California: “Isolate the elderly and chronically ill”

Governor Newsom flips the COVID-19 paradigm

The focused scientific advisories — at least until this weekend — have been for people  infected (or believed to be infected) by the coronavirus  but not requiring hospitalization to self-quarantine by isolating themselves at home for 14 days.


The game started to change during last Friday’s Federal COVID Task Force press conference.

Eldercare facilities were directed to put a moratorium on visitors and try to get all personnel tested.

Then, last night, Governor Newsom  directed California seniors and people with chronic diseases (e.g. heart and respiratory diseases, diabetics and asthmatics)  or compromised immune systems to self-quarantine during the coronavirus crisis.

Perhaps, for the first time ever, I agree agree with Gov. Newsom on something.

Let’s dive a little deeper…


A plan to Isolate the Vulnerable (ITV) is based on a couple of pivotal premises:

  1. The COVID spread may be (somewhat) contained and diffused, but it won’t be stopped.
  2. Keeping people from dying is a paramount goal of the COVID attack plan.
  3. The COVID-related mortality rate is multiples higher for the elderly, chronically ill and compromised immune systems.

Regarding the latter point, the evidence is compelling:

In China, the majority of deaths have been among older adults, who tend to have weaker immune systems and have a higher rate of chronic disease.

The COVID-19 mortality rate in China for people with heart disease is 10.7%, 7.3% for patients with diabetes and 6.3% for patients with respiratory illnesses.

Similarly in Italy, the average age of people who died in relation to COVID-19 was 81 … and two-thirds of them had chronic existing conditions. Source

My bottom line: Newsom’s directive is bold,  out of the mainstream (at least temporarily) and definitely on the right track.


Of course, any ITV plan has its own issues and complications, most notably:

  1. How to deliver basic services (e.g. foods and healthcare to home-isolated vulnerables)?
  2. How to keep the home environment “sanitized” for those being isolated (i.e. keep COVID-infected family, caretakers and friends away from the quarantined person) ?

Newsom is hoping that the services will be delivered by amped-up public-private partnerships.

Hopefully, the “sanitation” will be enabled by ramped-up testing … provided that the right people are being tested.

More on that in a subsequent post.


Note: This post was distilled from several sources. One of the best was Cal-Matters “What you need to know about California’s lockdown of seniors and the chronically ill” .


Follow on Twitter @KenHoma

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