Home Main Category Opinion Release Of Basic Information Also Dying In Contra Costa County

Release Of Basic Information Also Dying In Contra Costa County


The number of deaths caused by the virus that has pinned most of us inside our homes these past few weeks quietly ticked over to “2” in Contra Costa County overnight – an almost imperceptible increase most would have missed had they not been looking for it.

We’ve been looking for it. Not because we’re the be-fanged Fake News Vampires many apparently believe we are but rather because we’d been told of another death and asked why it wasn’t being reported.

Being basically responsible citizens when we’re not busy raking muck we put the question to official sources we know and trust and stood by their answer: “No new deaths” and passed that along to readers who asked, despite the similarity of details in their inquiries. An address. A name. A pattern of behavior which may have led to exposure.

We. Don’t. Know. But the similarities in the inquiries made us wonder. It was a pattern of questioning we’ve seen borne out into truth before. But we stuck with the official line.

Also bumping around in our little heads is the fact that “2” is not a mere number to us. It signifies the loss of another person. Another life… another family hammered by the cruelest of realities. We get it. We’ve been there. A lot.

We also understand the official rationale – to a point. “Patient privacy.” “We don’t want to cause panic.” “We’ll release appropriate information at the appropriate time.” “Still under investigation.”

But, during an unprecedented time with most of the county – indeed the entire country – under lockdown, and many of life’s basic metrics apparently hanging in the balance, we wondered if perhaps more official transparency wasn’t needed. Actually required.

We’ve seen the detrimental effect of – what shall we call it? – wooden-headed disinformation spewing out of the mouths of elected officials in recent weeks, statements that left us shaking our admittedly already skeptical heads and murmuring “what the freezer door is this guy talking about?”

We don’t need that right now. We need clarity. And with full respect for the departed why can’t we be trusted to know where they were from? When they died? An age range? Any behavioral patterns which may have contributed to their demise? Why are we not allowed to know these things?

Despite opinions expressed to the contrary we don’t get our information from any of the cable news networks – having abandoned all of them years ago – but rather a thinning network of established professionals who share data and information in a variety of ways. What draws us to them? Well, for one thing they’re professionals and experts in their field and – dare we say it? – they’ve been right.

Sadly, we’re also seeing them quietly throttled by their own platforms and, we are left to imagine, unnamed others who may not want their information shared in a public way. We do find this practice, if confirmed to be true, distressing in the least.

Because our point today is that people and institutions are fighting for control of the narrative, for the privilege to tell the story the way they want it told – we are left to assume in a way that benefits them and the continuation of that specific institution. We have seen this done locally and we think it concerning.

At least it is to us. Is it to you? Or are you content with the version of things you’re being given?


  1. We desperately need good journalists, media professionals and other citizens to continue to ask the difficult questions by demand information and questioning what we are told by members of the so-called “establishment” (whatever that means) because as they say “the truth will set you free”, but first we need the truth. Recently, members of the CCC medical representatives had a press conference and shared very little information with the public under the guise of protecting the privacy of the deceased and persons seriously ill under their care. I respect that, but there are times when the public needs thorough information in order to protect themselves beyond just washing their hands. Please keep up the good work, our life and country depend on us all having good information so that we are in a position to protect both.

    • We believe we can and should be getting additional information without intruding on a patient’s undeniable right to privacy. To say this is important, especially now, should go without saying. Thanks for writing…

  2. I am with u on this ,other counties tell region or town.ex san ramon,travel related,familyinfected.
    why coco cty health dept is being so secretive ask the head of dept.
    thx for being here and all you do.stay inside stay healthy. we will beat this
    congrats we made it thru another week
    we are sick of frozen veggies !

    • Grateful for your post and words. We remain hopeful – and optimistic. We just believe we can all be trusted with more information. And haven’t had to dip into the Survival Rations, yet!

  3. Thank you for this post.

    Transparent official information channels are the cornerstone of any free society. Stewards of those channels who substitute arbitrary judgement calls for established protocols tread a slippery slope. Institutional credibility demands transparency as a matter of course and opacity as a rare exception.

    While laudable goals underlie officials’ stated justifications (i.e., concern about stoking panic, medical privacy), deviation from rules-based determinations based on ad hoc rationalizations erodes public trust, irrespective of good faith, ad hoc rationalizations.

  4. Heard a Dr. on TV saying in this time of Coronavirus staying at home we should focus on inner peace. To achieve this we should always finish things we start and we all could use more calm in our lives. I looked through the house to find things i’d started and hadn’t finished, so I finished off a bottle of Merlot, a bottle of Chardonnay, a bodle of Baileys, a butle of wum, tha mainder of Valiumun srciptuns, an a box a chocletz. Yu haf no idr how feckin fablus I feel rite now. Sned this to all who need inner piss. An telum u luvum. And two hash yer wands,
    stafe day avrybobby!!!

  5. I believe your question is important and I have had the same concerns. We know what country, state, and county to not visit, but if we are able to avoid a ‘hot spot’ within our county, tough luck. Authorities will protect us from panic, but not allow us to protect ourselves by choosing to avoid an area that might be dangerous. Or, to alert someone else to the possibility that they may have traveled through an area that is becoming known as a location for viral contagion. If this situation continues for an extended time, the type of information you seek may be even more necessary for all of us to have.

  6. I would like to mention that I am certainly not a medical expert or an expert in this field. However, I do have an opinion on why the county may be taking this approach… For example (AND EXAMPLE ONLY); if the City of Martinez had 120 out of the 151 current cases in the county, those in Martinez would totally lockdown and those in the other cities could possibly take a much more lackadaisical approach and not follow universal precautions as recommended. Furthermore, it is important to respect the medical privacy rights of those patients and certainly never release their personal information such as names, addresses etc. That goes without saying. We should all do our part and universally take the advice of our medical/health professionals and follow their advice during these trying times. My heart and support goes out to our doctors, nurses, health support professional staff, law enforcement, firefighters, and essential business staff that are on the front lines that are working hard to keep our communities safe. And, to those families who have been directly affected by this pandemic, my heart goes out to you as well..

  7. I would love how many tests taken on x date, how many positive on x date, how many recovered, how many hospitalized, how many unfortunately died. Then, we can see the true pattern…overloading the system? Panic? Hope? Flattening the curve. We need more!!

  8. Freedom of information act request required. Other counties are offering details, check Santa Clara website. Specific personal information is not required to understand the trends and keep all informed. Accountability if key here so if we don’t get it, let’s remember that when we vote in November. Thanks for your continued diligence.

    • Hi and good morning, Bob, and thanks for writing. Again, we have NO interest in the personal details of the individual patient, BUT as you point out other pertinent details of interest/concern to the public are being released elsewhere without apparent issue. This is apparently an issue of some note as it has touched off a significant online and offline debate. All best…

    • Asked to provide details of the detrimental effects of the release of this information you PROVIDE NONE and mumble something about maintaining inner piece (sic). if that works for you, great, tune out. BUT I WANT TO KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON!

  9. It has been increasingly difficult for the public to gain access to public information for some time. Suits have been filed and rulings ignored. You don’t have to go far in Contra Costa to see that this is the case. Public sector agencies are lagging far behind the preferences of the people they represent and one has to wonder why they do it.

    • Agree. And the information that was finally divulged was revealing and suggests why these agencies don’t want the public info released in the first place. Sick. We have a right to know.

    • Hello Susan… I appreciate and respect your concerns.. However, there is always another side of the story. When the state legislature votes to pass laws such as SB 1421 (Only for example) and expect within six months or so (Grace period) for public agencies to abide, and those agencies currently only have at most, two people to process these request…., there is going to be a delay.. It’s nothing personal. They are doing everything they can to comply given the resources they have. Reason being, the employees (two in this case) now have to redact BWC (Body worn camera) video, and a voluminous amount of new legislative mandated PRA (public records act) request. And then, you probably ask…, “then why doesn’t the public agency just hire more people to fulfill these request..?” Here is the answer… First, it takes more funding to hire staff to do this. Second, to negotiate additional funding from respective boards/councils in the public sector with all of the red tape involved (And only if approved), it will take at least a year or so to incorporate into respective budgets. Third.., when our state, county, and city leaders pass this type of legislation, they do not provide the department heads funding required to support/sustain this new legislation. These county/city representatives, professional, and line staff are your neighbors, community members, and in some cases maybe even related to you.. You can’t honestly tell me that you don’t have a friend, associate, or family member etc, that works in the pubic sector doing whatever kind of job.. Those people are the “government” or “public agency” you speak about… Those people are the victims in this debate! So when you say, “Public sector agencies are lagging far behind the people they represent and one has to wonder why they do it…” It’s the red tape and system! Democracy at its best..!

  10. There’s a difference between maintaining inner peace and blissful ignorance. Many people swear that blissful ignorance is the way to go. I guess I’m not one of them. If the downside to more information from health officials is the possibility I might worry because of what they say it’s too late for that! The whole world is pretty much scared spitless right now.

    • Hey, Walt, good morning and good eye! Yes, we’ve opted to strike several previously published posts after readers cited similarities in their content and style. After further review and comparison to other largely unflattering content we’ve received offline regarding our original opinion post, we were able to determine that all the posts we were getting were originating from one source in Martinez. Attempts to verify authorship proved unsuccessful so, yes, they have been stricken and further identifiable posts will also not appear. Sad and thought-provoking, to be sure.

  11. CCCHS doctor just old the board of supervisors that death rate in Contra Costa could be between 2,000 and 14,000 people and your the ones spreading panic and dissent by asking for home towns and other basic info?????? WTAF

  12. It’s basic and essential info that is being released without apparent problem by other health departments. I believe Contra Costa may be withholding the info in an effort to prevent specific cities and towns from being stigmatized and hurt more than they have been hurt financially already. I hope it’s not the case but I don’t think it’s beyond the realm of possibility. It’s why the police departments go out of their way to avoid naming specific businesses hit by crimes — the businesses don’t want the negative connotation.

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