Some Prominent UCSD Faculty Want County To Slow Business Reopening
Speaker 1: 00:00 Restaurants and bars, hair, salons, gyms, places of worship, and many schools are reopening this week, inviting people back indoors as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. And that's a really bad decision right now. According to 11 medical and scientific experts at UC San Diego, they sent a letter to public health officials and County supervisors on Monday, urging them to reconsider dr. Robert schooly distinguished professor of medicine at UC San Diego is one of the people who signed the letter and he joins me now welcome to the program. Thank you. We'll start with a main concern. You and your colleagues have. Why do you want County leaders to hold off on reopening so many businesses and activities right now Speaker 2: 00:43 We've made great progress. Over the last six weeks, we saw a viral epidemic. Get out of control again, after a Memorial day weekend, 4th of July with reopening of a lot of these indoor activities. Um, and, um, with the pullback that began in the mid July, we saw a major change, uh, with, uh, reduced numbers of new cases, fewer people in the hospital, fewer deaths. Um, and we've gotten to the point now we can begin to start opening things and we're actually still reopen things that are the lowest risk first. And then as we see how that goes, then gradually reopened things that may be a bit higher risk. And right now the highest risk activities are things that, um, require people to be without masks and doors Speaker 1: 01:28 Highlight the fact that though there's been a decline in the number of infections in San Diego County, that improvement has not been evenly distributed among various communities, right? Speaker 2: 01:39 That's right there, there's some neighborhoods in San Diego County that still have relatively large amounts of activity. And, um, large enough that if you happen to be in a, uh, indoor establishment with, um, a handful of people, uh, that there's a good chance. Somebody who's going to be shutting virus. Um, some parts of San Diego County, um, have gotten the incidence down to a relatively low level. And the chance of running into somebody in doors, um, is substantially lower. Uh, we would really like to see at the low all over the County, so we don't disproportionately, but, uh, areas of San Diego County, um, that haven't reached these low levels at increased risk. Speaker 1: 02:20 These would be a historically underprivileged zip codes, places like saying to Seadrill for example, lemon Grove. Speaker 2: 02:27 That's exactly right. These are areas that we have seen the most morbidity and mortality from, and we don't want to see that get restarted Speaker 1: 02:36 Your letter. You're talking about waiting til October 1st, what would that accomplish? Speaker 2: 02:40 Well, if we stay with what we've been doing, uh, the goal would be to see this, the number of new infections amount of our activity in the general population continue to decline, which would mean that you could have larger numbers of people in a group, uh, with a smaller chance of having viral sharing. It just makes the overall condition safer, uh, to begin to put people together in spaces that they may not be mass. Now, I think some of the things that they wanted to reopen are relatively safe. I, you know, I wouldn't mind going and getting a haircut. For example, if I were wearing a mask and I think of the density is dealt with appropriately and people are mass churches might be an area that you could reopen sooner. Then you can reopen your activities. That really can't function without masks coming off like restaurants and bars. And Speaker 1: 03:27 The letter States that schools really should be the priority now and businesses. And some of these that you've mentioned can really wait, explain the reasoning behind, Speaker 2: 03:36 But we need to get the schools open to be first of all, to educate the goods. And secondly, to be able to get business open more broadly, a lot of parents are stuck at home providing childcare. And if we can get the schools open safely, uh, I think we'll have a better chance of getting more people back to work sooner. Then we risk having to close down again, uh, three or four weeks into the school year because we've got a number of activities that are rekindling the epidemic around us. This is really a pro business position. From our perspective, we realized that some businesses will be more affected than others about this, but the broader business community will benefit by having the epidemic continue to decline. Speaker 1: 04:14 And of course, the question becomes, how do you reopen schools Speaker 2: 04:17 Safely? I guess our perspective is if we can get those schools up and going safe, William, and, uh, don't have to close them down, we can then start thinking about opening up other things. But if we open everything at one time, we won't know whether to close the schools or close the restaurant or close the bars or just close everything. And that'll put us back to where we were in mid July and we'll be starting all over again and trying to figure out what to do in December. When we get back to where we had been at the end of August Speaker 1: 04:45 And many business owners argue that forcing them into bankruptcy and their employees out of jobs is as bad as getting sick with the virus. What's the response to that argument? Speaker 2: 04:54 Well, I think we, haven't done a very good job as a country in supporting these business owners and these employees, uh, we were a level eight bill was discussed in Congress, passed by the house of representatives, but then was not acted on by the Senate. We should be supporting the businesses that are disproportionately affected by this as we did in the spring. So that when we're ready, they're here to go back to business. I think we've simultaneously agitated to open them, but also turned our backs on them as a society. And that's not fair to them. Speaker 1: 05:25 You bring up the point that we can't really talk about science here without discussing leadership and politics. And this dilemma, the tension between shutting down the need to keep businesses and workers solvent has been with us since the start of the pandemic some six months ago. Uh, and you'll note that the Democrats in the house passed a second stimulus bill months ago. We're not hearing so much about that right now, Republicans in the Senate and president Trump refused to take it up. Uh, there's nobody talking, uh, the, the sentence, not even in Washington right now, what's the response from your group, Speaker 2: 05:58 Uh, on the vacuum of leadership? Well, the vacuum of leadership has hurt us a lot. Uh, we would have not been to having this discussion about, uh, bars and restaurants that people had put on masks in the spring and, and gotten this epidemic under control without the second way we had all summer. So this lack of consistent leadership, the lack of, of, uh, science-based policies, uh, and the lack of policies that support businesses in the midst of all of this, uh, have had our country's response, uh, be one that, uh, I think has to be held up as the worst in the world, uh, which is why we've had the largest number of deaths, the largest number of cases, uh, and you know, at the outset with the most insight into what's going on the best science, um, in the world. Uh, but the worst adherence to scientific knowledge, uh, has gotten us to where we are. I've been speaking with dr. Robert schooly distinguished professor of medicine at UC San Diego. Thanks very much. Thanks very much. Have a good day.