Monday, December 28, 2020






          With just two months before the legal deadline for the state Board of Education to decide on a new ethnic studies curriculum for all California public schools, new concepts have been introduced into the latest proposal and new people added to those who might be studied. Still, old prejudices figure to be reinforced.


Among the new individuals to be studied for sure, if this program is adopted, are some that few would object to: Former state Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso, onetime Hawaii Congresswoman Patsy Mink, American Indian Movement founder Madonna Thunder Hawk, ex-President Barack Obama and the late former Brooklyn Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, the first-ever serious Black presidential candidate. Among the new peoples: Irish- and Jewish-Americans, via new units on anti-Semitism and Sephardic (Middle Eastern) Jewry.


        Things get more controversial with other persons on the suggested list teachers would have the option of adding: Onetime Black Panther leader Bobby Seale, self-proclaimed “lifetime Communist” Angela Davis, convicted murderer Mumia Abu-Jamal, the vocally anti-Semitic Arab-American leader Linda Sarsour and Emilio Zapata, founder of an early 20th Century agrarian revolutionary movement that still influences governance in Mexico.


One thing these individuals have in common: All are or were figures on the left. There’s no room for American conservatives here, no one like the Black Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina or newly-elected Republican Congresswomen Michelle Steel and Young Kim of Orange County, both Korean-Americans.


There are also no Irish or Jews, or Indians or Armenians on the list of individuals to be studied for sure, no Chinese-Americans, no immigrant business leaders like the founders of Zoom, Google and other seminal California companies. That makes the list highly partisan, allowing the right to plausibly label it a propaganda instrument.


There is also an objectionable, though optional, lesson on Aztec gods including Texcatlipoca, supposedly the originator of human sacrifice and other problematic practices.


Most of this will satisfy educators from the Critical Ethnic Studies Association, dedicated to teaching about the prevalence of white supremacy, racial privilege and oppression in American history. But there’s nothing here about more establishment minority group members, like the scientist Booker T. Washington.


This is deliberate, as made plain by state Schools Supt. Tony Thurmond. The curriculum, he said last August, “needs…fidelity to the four ethnic groups that launched the (critical ethnic studies) movement” during a 1968 student strike at San Francisco State University: African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and Native Americans. He did not explain why the new curriculum must stay faithful to ideas conceived more than 50 years ago by emotionally heated students lacking solid academic credentials.


The planned curriculum would also introduce some new concepts, bound to bring loud protests. Most prominent of those is the idea of “racial privilege,” introduced by Thurmond’s staff rather than by the generally leftist members of the state Education Department’s Instructional Quality Commission, designer of the first two versions of the curriculum.


This segment of the program would feature a unit on Irish- and Jewish-Americans “redefining themselves as white and American” and thus gaining alleged racial privilege they may not previously have had. Never mind that both Irish and Jewish immigrants faced massive discrimination upon arriving in America, overcoming college admission quotas, ethnic and religious exclusions in rental leases and land convenants by dint of hard work and academic effort.


The implication is that other Caucasian immigrant groups like German-Americans, Italian-Americans and Hungarian refugees arrived with white privilege, no matter how difficult their lives may really have been. Meanwhile, Jews – who maintained their identify for millenia in the face of hundreds of massacres even before the Holocaust – would be portrayed as striving to shuck their longtime identity to present themselves as white, just to get ahead.


This concept is only very marginally accurate, at best, and should have been laughed off, but now appears on its way into public school curricula. What’s more, the California program figures to be copied in other states.


In short, the newest version of the proposed ethnic studies program may be improved, but still contains gaping holes, questionable subject matter, plus some bigotry.


Which means it needs still more improvement before anyone dreams of adopting it.


    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit






          The list of California law enforcement agencies refusing to enforce current stay-at-home, crowd-size and masking orders from Gov. Gavin Newsom and county health officials numbers at least two dozen, stretching into most parts of the state.


Negative results of those scofflaw inactions were not obvious at first, while some counties let restaurants stay open despite closing orders, made no effort to prevent gatherings of more than 10 persons and assigned no sheriff’s deputies to enforce face masking.


But now some nasty consequences are clear. Leaping out at readers of county-by-county statistics during Christmas Week was a direct correlation between lack of enforcement and coronavirus prevalence, infections and deaths.


The numbers made it painfully obvious that inaction by law enforcement has cost plenty of lives. Lack of enforcement has also been counter-productive in achieving the scofflaws’ own proclaimed goals: allowing normalcy to return sooner rather than later. Larger caseloads inevitably mean longer shutdowns.


The refusals to act are pure dereliction of duty in a state where the most common motto of law enforcement is “To protect and serve.” These folks are not doing much to help protect their constituents from the worst pandemic of the last century.


Of the five California counties with the highest seven-day average COVID-19 cases in the week leading up to Christmas, just one has taken strong enforcement measures. That’s San Diego County, ranked fifth, where six deputies enforce anti-contagion measures full time.


But sheriffs in the four large counties with by far the biggest case numbers – Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside – all refuse.


 Those four counties also had the highest per-capita case rates among the state’s large counties, ranging from 4,110 per 100,000 persons in Orange County to 7,520 in San Bernardino County. Meanwhile, Santa Clara County, whose strict shutdown famously forced the San Francisco 49ers and several college sports teams to hit the road for weeks at a time, had a per capita caseload – 1,176 per 100,000 – far below those of the big scofflaw counties. Socio-economic differences can’t explain such huge gaps.


Do the anti-contagion measures work? These statistics, reported by the counties themselves, suggest the answer is yes.


This has not yet changed policy anyplace where law enforcement is commanded by people who enforce only the laws they like, even when measures they ignore can spare illness and lives.


Even contracting the virus in early December did not move Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones to change his policies. When the state imposed its mask mandate, Jones said his deputies would not enforce it, calling violations “minor.” How minor are they when they cause infections and death?


So far, Sheriffs Alex Villanueva, Don Barnes and Chad Bianco, who respectively enforce most laws in Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties, and San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner John McMahon continue refusing to enforce key state emergency edicts which have so far survived legal challenges.


Villanueva said early on his deputies won’t “take part in enforcing stay at home orders…” Barnes called following the rules “a matter of personal responsibility, not a matter of law enforcement;” Bianco said he won’t be “blackmailed, bullied or used as muscle” by the governor or health officials.


          In all their counties, intensive care units were filled to capacity through most of December, but the sheriffs remained adamant. The only major anti-Covid law enforcement actions in those counties saw Los Angeles deputies break up two underground parties where dozens gathered and may have created “superspreader” events.


          It’s not only sheriffs refusing to enforce laws, but also some police chiefs. In Stockton, Ceres, Dixon, Roseville, Folsom and many other cities, chiefs say they prefer an “education” approach to violators of masking and social distancing rules. That matches the stance of the non-enforcing sheriffs in the state’s hardest-hit areas.


          There have been no consequences so far for any of the law enforcement people making these sometimes deadly decisions.


          That’s worth contemplating as many millions of Californians respect the rules, stay home and try to save their lives and those of people with whom they might otherwise associate.


          It’s also something voters should remember when the sheriffs involved come up for reelection in 2022 and 2024.

    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It" is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit


Monday, December 21, 2020






          Donald Trump detests California. He showed several times during his one-term presidency that he was out to do this state as much harm as possible.


          There was his trying to withhold federal grants to police departments over immigration policy. There was his brief effort to keep federal aid from victims of the massive Creek Fire, which hit parts of Fresno, Mariposa and Madera counties early last fall. That one ended when Trump, campaigning frantically as the November election neared, learned those portions of California were backing him by large margins. There was his long effort to withdraw California’s unique authority to regulate its own air quality, enshrined in federal law. And more.


          It was all because this state provided the entire popular vote margin by which Hillary Clinton defeated Trump in 2016. California votes also made up most of the lame-duck president’s popular vote defeat this year.


          During the fall, he and his appointees arranged a new way to inflict harm on California, one whose effects figure to last at least 10 years.


          This comes via the U.S. Census, the supposedly full head count of residents of this country taken as every decade begins. Always in a year ending in zero.


          The count determines how many members each state gets in the House of Representatives, where California has held 53 seats for the last 10 years, up one from the previous decade. It also decides how much cash each state and its cities, counties, schools and roads get when federal grant money goes out.


          By ending the count in mid-October rather than at the end of that month, as the Census Bureau had said earlier would be necessary for a complete count because of coronavirus-caused delays in getting started last spring, Trump assured that the hardest to find individuals would be less likely to be tallied. These include many undocumented immigrants who try to hide from all officials.


          The same deadline shift figures to cut the count in states like Texas, Georgia and North Carolina, which also house large numbers of illegal immigrants. But California has long been home to almost one-third of the undocumented believed to be in this country.


          It wasn’t just the deadline that bit. The Census Bureau, part of the U.S. Commerce Department headed under Trump by billionaire businessman Wilbur Ross, also made other moves to reduce the count. “Over the summer, they fired almost all the temporary workers,” said one of those who survived into the fall. There were other tactics, too. When Census takers were stopped by building security guards, they were reportedly instructed just to leave, despite their legal right to go in and knock on doors.


          Another questionable new rule for Census takers mandated that when they banged on a door and no one answered, they were to figure that residence was vacant.


          Add these procedural losses to the state’s losing as many as 600,000 undocumented workers who returned to their home countries when the COVID-19 pandemic caused their jobs to evaporate. In all, California’s count will probably end up at least 2 million below what was expected last winter, before it began.


          This could mean the loss of a couple more House seats atop the one or two the state already figured to lose because its population has been almost stagnant for the last few years, while some other places grew.


          So don’t be surprised if California finds itself down to 49 or 50 representatives in the House and just 51 or 52 electoral college votes in the next two presidential elections. Plus a lot less cash from federal grants.


          The final figures likely won’t be reported to Trump because of unexpected glitches. But once new President Joe Biden gets them, there will be very little he can do to make them more accurate. New York will likely be another loser of congressional seats and money, along with states like Illinois and Massachusetts. Texas, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky and Nevada might pick up extra cash and representation.


          But the biggest loser when the final count is reported will almost certainly be California. Just as Trump wanted.

    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It" is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit






          Historical revisionism – that’s the only term to describe what’s happening today in the naming of public schools and parks. Who led what, who created what, whose ideas and ideals resulted in today’s world, these things mean less with each passing week and each renaming.


          Admittedly, it makes no sense to lionize persons like Braxton Bragg, the commander of the Confederate Army of the Mississippi during the Civil War and the recipient of three brevet promotions during a single battle in the Mexican-American War about 18 years earlier.


          The Northern California outpost and later city of Ft. Bragg took his name after he returned from Mexico with a hero’s reputation, and city officials say they’ll keep the name even though Bragg had little connection to the area.


          There’s good reason for African Americans to resent naming any city after Bragg and little reason for anyone else to support honoring his name.


          But that’s very different from the likes of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, for whom schools, parks and cities have long been named all over America. No one ever claimed these seminal figures in United States history were saints, but things they did shaped America for the better in definite ways.


          No doubt Washington was a major slave owner, his sumptuous home and lifestyle at Mt. Vernon near what is now Washington, D.C. enabled by exploitation of the labor of human beings he owned. But Washington led the Continental Army with daring, inspiration and courage in the Revolutionary War. He also refused offers to become king of this country around the time he left office after two terms as the first president. For a contrast, imagine how Donald Trump might react to such an offer.



          For his remarkable actions and his refusal of monarchic status, Washington deserves massive recognition despite enslaving others. Yes, he had flaws, but he shaped American ideals perhaps more than any other individual. Removing his name from schools – as the San Francisco school board now contemplates – or from cities would amount to renouncing some of the best of our history.


          The same for Lincoln, whose Emancipation Proclamation freed almost all slaves in America. Yes, he conducted Indian wars against Native American tribes and even drank some alcohol. Lincoln, thus, was also not saintly, but he remains a seminal figure in American progress and national survival. Erasing his name amounts to an attempt to erase history.


          The list goes on, especially in San Francisco, where officials are considering renaming schools called after Revolutionary War hero Paul Revere, Spanish explorer Vasco Nunez de Balboa, the Alamo, U.S. Sen. and former San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein, naturalist John Muir and early San Francisco Mayor Adolph Sutro.


          In no case, are or were any of these figures perfect human beings, which apparently is required to satisfy revisionist standards of political correctness. In each case, the individual or institution was a product of contemporary times and morality.


          It might be appropriate to consider renaming the many Mission schools in San Francisco and other parts of California because of the enslavement of Native Americans by Spanish monks who led the European exploration and colonization of Mexico and then this state.


          But there can be no argument that the mission system, with its churches and attendant farms neatly placed a day’s journey apart had a major part in California’s development, even to the placement of major cities. Denying that history invites nothing but ignorance.


          It’s not merely schools that are under pressure now to change names and thus attempt to downgrade the history and contributions of past leaders and institutions.


          There’s also a move afoot to change names of state parks, most of which already carry names of locations and not people. Example: Two former state park commissioners suggested in an op-ed the other day renaming parks in Los Angeles after African-descended soldiers who accompanied the Spaniards who founded Los Angeles. But that expedition was not their idea, nor did they decide how it was conducted. Their leaders did.


          Naming parks and schools for folks who were along for the ride but not shaping events would mislead and misrepresent history, with potential consequences no one today can foresee.


Elias is author of the current book “The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government's Campaign to Squelch It,” now available in an updated third edition. His email address is


Monday, December 14, 2020






          The game of musical chairs that is the upper echelon of California politics in late 2020 began with the election of U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris as vice president and continued with President-elect Joe Biden naming state Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra his secretary of Health and Human Services. Will Dianne Feinstein create the next empty seat?


Feinstein enjoys nothing more than chairing an important U.S. Senate committee. Anyone looking on from 2006 to 2008, years when Democrats last controlled the upper house of Congress, could see this as Feinstein ran the Senate Intelligence Committee.


But left-wing Democrats stirred a national outcry over her courtesy to Republican Judiciary Committee chairman Lindsay Graham of South Carolina during the Amy Coney Barrett Supreme Court confirmation hearings, even raising questions of senility. Feinstein took this silently for awhile, but when leading Senate Democrats failed to defend her, she relinquished her spot as Judiciary’s ranking Democrat, along with her plain hope that the Jan. 5 runoff races for two Georgia Senate slots might make her committee chair.


Will she now feel motivated to keep taking red-eye flights back and forth to Washington, D.C. or might she just retire quietly? It now looks like an even bet, with Feinstein noncommittal so far.


Without the responsibility to shepherd Biden-appointed judges through hearings and onto the Senate floor, Feinstein is merely one of 100 senators, with no distinguishing status. What would motivate her to stay on?


There is, of course, her avid interest in California issues from desert preservation to creating national parks and monuments to making sure her state gets the funding it’s entitled to. While paired with Harris in recent years, Feinstein did much more for California, letting Harris seek spotlights. There was no contest in the accomplishment department.


So although Feinstein is 87 years old and would be 91 if she ran for reelection when her current term is up in 2024, it’s just possible the rumors of her resignation might not be fulfilled soon.


          Working quietly for this state, Feinstein will not have to apologize to anyone for the friendships and relationships she’s developed with the Republican likes of Graham and Iowa’s Chuck Grassley.


          When she got in trouble, it was for doing what most pundits say American needs more of: Being kind to people across the aisle.


Far left Democrats like Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de Leon can’t stomach that. They would rather play smashmouth politics. De Leon, then a termed out state senator, took that hardline approach when he challenged Feinstein in an all-Democrat runoff during the 2018 election.


          DeLeon’s attitude won him majority support from delegates to the state Democratic Party convention that year, but not the two-thirds supermajority needed for party endorsement.


          What followed in the 2018 primary election showed how misleading the seeming leftist domination among California Democrats can be: Feinstein took more than 70 percent of the Democratic vote despite de Leon’s constant carping.


          By contrast, de Leon scored less than 13 percent in that primary, but still came in second and made the fall runoff thanks to some support from mischievous Republicans who wanted an obstacle for Feinstein. Their ploy failed.


          Folks who have taken over the once-noble progressive label usually miss the fact that Feinstein’s collegial approach allowed her to accomplish more for California over the last quarter century than any of the state’s other representatives in Congress – including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Feinstein’s fellow San Franciscan.


          She has created national parks, steered large defense contracts to state companies and steadfastly upheld the women’s rights so key to the vast majority of Californians.


          The evidence suggests her approach still appeals to more Californians than that of any other state politician. Hence her longevity as a San Francisco supervisor, mayor and senator.


          It was rare and unexpected for Feinstein to be deterred or discouraged by the kind of scoldings she got after the Barrett hearings. But she’s still pursuing California’s interests actively, showing the same determination she’s demonstrated all her life.


          So despite some indications Feinstein may quit, California just might continue getting effective, firm and civil representation from her for some time to come.


    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It" is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit






          For years, Gavin Newsom had a Midas touch. He legalized same-sex marriage in San Francisco, and later the U.S. Supreme Court put a stamp of approval on the controversial move. He committed a sort of sacrilege by contesting the 2010 primary election against the almost sainted (among California Democrats) Jerry Brown, then settled for lieutenant governor and went on to become governor in 2018. And more.


          Things look different for Newsom today, after 10 months of the coronavirus pandemic, his continued failure to act against big utilities while they keep causing wildfires and the elevation of his old friend Kamala Harris to America’s vice president-elect.


          Whatever choices he makes now seem to cause him trouble. Start with his conducting almost daily televised updates on COVID-19, which leaves him woefully overexposed. Rather than stepping in with comforting words and occasional actions to ease the crisis for Californians, Newsom has come to be regarded by many as a sort of prison warden or spokesman for the disease, which has so far killed about 20,000 Californians and closed myriad businesses.


          California voters have a long habit of dumping overexposed politicians, a threat Newsom faces today, due for reelection in less than two years and facing a recall movement that claims to have collected more than half the 1.495 million signatures needed to force a special election.


          Among the overexposed, Brown served two terms as governor in the 1970s, then was beaten for the Senate in 1980. Once his father Pat Brown had served two terms, Republican Ronald Reagan retired him in 1966, long before governors had term limits.


          Now Newsom must make appointments to at least two major offices, and possibly as many as four within the next month. He’s under pressure from ethnic groups of all types in this day of identity politics. Latino groups claim he must appoint one of them to the U.S. Senate seat Harris will vacate. If he anoints California’s Latino secretary of state Alex Padilla, he’ll be vilified by groups saying a black woman has to get the job.


          These people don’t mention naming the best possible senator or one with a shot of winning election on their own; only of naming people with particular ethnicities and skin colors. Newsom also must appoint a replacement for Xavier Becerra as state attorney general once Becerra becomes President-elect Joe Biden’s secretary of Health and Human Services. And if Newsom makes a senator of his friend and early supporter Padilla, he’ll have to name a new secretary of state. There’s also the real possibility California’s other U.S. senator, Dianne Feinstein, will retire at 87, and also need replacing.


          Whatever Newsom does, he’ll make many people unhappy.


          But it would be poor form for Newsom to resign suddenly as governor, letting Lt. Gov. Elena Kounalakis replace him and then put him in the Senate. Folks who pull that maneuver rarely win later on their own.


          Then there are Newsom’s own missteps. No governor could look much worse than Newsom did when he joined high-priced lobbyist friends last fall in a soiree at Napa County’s Michelin-starred, hyper-expensive French Laundry restaurant. After warning Californians not to eat indoors at restaurants or to participate in gatherings of more than 10, Newsom was caught with a party of 12 in a space that could barely be considered outdoors.


          This slimed him with the hypocrite label no politician wants. But Newsom still can redeem himself with voters. He apologized for the French Laundry embarrassment, just as he earlier did for a years-ago affair with his former best friend’s wife. He’s certainly no saint, but that has not yet hurt him at the polls. He also has time to clean up the many problems and scandals at the state’s unemployment department.


          Meanwhile, it’s possible a recall (if it happens) and his quick French Laundry apology can leave him stronger than before. For one thing, a recall election in 2021 would put Newsom into campaign mode early and likely get many voters accustomed to backing him.


          So it’s premature, at the very least, to dismiss Newsom as doomed because of his mistakes and the dicey choices he faces.


    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It" is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit

Monday, December 7, 2020







          Reparations, claimed a commentary in California’s largest newspaper, are the answer to Black protesters’ demands for racial justice.


          Nonsense, responded many others, in letters to the editor and online comments. Modern whites, Asian-Americans and others had nothing to do with slavery, which ended long before anyone alive today was born.


          It’s a subject so potentially consequential that Gov. Gavin Newsom, in one of his quieter moves of the fall, signed a new law creating a nine-person state panel to study the concept.


          This was because there can be little doubt that many consequences of more than 200 years of black chattel slavery live on today. Whenever academic performance is measured, blacks trail far behind whites at every grade level. The number of black children born out of wedlock tops all other racial and ethnic groups in this nation. And so on…


          What does all this have to do with slavery? The new state task force might find connections – or not.


          For sure, there is plenty of precedent for the federal government paying reparations to groups against which it discriminated in the past. The Office of Redress Administration, set up under President Ronald Reagan in 1988, paid $20,000 to each Japanese-American person sent to internment camps just after Pearl Harbor. If actual prisoners in those camps were no longer alive by then, their heirs got the money.


          Long before Reagan’s administration carried out those reparations, Japanese-Americans during 1948 and 1949 received more than $37 million in federal compensation for lost property. The payments were similar in kind, if not quantity, to the $89 billion Germany has paid since World War II to compensate murdered Jews and their heirs. Germany still funds home care and pensions for elderly Holocaust survivors around the world.


          How discriminatory was the Japanese-American internment? Virtually all Nisei were interned, but no group punishment or other scheme interfered during World War II with the lives of German-Americans.


          This was pure racial discrimination: While not a single Japanese-American was ever implicated for anti-American activity, plenty of German-Americans promoted Nazi goals in this country. The recent Showtime series Penny Dreadful depicted some of their activity in California.


          Meanwhile, no American government has paid reparations to former slaves or their heirs. Nor has there been a formal apology for slavery. Not even for the fact that African Americans stem from the only major immigrant population to arrive in America against its will.


          Descendants of slaves may still be paying for some deliberately cruel slaveholder practices. If modern blacks perform worse academically than whites, might that be because literacy was forbidden to most plantation slaves in the antebellum South? Learning to read was punishable by whipping and sometimes death.


          Many slave owners also tried to prevent development of strong family ties among their chattel. Parents were frequently sold away from their children. Married couples were often sold apart.  Both disasters could strike the same family.


          Slave owners were trying to prevent any education ethic from arising among their property, while also working to prevent development of strong families.


          Despite this, many Black families have developed constructive traditions of their own while creating a Black middle class.


          If these values are not universal among Blacks, might that be the direct product of deliberate policies maintained for centuries?


          Germany paid reparations to its Jewish victims and other formerly enslaved laborers who made up one-fourth of its work force during World War II. So it’s fair to ask why the USA has never recognized its own sins.


          One mission of the reparations task force should be to determine as much as possible the effects of slavery on modern African Americans, and to separate those factors from things for which people can be held to individual account.


          California – which entered the Union as a free state – should never attempt to take on this entire responsibility. But consideration of reparations must start somewhere, and the California task force can at least build a body of evidence for or against the need for and justice of reparations.



    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It" is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit







          Teachers’ unions, police and firefighters argued in early December they ought to get the expected new coronavirus vaccines before anyone else but health workers.


They got a tough response at the federal Centers for Disease Control, now operating as it is supposed to for the first time since Donald Trump became president. Freed after the fall election of censorship by political operatives Trump stationed in its executive offices, the CDC let its vaccine advisory committee of top epidemiologists and ethics experts write the priority guidelines most states will follow in distributing still-scarce vaccines.


They very properly placed nursing home residents alongside medical personnel as the first recipients. But that’s not how California now says it will operate.


Yes, health workers will be the first Californians to get the vaccine. But not nursing home residents. This is a huge failing in the state’s plan for prioritizing inoculations against the plague that has killed almost 300,000 Americans – about one-third of them living in long term care.


          Yes, just about everyone agrees front line medical responders need first crack at the two new vaccines entering national use.


          Beyond that, things are murkier. People with underlying pre-existing medical conditions like suppressed immune systems and heart disease ought to go next, some academic ethicists said. Nope, said others, the vaccine should go first to the elderly, about 65 percent of the COVID-19 patient load.


          Teachers, cops and firepeople should make up the second group, said their unions, teachers arguing that schools can only reopen widely after they get their shots.


          This has some validity, but ignores the one group which fits into both the medical condition class and the elderly category: nursing home residents.


The proportion of disease victims and the degree of isolation among denizens of nursing homes has been staggering. Most have been deprived of virtually all direct contact with family and friends for the 9-month (so far) duration of anti-virus lockdown measures.


For some, this causes extreme disorientation and distress as they suffer diseases and death in isolation, notwithstanding a few ground-floor window sightings and the occasional outdoor visit.


          The coronavirus has also taken more lives in nursing homes than anywhere else – about 40 percent of California deaths from the virus.


          With each viral surge, the scene in nursing homes grows more grim. Especially in larger facilities catering mostly to Medi-Cal patients, who often turn their life savings over to government in order to qualify for financial aid.


          During October and November, new COVID-19 cases in nursing homes surged fourfold in more than 20 states. Unlike most others, residents of the homes can’t do much about it.


          They cannot avoid close contact with nursing home staffers, from nurses and other aides to administrators. Those staffers come and go daily, subject to the same contagions as the general public. That’s why even California’s plan gives them the same priority as other health workers.


          Staffers serve meals to residents, help them bathe, assist them to sitting areas and to bathrooms. When they are infected, residents are, too. When caseloads outside the homes rise, they skyrocket on the inside.


          What’s more, most residents are elderly. Few would live in skilled nursing facilities if they did not have some pre-existing condition also making them extra-susceptible to COVID-19.



          Residents of the 14,000 facilities belonging to the American Health Care Assn. and the National Center for Assisted Living may be followed statistically more closely than people in other homes. It’s from them that we learn how caseloads among long term care residents rise faster and lead to many more deaths per capita than on the outside.


          This all explains why the CDC committee had nursing home folks share top priority for the new vaccinations. They may be only subsets of the elderly and people with medical conditions, but they are the main reason statistics for those two classes are so cruel.


          If the lives of people in the homes have value – and California’s newly-set priorities suggest some think they don’t – they must get the new shots before anyone other than front line medical workers.


        But in California, it appears they won’t, and that is both inhumane and unfair.


    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It" is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit