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Public Health officer: Stay vigilant to prevent COVID-19 spread

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Ventura County Public Health Officer Dr. Robert Levin

 

 

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County of Ventura chart showing the increasing rate of hospitalizations of people with COVID-19 in Ventura County.

 

Ventura County Public Health Officer Dr. Robert Levin warned at this week’s Board of Supervisors meeting that the rising number of COVID-19 cases indicates the county is "starting to lose this battle against COVID-19."
The meeting was recorded and can be viewed at the Ventura County Board of Supervisors web site at the 1 hour and 1 minute time stamp of the Tuesday meeting.
Levin appeared via Zoom, after several public speakers angrily objected to statewide mask guidance and earlier business closures.
In a seven-minute prepared statement after he discussed the reopening safety protocols for movie theaters and personal-care services, Levin said:

"Let me pause here for a moment. Let me pause for an unpleasant reality. If my reading is correct, we are showing the first signs of starting to lose this battle against COVID-19 in our county. Statewide, we’ve seen an increase in cases of 16 percent over the last days. This is happening all over the nation. Sixteen percent is nothing. There are places that are increasing 40 percent.

"The state reassures us that the level of increase is not worrisome. Well, it worries me and it should worry you. It worries me because of what I see around me. I see our numbers starting to climb. I see gatherings of people. I see them in front of restaurants. I saw a gathering of what  must have been 100 or more people crowded together shoulder to shoulder watching a skateboard competition of some sort on Sunday morning in a park located where the 33 meets the 101. They were packed together.

"I hear those that deny that COVID-19 is a threat. I am less concerned about the impact that they have on our COVID numbers than I am about the many of us who conveniently dismiss the threat of this virus. On the one hand, we know that the growth of this pandemic — our loss of control over it — would be a terrible thing. On the other hand, we excuse our misbehaviors as frivolous and meaningless.

"The having of friends over to dinner — after all, we can go to restaurants, the increasing amount of time we spend away from home socializing. I know I sound like a zealot to you, but I admit some of these limited breaches, I admit to them myself. I guess that’s why I assume that many of the rest of us are doing the same, but we must stop.

"We see businesses. stores, restaurants opening around us and we tell ourselves it’s over, the worst is over. The real big offenders — the highest-risk activities — those are the parties, the barbecues, the socializing while on the job, at lunch or during breaks. It’s like we’re cheating on our diet and angry or baffled that we can’t lose weight. There’s all those times we’re not cheating, but when the few times we do, all that effort is for naught. So, what is the price we pay? Where are we headed?

"More cases of COVID-19? More people hospitalized? More people in our ICUs? More people dead? These are all bad outcomes. The deaths are tragic outcomes.

"What they have in common is something difficult to grasp, something that is hard to imagine because we’ve never seen it before. That is an overwhelming of our healthcare system. What that comes down to is not only unnecessary deaths from COVID, but unnecessary deaths from other illnesses for lack of available hospital beds. Instead of surviving your severe infection or your heart attack, you’re dying needlessly for lack of a hospital bed. There are long lines outside of hospitals for the seriously ill waiting to be seen, waiting just to get in.

"At this point, the state will step in. They will roll back all the businesses and activity reopenings that we’ve seen. This hasn’t happened yet, but I’m concerned that it will. We will be expected to strictly quarantine in our homes like we willingly did when this whole thing began three or four months ago. Businesses, savings and lives will be ruined. Some have been ruined already. More will be.

"But we can prevent that future from happening. It’s not that hard. We have several tools at our disposal. You can count on the county to continue to find cases of COVID-19 to work with them to isolate, to learn who their contacts were, and to help them quarantine themselves. 

"But this won’t be enough, not if we keep creating more and more cases. Some of my colleagues in other counties have already given up on this. 

"We can self-quarantine and social distance again. We can supervise ourselves better in our human-to-human interactions. We can still leave the house for essentials, for exercise, even to go out for a meal once in a while. If we’re trying to decide what to do, let’s try to do the thing that is less crowded. We should avoid gatherings. I think we should stop going out to do frivolous and unnecessary things.

"I could wait two or three weeks before I tell you this. It would be safer. It would be less controversial. I wouldn’t look like I was trying to scare you, and I’m not trying to do that.

"I hope and want all of us to work together to resolve that this needn’t happen to us. That picture I painted needn’t happen to us. We deserve our freedom, but the reality is we just can’t have it yet. This is a classic case of deferring our reward, deferring our reward until this damn situation lets up and allows us to have our freedom again."

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