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Send Your Coronavirus Questions for Supervisor Gregg Hart -- Plus: Notes, Updates & F-Word's History

Board of Supervisors Chair Gregg Hart, who's leading Santa Barbara County’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, is scheduled to be Newsmakers’ online interview guest on Friday, for a conversation about the challenges the coronavirus poses to the community.

Newsmakers invites our readers to email us questions you’d like Gregg to discuss, from public health and public safety to public finance and economic issues, or anything in between.

Political leaders always walk a fine line during times of disaster: at risk of being panned as a hot dog if they’re too visible, or scorned as uncaring and MIA if they keep too low a profile.

In the current moment, the bar is set pretty low for public-facing politicians, of course, given the reckless, unhinged and toxic commentary Donald Trump spouts at the daily White House "briefings."

That aside, having watched generations of elected officials operate amid blackouts, earthquakes, fires, riots, assassinations, mass shootings and cult catastrophes, we credit Gregg for striking the right balance as he's led and spoken for county government at near-daily coronavirus public updates.

Calm and confident, he's been firm and factual in communicating the logic and urgent necessity of a sweeping set of disruptive stay-at-home, social distancing and economic shutdown measures in a low-key tone without a trace of grandstanding, as he's steadily spotlighted science and the white coats who actually know stuff about medicine, health care management and epidemiology. Mega-kudos.

Email your questions to

Resource: Free Covid consultation. Cottage Hospital now provides free online consults for anyone experiencing "COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough or shortness of breath) or upper respiratory symptoms (sore throat, runny nose, nasal congestion)."

The service is part of its CottageCareNow service; full details in their announcement, via Edhat.

Three things to read today:

  • Prince Gavin set forth the six conditions he says are necessary to begin lifting his March 19 stay-at-home order on Wednesday -- and it doesn’t sound like that will be happening very soon:

"Gov. Gavin Newsom said California needs to increase testing, protect high-risk residents from infection and expand hospital capacity before the state can begin to modify the unprecedented stay-at-home order he imposed one month ago and gradually return to a sense of normalcy.

(snip) The new parameters Newsom outlined Tuesday suggest the state must meet a high bar before walking back the order."

  • The Washington Post got hold of a leaked draft plan to ease coronavirus social and economic restrictions and it doesn't appear that Donald Trump, who wants to "re-open the country" (whatever that means) on May 1. will be very happy with it:

"Impatient with the economic devastation wrought by social distancing and other mitigation measures — and fearful of the potential damage to his reelection chances — Trump has been adamant in private discussions with advisers about reopening the country next month.

Yet within Trump’s circle, officials say, there is acknowledgment that it will not be possible for the president to simply flip a switch. A return to normal likely would take many months, administration officials said, and should be orchestrated methodically and guided by medical data. For instance, officials are considering beginning with areas deemed to have the lowest risk of a major outbreak."

  • Ed Yong, science reporter for The Atlantic, has produced some of the most insightful and thoughtful coverage of the pandemic anywhere; no surprise as he began writing several years ago about the dangers a pandemic posed to an underprepared nation.

His latest is a deep dive into what it will take for the nation to recover:

"The options are limited. Early inaction left the U.S. with too many new cases, and just one recourse: Press a societal pause button to buy enough time for beleaguered hospitals to steel themselves for a sharp influx in patients. This physical-distancing strategy is working, but at such an economic cost that it can’t be sustained indefinitely. When restrictions relax, as they are set to do on April 30, the coronavirus will likely surge back, as it is now doing in Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and other Asian states that had briefly restrained it.

The pandemic is not a hurricane or a wildfire. It is not comparable to Pearl Harbor or 9/11. Such disasters are confined in time and space. The SARS-CoV-2 virus will linger through the year and across the world. “Everyone wants to know when this will end,” said Devi Sridhar, a public-health expert at the University of Edinburgh. “That’s not the right question. The right question is: How do we continue?”

Surf’s back up. Loyal readers will recall Kim Prather, the San Diego-based scientist who warned against surfing, swimming and jogging at the beach, suggesting that ocean spray could be infested with and spread the virus.

After reviewing new research published in the journal Nature, plus getting hammered on social media by surfers, Prather tells the LA Times she’s rethought the matter:

“'The main exposure risk to the water recreation community remains sewage pollution and urban runoff into the ocean, which can increase after major storms such as what we had this week,'” Prather said in a follow-up interview this week.

“'The health effects of exposure to polluted waters have been the focus of numerous studies and the risks are well documented; less clear are the effects of exposure to aerosols produced in sea spray from the polluted ocean. Clearly, more research is needed on this particular virus to determine whether it loses infectiousness through sewage treatment and exposure to air, sunlight, and water.'”

All righty then.

Resource: New business loan fund. The Economic Development Collaborative, a non-profit that leverages private and public funds on behalf of Central Coast businesses, now has a new $500,000 loan fund, separate from the SBA and other federal loan programs recently approved by Congress and signed by Trump, to help owners get by during the shutdown.

Along with the loan fund and other resources detailed on their web site, EDC is presenting a webinar on Wednesday (4-14-20) to help businesses and self-employed folks navigate the tangle of new federal and state programs set up to help amid the financial damage inflicted by the pandemic. Check it out here.

A periodic reminder to support local bookstores. KEYT’s Blake Devine did a nice piece on how Chaucer’s Books is continuing to do business within shutdown constraints, as workers, wearing masks and gloves, bag up phone ordered books for curbside pickup.

Also check out Nick Welsh's takeout on all locally owned bookstores similarly trying to stay alive.

Words matter. The coronavirus crisis has spawned a whole new vocabulary, according to Bloomberg columnist Ben Schott.

Words matter II. It will surprise no one if the anxieties and pressures of viral house arrest lead to a sudden spike in the incidence of cursing, profanity and mighty oaths hurled on the home front (we name no names).

Now comes the Daily Mail to report that scholars have discovered the first known use of the F-bomb, in a 1568 Scottish tome known as the Bannatyne Manuscript, written by a bored student locked down at home because of ... wait for it ... a plague:

"The manuscript contains William Dunbar's epic poem 'The Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedie,' in which two poets trade insults with one another.

As the pair trade blows, Kennedy brands Dunbar a 'wan fukkit funling'  

In a documentary, Dr Joanna Kopaczyk, a historical linguistics (professor) at Glasgow University tells viewers: 'In the Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedy, when Kennedy addresses Dunbar, there is the earliest surviving record of the word 'f***' in the world.

'It might never quite make the tourist trail, but here in the National Library we have the first written 'f***' in the world. I think that's something to be proud of.'"

Words matter III. Four hundred and eighty-two years later, proper usage of the word now has been perfected by this police officer in Uganda, who made a social video in hopes of discouraging folks from congregating amid the coronavirus.

Hear his whole rant here. Fair warning: Reallly strong language.

Stay safe.


Images: Gregg Hart; Cottage logo; Seething geezer (Shutterstock); Monster wave (; EDC logo (linkedin); Chaucher's logo;; Image of the Bannatyne Manuscript (The Scotsman); Frustrated cop (Twitter).

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