Attacks on retail workers must stop too! *

More and more articles are coming out documenting the harassment and threatening behavior essential expendable retail workers have to endure every day. We’ve all heard about the Starbucks employee who got $100,000 in case after a video of a Karen berating him went viral. But the vast majority of retail workers subjected to this behavior get nothing.

The other day, I talked to a grocery worker at Gelson’s. I asked him if he ever had any problems with customers. He rolled his eyes. “Every day,” he said, “at least three times a day.” At Gelson’s they enforce the rules. At other stores, not so much.

The Times of San Diego in a good article on the subject, reprinted a letter from UFCW Local 135 President Todd Walters, which outlined just how dire the situation for their workers is. He pointed out how workers no longer received sick leave or hazard pay, and how employers are no longer enforcing mask and social distancing regulations.

There are three parties to blame here:

  • State and federal officials who don’t take this pandemic seriously and refuse to make it mandatory to wear masks
  • Employers who want to “please every customer” by not enforcing regulations
  • Anti-maskers who assert their privilege, almost always white privilege, by attacking retail workers for trying to protect the public.

It’s pretty obvious to anyone with a functioning brain that Trump doesn’t care about the pandemic and wishes it would just go away. Same for his obsequious minions, from senators to members of county boards and city councils. These toadies must be voted out at every level in the next election. It doesn’t do any good to write letters to them. Instead, spend your time trying to reach voters who didn’t care about voting last election, or voters who just registered. Explain to them how their lives literally depend on the outcome of this next election.

The second group, employers, are making a grievous error if they think they’ll make all customers happy by trying to make all customers happy. I don’t think I’m the only person in an “at risk” group who pays very close attention to the level of compliance with mask wearing and social distancing at every retail establishment I go to. TJ’s and Gelson’s so far have done a good job. Von’s – you are no longer getting my money. Neither are you, Home Depot. This isn’t a political boycott; it’s a safety measure.

Finally, what about the anti-maskers who have no compunctions about making themselves physical and political superspreaders? Store owners must take the lead here. We’ve all seen the sign, “No shoes, no service.” They enforce that. Masks should be no different. And they should not put the burden of enforcement on retail employees. Employees should be encouraged not to service people who refuse to wear a mask. Belligerent anti-maskers should be escorted out.

As for the anti-maskers, how incredibly selfish can you get? You think you’re upholding some political principle? No. The only thing you’re upholding is ignorance in the face of science. In a dream world, you would be hauled into court, fined $1,000, and sentenced to a week of 16 hour a day shifts in one of the ICU units where health care workers have to risk their lives to take care of your sorry, miserable selves.

On the other hand, we who believe in science need to apply it as well. We don’t need to yell at someone without a mask walking their dog in the neighborhood who’s 30 feet away. Don’t follow a bicyclist in your car because you saw them riding without a mask. Don’t lose your cool with anti-maskers. Stay calm.

I have to tell myself that over and over, because I get as mad as anyone else when I think about all the unnecessary nonsense we’re being forced to go through because of political leaders who refuse to listen to public health experts.

[ Note to my L.A. readers: I realize this next section may not be of much interest to you. But if you know of a source for data on LA cities and/or neighborhoods, and the data has an API so I can download it, and you would like to see this in my LA updates, then please give me a link! ]

I’ve been working hard on redoing the city level analysis, and I’m just about finished. I still will probably tinker with the Zorgi Scores, but I think I’m pretty close. My aim was to produce an overall Zorgi Score for all 19 cities that was reflective of the score for the county as a whole. On July 7, SD County had a score of 8.2. If you look on CY0, you’ll see that the average for all the cities is 8.1 — not bad.

I’m well aware that there aren’t many metrics to base the score on, and that they all revolve around one thing – cases. Still, that can be a worthwhile thing to examine. So the city level score, and the zip code level score when I finish with it, is based on the following four metrics:

  • Percentage change in total cases during the period
  • Prevalence index at the end of the period
  • Percentage change in daily cases
  • Percentage change in case doubling days

I’m still writing up the rationale for the metrics and exactly how each of the 4 component scores is calculated, and when I finish, you can go through it on my web page.

Once again, the Zorgi Score made me question my assumptions prior to running the calculation program. For example, I just took it for granted that the highest scores would be in South Bay. Imagine my surprise when the bar for Carlsbad popped out there. Then I looked at the four parts of the score: total cases, up by 217%; prevalence index at 424 – not bad, but then they didn’t get dinged very badly for that either; change in daily cases – up 811%; and change in doubling days – down 58%, to a very bad 13 days.

Should National City really be at 4.6?

Their total cases increased by 81%, one of the lowest rises of all the cities. The prevalence index was 78, which is quite low, and they did get 2.0 points for that. Daily cases were up 145%, for which they got 1.6 points, but that was one of the lower increases. Finally, aside from Poway, they were the only city to increase their case doubling days, in this case from 32 days to 62 days, a 94% change. So 4.6 seems like a reasonable score.

This is the sort of analysis you can do yourself for all the cities. If a city seems high to you, go through the components of the score and examine whether it’s justified. And by all means, if you think I’ve really flubbed on something here, let me know.

But please don’t argue with me about the concept of the Zorgi Score itself. I know there are some of you who hate it. As I keep saying though, it’s not an epidemiogical tool or a forecasting model. It’s an analysis tool, a catalyst to ask why.

My regular readers know I stay away from predictions. But I’m going to make one here. I predict that in 3 weeks, the Trump team will no longer be bragging about the death rate. They might even stop talking about it next week. All over the country, hospitals are filling up, and many of the beds are occupied by young people. The more those beds fill up, the higher the death rate is going to go, no matter how much progress we’ve made in fighting the virus.

I may take a break tomorrow. If I do, I’ll be back on Sunday. Have a safe and healthy weekend, everyone!

Comments from Readers & My Responses

The following are some of the comments from readers on Reddit and other social media platforms where I regularly post. Reader comments are in italics and color. My responses are in plain text. If there is more than one commenter without a response, they are separated by different colors.

Thanks for the update. Thought you might be interested in this interview with a UCSD professor who specializes in aerosols.

I’m running into maskless people who are more into conspiracy theories? Like this is a Psy-Op for takeover by —I’m not sure who. They claim that TB is just as contagious but we don’t shut down for that. That the New Normal is to destabilize the population. That fear is being turned into a virtue. That the protests were encouraged by govt. That because the CDC was counting antibody tests as cases (yea, bad move), that everything is being attributed to COVID and therefore it’s a game. These people def aren’t Trump fans, more libertarians/‘free thinkers.”

People like Putin and Trump like all conspiracy theorists, because this type of thinking ultimately leads to complete cynicism. Total cynics are actually apolitical, so autocrats like them. The people Trump really hates are the ones who register voters, who fight voter suppression, who run for office and win and go on to fight for democracy.

Thank you Zorgi! Also, just a little rant, I absolutely hate seeing medical assistants/clinical staff on my social media just partying it up or going out like everything’s normal. My sister, who was a nurse (she quit her job recently), told me how a bunch of her coworkers were still goin out like it’s nothing. They ended up having an outbreak in their facility. I also see some in my social media doing the same things. It’s sad cause these people handle a lot of vulnerable patients. There is just so much lack of empathy in this country.

Yes, that’s really sad. But I believe that for every one of them, there are 20 or 30 who are taking this really seriously and have seen the damage it can do. But the self-centered behavior of a lot of people is disheartening, that’s for sure. This is how a culture of privilege hurts us all.

Are we gonna make it zorgi

I’m an optimist, so I say yes. I think the next 6 or 7 months are going to be absolute hell, with lots of deaths, and Trump and his cult followers sinking deeper and deeper into their hell hole. But I think they’re going to end up on the garbage heap of history, where they belong. If, that is, we all get out and vote and get all our friends and family to vote, too.

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