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Pandemic Advice: Follow The Jocks

Winter Storm Packs Rain, Snow, Knocks Out Power

Thanks to another massive winter storm packing rain and snow, this week we blew completely by last year’s record-low total rainfall of just 29.41 inches. The 5.51 inches of precipitation for the week, some of it snow, that fell in the Laytonville area, pushed our rain season total after just 6 months to 34.70 inches, more than 5 inches above the entire 12 month total of last year.

The annual historical rain average for this date in December is 26.25 inches, so we’re 8.5 inches above normal.

What a difference a year makes when it’s wet.

The storm on late Sunday afternoon, Dec. 26, left Round Valley and 1,368 customers without electrical power due to storm-related damage to PG&E transmission and distribution lines. By mid-morning on Monday, 1,714 customers in the Laytonville area also lost electrical power.

PG&E’s Rich Noonan, Senior Public Safety Specialist-Mendocino & Lake Counties, does an outstanding job in keeping local governments, such as the Laytonville County Water District, up-to-date amd informed about electrical outages, by sending out twice daily reports, and always answering emails, texts, and phone calls. In other words, he’s somebody who actually does his job.

Noonan, raised in Laytonville and a firefighter by trade, explained in his Sunday night report that “a Transmission Level outage, that is when the power coming in to the substation is lost. The Transmission feed for Covelo is the Laytonville-Covelo 60KV that comes from Laytonville following Dos Rios Road to Dos Rios and then goes up and over Poonkinney ridge before dropping into the valley to power the substation. A Transmission Troubleman is enroute to assess and make safe or repair if possible. Any large problem will require a crew. That line covers a lot of difficult ground to assess so it may take some time to locate the problem, make repairs and patrol. There is not an estimated time of restoration listed yet, as the extent of the problem is not yet known.”

In the Laytonville area, 1,714 customers were without electricity from mid-morning on Monday until 7:45 pm that night. 

At 7;45 p.m., Monday night, PG&E crews had restored power to all but 110 Laytonville area customers.

On Wednesday morning, Noonan reported, “The Covelo area is restored with the exception of 20 meters in the outlying areas. Repairs on those areas are ongoing. The weather continues to be a challenge with continued rain and snow. Crews are continuing to assess and repair damage. Some of the remaining outages have ETORS (Estimated Time Of Restoration) and some do not due to continuing access problems, snow, downed trees, etc. Another factor that delays our ability to restore is that we cannot do patrols with aircraft due to the weather conditions. All patrols are being executed from the ground which takes a lot of time.”

Sierra Snow Lab Records Snowiest December on Record 

All the heavy snow falling in the Sierra Nevada has broken decades-old records.

Also as of Tuesday, Dec. 28, more than 202 inches of snow — nearly 17 feet — had fallen so far this month at the University of California, Berkeley's Central Sierra Snow Laboratory, at Donner Pass east of Sacramento. 

Snow geeks at the lab said this month is now the snowiest December on record for the location and the third snowiest month overall. The top month was January 2017 when 238 inches fell, and it's not likely enough snow will fall in the next three days to challenge that record. Records at the lab go back to 1970.

Lab officials said the snow was “deep and hard to get through,” and it took them roughly 40 minutes to get to where the measurements are taken just 150 feet away from the lab's front door.

As we’ve discussed in this column in past years, high-elevation snowpack serves as a Mother Nature’s natural reservoir storing water through the winter months and slowly releasing it through the spring melting season. Snowpack in the Sierra Nevada accounts in an average year for 30 percent of California’s water supply, according to the state Department of Water Resources.

Following The Jocks Lead 

Since this Pandemic descended upon us, I’ve relied on a litmus test to help measure its menace and spread.

The way I look at it, as a jock albeit a more mature one, the best indicator, for me anyway, is what’s happening with professional and collegiate athletes. After all, these are the cream of the athletic crop, each and every one of them (well almost all of them) are in their primes as physical fitness specimens at the top of their respective games.

So if pro and college athletes are contracting the virus, it’s a sign for me that all is not well.

At least one expert agrees with my thoughts on the situation.

“I do worry that it's possible — maybe not likely, but possible — that these sports leagues’ numbers are a bit of a canary in the coal mine for the rest of us,” Zach Binney, a sports epidemiologist at Oxford College of Emory University, said in a recent interview on NPR.

“We are seeing a fairly fast and sudden increase over multiple markets and multiple sports and multiple countries,” said Binney. “I think everybody's trying to figure out what's happening now, what's driving this?”

Keep in mind, that back in February of 2020 it was the National Basketball Association’s Utah Jazz that blew the whistle on COVID-19, after star players, Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, tested positive for Coronavirus. Within a few days players from other teams tested positive which led to the NBA to suspend its season, which in turn provided the nudge to states to start issuing Public Health Orders to fight the Pandemic, with California leading the way, and that’s still the case

This month, COVID-19 and it variants have once again become the main foe of pro sports leagues and college athletic programs causing cancellations of college football bowl games, basketball matches, and postponements of pro football, basketball, and hockey games.

Players get benched — actually quarantined — after testing positive and pro leagues and players’ unions have ratcheted up talks about how to proceed and hopefully keep apace with the ever-changing Pandemic landscape.

Scientists believe Omicron spreads faster than COVID-19 and other variants, and it is also more “efficient” in causing infections in vaccinated people. What's unclear is whether it's more or less severe than other variants, such as Delta.

Professional sports leagues haven't required players to be vaccinated, but a vast majority of players have experienced the Fauci Ouchi. Around 67% of eligible Americans are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control, while professional leagues such as the NBA, NFL and MLS have rates greater than 90%, with the NHL and WNBA at over 99%.

Some leagues resorted to financial pressure, i.e. loss of pay, to encourage players to roll up their jerseys and get jabbed. 

National Football League teams could face potential forfeits and lost paychecks for outbreaks among unvaccinated players. According to the NFL Commissioner’s Office, as of July 22, when the policy was announced, 75% of players were partially vaccinated. As of Oct. 7, a month into the regular season, 93.3% of NFL players were vaccinated, the league said.

Unvaccinated players in the NHL and NBA could also face docked pay if they are unable to play due to local COVID-19 regulations.

But pro leagues also often deployed vaccination campaigns early that relied heavily on education and opportunities for players to connect with trusted medical experts.

The pro leagues also have exacting testing protocols in place, and experts say that means it's possible the high number of infections they're recording now is a portent of what’s in store for the folk populace.

So take heed all, including anti-maskers/vaxers, if finely tuned athletes are contracting the virus forcing wealthy professional sports owners and vaunted collegiate programs to take extraordinary measures to combat the virus, what lesson is to be learned for us mere mortals?

(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher,, the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District, and is also chairman of the Laytonville Area Municipal Advisory Council. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live:

One Comment

  1. izzy January 7, 2022

    Well, yes – but likely not for the reason on offer.
    The roster of international athletes clutching their chests and collapsing on the field has ballooned enormously over the past few months, with most having had the shots. The predicted fallout from problematic inoculations. They are a little more open about it abroad. And just a week ago, we have a report from OneAmerica Life Insurance and the Indiana Hospital Association that deaths among the 18-64 age group have jumped by 40%, and not from Covid. An ominous sign.

    The head of Indianapolis-based insurance company OneAmerica said the death rate is up a stunning 40% from pre-pandemic levels among working-age people.
    “We are seeing, right now, the highest death rates we have seen in the history of this business – not just at OneAmerica,” the company’s CEO Scott Davison said during an online news conference this week. “The data is consistent across every player in that business.”
    Davison said the increase in deaths represents “huge, huge numbers,” and that’s it’s not elderly people who are dying, but “primarily working-age people 18 to 64” who are the employees of companies that have group life insurance plans through OneAmerica.
    “And what we saw just in third quarter, we’re seeing it continue into fourth quarter, is that death rates are up 40% over what they were pre-pandemic,” he said.”
    Most of the claims for deaths being filed are not classified as COVID-19 deaths, Davison said.
    At the same news conference where Davison spoke, Brian Tabor, the president of the Indiana Hospital Association, said that hospitals across the state are being flooded with patients “with many different conditions,” saying “unfortunately, the average Hoosiers’ health has declined during the pandemic.”

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