Editor,

Apparently, letter-writer Cherie Zaslawsky has a problem with Dr. Scott Morrow’s emergency order requiring the wearing of face coverings to enter stores (“Issue with mask orders,” May 11). She writes, “Covering our faces means further delaying ‘herd immunity’ which is the fastest, and possibly the only way, to end epidemics.”

Eerily, the next day, letter writer Ed Kahl (“Shutdown has served its purpose”) also referenced herd immunity, suggesting that it “may be the only way to defeat the virus if a vaccine isn’t found, as was the case for SARS, HIV and many other viruses.”

To Kahl’s point, herd immunity did end the 1918 pandemic influenza, at a considerable toll – 50 million lives, including 675,000 Americans. I recall reading Belmont Councilman Tom McCune’s guest perspective, “Wisdom from 1918,” May 5, and reviewed it.

Ms. Zaslawsky should be thankful that Morrow only issued a mask order and isn’t following what his predecessor did 102 years earlier. 

McCune writes, “In 1918, people were admonished to stay inside, avoid crowds and (yes) wear masks. When a case of flu occurred in a house, the county health officer showed up and nailed a big yellow sign to the front door reading ‘QUARANTINE.’ People were jailed for breaking quarantine.”

I think we could all profit from reviewing history during this public health crisis. I recommend that others read McCune’s perspective on how that earlier pandemic affected his family. Sadly, not even herd immunity prevented the death of his father’s brother in 1923 at age 14.

Irvin Dawid

Burlingame

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(13) comments

Taffeta Tutu

All herd immunity means is that the people who contract the virus and do not die go on to develop a natural defense against catching it again, not that magically people stopped catching it. It's a strategy that Sweden opted to employ. Many will the Swede's higher death rates from the virus as a sign that it should not be a preferred option despite the WHO giving Sweden high marks for implementing it. The equation has to do with which is worse: the suffering of the survivors or the suffering of the non-survivors. Each day that passes it leans heavier on the survivors as they must face an uncertain future. While it is tragic that people have and are dying it should also be examined and weighed through a scientific study which can provide the true cost to survivors instead of having the slow panic rippling through society as everyone is beginning to realize the consequences of shuttering the economy for so long. On a practical level we need to realize that with a global population of over 7.8 billion people that continues to grow despite the virus' effects, that choosing the herd immunity option could stave off environmental destruction fall-out for multiple years, as well as extending Social Security and Medicare benefits as older and sickly people become victims to the virus.

Personally I believe that if someone wants to take the responsibility and the risk of catching it then they should be permitted to live as they see fit while those who prefer safety should protect themselves using every means at their disposal.

Irvin D.

The Swedish results are in. No change in immunity.

(Reuters) - A Swedish study found that just 7.3 percent of Stockholmers developed COVID-19 antibodies by late April, which could fuel concern that a decision not to lock down Sweden against the pandemic may bring little herd immunity in the near future.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-sweden-strategy/swedish-antibody-study-shows-long-road-to-immunity-as-covid-19-toll-mounts-idUSKBN22W2YC

BenToy

Does everyone understand what “herd immunity” means?

Darwinian and only the fittest (according to who?) will survive and the weakest (another according to who and what metrics) will die off…first to leave the fittest alive

So that is a game of Russian Roulette and to survive, play those odds

What are those odds ?

Our leaders have stated that the old have lived a good and long life…implying that they should die…and yes the odds are that they will have a higher morbidity rate than the younger

But…the younger also has a morbidity rate, albeit a lower percentage

Even very young children has a morbidity rate and at an even lower rate

Another but…those who survive are left with lifelong aliments and/or possible aliments that are unknown at this time…only time will tell

Then the fact that virus’s mutate, as that is common among all virus’s (or most)

What are ‘your’ odds in this game of Russian Roulette ?

Or hope there will be a cure and/or vaccine forthcoming soon (years) ?

Irvin D.

Herd immunity refers to the percentage of the population, somewhere north of 60%, that is immune to a disease, either from infection (and developing anti-bodies) or vaccine. However, as noted by McCune, his uncle's immunity from infection didn't last, and he died several years later from the flu.

Also, herd immunity is not always Darwinism-in-action, as you wrote. In 1918, it was the young and fit that died initially as it spread from troops engaged in WWI. Today's coronavirus is different in that sense.

Sadly, there are some people, presumably, the two letter-writers that I responded to, that appear to favor herd immunity from infection as opposed to having to abide by the public health orders issued by Dr. Morrow. But they are not alone, a now-former planning commission in Antioch agreed with this cruel approach. See Planetizen: "Another Planning Commissioner Ousted After Coronavirus Controversy in California," May 13.

https://www.planetizen.com/news/2020/05/109318-another-planning-commissioner-ousted-after-coronavirus-controversy-california

Terence Y

Okay, so what's the solution? Stay under house arrest until a cure is found? What about the next strain of COVID? Instead of belly-aching about herd immunity and why it's wrong, maybe you can act by handing out cash to people who require financial help. Or opening up your home to people who won't be able to pay rent or their mortgage. Thanks in advance.

Irvin D.

The solution is to follow what the public health experts advise us to do: 1) Practice social distancing; 2) Wear a mask when inside stores and when outdoors in the presence of others; 3) Practice good hygiene; 4) Stay home when sick.

Is that so difficult??

Terence Y

Okay, Mr. Dawid, how long do you want us to keep doing that? Forever and a day? Until a cure is found? Until we can no longer support ourselves? When can I show up at your house? What’s for dinner, else I need a few bucks for dinner? I'll thank you in person.

Tafhdyd

The obvious solution is to vote November 3rd and get rid of the liar in chief in the Whitehouse, the one that takes NO responsibility.

Terence Y

Vote out the folks who keep moving the goalposts in regards to this silly shelter in place and who are taking away your livelihood. Don't forget, your CA government workers have been receiving their salaries and will soon need tax increases to support their pensions.

Dirk van Ulden

And what are your solution plans between now and January 2021? Cheap shots like a typical liberal who has no solutions but all kinds of useless comment. But, you can't probably wait for Sleepy Joe to wake up and straighten things out. That is what this country needs, a demented, over the hill Democrat who will be nothing but a Pelosi puppet.

Irvin D.

"Belly-aching about herd immunity?" Why aren't you concerned about those who become ill, or those who put their lives on the line to treat those who become ill? The real "belly-achers" are those who complain that they are "put under house arrest."

I have news for you: "shelter-in-place" is not house arrest. It's not even "lockdown." You are free to leave your house to recreate safely close to home, go out for essential services. In short, you are being asked to do your part to fight the disease, a pandemic on the scale of the Great Influenza as almost 97,000 Americans have died since Feb. 28 and over 1.6 million Americans have become infected.

Sadly, that appears to simply be too much for some of us.

Terence Y

Mr. Dawid, your outrage is noted, but how about answering some of my previous questions instead of dodging them? Meanwhile, I'm heading to church on Sunday since churches and houses of worship are now considered "essential" and can open. I'll pray for all the Americans who have died from coronavirus, in addition to the almost one million people who have died from all causes in the same time period. Meanwhile, I hope you can find some answers.

Irvin D.

Terence,

You asked me to respond to your questions:

Q: What's the solution?

My answer: practice social distancing until vaccine comes along and we achieve herd immunity (from the vaccine, that is!)

Q: Stay under house arrest until (the vaccine arrives)?

A: Call it what it is: shelter in place. You are creating your own misery by calling it house arrest.

Q: Should we help others less fortunate than ourselves?

A: Absolutely!

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