Coronavirus

Unlock the Damned Playgrounds, Already

Playing outside is one of the safest group activities kids can do, yet Gavin Newsom and other pols are extending the pandemic misery indefinitely.

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"While much else" in California "has been allowed to gradually reopen—bars, restaurants, gyms, the zoo, even museums," KPBS San Diego reported earlier this month, "playgrounds appear to be closed indefinitely."

Young kids contract, suffer from, and transmit Covid-19 at significantly lower rates than adults. Their mental health during the pandemic has taken "a serious hit," studies keep showing (and personal experience keeps reaffirming), due to the social isolation and familial cabin fever. High among the most coronavirus-safe activities children can engage in with people outside their immediate family is playing outdoors.

Nevertheless, politicians persist in wrapping police tape around facilities where kids might find some relief. Worse yet, in some misgoverned jurisdictions there are no stated criteria for letting them play.

"There is little mention of playgrounds in the most updated Guidance Documents from the California Department of Public Health, which indicate playgrounds should be closed," wrote State Sen. Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) in a Sept. 16 letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom. The Golden State's reopening plan, she wrote, "does not appear to include any reference to under what tier playgrounds or sport amenities in public parks may reopen, leaving cities, counties, and families confused."

Newsom, who like his New York counterpart Andrew Cuomo loves to dress up his questionable policies in the pompous robes of "science" (recent example, in the service of his plan to ban fracking and gas-powered automobiles: "We need to reconcile that fact that there are no Democratic thermometers and no Republican thermometers. There is fact and there's reality as well as observed evidence. It's not a belief system, it's an acknowledgment: the facts are the facts"), has not only failed to answer Gonazalez's simple request, but his agencies also keep issuing crackpot justifications for its sandbox lockdowns.

Playgrounds are closed, an unnamed California Department of Health spokesman told KPBS, in part because of "the possible large number of individuals touching the same surface, particularly younger children who are less likely to practice hand hygiene and wear masks consistently."

In other words, children are being punished for California bureaucrats' failure to keep up with the science, which by July was definitive: Covid-19 is just not being spread on surfaces. That hasn't stopped the state from issuing The Boy in the Plastic Bubble-like restrictions on sharing equipment and airspace for those athletes and teams fearless enough to consider, you know, practicing (obviously, competition is still off the table).

If I sound contemptuous and dismissive, that's because I am. Even way back in April we knew enough about the virus to determine that it's safer to let a dude surf rather than drag him away in handcuffs. I can see freaking out about, say, elementary schools back when the science was more sketchy and the epidemic more acute. But summer camps did not feature significant spread, schools have reopened to far less infection than feared, and even in the recently corona-surged California the infection rate was down to 2.8 percent last week and hospitalizations "dropped to a level not seen since the first week of April."

As the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) stated in its 2006 Implementation Plan for the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza, "Timely, accurate, credible, and coordinated messages will be necessary during a pandemic, and…inconsistent reporting or guidance…can lead to confusion and a loss of confidence by the public," the plan advises. A "guidance" on indefinite playground-shutdowns that includes neither a credible scientific explanation nor specific benchmarks and timetables for cutting the police tape is not timely, not credible, not consistent, and decidedly not helpful.

Actually, more than "not helpful"—it's actively, wickedly harmful. Here's an old California friend of mine, mother of three, snapping like a twig on Twitter earlier this week:

Another old baseball-coach friend of mine, as I mentioned on The Reason Roundtable this week, has taken to organizing a kind of Prohibition Little League, complete with lookouts, code words, and so forth. More pervasively, in two trips to Southern California over the past month I experienced a palpable sense of fearful people being at their absolute wit's end, reporting crisis-spike levels of irritability, anger, and depression. Minus the apocalyptic fires, it reminded me very much of New York City three months ago…when the playgrounds were still closed.

Back then, my 5-year-old would routinely say eerie/ominous things like, "How do I know I'm even a person anymore?" Her very first post-lockdown playmate, first visit to the playground, first trip (via COVID-car!) outside the city, first day of summer day camp, were all experienced as moments of tear-inducing liberation. Humans, and kids most of all, are not hardwired to be hamsters, stuck for months on end in Habitails, watching the plastic slowly move in. They need movement, contact, interaction, or they will be damaged.

The abstract of a recent study in Science puts the case succinctly: "Children have a low risk of COVID-19 and are disproportionately harmed by precautions." In slightly longer form:

[E]xisting evidence points to educational settings playing only a limited role in transmission when mitigation measures are in place, in marked contrast to other respiratory viruses. In the event of seemingly inevitable future waves of COVID-19, there is likely to be further pressures to close schools. There is now an evidence base on which to make decisions, and school closure should be undertaken with trepidation given the indirect harms that they incur. Pandemic mitigation measures that affect children's wellbeing should only happen if evidence exists that they help because there is plenty of evidence that they do harm.

Italics mine, to pre-confess that if I hear one more smug politician cluck glibly about "following the science" while continuing to support child-harming policies based largely on superstition and/or public sector union muscle, I'm going to lose the last of what remains of my California mellowness. Where the community spread is under control, just open the damned parks.

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  1. Open damned everything! The curve was flattened long ago, too many people have been avoiding routine care, the economy is in the shitter, and the Christmas shopping season is when a lot of stores make almost all the yearly income. Virtue has been signalled, disruption has been caused, message has been received, and you are in danger of being the recipient is new and unfriendly messages.

    1. Good post alphabet guy.

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    2. Problem is, if they open shit up in November or December and since the virus is most likely seasonal, we may see an uptick in actual cases with actual problems in January or February cause them to think that opening up is what caused it.

      1. So we should start on the “Fuck it, that’s your problem.” campaign right away!

        1. I quit working at shoprite and now I make $65-85 per/h. How? I’m working online! My work didn’t exactly make me happy so I decided to take a chance on something new…WDs after 4 years it was so hard to quit my day job but now I couldn’t be happier.

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      2. Oh my God. You mean normal life might happen?

        1. Georgia has been open for months.

          Kids play outside and in playgrounds. Kids are being picked up by school buses with no masks. Stores are open and few people wear masks. People have parties. People have family gatherings. People have weddings.

          I dont know what the rest of you people are doing but you really need to fight back with this tyranny via unconstitutional requirements about masks, business closures, and social distancing.

          1. Georgia has the 6th worst COVID numbers. Probably because it is full of idiots like you.

            1. Their numbers are in line with their population.

            2. Deaths per million in GA are very close to the US average.

            3. According to CDC data, 13 states have higher death rates from the China virus than Georgia (NJ, NY, MA, CT, RI, DC, DE, MD, LA, MS, AZ, IL, PA).

              1. Serenity and his ilk deal in Science, not facts.

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            4. Rates of infection, not total numbers, please. Otherwise, just stfu.

              1. Don’t you know the cumulative number of cases keep increasing????

          2. And let’s get rid of all the unconstitutional requirements about shows and shirts! For years eve spewed then to get away with making us cover our nipples and feet! Enough is enough. The constitution says I can go barefoot into any privately-owned establishment I choose and they can’t stop me!

    3. dude Cold & Flu season is in like fourteen days.

      1. Dude, cold and flu season isn’t a train, it doesn’t run on a schedule. Day #14 is not predictably different than #13 or #15, or #10 or #29.

        What, anyway, is your point? SARS-2 isn’t Flu.

    4. Playgrounds don’t affect the economy.

      Everything IS open, for the most part. Certainly anything affecting Christmas shopping is. Restaurants and bars are having a hard time, but everything else… go, shop. If a retail store is still closed at this point that’s their choice.

      1. If a retail store is still closed at this point that’s their choice.

        Spoken like somebody not in WA, or OR, or CA.

      2. Retail stores are still closed here.

        As are the playgrounds in Benicia, CA, as I saw this week.

        But, according to you, that’s just fine? Because, Science?

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  2. Playground of the Damned – great name for a band.

  3. What the hell is this horseshit?
    https://twitter.com/Telegraph/status/1309206342880690180

    Face masks can give people #Covid19 immunity

    1. Not flagged, removed, or labeled for virus misinformation.

    2. I suggested it the first week of the lockdowns that spreading it intentionality via unprotected butt sex might save lots of lives by triggering an immune response before it could cause fatal damage to the lungs. I was told to shut the fuck up. Someday I will wake up to find that my tasteless joke has become public health policy.

    3. I think you answered your own question. It’s horseshit, plain and simple.

    4. It totally stops the spread, but also gives you immunity!

      No, you didn’t get immunity by the mask not stopping the virus in the first place. Shut up!

    5. The Telegraph
      @Telegraph
      ·
      2h
      Wearing a mask can increase the chance of being asymptomatic

      Wow. They really went full retard with the misinterpretation of statistics, biology, physiology… science didn’t they?

      1. I mean this is pretty much along the lines of saying that 10 people make $1M and 10 people make $0 and I take the average, I’ve guaranteed everyone an income of $500K.

    6. It doesn’t state that. It’s polling whether people believe that. See the “True/False?” underneath?

      Gawd, y’all can be dense.

  4. “Playing outside is one of the safest group activities kids can do, yet Gavin Newsom and other pols are extending the pandemic misery indefinitely.”

    Must be in competition with the Governor Wine Mom of Michigan. Can’t let it be said that another governor did more than you did.

    That and he just fucking can, so why not?

    1. I truly think they are in competition to see who can be the most authoritarian

    1. How much can we bet that somewhere in CA there is a group of people saying exactly this.

      1. they are saying that because he didn’t create a national policy of locking everything down. I had more than one liberal tell me he should have got the army out in the begining. they would have loved that bit of Hitlerism

        1. He’s definitely in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario.

          Like when he closed off travel from China. He was blasted as a xenophobic racist. Now they say he didn’t close down early enough.

          It’s what the left does. It’s all they have.

    2. jeff, tony, chipper, et al say it here.

  5. Playgrounds will be open for anyone driving to them in an all electric vehicle.

    1. With mostly peaceful BLM riot signs.

      1. I truly wonder if I could get away with having my kids host a BLM Protest at the local park playground.

        1. Thread genius, you got my vote!

  6. Democrats don’t care who gets hurt or dies in their quest to regain the White House. It might literally be now or never for the current crop of politicians in the party.

    1. It’s not now or never, but the pervasive free-floating anxiety and their neurotic tendency to treat every Presidential election cycle like an existential crisis certainly exacerbates that impression.

      If their party ranks from the top-down weren’t so stacked with mentally ill, emotionally retarded drug addicts, they’d probably calm the fuck down and keep their perspective when they lost.

      1. It’s not now or never,

        I’d put down some money that Biden won’t see another election.

        1. Nor Pelosi, nor a whole bunch of the DNC power players from the Clinton era.

          Especially if Trump starts locking them up.

          1. Ballot harvesting will guarantee Dem representation for the foreseeable future.

        2. For the Boomer-era ones, I’d concur with that.

          1. Biden isn’t a boomer. Neither is Pelosi.

            1. Worst Generation?

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  7. Because they care about numbers and don’t care about people.

  8. More pervasively, in two trips to Southern California over the past month

    Why the hell are you even bothering to give that fucked-up state your money? #LexLuthorDidNothingWrong

    1. It’s sunny summer weather all the time. Non-obsessed people can ignore politics and live a life.

      1. Shit, I can get that in Texas for 1/10 of the aggravation.

        1. It gets cold and hot in Texas. Never gets below 40 or above 90 at my house. No rain in the summer, no bugs, no tornados, no thunderstorms, no fires near the coast.

          Shit that happens on the news doesn’t happen to people you know (because if it was common it wouldn’t be news).

          1. Shit, it doesn’t get that cold. There might be a month, max, where the temps don’t go above 70, but

            No rain in the summer…no thunderstorms

            You do realize that’s why your state is so dependent on water reclamation and gets burnt to a crisp every summer, right?

            no fires near the coast

            LOL, what? Malibu and Calabasas got fucking torched not even two years ago.

            1. Yeah, but the Malibu fire was on the news, so everyone who isn’t on the news was safe.

              1. Riiiiiiiight.

          2. Smoke, power outages, oppressive state taxes, excessive petty crime, vagrants overpopulating streets, and kids unable to attend school is happening to me and everyone I know. Maybe you should get our more.

      2. Non-obsessed people can ignore politics and live a life.

        Doubt.

      3. More importantly, the low in summer is usually 15-20 degrees cooler than the high. That is not the case in Texas.

    2. Reason is based in California. It’s likely that quite a few of their staff and writers live in the state.

      So I’m going to guess the answer is “they enjoy being outraged”.

      1. I was just thinking about a very similar comment you made a few months ago in regards to that.

  9. Democrats are entirely desperate to win. They got the silicon valley billionaires to do their bidding. They are well funded. They have the media completely by their side. Their shock troops are out in force to harass and even murder conservatives. They lied about the effects of covid to keep you docile.

    I just wonder if that will make any difference. Oh I suspect they will attempt to overthrow the government if Trump wins. It’s well within their ability. If their ballot harvesting and fake mail in ballots don’t work that would be their next step.

    But meanwhile they got you thinking you can’t go to the park. Clever of them.

    1. Our parks have been open since April.

      1. Georgia parks never closed.

        1. They tried to shut ours down in WA but quickly backpedaled. What the fuck sense does removing the disc golf holes accomplish?

          1. It lets you know who’s in charge.

            Hint- it ain’t you.

            1. This.

              Nothing to do with safety, everything to do with power.

            2. People started playing using trees as “holes” instead.

  10. I laugh at the plight of Californians. You choose to live in that shithole. You can move. It’s as easy as getting a pick-up truck, some tie-downs and making choices about what matters most. Or calling some movers. If you don’t want to move, if you want to promote progressive policies, then you deserve to reap the whirlwind.

    1. Not even just choose to move, the move in incentivized. Choosing to live in CA for the last couple decades is like living in Hong Kong now. Either you’re a part of the problem or you give precisely zero fucks.

    2. A whole shit-ton of people have been doing just that the last few months. People in San Francisco are having to go 2-3 hours outside of town to get a UHaul.

      Unfortunately, they can’t help bringing their fucked-up political attitudes with them. That goes for the right-wing ones, too–they have a tendency to piss off the locals in Idaho, for example, because they refuse to keep their heads down and try fitting in with the people who live there after they arrive.

  11. Matt why are you acting like all this is about the virus? It’s a Marxist revolution combined with trying to hurt Trump’s reelection. Get with it man.

  12. Wait 20 years or so. These kids won’t have a strong immune system. It was never allowed to grow and fight germs. When their bodies are attacked by everyday bacteria, they are going to get sick. For real sick.

    1. Additionally, not that PE was inducing any sort of real fitness before, but the idea that real fitness can be achieved via a Zoom meeting on an iPad is even more laughable.

      1. I’d say being physically active was the one thing my elementary and junior high schools were good at.

        We had real PE every day. Running around and shit. Not that we needed it. We ran around for hours after school too, but to have that break in the middle of the day to just run around is crucial for growing boys.

  13. lol California … “yeah but the weather” fails when you can’t go outside

    1. You can go outside.

      1. you can also have a sense of humor.

        1. I think you don’t really know what humor means.

          1. I think you’re mad because you know California has issues.

      2. Just wear a mask when you do.

        1. No. No mask, no problem outside.

        2. Does anyone really wear a mask?

          1. everyone wears a mask it’s like 27 Twilight Zones

      3. Not a couple of weeks ago. I had to scrub the ash off my house and car. And dog.

  14. Open damned everything! The curve was flattened long ago, too many people have been avoiding routine care, the economy is in the shitter, and the Christmas shopping season is when a lot of stores make almost all the yearly income. Virtue has been signalled, disruption has been caused, message has been received, and you are in danger of being the recipient is new and unfriendly messages.

    Outdoormo

  15. I just loved the references, thanks.
    Gadget Maniac

  16. Don’t worry, there’ll be another case surge due to the return of the mass protest super spreader event, and once again it will be blamed on reopening too fast.

    1. The riots are really to prevent businesses from be able to open again. Destroy the property and they cannot reopen. The rioters should all get trophies. Maybe an Order of Lenin too.

      1. The plan was to destroy the US economy so Trump would not win.

        It failed. Red state economies are roaring back with government caused unemployment going down every day.

        Trump 2020

  17. And take off your frickin’ masks when you’re out for a walk, run or bike ride. With all that air movement, you’re not going to build up enough virus in one place to do anything other than maybe help start building up a bit of that herd immunity we keep hearing about.

    Enough with the virtue signalling!

  18. Yeah, I’m as pissed off as I’ve ever been, I think. Even more pissed than after Dubyah invaded Iraq, 9/11 I was in shock, maybe the eventual anger there is close, but that was an attack by an enemy, not every governor, mayor, and county health department deciding “Fascism Now!”.
    I honestly think that Trump will win simply because of masks.

    1. Trump will win because the left is devoid of reason, logic, sanity, and even basic human kindness. The alternative of dementia Joe and his asian-african-cameltoe proxy is too horrible to imagine.

  19. The state of California is bad for your health

  20. For how much all y’all bitch about the state, it’s easy to forget that Reason chooses to be based in California.

    So follow Ilya Somin’s advice already, and “vote with your feet”. If you hate it so much here… leave.

    1. Most of the Reason writing staff are on the east coast: New York and D.C. areas.

  21. I’m pretty sure the vast majority of the commenters don’t actually live in California.

    1. Reply to Escher above.

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  23. That sign would be improved if if included a smiling black man crossing his arms while wearing a suit and an afro.

  24. When your kid is losing their shit, just make sure that every time your state governor appears on the TV screen, you point at them and say, “See that person? That’s who is keeping you locked in your house.” And every time they see Biden / Harris / Pelosi / any democrat, make sure you say “… and those are the people who want to make sure it stays that way for the rest of your life.”

    After another 10 of 20 years, we might have enough pro-liberty voters to actually make a difference.

  25. These politicians are cruel psychopaths. I’m sorry.

    I believe they deserve a beating for what they’re doing.

    1. That is, they absolutely are disproportionately harming kids and knowingly so. They have to account for this psychological trauma.

      And Welch’s final paragraph is spot on.

      They’re NOT following science. I don’t even know what they’re following. They take snippets of science and make politics out of it.

      This is bad science hysteria full stop.

      North America is a clown shit show run by spectacularly stupid people.

  26. The CDC’s mask wearing guidance applies to ALL public settings, and fails to differentiate even between crowded indoor settings and remote outdoor settings.

    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover-guidance.html

    “CDC recommends all people 2 years of age and older wear a mask in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household”

    Meanwhile, CDC’s guidance also claims that the benefits of masks to protect people are unknown.

    “However, the protective effects—how well the mask protects healthy people from breathing in the virus—are unknown.”

    1. This incompetence by CDC (urging people to wear masks whenever they go outside of their home) is why many state and local governments (mostly controlled by Democrats) mandate mask wearing outdoors, and is why many of those same jurisdictions shut down playgrounds, parks, beaches, etc.

  27. The par course exercise stations are open for people to use, but not the playgrounds in SF.
    But more galling is the city is floating a 487.5 million dollar bond to renovate parks, including playgrounds.
    https://sfrecpark.org/1370/Better-Parks-for-the-Future

  28. Build your own playground, commie.

  29. Aw, it’s so adorable when you say “damned” in a title – it’s like, “grrrrr… I’m so serious!”

  30. I am quite close with a number of largish families (well above the 2.3 id average size) and most still have young kids. NONE of them are “practicing” the stupidscia distancing charade. These families get togther frequently mixing u the groups, and the kids play together happily. Few will voluntarily put on the dread mug nappie….. those old enough to comprehend such things are well aware the whole charade is a government pestersession. Some of the older kids have had some exposure to things like health, diet, diseases, our bodies and immune system, etc. and see right through the kabuki theatre. But they continue being together, and are h\appy well balanced, energetic, fun, intelligent, very UNLIKE today’s public skewl kidz

    and some say home schooled kids are not “socialised”.

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  32. Our school cleans after each group of children finish on the playground. I will assume the county is telling us to do so.

    So, silly, so sad.

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