Slingshot: Will the Delta Variant Disrupt OC's Pandemic Progress?
Before Independence Day, Orange County met its milestone of vaccinating 70 percent of adults over 18 with at least one dose in late June.
"Vaccination has proven to be a vital component in reducing test positivity rates in our county over the last several months," said Dr. Clayton Chau, OC Health Care Agency Director and County Health Officer, in a June 30 statement. "Since the reopening of our state on June 15, with many people no longer wearing masks or physically distancing, we’ve seen a slight increase in our seven-day positivity rate from 0.9% to 1.1%"
Chau also noted at the time that 90 percent of new cases and 95 percent of hospitalizations were comprised of people who hadn't been fully vaccinated. In short: get the jab, folks!
There's even more reason to do so now. After the holiday weekend, the Delta variant of coronavirus continues to fuel a rise in cases in the county with the full public health impacts of weekend gatherings still unknown.
The OC Health Care Agency now provides coronavirus case updates once a week on Tuesdays only, a point of contention on social media with concerns over any Delta-driven summer spike in the making.
What tale do the numbers, as we know them, tell?
Since Chau's statement, the positivity rate continues to rise. According to the state's COVID-19 tracker, the seven-day positivity rate reached 2.1 percent as of July 6. That metric would've crossed the county into the orange moderate tier territory from California's retired blueprint for a safer economy. The same is true for its 2.8 cases per 100,000 residents mark.
But since those guidelines and restrictions are scrapped, cases continue to rise without consequence.
On the case count front, OC surpassed 100 cases in a single day on July 2 for the first time since April.
Even though, OC reached its vaccine milestone ahead of time, a recent study shows that a single Pfizer dose is no match for the mutated virus. According to the latest statistics, roughly 240,000 have received one dose of a two-dose vaccine, a population potentially at higher risk for Delta infection if the full-course isn't completed.
1.8 million people in OC are fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated people remain at greatest risk with the only public health policy for them being the honor system.
How the rest of summer goes with regards to Delta variant infections remains to be seen, especially with some experts suggesting that the greater threat resides in the fall and winter seasons.
The other Orange County in Florida where Disney theme parks reside is having a rougher ride with Delta. As of July 9, the seven-day case average is ticking upward at 269. The same is true for the two-week positivity rate, which is now is 5.99 percent, a mark on the cusp of "substantial" spread if graded by California's color-coded tiers of old.
Orange County, Florida is home to 1.4 million people, a little more than a third of its California counterpart.
Don't want to be known as the Florida of California? No sean pandejos, naranjeros. Get that vaccine!
Your Mouse Muckraker / Photo by Federico Medina
Disney dodged the disaster that is Steve Lodge, not once, but twice; only, the Mouse House put itself in the line of fire both times. In 2012 and 2016, Disney stuffed Lodge's campaign coffers to no avail as the Anaheim city council candidate failed to win election. His first bid came in the wake of riots over police brutality in the city. So what did Disney do? Unable to see past their own lust for subsidies and gate tax moratoriums, the Mouse House backed Lodge, a former Santa Ana Police Department cop with a history of police brutality! It didn't take long for reporters to dig up the Hossein Farahani case from 1989. An Iranian immigrant, Farahani alleged that Lodge clubbed, beat and kicked him during a jaywalking stop. An OC jury sided with Farahani against Lodge to the tune of $612,000, a sum that was later negotiated down to $292,500. Another tarnish on Lodge's badge is when he had a man wrongfully imprisoned for over a year on a murder he didn't commit. As news about his checkered past spread, Anaheim taggers spray painted devil horns on Lodge's campaign banners around town. Anaheim voters passed him up in favor of other candidates in the race. Undeterred, Lodge made another Disney-backed bid for council four years later. This time, Anaheim adopted single-member districts. Having already cozied up to Real Housewife Vicki Gunvalson, Lodge rented a West Anaheim apartment, hoping that carpetbagging and corporate cash would deliver a win. Reporting on the campaign, I knocked on his door one afternoon to no answer. Neighbors claimed he rarely showed up at the complex and didn't seem to move in a whole lot of anything. A maintenance worker told me that nobody lived at the apartment in question.
Just before Election Day, I also dug up old court records in Perris from the Farahani case. The Reagan-appointed judge had harsh words for Lodge in assessing the jury's "outrage" over Lodge's "arrogance" and "bald-faced lies" told under oath. Still, the 2016 election came within a margin of a few hundred votes. But Denise Barnes, a political newcomer, bested Lodge and all his Disney dollars.
Despite those two consecutive losses, Lodge is now eyeing higher office with a run for California Governor amid the Gavin Newsom recall. "I cannot stand idly by while we allow government to destroy this beautiful state," he said with a straight face in a June video announcing his bid. "We the people need to turn this around and take our state back."
A bona fide reality television coat hanger, the ex-dirty cop has spent the past year-and-a-half peddling coronavirus conspiracies on Instagram when not worshiping Trump.
Imagine if he had done so from behind the dais on Anaheim's city council instead of on brainless social media posts? Disney should thank my former paper profusely for saving them the PR embarrassment!
But Lodge has no shame in a campaign that has a better chance of boosting his celebrity profile than actually winning.
Sure, the Mouse House powers that be are madder than the Mad Hatter at Newsom for keeping Disneyland closed for 13 months during the coronavirus pandemic. But would Disney be so dumb as to back Lodge for a third time?
Gracias for reading all the way to the end! Now, don't forget to tell your friends to join the San Roman syndicate by subscribing!
Lead photo: The Rona / Felipe Esquivel Reed, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons