State health officials claim that the data measurements being used are very complex and would only confuse and possibly mislead people were it to be released to the general public.
Dr. Lee Riley, chairman of the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health infectious disease division, vehemently disagrees.
"There is more uncertainty created by NOT releasing the data that only the state has access to," Dr. Riley wrote in an email, adding that releasing the data would also allow outside experts to analyze it and make their own decisions about whether or not to lift lockdown restrictions.
Under Newsom's ever-changing plan, California counties now have to reach certain benchmarks for virus data such as per capita infection rates in order to qualify for reopening. Some counties are supposedly doing better than others, however there is no way to know for sure as the associated data is being withheld.
The state is relying on data models that officials are using to project whether infections, hospitalizations and deaths are likely to rise or fall. Based on this, some counties are able to reopen for indoor dining, say, while others are being ordered to stay closed.
Everything changed after Thanksgiving, however, when Newsom "tore up his playbook," to quote KTVI. Rather than take the county-by-county approach he promised, Newsom rewrote the script and decided to merge all counties into one of five regions.
Each region is evaluated using a single measurement, intensive care unit (ICU) capacity, as the determining factor for whether it gets to open or has to remain closed. No considerations are being made for remedial interventions such as vitamin D therapy.
Four of these five regions, which are home to 98 percent of California's population, were told that they had to stay closed until ICU capacity fell below a 15 percent threshold.
As of Jan. 18, none of California's five regions met this requirement. Just one day later, however, the state announced that the stay-at-home order for the 13-county Greater Sacramento region, a heavily populated area, would be lifted.
Both outdoor dining and worship services were once again "allowed," and hair and nail salons were told they could reopen. Retailers were also given the green light to allow more shoppers at a time inside their stores.
Local officials were confused, however, as no reasoning was given for this sudden change. No data was provided, and the only thing disclosed was that projections for ICU capacity had changed in some way.
While ICU capacity in the Greater Sacramento area was below 10 percent at the time, health officials came to the determination that it would exceed 15 percent within four weeks.
"What happened to the 15 percent?" asked Dr. George Rutherford, an epidemiologist and infectious diseases control expert at UC San Francisco. "I was surprised. I assume they know something I don't."
Department of Public Health (DPH) spokeswoman Ali Bay told The Associated Press (AP) that state officials are using a new future capacity projection, along with other models, to adjust reopening guidelines.
"At the moment the projections are not being shared publicly," she stated.
California Health and Human Services (HHS) Agency spokeswoman Kate Folmar added that officials are providing twice-weekly updates about which regions can reopen, and that this constitutes as "transparency."
"These fluid, on-the-ground conditions cannot be boiled down to a single data point – and to do so would mislead and create greater uncertainty for Californians," she said in a statement.
More of the latest news about the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) can be found at Pandemic.news.
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