At a time when resistance to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s unconstitutional, overbearing, arbitrary, and unscientific lockdown orders is growing by the minute in the Golden State, when video of a local restaurant owner showcasing the hypocrisy of who gets to open and who doesn’t goes viral, when state judges are issuing orders prohibiting him from issuing more orders, and on the very day that another state judge struck down Los Angeles County’s outdoor dining ban, lambasting it as arbitrary and slamming county leaders for failing to provide requested scientific evidence supporting their position, you wouldn’t expect state health officials to actually admit that they don’t have science backing up the outdoor dining ban.
But that’s just what Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s Health and Human Services Secretary, did. Around noon Tuesday, while Ghaly’s regularly-scheduled press conference and update was occurring, the preliminary ruling was issued in the Los Angeles County case brought by Mark Geragos. Just a few hours earlier the Assistant Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Adm. Brett Giroir, said during a coronavirus task force briefing that he hadn’t seen “any data that says you need to shutdown outdoor dining or outdoor bars.”
So, a reporter from the Los Angeles Times asked Ghaly, “There have been some criticisms, including from the Assistant Secretary of HHS, who said on Fox News, ‘I don’t know of any data that says we need to shut down outdoor dining.’ I’m wondering if you can respond to that?” Ghaly replied:
“As it relates to the question about indoor dining or outdoor dining, I think one thing that I have tried to message and emphasize is that right now we’re seeing such high levels of transmission that…every activity that can be done differently and keep us at our homes, not mixing with others, is safer. Those are going to be the tools that help us get this under control.
“So the decision to include, among other sectors, outdoor dining, and limiting that, turning to restaurants to deliver and provide takeout options instead, really has to do with the goal of trying to keep people at home, not a comment on the relative safety of outdoor dining.
Wait, what? All along Newsom has been telling us that we have to follow TheScience™ so we can “meet this moment.” It’s stunning that Ghaly would admit this. But he continued, and he made it worse:
“And we have worked hard with that industry to create safer ways for outdoor dining to happen, to keeping tables farther apart, to ensuring masking happens as much as possible, to create opportunities for air circulation to continue. All of those factors make sectors like outdoor dining lower risk. But right now, with the levels of transmission that we’re seeing, we advise against anything that you can do in another way, in a lower risk way, that avoids you either leaving your home or only leaving your home in a way that doesn’t expose you and cause you to mix with others.”
This really is a damning comment from a legal perspective. Considering all of the other businesses that are open – some of them indoors – this is extremely arbitrary. Ghaly admits that the state forced the industry to implement costly measures to prevent transmission, but the administration still arbitrarily and suddenly changed the rules. I’m not an attorney, but I’d think that really opens the state up to be sued for damages by these people who are losing everything.
And since they don’t have data showing that outdoor dining is a more risky sector to have open at this time, do they have data showing that closing outdoor dining is going to halt the spread? I doubt it. Even though outdoor dining had been open for quite some time in the state, not everyone was taking advantage of that opportunity. Plenty of people were still staying home because they didn’t feel comfortable being around people. And with the evenings turning colder, even more people were staying home. And now that outdoor dining isn’t an option, guess where people will congregate? That’s right. Inside their own homes, at private gatherings – which HAVE been known to be greatly responsible for disease spread.
Ghaly’s comments are even worse considering the fact that his wife, Dr. Christina Ghaly, is the Director of Los Angeles County’s Department of Health Services, the agency that had just been served that blistering beatdown in court.
Way to go, genius. You’re gonna be sleeping on the couch for a while.
Here’s the video:
An interesting note – Politico reported Ghaly’s comments in a story about the Los Angeles County ban and Geragos’ lawsuit, and their reporter Victoria Colliver tweeted Ghaly’s comment as she was live-tweeting the briefing, but she later deleted the tweet. Why?