15 December 2022 Blog Post: On "Protecting Yourself"

Supervisor Janice Hahn this week in a wide ranging Fox 11 interview spent about a minute discussing her opinion on an indoor mask mandate (link: https://www.foxla.com/video/1153724).  She correctly points out that most of the public would not follow such a mandate. She stated “a better approach is to prevent us actually having to get to that pont.” She suggests that we ‘protect ourselves’ instead of relying on a public health mandate.

Granted, Supervisor Hahn has no actual public health experience so it would be a little unfair to press her on specifics of how we ‘protect ourselves’ so I thought that since I have some public health experience, I would try to answer that question. While a bit pejorative, we could start with Francis Bacon’s “knowledge is power” or Jefferson’s refinement of it to “knowledge is power and that ignorance is weakness.”

One measure of knowledge that can be helpful is the current COVID-19 prevalence rate in the County – a rate that represents the number of active infections. Currently that rate (calculated as a function of new case numbers and test positivity rate) is at 2.2%. This has risen steadily since October but is quite a bit below the mid-summer peak of 9.7%

Comparing year over year prevalence, 2022 (in yellow) is currently right between the low rate seen in 2021 (red) and the 4.1% prevalence of 2020 (blue). 

What happens next is well documented from our prior years’ experience – a significant increase in cases rising in both years (2020: blue, 2021: red) to a maximum of 25 active cases per 100 population.

Given that we already know what is going to happen, we need to fill gaps in our current public health approach. Avoiding congregate settings, wearing a mask, testing after exposure or group gathering, opting for outdoor activities rather than indoor ones – the list goes on. All of these things can be done without a mask mandate per se, but communication of actual numbers and emphasizing what we know is going to happen in late December and through January will help the community make better and more informed decisions. Yet, Supervisor Hahn would rather opt for people to ‘protect themselves’ rather than communicating numbers and actual risk – which is precisely why she needs to be running the political spectrum of the County, not its Health.

𝗦𝗶𝗴𝗻 𝗨𝗽 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗢𝘂𝗿 𝗡𝗲𝘄𝘀𝗹𝗲𝘁𝘁𝗲𝗿

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