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Letters to the Editor

Dixon calls on governor to suspend AB5

Like many of you, I have been working from home on both my campaign and Newport Beach City Council responsibilities. When the stay-at-home restrictions have finally ended, the provisions of Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) will still be in place, making it more difficult for millions of independent contractors to get back to work. 

Therefore, last week I sent a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom asking him to suspend AB5 in response to the COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on independent workers in California. This bill, which Newsom signed into law last year, restricts employers’ ability to hire independent contractors. This includes thousands of hospital workers all across the state.

Governor Newsom alone holds the authority to waive such regulatory statutes. That is why I am calling upon him now to do the right thing and suspend AB5. California’s economy does not need to endure more strain and pressure beyond the current health crisis.

I would like to take this opportunity to share my letter to the Governor with you.

Dear Governor Gavin Newsom, 

As you well know, the State Emergency created by the COVID-19 virus has not only created a medical crisis, it has and will continue to have long lasting economic impacts beyond the medical crisis. As a member of the Newport Beach City Council, I appreciate your efforts in handling this crisis. 

Given this crisis, I’m asking you to take swift action to reverse statutory legislation that you signed last year that restricts employers’ ability to hire independent contractors also known as Assembly Bill 5 (AB5). 

Even the best projections by medical experts illustrate California has yet to experience the peak of the COVID-19 virus impact. Soon our hospitals and economy will be feeling the immense pressure of this virus. Thus, we must act immediately, as the virus spreads the effect on California worsens. 

Before AB5, thousands of hospital workers, including emergency room physicians, were classified as independent contractors. These hospital workers are needed more than ever, and government should not stand in the way of allowing hospitals and hospital workers to engage in a mutually beneficial financial arrangement to bring these desperately needed workers to aid fellow Californians. 

Further, AB5’s impact isn’t only to the medical industry, there are thousands of other California industries and jobs that have been affected. We must do everything we can to bring relief to these workers by freeing them to work to lessen the economic impact to California. 

I believe you alone under the California Emergency Services Act are empowered to suspend any regulatory statute where you determine that compliance with the order would hinder or delay the mitigation of the emergency. 

I’m asking you to review and act using these authoritative powers granted to you by the voters of California to suspend AB5 immediately to help California’s workers and the economy.

Best Regards, 

Diane Dixon 

Candidate, 74th Assembly District

Newport Beach

This reader believes there’s more to the story than what’s being reported

This COVID-19 thing has me losing faith in our leaders to protect and defend the constitution. Part of that loss of faith has to do in large part to reporting by news agencies, sadly to report, yours included.

Key preliminary findings from review of the first 17 deaths due to COVID-19 include:

–10 patients (59 percent) male, 7 patients (41 percent) female.

–Age range 31-93 with average age of 67.

Complete data on comorbidities is available for 15 of the 17: All 15 with complete data had medical comorbidities (e.g. DM, CVD, CKD, HTN, immunosuppression, obesity, others).

–2 patients (both in the age group of 75+) did not have any identified medical comorbidities but lacked data on BMI.

–10 of the15 with known comorbidities had two or more conditions identified.

Summary:

–Average age of hospitalized cases is 59, and average age of deaths is 67.

–Male predominance in both hospitalized cases and deaths.

–Presence of comorbidities, especially multiple comorbidities, is high in both hospitalized cases and in deaths.

The highlighted (italicized) data is significantly more valuable to the residents of Newport (and the county) and having an understanding of COVID-19 than the “score” per city.

Part of keeping the county safe, and responsible reporting, involves keeping the residents informed, which I think you’re doing a great job at. I also think that a broader scope of the data, since you have access to it, is critical in sharing. As a citizen, I’m witnessing what I will call “unhealthy” behavior when it comes to social distancing (which should be reclassified as physical distancing). That is today, the mental health of our citizens is in jeopardy due to the amount of fear, uncertainty and misunderstanding surrounding COVID-19 and its associated risks to mortality. Not to mention our constitutional rights being forfeited. Reporting by all media should show all the data, not just what is fantastic, scary, impressive, etc. 

Here are some stats that you should share: Two-thirds of the deaths as of this data being published were people who had more than two indicated comorbidity factors. 100 percent of those with complete data had a comorbidity factor. (My editorial 2 cents on the two who didn’t have complete reports? If I were a gambling man, I’d say that their BMI was >40). This is important information that is not being disseminated in any thoughtful way by any media source that I can find.

I just think if people had a general understanding of who is dying as a result of COVID-19, it might have a more positive impact on how we deal with it moving forward. Remember, we are flattening the curve with social distancing, not eliminating it. Everyone under that curve is always susceptible to infection unless a vaccination is found. We are prolonging the inevitable with a hope to not stress our healthcare system, which at the moment in Newport and the rest of the county is actually suffering budget shortfalls from under-utilization.

Thank you for all you do to keep our county informed and I hope that you will take my recommendations to heart and share them with the community along with the other data provided.

David Clarke

Costa Mesa

Masks just make people safer

Yesterday when I was in a part of Newport that has some small active shops, I was surprised to see that many people congregating there were not wearing masks. Although it has not been mandated by the Governor, it has been highly suggested that in order to drive the number of COVID-19 cases in a downward trend, that everyone should wear masks. My observation was that younger people were less likely to wear them. However, most people 40 and older were wearing them.

Masks are not very comfortable, and I can understand the reticence to wear them. However, if it means saving lives and moving us closer to “normalcy,” it is not a big sacrifice. There is quite a bit of literature that suggests that masks are worn to protect other people. Not wearing them in public when you come into contact with other people is thus seen as a selfish gesture. Most people are probably not motivated by selfishness, they just need to be educated about how wearing masks in public can protect other people and most likely themselves.

I am not even sure that they have encouraged them, but I stand to be corrected and look forward to their acknowledgement of this important issue.

Mayor Garcetti has made masks mandatory in Los Angeles. I hope that we will follow suit to help lower our relatively high number of coronavirus cases in Newport Beach. It is better to overreact in situations like this than to underreact, if it means that lives can be saved.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach