Time to quit moving the COVID goalposts -San Diego County Supervisor

In California's response to COVID, there's just one thing to say: We have lost sight of the goal.

I think it’s reasonable for everyone to take a step back and ask: 'How did we end up here?' We are in an extended lockdown.

I'm a San Diego County supervisor, and all I can say is, how did we go from: 'We need to flatten the curve for the month of April -- to: We are going to shut your business down in September and October if you decide to stay open? 

In California, the goalposts continue to move. At the beginning, the goal was to make sure we had enough hospital beds, and ensure we had enough PPE equipment for our health care front line workers. We needed to make sure we weren’t having to choose between who could live and who couldn’t. Thankfully, because of the people of San Diego and the great work from our local public health officials, we never had any of those problems. 

Now though, the goal has changed. The achievements of the city are no longer good enough.

In California, we have a flawed color-coded system of reds, oranges and yellows, but it doesn’t have a green tier, with full openings. Does that tell us something about the intentions of state officials?

What it tells us here on the ground is that businesses are going to be limited in capacity for an indefinite time. 

Now we’re being told that life won’t get back to normal until there’s a vaccine.

So, if the goal truly is to keep everyone locked down until there is a vaccine, we have to start being honest. An Axios/Ipsos poll was done last week that said only 13 percent of Americans would be willing to try the vaccine when it comes out. That doesn't sound good for the goal. 

It's a signal that trust in government is now breaking down. The highly regulated medical field is now seeing trust decrease with more and more people become suspect of its regulation.

Almost all business owners set goals, whether it’s financial or technical or in expansive reach. They set goals as a way to look towards the future. 

I look to Gov. Gavin Newsom and the lawmakers and regulators in Sacramento and I wonder, what is the goal?

Is it hospital capacity? Is it a vaccine and the extinction of the virus? 

Yes, we should be working on a vaccine, but we should not hold our entire economic future hostage to it. We need to learn to live with this virus. If a vaccine is the goal, we need to win the trust of the public back. If it's protection of the vulnerable, we must protect the vulnerable. If it's hospital capacity, then attention should be focused there.

But we need to let citizens get back to their lives as normally as possible. We need to give them the facts.

The facts are, if you are under the age of 50, you have a 99.98% chance of surviving from COVID-19. If you are younger than 70, you have a 99.5% chance of surviving COVID. In San Diego County, 6% of our hospital beds are COVID-19 patients and we have thousands of hospital beds available in case of an increase. Those are the facts.

We need to quit playing with the livelihoods and emotions of business owners with the current flawed color-coded system that offers no way out, and we must to start to be honest when it comes to the goals of COVID-19.

We are failing at that and as a result, we are quickly losing the trust of the people.

Jim Desmond is a former mayor of San Marcos, California, and a San Diego County supervisor, representing District 5.

Image credit: Official, public domain