Cleveland.
The Times reports that “although politicians, including Mayor Eric Adams of New York and Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, vowed to keep schools open, there were growing fears from parents and educators that more districts would soon turn to remote learning — even though in-school transmission of Covid-19 has been limited.”
Once schools start going remote it will have a cascading effect: “Those decisions could, in turn, radiate through the country, affecting child care, employment and any confidence that the pandemic’s viselike grip was loosening.”
So far, the Times reports, few schools in California have closed. California has been among the most aggressive in the nation and “has managed to maintain comparatively low rates of virus-related deaths and hospitalizations.”
But California has not been immune to the latest wave.
In an LA Times article, they report, “”In a dramatic sign of Omicron’s relentless spread, the coronavirus transmission rate in Los Angeles County is now estimated to be greater than at any point since the early months of the pandemic, as cases explode across California, data show. Every infected person in L.A. County is on average transmitting the virus to two other people, according to estimates from California’s COVID-19 computer models published Monday morning.”
In Sacramento, “Sacramento County’s case rate for COVID-19 has exploded to the highest point of the pandemic, nearly tripling in one week as the extremely contagious omicron variant takes over.”
“The county’s latest seven-day case rate is 72 per 100,000, soaring well past the previous record of 64 set in December 2020 and with no sign of slowing,” the report continues, noting that it was 26 per 100,000 a week earlier and 10 per 100,000 in late November.
In a separate article, the Bee reported, “Roughly 500 students and staff tested positive for COVID-19 during the winter break, according to Sacramento City Unified School District officials Monday.”
That means of the nearly 20,000 test results reported to the district, roughly 1 in 40 were positive.
In Davis, I saw photos on social media of extraordinarily long lines for COVID testing at Healthy Davis Together.
Governor Newsom remains committed to keeping classrooms open, and new health rules that began on January 1 mandate that students wear face masks at all times and schools are urging their employees to upgrade to medical-grade N95 or KN95 face coverings.
I just ordered a whole pack of KN95s for my family. In fact, health officials across the country are warning that cloth masks are not enough.
“Single-layer cloth masks, which many people prefer for comfort and style, can block larger droplets carrying the virus, but aren’t as effective in blocking smaller aerosols or particles carrying the virus, according to infectious-disease specialists,” the Wall Street Journal reported this week.
CDC in new guidelines recommends people wear masks that “that are multilayered and tightly woven, that fit snugly and have an adjustable wire nose bridge.”
The state of California recommends wearing a surgical mask, either by itself or in conjunction with a cloth mask, or wearing a N95, KN95 or KF94 mask.
Buckle up folks, 2022 has arrived and the first month figures to be a little hairy.