Viewpoint: Time to return to full shelter-in-place to stop the virus

by Peter Carpenter on August 1, 2020

With the current level of coronavirus infection in San Mateo County and the Bay Area we should all be going back to a full shelter in place. We cannot stop the virus with this rate of infection, the low rate of quick turn around testing, and minimal contact tracing.

“Is there any logical reasons for keeping Costco with cases open and closing businesses that have no cases?” you may ask. Yes – it is a risk/benefit calculation.

What is being kept open are essential business and those businesses are required to enforce mask and social distancing to minimize the risk of transmission. People have to eat but we do not have to go to the gym or to the hair salon.

The U.S. is now having one preventable death every minute. Why has that somehow become acceptable?

The evidence is clear that the more human interacting, particularly indoors, the greater the risk of infection. We can learn both from other countries/states successes and from history. Or we can continue to have more people get sick and die.

France is an excellent example of a poor start followed by a lockdown and a very careful controlled reopening with extensive testing and tracing:

“But while the outbreak occurred primarily in only two parts of France, French President Emmanuel Macron imposed a severe, nationwide lockdown on March 16. And during that lockdown, the government put extensive testing and contact tracing in place. Almost exactly two months later, France mostly reopened. And for the last two and a half months, the country has functioned in a primarily open status with around 500 new cases per day and only about 450 deaths in the last month.” Read the full story here.

The U.S. on the other hand paid the price of a patchy lockdown but received none of the benefits because the necessary and promised testing and tracing has not occurred. A blindfolded public health system cannot stop this virus.

Meanwhile a reminder: Please wear a face mask whenever you are in a public space.

Author Peter Carpenter is long-time resident of the mid-Peninsula.

Editor’s note:  The County of San Mateo remains in discussion with the state, and as of mid-afternoon Aug. 1, its status on the COVID-19 Monitoring List remains the same, without additional business closures being required.

Photo by Jitze Couperus taken at Menlo Park Farmers Market, an essential service (c) 2020



Gordon August 01, 2020 at 7:33 pm


Great article, lessened learned, but what is your take on all of us gym/business owners who will be out of business? Be real, small businesses are NOT where the virus is spreading, social gatherings with no masks and close contact are the real issue. We have flattened the curve at the price of small businesses failing, how are the suicides rates doing? There is a better way than crushing small business… but then again, you are retired and financially safe…

Please do not panic August 02, 2020 at 9:06 pm

I honestly do not understand why a lot of people are now panicking again. Money for instance was already carrying different kinds of bacteria, before covid-19. Would we have a better social system low income working families would not be forced to go to work, although feeling not very well. Open, close, open, close again businesses, please stop that now. The majority of people have mild symptoms. TV show patients on ventilation, of course to spread fear. We all know that a society full of fear can be influenced very well…..

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