CALIFORNIA WITHHOLDING VIRUS DATA FROM THE PUBLIC

January 25, 2021

CALIFORNIA WITHHOLDING VIRUS DATA FROM THE PUBLIC

From the moment the coronavirus became an issue; California Governor Gavin Newsom promised to keep the public up to date on all the virus data. The reason for doing so was to ensure that the public would not be kept in the dark about the length of potential lockdowns and stay-at-home orders. It seemed like a great idea; but it now looks as though California is not living up to their end of the bargain.

California is on the brink of emerging from what has been a horrendous surge in positive cases; yet the transparency with the virus data promised in the beginning is now nowhere to be seen. State health officials are arguing that the amount of data that they have would be confusing if it was all released to California natives at the same time. There are some, including Dr. Lee Riley; chairman of the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health infectious disease division; who disagree with that statement, claiming that it is more confusing to hold back virus data that has an impact on lockdowns and restrictions.

Democratic governor Gavin Newsom

Made political news back in March of last year when his state issued the first shutdown. At that time, his administration began to develop benchmarks that would help determine stay-at-home orders would and wouldn’t be lifted. It was then left up to individual counties to use that data to control their restrictions.

Data such as cases per capita were and hospital capacities were used to help the counties make their decisions; but Newsom changed all that last Thanksgiving when he decided to separate the state into 5 regions; using ICU capacity as the sole factor in determining which region(s) would be subjected to stay at home orders.

Where problems began was when regions began to have their stay at home orders; lifted despite falling well below the 15% ICU threshold imposed by the state. People who had been falling the stats; which had previously been posted daily on an online map; were surprised to suddenly see restaurants and other businesses open when it looked as though re-openings were not anywhere close to happening.

The state responded by saying that they are now using complex algorithms to try and project where thresholds will be in the near future; essentially claiming that it’s all too complicated to break down into a single piece of data that people could easily follow. This is political news that could end up backfiring on Newson and state officials if things begin to spike again.

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