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Secondary Effects
June, 2020 - Issue #189
The primary effects of COVID-19 are now well known: fever, dry cough, shortness of breath. The secondary effects on us and our world are much more varied. For example, "Bad Boys for Life" might end up being the top film of the year based on global box office receipts. This inexplicable distinction is owed to the movie's release date: It was in theaters when going to the movies was still a thing. It's just one of the surprising consequences of the pandemic, and there are plenty more close to home.
"EVERYTHING is at once unbelievable and all too believable."

Should We Stay or Should We Go (Out)
One of the side effects of telling people to stay home has been making them leave home. There have been multiple protests against the restrictions and shutdowns purportedly aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus. In the largest, more than 300 Claritans took to the sidewalk along McBean Parkway to protest. Some wore masks, there was more space between people than usual, and the protest signs had slogans that none of us would have understood a few months ago: "Reopen SCV," "Sacramento is the virus," "Newsom is non-essential." People had been told to stay off the streets, which became the reason why they took to them.
Whether you're the type who protests or who shakes your head at the protesters, you're probably feeling antsy. It's so nice outside! So everyone is mentally calculating the risk probabilities. As of the first week of May, the LA County Department of Public Health reported 462 confirmed coronavirus cases in the city of Santa Clarita, which has well over 200,000 residents. Maybe our warm climate and spread-out communities have helped keep numbers fairly low. Maybe the stay-at-home order deserves most of the credit. No one can really say with certainty, and the future is even more uncertain.

An Empty ER
Not to sound flippant, but if a hospital can't make money in the middle of a pandemic, when can it? One of the many troubling secondary effects of coronavirus has been unhealthy bottom lines at hospitals nationwide. Non-urgent visits and procedures have been cancelled, many have let the fear of COVID-19 keep them from visiting the emergency room, and spending has gone up to prepare for patients with coronavirus. The American Hospital Association estimated hospitals will lose some $200 billion because of the pandemic.
Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital has not been spared. Executives have laid off an unspecified number of employees, the ranks of which have included at least nine management positions. The hospital has devoted ample resources to treating coronavirus patients, but the real reason they've needed to cut costs has been a lack of surgeries and ER visits. As I write this, the hospital's website estimates an ER wait time of "0 minutes," and they reassure Claritans that "we have strict processes in place to isolate and treat suspected COVID-19 patients and to protect all others who come to our Emergency Department." Let's hope it's back to normal soon.

Unbelievable
Why aren't we all scanning the skies? The Pentagon recently confirmed the existence of unexplainable aerial phenomena. They acknowledged three UFO videos from the Navy for the official record. Meanwhile, so-called giant "murder hornets," capable of killing humans, have begun turning up in the United States. At two inches, their wingspan is broader than that of some hummingbirds. Most of us have plenty of time to look out for UFOs or RBHs (really big hornets), but these news stories have failed to shock us. Everything is at once unbelievable and all too believable.
The principle holds true locally. To see if you've been paying attention, two of these three news stories are true, one is not. First, a trail of bloody footprints was found at Summit Park, but Sheriff's detectives could find no evidence of a crime; perhaps it was just an injury. Second, after the threat of an expensive legal battle, Santa Clarita is rapidly transitioning to district-based elections. And third, a UFO appeared in the skies over Santa Clarita but was rapidly dispatched by a swarm of giant hornets. Which is the fib? Hearting the SCV means hearting local news, so I bet you, dear Claritan, will figure it out.
This column is intended as satire and a (sometimes successful) attempt at humor. Suggestions and catty comments intended for the author can be e-mailed to iheartscv@insidescv.com.
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