Virus notes: August 2, 2020 -- County Public Health Department a danger to public health

MERCED (BLJ) – Merced County Public Health Department on July 31 reported 4,285 cases of COVID-19 (1,478 since July 28) and 50 deaths (19 new since July 28).

On Sunday, August 2, the Merced Sun-Star printed an article written by Fresno Bee and CalMatters reporters. The headline, “Some California counties aren’t contact tracing COVID-19 cases” hides the scandal in Merced County. This county is revealed to not have ever had a contact tracing program. The county Department of Public Health can’t prove their claims and COVID-19 patients the reporters contacted contradicted the county health officials’ statements. (Tobias, Ibarra, Sohn, Merced Sun-Star, August 2, 2020)

A contact-tracing program is a “core principle” of epidemic control, according to the federal Center for Disease Control. Merced County’s “Supervising Epidemiologist,” Kristynn Sullivan, PhD UC Merced (Quantitative Psychology), said that the county quit trying to do contact tracing in June because there were too many cases.

The Merced County Director of Public Health, Rebecca Nanyonjo-Kemp, PhD Public Health, said, “we do, for clarity’s sake, do contact tracing. Maybe not in the germane way…”

Nanyonjo-Kemp always comes up with an obscure, inappropriate word when she’s cornered. She may take lessons from Trump economists. Her other defense is claiming she can’t provide data to back her claims due to “privacy concerns.”

Absent from the Bee/CalMatters story is any reference to Dr. Salvador Sandoval, the county medical officer, who signed the attestation that Merced had 42 trained contact tracers and therefore could begin reopening businesses in mid-May. (Rebecca Sohn, CalMatters, July 16, 2020) This is beginning to look like one more "mixed" Merced message. The state Public Health Department spokesperson, Ali Bay, refused to evenh comment on statements coming out of the Merced County. Bay had several years of media experience in the Central Valley earlier in her career.

It appears that Merced County is guilty of misfeasance, malfeasance, and nonfeasance regarding the pandemic and is lying about it. These officials should be fired and prosecuted for endangering the public health and the public should vote out of office all county supervisors for playing politics and economics with human life.  There still ought to be a distinction between holding a job and doing a job. Evidently titles and connections are not getting the job done. At the very least, we had a right to expect licensed physicians to speak medical truth to corrupt, incompetent local, state and federal power, and do it in public. The passivity of the public health department is deplorable. To "do no harm," as various medical oaths put it, is not to do nothing at all.

The  only way to restore the American economy is to get control of the pandemic. -- blj