Thousand Oaks Planning Commission meeting, 26 April 2021

Panel considers most extensive density increase in 50 years

Shortly after midnight on 27 April 2021, the Thousand Oaks Planning Commission voted 4–1 to recommend to the City Council a General Plan update that allocates nearly 22,500 housing units in targeted areas around the city.

If adopted this would be, by a factor of more than 20x, the most extensive reorganization of housing capacity since Thousand Oaks implemented its General Plan in 1970. The plan also proposes sweeping changes to mixed-use, commercial, and industrial land-use designations.

I was the lone dissenting vote against the overall plan at the end of this marathon session, which stretched past midnight. …


COVID-19 DIARIES, WEEK OF 4 DECEMBER 2020

Impressive as they are, vaccines are only one element of the public-health toolkit

About the coronavirus vaccines now under development: There are dozens of them, and while the safety of each will be independently verified before public distribution, vaccines are not by themselves a panacea. We will need continued vigilance and good public-health hygiene for several more months after initial distribution.

I’m very encouraged by what I’ve read about mRNA vaccines, and not just for coronavirus treatment. I plan to get one of these vaccines as soon as I can, but recognize I’ll need to continue to take precautions well after that.

There are three issues here, all related: Fear of vaccinations, vaccine…


COVID-19 DIARIES, WEEK OF 20 NOVEMBER 2020

Income, race, and ethnicity have outsized effects on outcomes

As we prepare for a coronavirus-truncated Thanksgiving this is a good a time to note that those less fortunate — especially those in poverty and people of color — suffer far worse consequences from the pandemic than relatively affluent whites.

As this graphic from the COVID Tracking Project shows, there are strong correlations between race and ethnicity and COVID-19 deaths. African-Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanic/Latino people are significantly more likely to die than whites or Asians.

I’m grateful to Andy Slavitt, a former insurance company executive and the top public-health official in the Obama administration, for his rant on COVID-19 inequality, which is well worth reading in full.


COVID DIARIES, WEEK OF 13 NOVEMBER 2020

The virus is out of control, and getting worse. But this week brought at least two positive signs

This week’s coronavirus news is so awful at every level that I’m instead going to focus mostly on two positive developments. As usual there are complete weekly stats at the end of this post.

First, a caveat. Neither of new these developments will help us right now. The whole country is a coronavirus hot spot, and things will likely worsen for at least the next 2–3 months.

Almost every state in the nation is now a coronavirus hot spot. The number of new cases per day has doubled in the past three weeks, and both new cases and hospitalizations are at all-time highs.

COVID-19 DIARIES, WEEK OF 6 NOVEMBER 2020

We’re back to record risk levels, both nationwide and here in Ventura County

There were two contests this week, both centered on the coronavirus, and both with clear winners and losers. In the contest that got less attention, the one pitting humans against the virus, the virus is winning.

The rate of new US cases has risen unchecked over the past few weeks, and is essentially out of control around the nation. Five weeks ago, there were an average of 47,000 new cases per day; this past week, that number was 97,000 new cases, a 106% increase.

COVID-19 DIARIES, WEEK OF 30 OCTOBER 2020

The worst week yet in COVID-19 history — and what we can do about it

No nation has ever recorded more new COVID-19 infections than the US did this past week.

Friday alone saw nearly 100,000 new cases, another record after days of records. New cases are way up in California too. We are deep into the virus’ third wave, with all signs pointing to more and worse yet to come.

New cases rose here in Ventura County too — enough so that we’re not moving down to the orange tier anytime soon, but not bad enough to move back up into the purple tier, the state’s most infectious level. …


COVID-19 DIARIES, WEEK OF 23 OCTOBER 2020

The coronavirus news is grim — and likely to get more so

It is now clear that a third coronavirus surge is well under way. California has fared relatively well so far, but just as the US lagged Europe by a couple of weeks, there are now signs the virus will hit harder here at home, and soon, just as colder weather and the flu season begin.

This week’s statistics are almost unrelievedly grim. Virtually every metric — new cases, positivity, hospitalizations, ICU patients, and deaths — is rising fast, both here in California and throughout the nation.

About the only positive news is that California hospitalizations fell by 1%, but consider…


COVID-19 DIARIES, WEEK OF 9 OCTOBER 2020

California enjoys coronavirus calm as cases spike nationwide

In 1348, as a plague killed thousands in Florence, a lucky few escaped to the Tuscan hills, enjoying themselves with the stories memorialized in Boccacio’s The Decameron.

That’s been the situation this past week here in California: We live in comparative calm, while new cases and hospitalizations rose rapidly around the rest of the country.

Locally, computational biologist Mike Bass’ analysis of state data shows the number of new cases per day is far lower now than it was two months ago. New cases dropped low enough for the county to move out of the state’s most infectious tier.

According to this analysis of state data from computational biologist Mike Bass, there are far fewer cases per day now than during the summer surge, both in Ventura County and statewide. However, the decline in new cases has stagnated over the past few days. Essentially, Mike writes, we’re at a point where the virus and the humans are tied.

In…


COVID-19 DIARIES, 2 OCTOBER 2020

The president tested positive. So did nearly 300,000 others.

Nearly 300,000 Americans tested positive for coronavirus this week, including one named Donald J. Trump.

“In medicine and public health, you don’t blame patients when they’re sick. You look for systemic failures,” said Ashish K. Jha, dean of public health at Brown University.

I join millions of others in wanting the president to get better — and in finding that months of denial has turned out to be a lousy public-health strategy.

Here are brief summaries of this week’s virus statistics. There are complete numbers at the end of this report.

  • Nationally, cases fell but infection levels are rising fast…

COVID-19 DIARIES, 25 SEPTEMBER 2020

Local coronavirus conditions improve, but nationally the virus is on the rise again

For centuries, most people lived in villages a few miles apart, spoke different dialects, and had limited awareness of the larger world around them.

Welcome to the New Normal, coronavirus edition.

As we passed 7 million coronavirus cases and 200,000 dead this week¹ (likely 266,000 if we count all excess deaths), the US entered into a situation where local conditions here in Ventura County seem pretty good, driving a push to get back to normal ASAP. Meanwhile, the national situation worsened this week.

Let’s switch things up and start with local news first. Computational biologist Mike Bass’ analysis of state…

David Robert Newman

Photographer, editor, recovering engineer.

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