tv ABC7 News Getting Answers ABC February 17, 2022 3:00pm-3:31pm PST
>> building a better bay area. moving forward, finding solutions. this is abc 7 news. anchor: you're watching "getting answers." we are asking experts your questions are they up play clock to get you answers in real-time. in about 15 minutes, governor newsom's expect it to begin a news conference to spell out his endemic strategy. what does living with the virus mean here in california? we will bring you his speech life when it begins. we just got a preview of the strategy and it is called smarter. that is an acronym. we will show you what that means. s is for shots. m, masks. a, awareness. r, readiness.
t, testing. e, education. r, rx, as in treatment. joining us to discuss what this means in their insight on how to best manage the virus moving forward, ucsf infectious disease specialist. but first, medical anthropologist, professor martha lincoln. thank you for your time today. >> thanks are having me. kristen: we are all watching this very closely. i want you to break this down for me because a point of moving into an endemic means people will have choice. this week, we have the choice to mask up indoors and public places in most places -- not in santa clara county -- after the state lifted its mandate. but discuss that concept of choice. should we consider our own risk factors, our own comfort level when we look at these things, or do we have a responsibility to also consider others? >> that is a great question.
i think it is really important for us to be a little critical of the concept that public health is a choice and that individual choices are the way that we can best protect ourselves and others. to a certain extent, reasonably enough to be thinking about the situation of others. we need to be thinking about equity when we are making those choices and when we are setting policy. we are in a highly vaccinated area relatively in california, in the bay area, but we still lost almost 9 million californians in this pandemic. what we need to think about is, is that acceptable to us? kristen: say that again, about the 9 million. >> we lost 9 million californians since the pandemic
began. kristen: what do you mean we lost 9 million californians? >> 9 million fatalities. kristen: but not due to covid? >> yes, due to covid. kristen: you have to explain that to me because the national figure is just under one million. >> 900,000, sorry. kristen: thank you. you gave me a bit of a scare. i was a little worried. no doubt there have been fatalities, and i wonder if you think that the perception is there and maybe needs to be changed that covid deaths are neither preventable nor exceptional. >> i think that perception has been pushed by figures on many points in the political spectrum. and there has been a movement to normalize these losses and make them seem like they are just the cost of doing business. i think we need to be thinking differently.
kristen: do you think in part this is driven by -- and to talk about it from an amp apology standpoint -- -- from an amp standpoint -- do we underestimate our own risks? >> some of us may be inclined to underestimate our own risks, particularly those who are more socially fortunate flexibility in our working arrangements to be more personally healthy ourselves. there can be a tendency to underestimate our risk. kristen: just because this is so important in terms of what its impact has been, there have been 83,000 deaths in california alone. >> thank you for that. kristen: numbers are important. the u.s. figure is 928,000 at the latest. i think you have advocated for a way to memorialize these victims, is that right?
tell us about that idea and what is behind it. >> to date, there has been very little in the way of collective acknowledgment of the significant fatalities associated with this pandemic. we don't have a designated day to remember those losses. we don't have a physical site in the country where people can gather and mourn. people who have lost family members in these last two years i think feel very nor the and neglected as a result of our failure to invest publicly in a bigger conversation about the reality of these deaths. kristen: calling for a memorial reminds me of for example 9/11, something else that was tragic, and of course we have a way to memorialize those victims. what does putting it on that level do? >> sorry, say again? kristen: i was going to say, in
having a memorial, which of course we have for september 11, 9/11 victims, what does having that do? what does that say? >> i think there will probably never be a cultural consensus about the meaning, the overall meaning of these experiences. but when we dedicate a physical memorial, when we dedicate physical space to the event itself, it is a way of acknowledging out a mem -- at a minimum that this did happen. this was an unusual and concerning and ram applying social problem that we -- and ramifying social problem that we cannot allow to escape our notice. kristen: let's go back to the strategy that governor newsom will be talking about in less
than 10 minutes, the endemic strategy for california built on the strategy of s.m.a.r.t.e.r. if i could ask my producer to put the graphic backup to remind of yours of what governor newsom will talk about. he will elaborate, but basically post-pandemic entering the endemic. he wants a s.m.a.r.t.e.r. approach. s stands for shots. m, masks, a, awareness. r, readiness. people testing. kiefer education -- e for e ducation. r for treatment. dr, i would like to ask you if this is a smart -- i am making a pun unintentionally -- approach. >> yes. actually, everything that is on that little pneumonic is exactly how mnemonic is how we have to be thinking.
done through masks, asymptomatic testing, but wastewater surveillance going forward for this virus because that gives us an early harold. -- an early herald. we need to be aware of any ventilation. the word endemic just means living with it. it doesn't mean that we wished we didn't have to, but we have to because it doesn't have the features to completely get rid of it, which have to do with animal reservoirs and things about the nature of the virus, not humans. when you live with a virus like influenza you do everything in your power to minimize its impacts, and the main thing is going to be vaccines, therapeutics, and always doing surveillance to make sure you are not going from a low level into a higher level. that is what we do for influenza
surveillance. but now we have a new tool, which is wastewater, and we will be using wastewater in the world from now on. kristen: that is really interesting. it will become important. of course, testing is still an important component. i fight could ask you to center your camera just a little bit. i know you were seeing patients and hurried over to join us and i do appreciate that. i want to talk about the m part of the smarter, that is masks. interesting to talk about that today since this era of not having to mask indoors in california after the state lifted that. i wonder if you think that masking is still important, and how should it be thought about and applied in the new endemic era? >> i think that masking, we learned about masking to this pandemic. we were interested in cloth masks to begin with. it may have been associated with reducing severity and disease. the best thing you can do to
reduce severity and disease get vaccinated. now if you want no transmission, very little exposure, there are six types of masks to where. they are in 95 -- n95's, kn95's, adult mask -- surgical masks. not every buddy is going to want a mask. i think people who are vaccinated and boosted and feel secure about their status are probably not going to be always masking because it is very effective. but people who need to mask our people who are still vulnerable to severe breakthroughs at times of high circulation of the virus. not only testing, but wastewater surveillance will tell us when the viral loads are up in the community and this will always be told. anyone vulnerable should always mask every winter anyway for
kristen: folks, we are on with dr. monica gandhi of ucsf. it looks like the governor will be a little delayed, probably for about 15 minutes. he was going to start at 3:15, but this gives us the time to talk. do you have the time to be with us? dr. gandhi: yes. kristen: excellent. we have been pre-growing -- we have been preview wing what the governor will say.
as we move out out out out out back-and-forth phase of the pandemic of closing things, opening things, it will be shots, masks, awareness, readiness, testing, education, and rx for medicine. let's talk about readiness, the r part of it. how do we stay ready for anything that may come, whether it is another variant, another possible surge, major or minor? what do you think? dr. gandhi: think of it this way. pretend we are in 1919 summer, and that was the end of the influenza pandemic, but it was not the end of influenza. and what happened after the "pandemic phase" ended his there was always vigilant for influenza. in fact, we did not have a vaccine for influenza until 1942, so the vigilance was all testing people, making sure people are not coming in too sick. now that we have this wastewater surveillance, which is something
we have learned from this pandemic, the sewage can be monitored for viruses, now what we can be doing is looking at wastewater. for some reason, we see the cases go up alarmingly or we start doing genomic surveillance, making sure there is another variant, and start getting concerned. did this ever happen after the influenza pandemic when it ended in 1919? there was a scare in 2009 with h1n1, but as you know, we have never been in a pandemic phase like that again from influenza. why? because we have two tools that we have for covid. we have vaccines and therapeutics. those two tools make all the difference. kristen: i think it is important to point out, and i think you made the point too, that endemic does not mean end, as in covid has ended. but it does mean that hopefully the science suggests no more huge waves, like real peaks and valleys, and therefore no need
for constant restrictions and rollbacks. do the science, suggest do the signs suggest we are there? dr. gandhi: i think it does, but you can never say november with covid -- you can never say never with covid. about 50% ofabout 50% ofabout 5 were exposed to omicron. even if you were vaccinated and boosted. 50% of the whole planet was exposed. in fact, 60% of people in new york got infected with omicron. what that did is it makes you see the whole virus so that you get immunity across the whole virus, not just the spike protein, which is what the vaccine gave you. you saw the nucleus and the membrane and the cells. what that does is it gives you immunity to the whole virus. say there is another variant that comes along.
hopefully you have immunity across the whole virus to save you from omega. even if you don't, we will be giving you the booster if omega comes along. maybe not an omega specific booster. there are now whole virus vaccines. there is one pending at the fda. but we will probably give you another type of shot. but we have the tools. that is the difference, we have the tools to hopefully quell that variant with more vaccinations. if you declined to get vaccinated as an adult, we have treatment for you, and that is the oral pill. it is more like having the tools and having much more immunity in the population that hopefully takes it from pandemic to endemic. kristen: i think that is the point that people who are still really nervous, i hope they are hearing what you're saying because if you look at the raw numbers and you say, we still have 100 cases per 100,00 0 people, and last june it was like three cases per 100,000. it does seem like we are not in
a good place. you are talking about the immunity and the tools that we have to make sure that people, the vast majority, don't get really sick of it all. so those things are available, right? dr. galli talked about, we need different messaging going forward. what do you think that messaging becomes? dr. gandhi: what i will tell you is during an endemic phase of the virus, the problem doesn't become the public's problem. i don't know if you really thought about rsv two years ago. it should be the medical system's problem. we should be responsible for vaccinating, for having treatments available, for testing people and seeing if this is what it is so i can give you the medication. but it should no longer be the public's responsibility to keep away from each other, to mask everywhere they go, to distance, to curtail themselves when we are in an endemic phase. as you know, about nine countries have entered endemic management in europe and the
whole continent of africa just declared intimate city i week ago -- endemicity a week ago. kristen: to some of those countries give us a clue as to how we might be, how we might look a month later since they are a little ahead of us? dr. gandhi: i actually think the u.k. is the best one to look at because they u.k. looks like us in the sense that we have a 73% vaccination rate of five and above. they also have a high vaccination rate. frankly, they dropped everything. they dropped mask mandates, a sum to medic testing, faxing passports and mandates. they dropped quarantines. they dropped everything on one day four weeks ago. the only thing they have kept is if you get covid, you need to stay isolated for 10 days, and they are dropping that on for very 28. they did everything at once -- on february 28. they did everything at once. they have done fine so far.
denmark dropped two weeks ago and denmark keeps putting out information because a lot of people online are saying, denmark's hospitalizations are going up and they keep putting out information saying, please look at our hospitalizations. we swabbed everyone for covid. we don't think our hospitalizations are going up. we will keep putting out this data. so far, denmark and the u.k., finland, norway, sweden, iceland all did it over this last week. essentially, we are going to have to watch everyone. kristen: dr. gandhi, thank you so much. we will continue to chat on facebook live.
in the end glenn empire and being care at -- in the inland empire and being here at one of our two warehouses that is a warehouse -- roughly one million square feet, which is housing a demonstrable example of our preparedness as we move into the next phase of this pandemic. a warehouse that did not exist two years ago. the warehouse that has been replicated in other parts of the state, some much more modest in size and scope, allowing us to have the confidence to be more assured that we are prepared for the uncertainties, the things that are about to appear and yet to come as it associates to the challenges with this pandemic. this has been a remarkable two years for everybody. nobody has been immune from the stress, the heart ache endo station. many of us have shared those burdens unequally. those issues are all part and
parcel of consciousness. that brings us to this moment. as we reflect on the two years, the lessons learned with humility, we again prepare for the uncertainties that lie ahead. the journey we have been on i think only reinforces the fundamental construct an understanding that while we cannot predict the future we can better prepare for it. why we have done a remark of a a job, and i appreciate the congresswoman's recognition as a state of keeping people alive, and i just want to underscore that. californians have one of the lowest death rates. 50% lower death rates in california than a state like florida, 35% plus lower than states like texas. lower death rates than illinois and pennsylvania and new york. i can go on. while that has been the case,
and our economy has grown as a pastor -- at a faster clip, 26% of jobs coming out of the state of california, ravaged by this. a number of lives lost. those that have lost loved ones, those that have lost confidence and trust not just in institutions but often in each other. the relationships that have been frayed. those that are feeling more lonely than ever or isolated and disconnected than ever. so we have work to do as it relates to turning the proverbial page. and what we are announcing today is about turning a page, moving from this crisis mentality, moving from a reactive framework to a framework where we are more sentinel in our approach, that we stand firm and confident as we lead into the future, moving
away from a reactive mindset and a crisis mindset to living with this virus. we have all come to understand what was not understood at the beginning of this crisis, that there is no end date, that there is not a moment where we declare victory. despite so many of the metaphors that were used during this pandemic, where we said we will defeat this virus. there was some suggestion that that was a destination. that was, a we know it is more of a direction. and in that light, we have put together a plan that we coin as the s.m.a.r.t.e.r. plan because we are smarter two years later. we are more adaptable. we are more capable to understand the nature of this disease, the mutations, it's a variants, and we recognize that we don't know what we don't know
when it comes to the future. but we have never been more prepared for that future. so it is in that spirit of up to him is him that we now -- of optimism that we move into the new phase of addressing the challenges and realities of this disease. we move the pandemic phase and we move into a phase that should allow you confidence that we are not walking away. we are taking the lessons learned and we are leaning into the future. there are those that prefer to walk away, to deny the realities the last few years, let the virus continue to take its course. that is not the approach we are arguing for. that is not the approach we are taking. we are taking a more sensible and i would argue sustainable health care approach
the plan is rather simple. you see the word behind me, you see the letters. s, starting with the obvious, addressing the issue of waning immunity. addressing the need to continue our doses, to get vaccines into people's arms, to get those who have not been boosted to get boosted. and we have more prescriptive details and strategies to continue those efforts in partnership with 800 community-based organizations, in partnership with 200 mobile clinic sites, in partnerships with our state owned testing lab, in partnership with many of our schools and faith-based leaders, and others that have been on the front lines of that effort. number two, we want to continue to do more of what you see in
this warehouse, and that is prepare. the warehouse we walked in, these six feet of boxes are pretty much all we had two years ago in the old warehouse. we thought that was a lot. we have a few million masks. i thought, a few million? that will last forever. little did we know, the country was not only out of masks, we had more point had more in inventory than the entire u.s. stockpile. why did we do that? because we went to china, opened our own factory, and we were able using the market power of the state of california to leverage the development and as a consequence, we started exporting masks to other states. using only the purchasing power that a state like california could advance. kristen: governor gavin newsom continues to speak. we will have the latest for you
at 4:00. you can head to the bay area app where we are continuing to stream his remarks. join us at 4:00. take care. tonight, breaking news as we come on the air. president biden's dire warning on russia. saying the threat of a russian invasion of ukraine is, quote, very high. what u.s. intelligence indicates tonight. reports of shelling near ukraine's border. an attack hitting a school, a kindergarten. the u.s. says russia is actually moving more troops in. and secretary of state blinken tonight and his unplanned address before the u.n. calling this a, quote, moment of peril. and you will hear his description of what the u.s. believes russia could very well do. terry moran in ukraine tonight, mary bruce at the white house, martha raddatz from the region. here at home tonight, this major winter storm at this hour. 30 states on alert for snow, ice and flooding.