For the past week, I’ve been wondering when or if a more significant lockdown will happen Horrific rise in cases of coronovirus. So on Monday morning, I took Dr. Phoned Bob Wachter, a professor and chairman of the Department of Medicine of the University of California, San Francisco, to find out if this would be warranted.
[Read about California’s move to “pull the emergency brake” on reopening.]
By the end of the day, those questions were answered: Gov. Gavin Newsom announces a major reopening rollback – One step dr. Wachter told me that he saw this as a reasonable step.
But it was a step in a wider effort to warn officials that what officials have been warning for weeks could be a dreadful holiday season.
I dr Asked Watcher what is on his mind now. Here are excerpts from our conversation, lightly edited for length and clarity:
First, let me know what you are tracking most closely in California.
The state of the epidemic is just terrible across the country. But then you have This commentary news, Which is incredibly expected. I think the human brain has a hard time collapsing those two data streams.
The vaccine news over the last few weeks has really changed the way we think about next year, but we have to make it through the next year.
Things are worse than I think I and others predicted. California is in the early part of a boom, but it is different than in June, in that it is much more national and distributed than the prior increase.
[Track Covid case counts, deaths and hospitalizations across California.]
What do you think we learned about things like indoor versus outdoor food from the onset of the epidemic? And have we learned enough to make it possible for restaurants to operate safely indoors?
We are smarter than we were 10 months ago. We know that some things are riskier than we think and some things are less risky than we think – many people are probably not cleaning their mail anymore.
We know that being outside and ventilation are exceptionally important. And the spaces with poor ventilation, where people spend time with their masks, all the bad things fill in one.
The contact tracing data that is emerging supports the premise that when you start seeing a rapid spread, there is a possibility that people are spending more time indoors in spaces with their masks. Restaurants, by definition, fit that description, Unfortunately.
Does this mean that we will not take it back until we all get vaccinated. I do not think so. But we certainly will not return to a crowded restaurant.
[Read more about why Covid hits already vulnerable communities hardest.]
In a very different place from california Last time we talked At length in terms of testing. How are you thinking about it now?
Testing is indeed complex in all types of dimensions.
This is partly because the CDC’s failure in the meantime is so catastrophic, as part of a vigorous federal response would have been to ramp up testing capacity and then create clear guidelines for various situations. That deficiency, we are all improvising.
In a different world, you can imagine the widespread availability of rapid 15-minute turnaround tests that ensure that people are not contagious in the workplace that day before going to work. And if they are, they go home. If they do not have the means to remain isolated, the society says that it is sure to use some communal money to ensure they have a place to live, so they do not go and feed the whole bunch of other people Infect. This would have been a reasonable and rational response. Of course, we have not seen any of that.
The related issue of contact tracing is testing and then a variety of systems that can be an important part of the response, but not everything. When you need them the most, the two fall apart.
You may have a test and contact tracing program that is working properly when your case volume is low. People can quickly get a test and withdraw it. It is a bit like hospitalization, it has these systems that you have to design and resource not for the good day but for the bad day.
Once this system is overwhelmed, everything deteriorates very quickly. Knock on wood, we haven’t seen in California yet, but we’ll see what happens in the next two weeks.
How worried are you about Thanksgiving?
I am collectively concerned. We could not be in a worse state and the timing is just terrible.
In California, things can get a little better. But if you wanted to design something to make things worse, you must have designed Thanksgiving exactly when it is coming.
But I see it in the light of vaccine news, which I think now makes it somewhere between possibility and possibility that by the next Thanksgiving, life will be much closer to normal.
The county is also tightening other restrictions, reducing capacity in indoor businesses and tapping the number of people in outdoor gatherings at 15 from more than three homes. [Los Angeles County Public Health]
What else to know here today
Read more about how the health of the river affects the health of tribal communities in the area. [The New York Times]
Read more about how this year’s disastrous fire season eventually forced authorities to turn to Native American ecological expertise. [The New York Times]
President-Elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. plans to make climate change part of every federal agency and program. Their EPA is the top candidate to lead Mary D. Nichols, California’s well-regarded climate and clean air regulator. [The New York Times]
Michael Tubes, the youngest person and the first black person to be elected mayor of Stockton Kevin Lincoln, a pastor and businessman: “They will need our support.” [The Stockton Record]
Read about Mr. Tubes’ efforts to promote a universal basic income. [The New York Times]
If you need a small pick-me-up or a hot tip for your next virtual trivia, here’s some news that could serve as both: Dolly Parton – yes, that one – Has been credited with making possible Development of a promising coronovirus vaccine through a donation Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Is this news related to California? Not strictly speaking – except in the sense that Ms. Parton is a hero to all Americans.
California Today airs at 6:30 pm Pacific Time of the week. Tell us what you want to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com. Did you forward this email? Sign up for California Today here And Read every version online here.
Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, graduated from UC Berkeley and has reported across the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles – but he always wants to see more. Follow along here or on Twitter.
California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from UC Berkeley.