CA refuses to share key COVID-19 data with the public, despite Newsom’s pledge of “transparency”

Written by Michael Paomba

Governor Newsom has repeatedly said that his COVID-19 lockdown related decisions would be based on data and that he would provide maximum transparency to the public. However, as we are entering the 7th week of being under a regional stay at home order, state officials are refusing to release information that could determine when the shutdown will end.

“At the moment the projections are not being shared publicly,” Department of Public Health spokeswoman Ali Bay said in an email.

According to officials, they won’t release the data they rely on because they believe it may confuse or mislead the public. So essentially, they do not trust the general public to interpret data and therefore won’t be providing any.

Newsom initially was approaching the pandemic using a county-by-county approach. So San Diego could be shut down while Orange County could remain open, for example. The decision to shut down a county also depended on a variety of factors. But following a surge in cases after Thanksgiving, Newsom scrapped that idea and split the state into 5 regions. He also based his decision to shut down a region on a single metric, ICU capacity.

Almost immediately, 98% of the state’s population, spread among 4 regions, were facing restrictions because the ICU capacity in each region dipped below 15%.

Last week, none of the regions were expected to have restrictions lifted, but within a day the state announced they were lifting restrictions on the 13-county Greater Sacramento region. This despite the regions ICU capacity still being below the 15% threshold.

“What happened to the 15%? What was that all about?” asked Dr. George Rutherford, an epidemiologist and infectious-diseases control expert at University of California, San Francisco. “I was surprised. I assume they know something I don’t know.”

The Southern California region still remains shutdown with no end in sight. The state has not provided an estimate for when restrictions will be lifted, and now they won’t even provide data to allow us to know where we stand.

There is good news though. Now that the Sacramento region has had restrictions lifted, maybe Mr. Newsom can visit The French Laundry once again; hopefully abiding by COVID-19 guidelines this time.

If you haven’t already, you can sign the petition to recall Gov. Newsom here.