Focus on those most vulnerable to the coronavirus rather than shut everything down, says a San Carlos resident who sees government restrictions as too broad and unconstitutional.

“The panic is coming from one place — the politicians,” Tom Ricks said. “Unfortunately it’s been exacerbated by the media.”

People older than 70 who have respiratory distress, diabetes or heart conditions represent the at-risk population, Ricks said.

“We know who it is we need to safeguard and protect,” he said.

The shutdown makes it harder to help them, the retired CPA said.

“We’re taking a meat ax,” Ricks said, “rather than a scalpel.”

He questioned the stay-at-home order by San Mateo County Health Officer Dr. Scott Morrow, an appointed bureaucrat whose directives haven’t been subject to judicial review, Ricks said.

“I don’t ever remember voting for him,” Ricks said.

“He does have the authority under the law,” Ricks said. “I question that authority vested in an appointed official.”

Carla Schoof, San Mateo County spokeswoman, said Morrow is a health expert who focuses on the well being of the community.

Morrow’s stay-at-home order is in line with surrounding jurisdictions, the rest of California and the country, Schoof said.

“It’s not just San Mateo County,” she said. “It’s the entire nation.”

“The goal is to stop the spread of COVID-19,” she said. “There’s a lot of data that says this is the best way to do that.”

Health officers are legal authorities in their jurisdictions with broad powers to manage public health, especially during emergencies, Schoof said. The Board of Supervisors appoints the health officer in San Mateo County.

Ricks said that public health officials, thrust into the media spotlight, are reluctant to let it go. A measured response probably doesn’t get noticed, said Ricks.

Registered to vote as a Libertarian, he understands few others voice the views he has.

“I may be the lone voice in the forest,” Ricks said.

“I’m probably a minority,” he said, adding “I am a minority.”

His outlook is partly generational, Ricks said, because older Americans are less prone to agree to government directives and more likely to challenge them.

“Our generation used to do that,” he said. “We used to question a heck of a lot.”

Measures including the stay-at-home orders take place in a liberal region that believes more government is better government, he said.

Ricks said government, under the guise of trying to protect us, in fact inhibits us.

“I am a great believer in the rights of the individual,” said Ricks.

He quoted an 1802 letter by Thomas Jefferson stating that, “If we can but prevent the government from wasting the labours of the people, under the pretense of taking care of them, they must become happy.”

Recommended for you

(6) comments


Who is this guy, and why does he get an entire article? This is shoddy journalism.


How is this even an article? This should be in the opinion section.


The scalpel approach in this case would be to aggressively test to identify anyone who has COVID-19 and to isolate and treat these individuals until they can no longer transmit the virus. Unfortunately, we don't have the testing capacity to do this. We're stuck with either using the meat ax of shelter-in-place of facing or facing hundreds of thousands to millions of deaths. I'll take the meat ax any day.

Cindy Cornell

Has this writer even read the data on how many people under 40 are sick and in ICUs right now. Assume you are a carrier and act accordingly, leaving your ideology at the door.


Those figures are for the U.K. Figure A1 is the US.


This debate between what we are doing and a “scalpel” is precisely the point of the Imperial College report that changed the minds of President Trump and the U.K. PM Johnson. If we go with the Scalpel, the number of cases needing intensive care will exceed the number of ICI beds by 8 times. What we are doing is necessary. The article is a bit of a slog, as you might expect, but figure 2 is the scalpel and figure 3 is closer to what we are doing.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.