As the coronavirus has spread, comparisons to the influenza pandemic of 1918 have continued to grow. For most of us, our knowledge of that outbreak a century ago quickly went from “I vaguely knew there was a ‘Spanish flu’ a long time ago” to something more like “Did you know there was a global pandemic from January of 1918 to December of 1920 that infected a third of the world’s population, and by the way it wasn’t really a Spanish flu?”
Even though I’d read up a bit on its history in the last couple of months, some of the parallels between the 1918 pandemic and our current situation that Geoffrey Dunn writes about in his cover story this week still shocked me. Perhaps more so than the details of the outbreak itself, it was reading about what it was like right here in Santa Cruz—how it terrified and ravaged this community 100 years ago just as the coronavirus is doing now. Seeing the photos from that time, especially of men and women on a local beach in masks, really drove it home.
It’s fascinating to read in Dunn’s story about the squabbles and feuds that hampered efforts to contain the spread of the virus, and how crazy and petty they seem now. I can’t help but wonder what our descendants a century from now will think when they read how we handled our own pandemic.
STEVE PALOPOLI | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Letters to the Editor
A Plea From One Small Business
My business is over 117 years old—dry cleaning and laundry, deemed an essential business. We have reduced our hours in efforts to get our employees some payroll. Our normal bread and butter customers have shut down or reduced (i.e. hotels, Presidio of Monterey, food service, doctors, dentists, attorneys, etc.). We are continuing to service our local emergency operations, homeless projects, fire fighters, police, CHP and sheriff departments. We are proud to serve our first responders.
When the PPP program starting accepting applications, we applied to over eight banks, one by one we were told we did not have existing relationships. The banks (Wells Fargo and Bay Federal) of which we do have business relationships were unable to assist us (Wells Fargo, due to a hand slap because of false checking account quotas, only accepted preliminary applications for approximately nine hours) and Bay Federal who as of today has not been able to set up applications or guidelines. Then funding ran out.
In the meantime my father (a cancer victim) was admitted into Einstein Hospital in Pennsylvania for low blood pressure, lack of appetite, loss of energy. After a two-week stay, he was transferred to a rehabilitation clinic in Pennsylvania. After two days in the rehabilitation clinic, my father was very weak, under distress and with shortness of breath. 911 was called. My father was then transferred to ICU at Potts Hospital in Pennsylvania with all markers showing COVID-19. Tests were requested, and we were told it takes 24 hours for the results, but as they must perform the test in house, their lab is showing a 20% false negative. We must wait for the false negative before we can test again and send that to the larger more reliable labs taking another 24 hours of wait time. I have been asked to sign a DNR along with the hospital clergy offering counseling, as my father is now not expected to make it through the night.
I cannot get gloves, face masks, hand sanitizers, etc. for my employees that are servicing our first responders. I do not know how I can make payroll on the first of the month for my 17 employees that are willing to serve our communities and first responders.
Please get testing in place. Please get small business relief. Please pass additional funding for hospitals in their own bill. Please pass assistance at the state levels in an additional bill. Playing the blame game is killing my family, it is killing my business, it is hurting my employees.
Pamela Whittington | Classic Vapor, Santa Cruz
RE: ELLEN BASS
It’s been my honor and privilege to learn from Ellen Bass through a couple of her workshops and by reading and re-reading her work. I’m thrilled to own her latest book, Indigo.
Re: NONPROFITS IN NEED
When those government checks for $1200 start coming in, there are some who really won’t need it. It is a government handout that could be so much better spent by having it funneled to the non-profits of Santa Cruz. I plan to pass mine onto the non-profits of Santa Cruz because without them, this city loses it soul. The Good Times is in a unique position to try and make this a trend. Furthermore, those who have too high an income to get the refund should be urged to dig deep and make a $1200 donation regardless.
— Peter Emanuel