The Novel Corona Virus Didn’t Have to Happen This Way

Re: “How the CDC’s Restrictive Testing Guidelines Hid the Coronavirus Epidemic,” The Washington Post, March 22

The pandemic didn’t have to happen this way.

The CDC – hamstrung by Trump who limited what they were allowed to do – restricted who could get tested for the novel coronavirus. Because the CDC reported numbers only for people who were physically ill already, and nobody else (at first), the epidemic did not
look like one. 

It was and is an epidemic here (and a pandemic globally), but we don’t have a true picture of how many people are actually infected. The whole scheme of manipulating the testing masked the reality of the epidemic, for whatever reason. (It’s speculated that politics played a role.)

This numerical deception made the epidemic worse, and the US is basically on the same path of hospital saturation and death as Italy, but 12 days behind. That is, unless something very significant occurs — widespread mask use, a good drug treatment coming out, or the magical appearance of 5,000+ extra ventilators. If you haven’t been watching Italy, well, read up a bit. No funerals; no relatives allowed to be present when someone is dying; rationing who gets a ventilator. . . We must use their ill fate as an example of what not to do. (Other countries like the UK and Germany are having issues similar to Italy, but for different reasons.)

The testing void is now being filled by states, universities, private labs, and others. At least, they’re trying to. We will only know how Covid-19 spread like it did in hindsight, which will not help us right now. Only history books will tell. In fact, several states’ governors have said that all testing should halt because the pandemic is past the stage of containment, and it’s now a waste of resources to test.

Because we don’t know the true infection rate, we cannot get a clear handle on the true mortality rate. Now, we will never truly know, and will have to rely on estimates by epidemiologists after they pore through all of the numbers from individual testing labs. That will take a long time. We need to have that info right now, but don’t and won’t.

Put simply, the policy was “Don’t look and it will go away,” which plagues don’t do. The policy made the U.S. epidemic much worse. It’s a national tragedy that could have easily been avoided by widespread early testing. 

Mark Zurbuchen, Ph.D.

Santa Monica

Homelessness & COVID-19: An Open Letter to Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilmember Mike Bonin

Dear Mr. Garcetti and Mr. Bonin,

I’m wondering what’s happening on the Venice boardwalk with the homeless?  Will they/ are they being moved to rec centers?  I read that the Pacific Palisades rec center might not possibly open due to lack of hot water?  It seems rather a quick plumbing fix, or if it’s a deeper problem, portable showers are an answer. But my understanding is that they would open their recreation center if capacity was met at the other recreation centers. It appears that capacity has been met:  

From LA Daily News, Elizabeth Chou’s article: “And just eight had opened as of earlier last week. But those have filled to capacity, according to shelter operators and Garcetti. So plans are underway to open another five by the end of this weekend.”

I think all neighborhoods should step up.  But if Pacific Palisades is excluded, it will appear the height of hypocrisy that I’m sure you and the Palisades community would want to avoid.

Also, there are “bicycle chop shops” doing “business” on the boardwalk while all other tax-paying business are forced to close. So can you please have the police address this immediately?

So much of this is not making sense, and I would sincerely like an explanation to help me understand this.


Eva Greene


The Travel Industry Needs Relief Today

As we all are aware, coronavirus is having a profound impact on communities across the globe and the situation is no different for all of us who live, work and play in Santa Monica. At this time our first concern at Santa Monica Travel & Tourism is everyone’s wellbeing. We thank city staff for their leadership during this difficult time and are in full support of the aggressive measures taken by local, state and federal government to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.

While it’s too soon to tell the complete story of how coronavirus is affecting Santa Monica’s hotels, restaurants, attractions and other tourist-serving businesses, it is clear that the uncertainty around the situation has decimated travel demand both internationally and domestically. Travel and tourism generated nearly 2 billion dollars to Santa Monica’s economy with overnight hotel visitors injecting $58.6 million into the City of Santa Monica’s general fund through the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) in 2019 alone. These much-needed funds are used to support critical city services such as our police and fire departments, libraries, public schools and parks.

Thousands of our local small and large businesses rely on the balance of both residence and visitors to stay afloat and support a workforce of 12,600 individuals, many who have received devastating news of virus-related layoffs in recent days. The unprecedented public health crisis we’re facing right now has ground travel to a halt and put the businesses and workers who rely on visitor spending in peril. Santa Monica Travel & Tourism exists to promote business and leisure travel to visitors around the country and the world, and those visits fuel our local economy and keep people employed. The travel industry businesses that contribute so much to our community, most of them small businesses, simply cannot weather this storm on their own.

Our broader industry has called on Washington to establish a fund to keep workers employed, provide emergency liquidity for travel businesses to remain open, and bulk up the Small Business Administration loan program. Congress must act today to ensure the Santa Monica travel industry and its 12,600 workers sustain themselves through this painful economic period.  

On the community level, there are actions we can all take today to help our local businesses survive and recover.

Order Take out, Curbside or Delivery: If you feel safe, consider ordering take out, curbside pick-up or delivery from your favorite restaurant. Check out for a list and map of local restaurants offering these services.

Buy A Gift Card: Purchase a gift card now to give to friends and loved ones or use yourself at a later date when businesses re-open or for online use.

Shop Online: Look beyond Amazon while shopping online. Many local businesses offer online shopping and some even offer drop-off at your home or pick-up at the store door.

Post A Positive Review:  Leave a review online and make sure others know just how much Santa Monica businesses mean to our community.

Promote Social Media: Like, comment, and share posts from local businesses to help increase engagement and spread the word.

Volunteer: Check on your neighbors and friends, so many in our community are stepping up their compassion and people power in this challenging time. If you would like to volunteer go to:

Sending love and strength throughout our community.


Misti Kerns


Santa Monica Travel & Tourism