Daily COVID-19 Update by John Duran – Tuesday, April 28 2020 – THE SKY IS FALLING or Maybe Not?

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West Hollywood Council Member John Duran has been posting a daily COVID-19 update on his personal Facebook page, which he keeps open to the general public. His commentary on the current coronavirus pandemic delivers stats through his personal stream of consciousness in the hopes to engage the community on the ongoing effort to flatten the curve.

Unfortunately, not everyone has a Facebook page. Council member Duran is allowing us to share his COVID-19 update with WEHO TIMES readers.

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Daily Update for Tuesday, April 28, 2020

LA County Cases 20,417 (up from 19,528)
LA County Deaths 942 (up from 913)

THE SKY IS FALLING or maybe not?

The children’s story about Chicken Little being hit on the head by an acorn was brought to new life on the Golden Girls comedy series with Rose as Chicken Little, Dorothy as Turkey Lurkey and of course Blanche as Goosey Loosey. With Sophia narrating the tale, it is one of my favorite episodes in the series.

Front page of the LA Times today headline “MANY REGIONS SEEING A LET UP, BUT NOT LA”. Woah. That’s quite a headline.

So, I read the story. It is primarily about the difference in rural counties of CA versus urban counties in CA. The story talks about one half of the hospitalized patients being treated in LA County. And then acknowledges that the number of deaths is not even close to what happened in New York. The story also talks about the loosening of restrictions in mid May around the State including LA county.

But the story’s headline of doom and gloom compared to the content of the story saying that we are loosening restrictions possibly in mid May seems contradictory. And more important – raises the various serious question – WHAT ARE YOU EXPECTING? HOW ARE YOU PLANNING ON MEASURING SUCCESS?

Well, OPTION ONE the virus is eradicated from the face of the earth and life returns to normal like we experienced in January 2020? Um. Not going to happen. Even after “conquering” polio, small pox and other infectious diseases – they do come back. And HIV is still with us going on 4 decades. So that’s not realistic.

OK. OPTION TWO The new deaths reported stops or minimizes to a few per month across the county? That is possible. But it will take development of a vaccine (12-18 months away) and effective treatments (clinical trials underway with drug experimentation – at least 6-12 months away). So, while that’s foreseeable, it’s not attainable in the next few months. That measurement of success is a long way aways.

OK. OPTION THREE. The number of new infections and cases begins to decrease? Well yes, but that requires knowing where we are to develop a baseline. We need millions of ANTIGEN tests and ANTIBODY TESTS to determine where outbreaks are occurring and who has already been exposed and survived. And thanks to “Not a Doctor” Trump – despite saying that tests are widely available – they are not. And there are not enough supplies to make the tests. Or enough labs to run the tests. Or enough testing tools available which do not produce false negatives and errors.

We NEED this to happen with reliable and wide spread testing. And WHEN that does happen – we will see a SURGE in the numbers. Not because of new infections or failure. But because of wide availability of testing to finally give us an accurate count. That SURGE ironically will not be a demonstration of failure but rather a demonstration that we finally have widespread testing and its accurate and truthful reports.

OK. WELL THEN WHAT WOULD SUCCESS BE?

We talked about a goal of flattening a curve. It’s a bell curve. Shaped like a bell. Steep climb up. Flattens at the top. Steep decline down. We are at the beginning of the flattening of the top. We are trying to keep it there without another spike to a higher level of infection. That’s why we are still staying at home and taking other preventive measures. So, Success (for the moment) is defined at MEASURING WHAT DIDN’T HAPPEN. (Impossible by the way. You cannot, by definition, measure a nullity).

Could have been worse. We went into action. Prevented exponential climbs in a nation that is now number ONE in deaths and cases (so tired of winning!). It’s the worst in the world. But it could have been so much worse. Especially here in Los Angeles.

So now what? Well that top of the bell described above. The flat top. That will now continue for days, weeks and maybe months. This is the part that requires incredible patience and endurance. Not a sprint. It’s a long distance marathon. Day in. Day out. New cases. More loss. Signs of hope. Signs of setback. But so long as we stay on THIS TOP of the bell curve – we are succeeding.

Because within each day, there are advancements, ideas, theories, experiments, trials, research tests – occurring each day. This is the LABORIOUS part. Scientists and researchers doing the hard work for the break through.

My assignment? Your assignment? Stay Alive. Stick around for tomorrow. Figure out within our own community – our own businesses – our own places of worship – our own gatherings – our own recreational time – what changes have to be made to reduce new infections while the LABOR OF SCIENCE is continuing. Social distancing. New floor plans. New services. New online transactions. New protective gear. Whatever it takes. There are millions of us to figure that part out while those entrusted with labs and science LABOR to get us to the next step. And another thank you to health care workers who continue to be entrenched in the war zones (I know I have already said it in at least 4 other posts – BUT SO GRATEFUL FOR YOUR COURAGE!)

Resist the urge to JUMP to conclusion. Case numbers are up? We’re failing! Deaths went up 20%? We are failing! Drug trials are not working! We are failing! Don’t do it. You’ll only make yourself nuts. And we have seen how terribly NUTS works during an epidemic. Bleach and UV lights anyone?

There are a hundred recognizable forms of success available on any one day when I look for them. The Weho Collective boys raised $23,000 in 2 weeks to help people pay their rent. Cedars Sinai ER room has plenty of capacity and there are plenty of beds. We are innovating commerce and government with technology at unprecedented rates. There is no traffic or pollution in LA and our “May gray” and “June gloom” may just be ocean fog rolling in without smog.

MAYBE THE SKY IS ENDLESS AND BLUE. IT IS NOT FALLING.

For more of Duran’s Daily COVID-19 Update posts visit: https://www.facebook.com/John.Jude.Duran.

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Councilmember John J. Duran is a native Angeleno and a resident of West Hollywood since 1990. He has been an elected member of the City Council since 2001. Councilmember Duran has a Juris Doctorate degree from Western State University College of Law and a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from CSU Long Beach. He has been a lawyer in private practice since 1987.
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