Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

We'll Be Wearing Masks Forever if We Don't Get Rid of Ferrer

If the virus loses its deadly quality, why should we care about transmission?

January 27, 2022 - At a media briefing today, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health was repeatedly asked when restrictive measures such as vaccine and mask mandates might be relaxed in the future. In each case, she rationalized the continuation of these measures even as she acknowledged the county has "turned the corner" on the surge of Omicron Covid-19 cases. She focused with tunnel vision on transmission rates, completely ignoring the plummeting number of deaths per new case during the current surge of the Omicron variant.

The number of new cases and the transmission of the virus is not relevant if the consequences of infection are not significant. In a comparison of the overall new deaths to new cases between the same two weeks this year and last year, it turns out there are 13 time fewer deaths this year. The overall death rate has gone down to 1.1%. For the vaccinated, this rate is down at .15%, close to the case fatality rate for the seasonal flu, which is regarded as .1%.

With a death rate so low, who cares how many cases there are?

In discussing vaccine mandates, Ferrer did not even pretend they had ever been about protecting public health - that is, about protecting people from becoming infected with Covid-19. Vaccine mandates prohibit the unvaccinated from entering some venues or require them to provide proof of a negative Covid test. The idea sold to the public was that the unvaccinated were the major source of Covid spread and establishments were safer without them present. However, Ferrer spoke of vaccine mandates as a method to "help people make the decision to get vaccinated."

The former is a potentially legitimate and legal rationale for a vaccine mandate. The latter is not. As a society, for example, we do not forbid the sale of high-calorie, high fat desserts even though it would certainly be better for the health of the public if they did not each such things. Civil liberties are not trampled "for your own good."

However, Ferrer, said "it's hard to imagine" removing any of the county's vaccine mandates since "we are so far from really definitively the end of Covid-19." Ferrer is confusing the presence of a virus with the presence of danger.

Regarding masks, Ferrer resisted the idea of relaxing any of the county's requirements for mask wearing when indoors. What will drive such a decision, she said, "is getting transmission down to a very low level." In other words, she will never relax the mask requirements because the level of transmission of a virus that is endemic in the population is never going to recede to a measurement that will satisfy the current director of public health. She did not speak of relating the mask requirement to the actual danger of this virus, simply to its presence.

With 80% of the deaths that occurred over the last two weeks involving underlying conditions in those who've died, the true death rate from Covid-19 currently could be even lower than as calculated above.

It's time to stop treating this like the plague and get back to real life rather than bow to the fantasies of a public official who has enjoyed more attention and power over the last two years than she knows how to handle.


Reader Comments(3)

nikkis writes:

Thank you for writing this. I completely agree. Ferrer needs to go immediately. Years ago many of us had signs in our yards that said science is real. Over the last 2 years in LA I’ve come to wonder if science is only real if it brings a level of restriction with it. It appears that when science says that the restrictions can be removed many are suddenly mistrusting. I work in the film industry. If you have an office and air conditioning, you don’t have to wear a mask because you have a magic air filter. If you’re working in a location as extreme as Agua Dolce in 115 degree heat, with no one around, you have to wear a mask and have a babysitter there to rat you out if you don’t wear it. Yes, imagine working for 2 years with babysitters. It’s hell. It’s gotten to the point of abusive and is leaning toward classism.

RecallGascon writes:

microcosme11 writes:

She will never relinquish these control measures because she likes them. They don't have to be relevant to facts, those don't matter at all to people in her position.