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Letters to the Editor: California is shutting down again. Italy is getting back to normal. Why?

COVID-19 test
Ernesto Contantini, 72, left, of San Francisco, receives a COVID-19 test by Luis Viafranco, a nursing student at San Francisco State University, on July 9.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: With a son living in northern Italy, I have been able to compare his local government’s approach to COVID-19 with ours in the United States and California. (“Californians turn against each other amid 2nd coronavirus shutdown,” July 16)

With a population of a little more than half a million, the province of Trentino has had about 5,500 confirmed cases with 470 dead. Most of those occurred months ago. As of this writing, Trentino has only two hospitalized cases, with none in the intensive care unit.

My grandson is again practicing soccer and baseball with his teams and is looking forward to school reopening in the fall. The government’s approach was quite simple: A severe lockdown with stiff fines was imposed until cases returned to a level where authorities could do serious contact tracing and even random testing. There were no mixed messages.

They still have lots of rules and haven’t declared victory yet, but the virus is under control in my grandson’s part of Italy. And life is slowly returning to normal.

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With the chaotic approach this country has taken, we’ll be lucky to get back to normal in another year. Unified government leadership, enforceable mandates and a little discipline among the people have been shown in Italy and many other countries to provide the basis for COVID-19 control.

Bill Weber, La Cañada Flintridge

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To the editor: After a massive spike in coronavirus cases, Gov. Gavin Newsom finally instituted a statewide mask mandate. This was none too soon, as all scientific information indicated the need for such action.

Today, the incidence of new cases in Orange County is more than the entire state of New York, which has seven times the population.

The disparity in numbers could have been minimized if the Board of Supervisors had supported its former chief medical officer, Dr. Nichole Quick, who instituted mandatory mask-wearing early in June. Supervisors Michelle Steele and Don Wagner fiercely opposed Quick. Wagner was particularly vocal in his opposition, being backed by unruly crowds of science deniers.

Quick resigned after receiving threats. It is unlikely that the mob and the supervisors have the conscience to accept responsibility for the unnecessary illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths.

Our outrage should be manifest. The Orange County Board of Supervisors has betrayed our trust in its good governance.

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Ian Samson, MD, Laguna Woods

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To the editor: If we are all disciplined, we may be able to contain this latest surge in California. That means wearing a mask and social distancing. But then what?

Recent news from Japan, Australia, Germany and elsewhere shows that, even in countries where the majority of the population follows the rules, flare-ups will occur. The surge that started in June here will dissipate, at best, in the next three weeks.

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Like a forest fire, a surge is easily controllable only when it is identified early, while it is still a mere flare-up. The experiences of other countries and the long-standing recommendations of the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that the key is effective testing and speedy contact tracing.

Unless we want to continue this seesaw of opening and closing, we need to implement the CDC recommendations on testing and contact tracing. Otherwise, we will be back to square one again in a couple of months.

Ara Kassabian, Glendale

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To the editor: According to polls, more than two-thirds of Californians believe in mask wearing. So, some Californians are at odds with the rest of us. That’s the headline.

Orange County and Kern County don’t represent the state. They are outliers.

Harry Schwarz, Agoura Hills


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