“Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” is a variation on the famous quote by George Santayana and is applicable to Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Hewitt. He “wants to reject the state’s coronavirus reopening framework in favor of a county-controlled plan that would allow businesses to reopen faster and with no restrictions like capacity limits.”
You may remember Supervisor Hewitt from his (in)famous vote to rescind all public health mandates directed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 on May 8th, 2020. During the meeting, 5th District Supervisor Jeff Hewitt said that he didn’t feel he needed to wear a mask, citing conflicting evidence of its benefits, but that he would continue to do so if certain businesses require it. “That’s my personal choice,” he said. “I think that people are smart enough to make [that] decision themselves.”
On May 8th, the daily incidence rate of COVID-19 stood at 4.63 daily cases per 100,000 population. By July 17th, that rate had climbed to 31.46 – a staggering 679% increase (Figure 1 below).
Past ineptitude not withstanding, Supervisor Hewitt doubled down on his ignorance stating: ““Putting some arbitrary percentage point on something doesn’t address anything … you end up one size fitting nobody,” Hewitt said.
The State’s current color coded scheme isn’t arbitrary but instead is a carbon copy of the metrics set out by the Harvard Global Health Institute (Link below). Currently Riverside County has 8.29 daily new cases per 100,000 population placing it in Harvard’s Yellow Zone which recommends rigorous test and trace programs. At 10 or more cases, Harvard describes a ‘tipping point’ of accelerated spread where stay-at-home orders may need to be resumed.
Supervisor Hewitt has advocated for poor public health policy in the past, leading to unnecessary morbidity and mortality in Riverside County. Lest he (and the other Supervisors) presume that their foray into the public’s health was without consequence, Figure 2 tells a different story. Mortality rates increased dramatically in July and August, peaking at a rate 3 times higher than that seen that fateful week in May. A total of 949 Riverside County residents have died as a results of COVID-19 since May 9th, 2020.
Supervisor Hewitt Story Link: https://www.pe.com/2020/09/18/riverside-county-supervisor-wants-to-defy-sacramento-reopen-businesses-faster
Harvard Global Health Institute: https://globalhealth.harvard.edu/key-metrics-for-covid-suppression-researchers-and-public-health-experts-unite-to-bring-clarity-to-key-metrics-guiding-coronavirus-response/