Jon Alexander / Monday, March 30, 2020 @ 7:30 a.m. / Angels and Desperados, Op-Ed
ANGELS and DESPERADOS: A Request to Close Battery Pt. Lighthouse, Parking Lot and Bathrooms Re: Covid-19 Coming
Good morning, dear readers out there on the Redwood Coast. Apologies for not bestowing you with the usual eloquence and profundity of my prose.
All kidding aside, what you have is my most recent work product regarding the coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic, which is attacking our world as we know it.
President Trump did have one thing right when he stated this monster in our midst may well approach, and supersede, the devastation and death toll of the Spanish Flu of 1918. Then again, he also said he’d like to see Easter Sunday as a time for churches to be full and America back to working.
My feelings and beliefs are discernible from a read of my “MEMORANDUM” below. Not all of you will agree and I invite such difference(s) to be expressed in the following days of the Wild Rivers Outpost.
The virulent and violent introduction of the Covid-19 virus into our community is a matter of when, not if. MAKE NO MISTAKE, this monster will be upon us and, from what I see from my perch here, just beneath our Battery Pt. Lighthouse, we are nt taking it seriously. With no six foot stay-aways, no masks, no gloves as they enter and touch the Trash Cans and the slovenly conditions left in our public bathrooms, all to name a few, bear evidence of a breeding ground in which this virus may well foster in days and weeks to come -- if allowed to. And that being before counting the hundred plus vehicles that have parked in the lot this past week, many from out-of-state, many evidencing lived-in status and many traveling from Oakland and San Francisco, who are now experiencing their own disasters and death tolls with Covid-19.
Incredibly, there has not been one reported, diagnosed case of Covid-19 in Crescent City or Del Norte County yet. Which presents something remarkable to the condition of our body politic. Throughout out country, even in the places and persons of those I trust most, namely, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Dr. Anthony Fauci, it is widely accepted that those places and their constituent peoples would have fared far better if they had gotten “out in front of it” from the beginning, which they admittedly did not.
WE HAVE THAT REMARKABLE OPPORTUNITY, CRESCENT CITY AND DEL NORTE.
I know of no other County in America, to date, that has been so blessed-or knowingly had that opportunity as we now do.
Just last night, as I do every night, I looked out my upstairs window at the Lighthouse on the hill and its shining beacon, that for over a hundred years has brought our ships and seafaring men safely back home, when the sea turned angry, threatening and deadly. That Lighthouse and her beacon upon that hill, are the symbols of this City, this shining City upon a hill, that has been portrayed from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount to the grand speeches of John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama and Mario Cuomo.
That Lighthouse, that Beacon, are there for you as our elected representatives, to draw from and point to the path you now have before you, which fate has decreed and gifted you with this ability to enjoin the battle and wage our war with this enemy, before she arrives upon our shores. You can, you must, do no less.
Last, before I go to my MEMO to our City Council, I have never had a problem with deferring to my “betters,” and have no problem doing so now. An anecdotal parcel of wisdom, related earlier today from good friend and Health Care District Director, Dr. Greg Duncan-the compassion, wit and empathy of the man, as always, speaks for itself:
“For non-believers in current restrictions, I ask they think of COVID in terms of a drive-by shooting. When I lived in L.A., a young child asleep in his room was struck in the head by a stray bullet intended for the adult occupants. COVID has the same random, tragic pattern. Most escape the flurry of bullets. Others are not so lucky. Most COVID patients have mild to moderate symptoms. Some require ventilator support and survive. Others die, including young patients with no “risk factors.” The non-believers should imagine life in east L.A.. When there is word of a drive-by coming, no one sits on the porch.”
To: Eric Wier, City Mngr.; Blake Inscore, Mayor;
Chief Richard Griffin, CCPD; Sutter Coast Hospital;
Martha Rice, City Atty.; Isaiah Wright, City Council;
Robin Patch, City Council; Heidi Kime, City Council;
Jason Greenough, City Council; Alex Fallman, City Council
From: Jon Alexander, Citizen
Re: Request to close all access to Battery Pt. Lighthouse/Vista Point, Parking Lot and Bathrooms, Effective Immediately and Forthwith
Date: March 29, 2020
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I write to request that you immediately and forthwith, invoke the powers invested in you, to close the Battery Point Lighthouse, Vista Point and supporting parking lot and bath rooms to any and all public access. This request is predicated upon the impending coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic, which has devastated our state, country and world.
This past Monday, Governor Newsom shut down all State beach parking lots to the public. That action was predicated upon the vast and gross disregard of many who flocked, or walked, to the beaches across the state, many, if not the great majority, failing to adhere to any of the thus far established precautionary measures, such as routinely and frequently washing hands, maintaining 6’ away from other persons and self-quarantining, except to obtain necessary items(food, prescription items, etc.).
Sadly, I have seen that type of behavior here in the Lighthouse Parking Lot, bathrooms and Lighthouse grounds and paths, the vantage point thereof, sits immediately below my second floor home office window. More specifically, as some of you know from my efforts to assist in the homeless crisis we have here in Crescent City, I live in what is known as “Dr. Casper’s old house” or 235 Lighthouse Way, the last home on that street, which is immediately adjacent to the Battery Pt. Lighthouse parking lot.
Regarding my analogy to the necessity of Governor Newsom’s action, as an illustrative, routine daily example- on Thursday, March 26th, from 10a.m. to noon, I witnessed 25 cars utilizing the parking lot to either walk the path up to the Lighthouse(irrespective of its closure) or down the path to the beach or pier, or to use the public bathrooms. I saw vehicles with license plates from Oregon, Montana, Washington state, Illinois and New Jersey. Later that evening, I looked down upon the parking lot and could see two of our frequent homeless vehicles-one of whom has complained to me of being ‘rousted’ in Santa Cruz at times and being forced to return back to Del Norte. That individual also sells hand-made jewelry from his van to the public in this and other Del Norte parking lots.
At no time, did I ever see one person using any of the slightest precautions, such as masks or gloves. At no time, did I ever see any of these persons exercise the 6’ distancing measure. I did see people hugging each other and interacting with other persons from those other vehicles. I watched as most walked down the wooden “switch-back” path to the beach, at times having to brush by persons utilizing that path, to pass by others returning from the beach-as they would inevitably have to do in return. All in all, with no regulations or even signs evident, it amounts to a breeding ground for the spread of Covid-19 when, not if, it arrives here. I can only hazard a guess as to the degree of germ transmission that occurs within those public bathrooms,
As of Monday, this week, Johns Hopkins counted 2,200 known cases of the coronavirus in our state, tragically, along with 40 deaths scattered throughout. By the time you all read this, that number will have risen dramtically. I think logic must dictate that it is only a matter of time before the virus arrives in Del Norte County-if it is not here already.
Also, on Monday, our sister city of Brookings’s City Council declared a local state of emergency, backing a resolution that they hope will curb tourists from flooding into the city and keep the novel coronavirus at bay. Introducing the resolution, State Rep. David Brock Smith (R-District 1), stated in part, which I find instructive here, “Never in my time did I think I would be advocating for closing tourism in our communities, but that is exactly what I am here to do. The reason is because of the spread of this disease and the fact that it is three times more contagious than the flu. And the fact hat our healthcare facilities can be overwhelmed in a matter of a sneeze in this room right now. Anyone has to just follow what is happening in Italy to see what could happen.”
That state of emergency was approved 5-0 and began immediately.
Also, from just south of us in Humboldt County, the number of cases of persons testing positive for COVID-19, DOUBLED, in just one dayon March 24, from five to ten.
Enough for factual basis.
I believe it is incumbent upon you, as the leaders of our city, to be PRO-active, and take action now to inhibit the oncoming spread of this threat to so many in our community, a threat which will be actualized at a future time contingent upon, as Dr. Fauci has said, “the virus’ own timeline.”
Again, it is instructive and MUST be stressed, that Crescent City and Del Norte County, to date, has been blessed with having NO diagnosed cases of the Covid-19 virus. That fact distinguishes us from the vast majority of America and allows you as our representatives to take formal, binding and effective action NOW to protect this community’s health and safety, which is your highest charge.
I do want to stress that I write not because I’m a Stage IV, terminal, bone cancer person or as a NIMBY, “not in my backyard,” person. I wasn’t that kind of person during the recent homeless crisis and clean-up in this area and am not today. I do write this as a concerned citizen, and former elected public official, who cares deeply for the people of this county and city. And as such a citizen, I fear that a great number, if not a majority, of our citizens are not taking this seriously.
Consequently, I believe you have to send a message, at the very least, to the persons who are congregating at and to, our most well known tourist attraction, The Battery Point Lighthouse. The local population is not taking the necessary precautions when they come here. The transient and homeless persons that sleep in their vehicles(and then move on), that I routinely observe, do not subscribe to those precautionary measures and the tourists, many from out-of-state or country, in addition to those in the New Jersey tagged vehicle, with the sleeping bags crammed into the rear, may well be unknowingly carrying the virus-as well as the hundreds of persons each week that use the Lighthouse parking lot and public bathrooms, not one of which have I seen exiting, either gloved or masked-up. As to the hygeine used inside those bathrooms, one can only wonder or, as it pertains to covid-19 protection, shudder.
Research has shown that the virus’ incubation period is five days and first symptoms are usually observed in 98% of those afflicted in 11 ½ days-which demonstrates just one aspect of the pandemic’s deadliness-and another reason why those analogizing it to influenza are just plain wrong.
I am acutely aware of some representatives of the business community’s strong aversion to such an action. The debate regarding the “cure being worse than the problem,” has been visibly thrashed out for the past several weeks back east between President Trump and Dr. Andrew Fauci and Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York. I would hasten to say, that I have heard from some of the business interests in Del Norte who believe that any such action as shutting down the Battery Point Lighthouse and parking lot, or ANY other of our public congregational or tourist areas, would literally constitute a death knell to such businesses, with them being DOA upon the cessation of our impending, upcoming battle with the virus. I hear it posed that the conflict between business/economy interests and the prophylactic measures I believe to be necessary and demanded, are an “either-or” situation. That is not true, but even if that factually bereft and absent view of reality existed, the role before you would not change.
Nothing that you already do not know:-the Covid-19 virus WILL come to Del Norte County. That is ‘virus-time’ certain. We will have persons we know become sick from it-some mildly, some badly and some, that statistics show, will succumb to it. Those are facts that you must enter into the equation of this balancing between these competing interests. Question -- can you justify the existence of deaths, any death, in our county, if we did not take appropriate actions to slow its spread in Del Norte? Also, given the relative inability of this small, poor, county, with a hospital possessing less than 40 beds and staff, with relatively little, to no, experience and equipment in combating the virulent, violent and rapid spread of this virus-all of which would coalesce to destroy this community far worse and far longer, than that occasioned by a shorter period of perceived economic deprivation.
What I do know is, this monster is coming our way and it is but a matter of time before it lands in our midst. To that certainty, again, I have to say that given what we know is coming, we must take whatever action exists at our disposal, in joining our fellow Americans in slowing this disease, until we put it to it’s rightful demise. To do anything less, would be the abandonment of your sworn duty.
Thanking you for your consideration, I remain,