California Gov. Gavin Newsom and other officials from the golden state are coming under fire after refusing to disclose vital coronavirus statistics to the public. The move to keep information about the COVID-19 crisis hidden comes after Newsom had previously promised that he and his administration would adhere to a strict policy of transparency about the disease.
But despite Newsom's earlier declaration, lawmakers are now singing a different tune. According to ABC News, they have justified the decision by claiming that they rely on data that includes a number of complex calculations. Because of this, health officials warned that raw data might confuse or mislead residents if released.
"At the moment the projections are not being shared publicly," Department of Public Health spokeswoman Ali Bay confirmed.
However, though lawmakers hoped that obscuring information about the coronavirus would prevent confusion, many have claimed that it has had the opposite result. For example, California's intensive care units (ICUs) were at over 90 percent capacity when authorities decided to allow restaurants and other facilities to reopen. The reopening caught many business-owners off-guard, as previous mandates had said a reopening would only be feasible when ICU capacity was under 85 percent.
The justification was that the researchers' models had predicted capacity would fall to around 85 percent within the next four weeks. However, the percentage has not changed since the re-opening order, suggesting that the forecasts are likely flawed.
"What happened to the 15 percent? What was that all about?" asked Dr. George Rutherford, an epidemiologist and infectious-diseases control expert at the University of California, San Francisco. "I was surprised. I assume they know something I don't know."
Despite criticism, officials are still claiming that they are being transparent with the public, with California Health and Human Services Agency spokeswoman Kate Folmar pointing to the twice-weekly updates on whether certain parts of the state can adopt laxer restrictions.
However, she continued to justify not sharing specific statistics on COVID-19 cases.
"These fluid, on-the-ground conditions cannot be boiled down to a single data point — and to do so would mislead and create greater uncertainty for Californians," Folmar added.
Many residents have stated that the assurances are not enough and that they are entitled to see state data on the coronavirus.
"They're making projections and decisions that have great consequence to people's lives," explained California Restaurant Association president and CEO Jot Condie.
"It's a public agency, so it's just curious why they wouldn't share the data, especially with the local health officers," he concluded.
California has been particularly hard hit by the pandemic. In fact, doctors had previously warned that they might have to start rationing care if the situation continues to worsen, per The Inquisitr.