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About this blog: So much is right — and wrong — about what is happening in Palo Alto. In this blog I want to discuss all that with you. I know many residents care about this town, and I want to explore our collective interests to help ...  (More)

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Terribly mixed messages about COVID-19 -- who to believe and how careful should we be?

Uploaded: Sep 10, 2020
I am very confused because of the mixed messages I've been getting about the coronavirus. On Tuesday, the NYT reported that studies show that we all should continue to self-isolate ourselves, because the virus cases are still increasing and the only way we can control it is to self-isolate and make sure we are at least six feet apart from others if we go outdoors.

On Tuesday the NYT also reported that "COVID-19 patients who are 80 or older are hundreds of times more likely to die than those under 40." Not terribly good news for older folks.

Then on Wednesday the Mercury reported that the state has given "the OK for more places to reopen" and Santa Clara and Santa Cruz are on the top of the approval list because of the number of tests they have performed -- even though they are in the "red tier" -- but no longer in the bad "purple tier." Red doesn't sound great to me.

Santa Clara County said it would allow personal services like massages and manicures to begin indoors, along with museums zoos, aquariums, gyms and fitness centers. Santa Cruz will allow restaurants, places of worship and even movie theaters to resume with some restrictions.

Last Sunday Dr. Anthony Fauci said in his estimation, we opened too quickly early summer, which resulted in a four-fold increase of coronavirus cases during summer months. As of 9/9, we had 6,471,218 total cases in the country and 194,367deaths.

On Thursday, Fauci said we have had spikes in this country this week, and he fears there will be more jumps in two weeks, after Labor Day virus cases can be known.

CNN also reported that 40 percent of people in the U.S. are carriers, and they are responsible for 50 percent of the cases in the country, according to the Center for Disease Control.

Had enough conflicting information yet? But wait. On Wednesday, Bob Woodward' siad in his new book, "Rage," that the president in February said on tape that the coronavirus is very serious, "deadly stuff," worse than the flu, and it is airborne. But the president said he wanted to deempahsize the virus, and hid the alarming COVID-19 reports from the public for months.

The president's choice to say everything was under control and the virus would fade away soon was false, and his not wearing a mask became a political issue. As the NYT reported, one 80-year-ol woman declared to her son, "I don't want to wear a mask because I will look like a Democrat."

So as confusing as these messages are, I have decided to be extra cautious. But some of my friends say they, too, are cautious, but are they?

Late last week I was talking via zoom with several others, several of whom were over 65. They started discussing plans for the Labor Day weekend.
• "Oh, I am having my two daughters and their families over for dinner, as I do every weekend. They are bringing friends, which really makes me happy."
• "I am going swimming at the Y on Friday for an hour, and then some of us are going out for lunch together."
• "I am having four friends over for dinner and we'll sit outside at our small table and just eat, drink and talk until 10 pm."
• "I am working on planning for a parade for my church, and we'll all march downtown, •and we will have a small band behind us."
• "I invited three friends over and we'll sit in my living room Saturday evening watching some old classic films I have."
• "I am having a big BBQ for 10 on Sunday so I will spend Saturday shopping -- the famer's market, Costco, the deli, the bakery, and getting some new plants at the nursery. I hope those lines at the stores aren't too long because I hate wearing my mask for more than 10 minutes."

I listened, and I thought, some of this is okay behavior; some of this is stupid. And here we are in Palo Alto, where we are pretty good at wearing masks the coronavirus rates are rising.

How are we ever going to get rid of this virus in this country with behavior like that? Six people at a backyard small table with no one wearing masks and talking together for four hours -- that's scary, especially since the county has told us if we eat outside with others, only people living in the same house can share a table. Others must have separate tables.

Organizing a church parade accompanied by a small band and marching together for blocks on our narrow sidewalks? Having people over to sit in your living room for three hours watching movies together? Will they all be wearing masks the whole time ad sitting six feet apart?

Please don’t tell me that it's okay for thousands more to die because the deaths are only a small percentage of our country's population, so the coronavirus is no big thing. Yet right now we've had more coronavirus deaths than deaths that occurred during all of WWII.

The big problem to me is we don't know who is a carrier. You may be, or I may be. And that stupid little virus just loves to float around and infect everyone in the room, or marching together in a parade. The virus does not know city and county boundaries, so if one county opens indoor dining but the adjacent county does not, does the virus care?

The virus has had its second coming in Europe the last two weeks, when most countries thought they had gotten rid of it. But this virus is persisting like no other we have known in years.

Unless we really try hard to isolate ourselves as much as possible, COVID 19 will keep on growing around this country and will affect us for months to come. That' scary and I want it over now. So I hope we can all do all we can and try to stay away from others. It works in controlling the virus.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Sep 10, 2020 at 1:58 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Until we have point of use testing with real time results and contact tracing for every infected person we have no sane alternative but very careful social distancing and, for high risk groups, continuing to shelter in place/isolate.

The virus is like a forest fire - if you don't get it contained when it is very small then you will have a huge fire that is impossible to control. In that case the only alternative is evacuation. Sheltering in place is the pandemic equivalent of fire evacuarion.

Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park,
on Sep 10, 2020 at 5:40 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

I would be more skeptical of what we are being told by the media and by all levels of government because the collection of statistical data and its analysis has been a disaster from the earliest days. And there have long been disputes about whether the testing is producing useful data.

There are prominent arguments that the testing parameters have been set to sensitivity levels that produce high levels of false positives, but no adjustment is being made to the testing or the statistical analysis to compensate for this.
See NY Times "Your Coronavirus Test is Positive, Maybe It Shouldn't Be" (Web Link is to an archive site because this article has many revisions).

And remember that selling fear is very profitable for the "news" media.

Posted by Victor Bishop, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Sep 10, 2020 at 6:39 pm

Victor Bishop is a registered user.

ANd you are not helping with fear mongering and cherry picked numbers .
you state:
"And here we are in Palo Alto, where we are pretty good at wearing masks the coronavirus rates are rising."

Based on data from this site:
Web Link
palo alto has 251 TOTAL cases since the start. The cities case rate is one of the lowest in the county.

I understand, Diana, you want a complete and total lockdown for who knows how long -- poverty, hunger, economic ruin, domestic abuse, child abuse, mental health issues do not matter. Lock everything down.

I suggest you do what you feel comfortable doing-- stay at home / order everything for delivery etc.

Doug Moran is correct. Without presenting data that shows the number of PCR cycles used to obtain the "positive" result, the patient may not indeed be positive.
Why is SCC health/Sara Cody not reporting this? Is it just to keep positives artificially high to justify the continues restrictions?

Posted by Alvin, a resident of Professorville,
on Sep 11, 2020 at 12:20 am

Alvin is a registered user.


This is not that bad, I'm serious. Over 99% of infected people recover just fine. A bad economy with high rates of unemployment and closed schools have deleterious effects on medical and mental health. Even the CDC Director has said that we are seeing more deaths from suicides than from Covid, and more drug overdose deaths than Covid. Unintended consequences.

If I were you, I would be more concerned about what the self-isolation and social distancing is doing to your immune system. Without the typical human contact we experienced daily (pre-Covid) - hugging, shaking hands, brushing up close to others in crowded places, etc. - our bodies are not being exposed to viruses and bacteria necessary to keep our immune system up. Flu season is less than two months away. If you want to avoid a nasty flu infection, I'd suggest you find ways to expose yourself to more germs.

Posted by Lee Forrest, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Sep 11, 2020 at 8:59 am

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

> "And remember that selling fear is very profitable for the "news" media."

^ Ain't that the truth as warm fuzzy human interest stories are best reserved for trivial AM television talk shows.

To date all we seem to hear about (as reported by the 'big ticket' news agencies) are dreary Covid-19 statistics, ubiquitous police improprieties, rioting & looting in the streets and petty 2020 POTUS election sniping.

I've crossed paths with some individuals who have confessed that they feel like crawling-up in a fetal position and letting the world slip away. These individuals are truly depressed while others are thumbing their noses at the coronavirus pandemic along with recommended public health protocols & going about their lives in a semi-reckless 'you only live once' manner.

2020 will go down in history as the Year of Divisiveness...on many fronts.

> "I would be more concerned about what the self-isolation and social distancing is doing to your immune system...I'd suggest you find ways to expose yourself to more germs."

^ Kind of like the U.S. Cavalry issuing smallpox laden blankets to Native Americans prior to sequestering them at various reservations...aka SIP mandates?

Posted by Perspective, a resident of Rex Manor,
on Sep 11, 2020 at 12:09 pm

Perspective is a registered user.

Diana Diamond incorrectly wrote:
"Yet right now we've had more Corona-Virus deaths than deaths that occurred during all of WWII."

NO, the US military alone lost between 405,000-417,000 lives during WWII.
NOT counting the people who died in the US due to lack of resources redirected into the war effort. With the World-Wide-Total 15 Million combatant deaths and between 45-65 Million non-combatant deaths. (Most of the WWII dead were civilians in China and Russia)

Spanish Flu of 1918 US deaths 675,000. World deaths 50 Million. Infections 500 million (meaning 1/3rd of world population) (Origin most likely China)

US population in 1918 was 103 Million, so about 0.65% of the US population died.

US population 2020 is 331 Million, so about 0.06% of the US population has died of CoVid-19. The CDC study suggests that the true percentage of infections may well run beyond 25%, but that's on older data from months ago.

1968 Hong Kong Flu US deaths 100,000 (Origin China)

1957 Asian Flu US deaths 116,000 (Origin China)

WWI 116,516
Civil War 620,000 out of total US population of 31 Million, so Civil War cost the lives of a full 2% of the US population.
Viet Nam 58,000
Korea 36,516
Revolutionary War 25,000

What is "new" about massive loss of life events prior to CoVid-19 is that we did NOT shut down our economy as a means to save lives. The most we did for the 1918 Pandemic was some cities, mostly on the West Coast, ordered "masks" be worn. Compliance was iffy and they used the WWI war effort to try to get better compliance. They said, wearing masks would save soldiers from getting the flu.

I wrote "masks" because the "face coverings" they mandated back then were pretty much useless because they were almost all made of simple gauze. Even doctors treating this flu did not have much better in hospitals. Something called "cheese cloth" was also popular. None of the materials they had to make masks were significantly effective.

Big gatherings of people were banned in some cities.
Some places closed schools.

None of these mandates really impacted the economy because back then most women stayed home and were able to care for and even educate their kids at home. Only jobs that depended on large gatherings of people, like at amusement parks and churches, were seriously effected.

What we chose to do this time for CoVid-19 was based on advice from people who are fully able to follow their own advice with no personal difficulty arising from them doing so. And yet, as we have seen, the very people screaming about mask wearing don't behave in the way they want the rest of us to behave.

Posted by film jedi, a resident of Downtown North,
on Sep 11, 2020 at 12:11 pm

film jedi is a registered user.

Why are they promoting fear rather than telling us what we can do to promote our health. There are certain things we can do to improve our chances, but they are censoring all information on vitamins and other approaches which help. this is not about the usual focus of the president because he is not on team censor. The CEO of youtube states they will censor any videos on vitamin C and curcumin. There is a reason they are taking away our freedom of speech, and whatever their plan is, it will lead us to place we do not like.

Posted by Perspective, a resident of Rex Manor,
on Sep 11, 2020 at 1:48 pm

Perspective is a registered user.

Lee Forrest mentioned an old MYTH when he wrote:

"^ Kind of like the U.S. Cavalry issuing smallpox laden blankets to Native Americans prior to sequestering them at various reservations...aka SIP mandates?"

The long discredited MYTH that the US Government gave Smallpox infected blankets to the Native Americans has no facts, no evidence of any sort to support such a claim. Everything that is known about the supposed time and place of this event contradicts this myth.

("Native Americans" is itself a bit of a myth because earlier humans were here in the Western Hemisphere long before the people we now call "Native Americans" came here from Asia and Europe across the ice bridges. The true "First Americans" were Neanderthal who were killed-off by the modern humans as they expanded to take over the Western Hemisphere.)

In fact, every aspect, every detail of any one of the many versions of this Smallpox MYTH has been shown to be false. Almost everything you have heard about this non-event comes from the imagination of a disgraced ethnic studies professor at the University of Colorado named Ward Churchill.

Prior to Churchill's ever evolving fictions, there was one and only one author (who was known for writing historical fictions himself) as the sole source for this US Army myth. He wrote a fictional story, several decades after the supposed event, with no original sources named and with critical historical facts wrong.

However, PRIOR to the Revolutionary war, while the British were in charge in the "Colonies", there was a British Lord Jeffrey Amherst commander of British forces in North America during the French and Indian War (1756-'63) who wrote a letter to Colonel Henry Bouquet. This letter has never been found, nor do we know what was written in it. What we do know is that Bouquet said in a Post Script reply that he would try to spread Smallpox to the Indians.

Amherst wrote a PS back to approve of that or any other method to reduce the numbers of the Indians.

Bouquet wrote back saying he would follow Amherst's directions, however, we don't have the actual letter from Amherst detailing what exactly he directed Bouquet to do.

What we do know is that there was no further mention of spreading Smallpox to the Indians. One would expect that if this had been tried and had worked, these British officers would have had an on going string of letters about the progress of the attempt.

But, the important biological fact is that it would have been nearly impossible to gather up blankets from Smallpox victims and have those blankets still infectious by the time they got to the Indians. The blankets don't actually carry the disease. It's a person-to-person air-borne virus and it dies quickly on contact with anything that dries out the moisture drop it floats inside of.

I also doubt the Indians would have been happy about accepting blankets dripping wet with the sweat of sick white people on them.

It never happened, nor would it have worked had anyone tried it.

Posted by Perspective, a resident of Rex Manor,
on Sep 11, 2020 at 2:51 pm

Perspective is a registered user.

Diana Diamond wrote:

Corona Virus or Impeachment, which one were you focused on in Jan and Feb?

"I am very confused because of the mixed messages I've been getting about the coronavirus. "

It's called "POLITICS" and it's nothing Novel at all.
From 2016 onward the Democrats were focused on ONE THING and one thing only, the total destruction of Trump. That is the nature of politics.

The Novel Corona Virus came along during the Impeachment of Trump and that Impeachment process totally dominated the main-stream news media and the Democrats focus and totally distracted Trump from other things he should have been paying attention to, like chatter about something happening in a place called Wuhan China.

Even 2 weeks after China had warned the WHO about an out of control new SARS-like virus, the focus of everyone in the US media was on the Impeachment papers being delivered to the Senate on Jan 15th. Then attention turned to the Senate proceedings being "managed" by the chosen House Democrats. This circus played out until Feb 5th when the Senate Reps acquitted Trump.

The SAD thing is that while the whole US media, the Democrats and Trump were all focused on the Impeachment, a man right there in Santa Clara County lay in his home ALONE and DYING from CoVid-19. He died the next day and when he was found he was incorrectly diagnosed as dying from the regular seasonal flu. In fact, he was the proof that Novel Corona Virus from China was already in the USA spreading around. Again in Santa Clara County, 11 days later a woman died from CoVid-19 and was also misdiagnosed.

From the very start, all of the "experts" in the medical profession have been giving us both contradictory and frequently changing directions as to what we were supposed to be doing to save lives.

We had Faucci telling us NOT to wear masks or gloves. He and the other "experts" said masks and/or gloves would do more harm than good. They kept changing their advice one way or the other about gatherings of people.

Trump on Jan. 31 announced a travel ban on any non-U.S. residents who had recently been in mainland China.

When Trump declared he wanted to close the borders for ANYONE not a legal US resident (not just Chinese or Asians) that has been in China recently, Pelosi and the rest of the Dems and the news media screamed Trump was a racist and that was why he wanted this travel ban.

As late as Feb 24th Nancy Pelosi was on the local TV news walking around S.F. Chinatown surrounded by people, walking through the crowds, no masks, telling the news that it's fine and safe for people to please come to Chinatown and enjoy the restaurants and shops and enjoy our city. She made clear the point of her visit was to show it was “very safe to be in Chinatown,".

Pelosi claimed that it was safe for thousands of people to continue to come to S.F. for tourism because S.F. was not known to have any CoVid-19 cases at that time, but that totally missed the main point!

Even if nobody in all of S.F. had the virus on Feb 24th, if you get lots of tourists to come to S.F., they will BRING the virus with them and spread it around. The Pelosi argument that it was safe for tourists to come to S.F., because the locals didn't have the virus is utterly insane.

So, yeah, what we have seen all along is wildly changing advice from the health experts, politicians downplaying the virus when it suits their political purposes, exaggerating the virus when that suits their political agenda and playing revisionist historians to cover-up their own hypocrisy.

Like Pelosi did because she felt getting her hair washed for her at a salon was worth the risks, as long as nobody found out about it.
Can't she even wash her own hair?

I mean, if she was in dire need of a serious hair-cut & style for TV, that would have been a bit more understandable, but a wash & dry?

And of course, Trump has not done any better communicating than anyone else has, usually worse.

The worst of course was the Chinese government. Instead of telling people what was going on when we might have been able to stop the virus from escaping China, they were threatening and arresting DOCTORS who had understood what was about to happen and wanted to prevent a pandemic from getting started.

So, yeah, a world full of humans making human mistakes because they cannot perfectly foresee the future. It's the politics of destruction at work.

Posted by chris, a resident of University South,
on Sep 11, 2020 at 7:36 pm

chris is a registered user.


What all your words don't explain is why the death rate is worse in the US than almost every other developed county in the world, despite some of the best health care in the world.

And why China which made many early missteps recovered relatively quickly, while Americans have not been able to get their act together.

Posted by KittyCatty, a resident of another community,
on Sep 12, 2020 at 12:07 am

KittyCatty is a registered user.

This fearmongering is a little much, and many of your claims are off base. Palo Alto has done very well to control the spread. It is unreasonable for folks to expect their friends to take the same levels of draconian measures as sheltering in place for months on end. By all means impose mandatory lockdown at your own home, but don't expect it of others.

Posted by Lee Forrest, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Sep 12, 2020 at 2:01 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

> "The long discredited MYTH that the US Government gave Smallpox infected blankets to the Native Americans has no facts, no evidence of any sort to support such a claim."

^ Hmmm...how about the British in 1763?

The Siege of Fort Pitt took place during June and July 1763 in what is now the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania...this event is best known as an early instance of biological warfare, where the British gave items from a smallpox infirmary as gifts to Native American emissaries with the hope of spreading the deadly disease to nearby tribes.

Months ago it was rumored/alleged that the coronavirus either escaped 'accidentally' from a lab by a lab in 'another' country OR was planted intentionally to wreak havoc on the western global economy...conspiracy theories aside, nothing is surprises anymore.

At present only ten areas/regions in the entire world are free from Covid-19 including Palau, Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Samoa, Vanuatu and Tonga...all of which are hardly threats to the global economy, major tourist attractions, world trade hubs or major shipping destinations.

Posted by Steven Nelson, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Sep 12, 2020 at 3:14 pm

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

I know of someone, a senior aged husband of a family friend, who Got It and died after a trip with his wife to Texas two months ago. A family celebration. Then, a tragedy for two of the celebrants.

If your friends and acquaintances get sick and die - from their own choices? I just hope we don't have too many public expenses to support much of this Senior Science Avoidance. (Medicare). Maybe like smoking, those with no pandemic sense (masks, social distancing, not conjugating with 'friends' in close quarters) will get sick and die. Unfortunate - but that's also called Darwinian Evolution. The survival of the fittest.

Dianna - I hope you now know that YOU will have to assume all these 'friends' are vectors for this infectious resptory virus.

LIVE LONG and Prosper.

Posted by Mountain View Resident, a resident of North Whisman,
on Sep 13, 2020 at 2:50 pm

Mountain View Resident is a registered user.

I think that it is understandable that many people especially those who are tired of not seeing their friends and family and especially those among us who are feeling either mentally depressed and lonely and who constantly feel concern about when the virus will end will want to visit others and live as close to a normal and fulfilling as life as possible and I feel especially for the older people who are often alone in their homes and needs companionship and someone to speak to and to understand their feelings and their loneliness. However when we do things that will spread the virus such as not wear a mask or do as best that we can with maintaining some distance we ourselves who very well may have the virus without knowing it set in motion a sequence of events completely unknown to ourselves that can create illness and long-term disabilities and even death which if we were somehow made aware of our action we would feel significant remorse and even grief about. My great-grandparents both died in the Influenza epidemic of 1919 which left my grandfather and his four younger brothers orphans. I think that we need to use our consciences ad well as our common sense when we go outside or visit other people because the results of our unknowing action can have consequences that are much more significant than we recognize.

Posted by Duveneck neighbor, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Sep 14, 2020 at 8:43 am

Duveneck neighbor is a registered user.

To the Editor, Moderator, and Publisher:

Most of the comments to this blog employ a variety of logical fallacies, especially false equivalence, false dichotomy, cherry-picking, affirming the consequent, assuming or denying the antecedent, and sweeping generalization.

Most of the posters employing these rhetorical errors are seen with high frequency in the PAWeekly comments section. The same handful of people post over and over again.

As a result, I find little of informative or substantive value in the Comments. The reporting remains largely sound journalism.


Posted by Duveneck neighbor, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Sep 14, 2020 at 9:00 am

Duveneck neighbor is a registered user.

Comments which spread falsehoods, such as ‘99% of infected people recover just fine', should be fact-checked. When false, they must be highlighted.

Commenters who employ false information and flawed logic must be called out. The spread of false information, and the use of false logic, lie at the core of our national chaos.

We are entitled to our own opinions. We are not entitled to our own facts, nor to our own logic. False facts and false logic are like a physical virus: society can thrive, achieve herd immunity, when a majority are immunized or carry antibodies; but when the percentage of society which carries antibodies �" which uses facts, and sound reasoning �" falls below the herd immunity threshold, then we have disaster. In the case of SARS-CoV-2, the disaster is to public physical health. In the case of ‘alternate facts' and illogic, the disaster is to social health.

Posted by Diana Diamond, a Mountain View Online blogger,
on Sep 14, 2020 at 10:46 am

Diana Diamond is a registered user.

Duveneck neighbor:

I agree with much of what you said -- that repeatedly we have three or four commentators frequently blogging who don't believe we have a corona problem, or wf we do, it will only affect a smalll percentage of our population, so why should we worry, or (the herd philosophy) if more of us get it, then fewer will get it in the future.

I think nearly 200,000 deaths in this country is a BIGY issue, and really don't care if the numbers were greater or smaller during the 1918 Spanish flu.

However, when you write:
"Commenters who employ false information and flawed logic must be called out. The spread of false information, and the use of false logic, lie at the core of our national chaos.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We are not entitled to our own facts, nor to our own logic. False facts and false logic are like a physical virus: society can thrive, achieve herd immunity, when a majority are immunized or carry antibodies; "

I don't feel it is my role to fact-check what an individual writes -- part of the various views expressed on these blogs show me, and others, how individuals in our area are viewing a problem, and I think that is good.

I do wish false information was not promulgated, but saying that, I tip toward letting people express themselves. (I had my turn in writing a blog.)

But I'd love to know if others agree or disagree with me.

Thanks for your comments!!

Posted by I agree, we need to be more careful., a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Sep 14, 2020 at 11:16 am

I agree, we need to be more careful. is a registered user.

I am staying home as much as I can, wearing a mask every time I leave my house--no exceptions. I care about my friends, neighbors, community. I want to do my part to end this.

Minimize contact. Wear a mask when you must go out. These are very simple things each of us can do that really make a difference with this airborne virus. It's just not that hard.

Posted by Lee Forrest, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Sep 15, 2020 at 3:18 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

Like the 1918-19 Spanish Flu, the Covid-19 pandemic may just disappear on its own...after X amount of people have died leaving a surviving population that is relatively Covid-19 resistant.

The coronavirus may simply be another page (or lesson) in Darwinism and perhaps no different than certain strains of surviving bacteria that are antibiotic resistant.

A working vaccine for the Spanish Flu was not developed until the 1940s nearly 20 years later...who's got time to wait?

So in the meantime, all we can do is practice good hygiene & avoid unnecessary social breeding grounds until this bug eventually goes away & passes into the pages of history.

Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a resident of Greenmeadow,
on Sep 15, 2020 at 3:40 pm

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

Hey Diana. OMG there is so much coronavirus info floating around! FWIW, in my experience it's not that confusing in practice. There are a lot of things we don't know (e.g., lasting effects), but that's to be expected. What we do know changes over time (e.g., whether to wear a mask), but that's to be expected. And there is all the internet bullsh*t, but unfortunately that is also to be expected and we all need to learn how to filter it. The basics have been pretty stable and beyond that, given so much is still not known, much of this (e.g., should I take a plane out of here? should I have a picnic?) is about risk management. That's not so much confusing as it is subjective. My 2c: I hope we can all focus on and agree on the big issues, like how and when kids can get off of their screens and back into school. Whether people decide to have a picnic, I don't stress about so much.

You were asking whether we (bloggers) should call out false information. The Weekly does for its articles. If it sees a post containing information it knows to be false, the false portion is removed. That is what a news organization should do, albeit limited by its resources.

I think we bloggers should do that as well, when we see false information. Otherwise we are complicit in its dissemination. The problem is, we don't always know it when we see it, so people might assume if we let it stand, it is good information. But I think that's an okay trade-off. At least on my blog, if I see something false, I will call it out. I think you do as well, for example if someone misstates who the City Manager is or what they do.

What is harder is when people tout misinformation that you aren't clear on, where truth even seems to be political. Someone might tell you "Hey, Diana, that is bogus", but then you look it up on the internet and you aren't sure who to believe, and you don't want to referee the truth. This is a deeper problem. My 2c: at least remove what you know.

Beyond that, the Weekly has to decide, if the comments are flooded with questionable information, whether they provide more value than not and if there are ways to make them better. That's why they are doing experiments. This is a much bigger issue than this online paper. I'm hoping to do a post on it in two weeks, but feel free to beat me to it :)

Thanks for all your engaging and provoking posts and comments...

Posted by DIana Diamond, a resident of Midtown,
on Sep 17, 2020 at 12:09 pm

DIana Diamond is a registered user.

Sherry --
To add to this discussion of being factually correct, I have noticed that some people single out a blog as "objectionable," and while there is nothing incorrect within that blog, those calling something "objectionable" do so because they disagree with the point of view of the commentator for example, if Commenter A says it is very important to wear masks, but Commenter B feels it's perfectly fine t go around mask free, B will label A's blog as objectionable content, solely because B disagrees with A's point of view.


Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a resident of Greenmeadow,
on Sep 17, 2020 at 8:58 pm

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

Diana, yeah, sometimes readers use it as a dislike button :) It makes sense, since the content is objectionable to them...

If we want to fix it, we could change the link from "Report Objectionable Content" to something like "Does this post violate our guidelines?"

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Burning just one "old style" light bulb can cost $150 or more per year
By Sherry Listgarten | 3 comments | 1,588 views

Banning the public from PA City Hall
By Diana Diamond | 14 comments | 1,377 views