Still in Doubt? Vote ‘em Out!

For most of the duration of the pandemic, Stanislaus County has been among the top five worst counties in the state for controlling Covid-19.  As of October 25, it was 12th in infection rates at 77 per 100,000 residents.

On the same day, the nearest county to the north, San Joaquin, registered 58 positive tests per 100,000; to the south, Merced County had 54. Nearby Alameda County had 40 cases per 100,000 people and San Francisco County had 27.

Given that Alameda and San Francisco Counties have far more people situated more closely together, it’s reasonable to wonder why they’ve been able to control the Coronavirus better than Stanislaus County. It’s also reasonable to wonder why Stanislaus’s neighbor counties, San Joaquin and Merced, have done better.

One obvious answer is poor leadership.

In April, seven of Stanislaus County’s nine mayors signed a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom requesting permission to reopen in opposition to stay-at-home orders and commands to close non-essential businesses. City and county leaders have repeatedly insisted on re-opening despite recommendations of epidemiologists throughout the world.

Of local leaders in California Congressional District 10, only Congressman Josh Harder has been pro-active in addressing the Coronavirus. In April, while district mayors were pushing to reopen, Harder was distributing personal protective equipment throughout his district. Early on, he anticipated shortages and addressed what would become a pressing need.

Josh Harder delivers PPE to Stanislaus County
Josh Harder delivers PPE to Stanislaus County, April, 2020

Most of our local leaders were reluctant to wear facemasks, and even now many are seen in public without them. A recent study by Vanderbilt University showed that increased numbers of hospitalizations for the Coronavirus are greatest in counties without mask mandates.

Too many of our leaders have followed the example of President Trump by dismissing the pandemic as just another outbreak of the flu. While other nations have followed science and brought the virus under control, the United States is still facing rising numbers of infections and deaths.

Simple recommendations to wear masks, practice social distancing and avoid crowds have proven too difficult for local leaders who never could see the connection between controlling the pandemic and reopening safely. As a result, Stanislaus County is still teetering between red and purple status, with purple being the more restrictive category, even while four Bay Area counties have moved from red to orange and welcome diminishing restrictions.

With the pandemic still rampaging throughout the nation, and predictions that the death toll could reach one million by February if we continue to defy the simple recommendations of our best health professionals, voters should look closely at local leaders who are running for reelection and reject those who failed us during the greatest national crisis of this new century. The best thing that could happen for our region is government by leaders who value science over politics — and that means we need new leaders.

We’ve already suffered severe economic consequences resulting from the failure of local leaders to encourage and model behavior that is proven to save lives and lead us back to open businesses and schools. We have a Congressman who has shown us the quickest way back to health and prosperity is by following the guidelines of our public health professionals. Now we need supervisors, mayors, and councilmembers who can follow his lead.




Eric Caine
Eric Caine
Eric Caine formerly taught in the Humanities Department at Merced College. He was an original Community Columnist at the Modesto Bee, and wrote for The Bee for over twelve years.
Comments should be no more than 350 words. Comments may be edited for correctness, clarity, and civility.


  1. Eric,

    Nice work. If I were to suggest that Santa Claus is a tyrannical communist overlord hell-bent on brainwashing children into being devil-worshiping socialist pedophiles, or that the Easter Bunny is a leftist agitator using eggs and candy to bribe children into a pro-welfare political stance, you would quickly shift your thinking from journalism to comedy.

    Yet, if we look at some of the pop-thinking favorites we see today in politics, like that news is fake or that real things are a hoax, or that a political party is controlled by satanic pedophiles, aren’t we engaging in the same type of flamboyant imagination that children do? It sounds cynical to suggest that people are being somewhat programmed, but it almost feels like avoidance to continue to believe that they aren’t. Virus responses are a good example.

    When fact no longer informs belief, belief become fact, and facts that counter our beliefs become the enemy. 15 million Americans believe that the pandemic was created by a cohort of powerful elites to somehow take control of everything. Some say it isn’t real. My own brother has been so radicalized to the right that he refuses to watch or read the news (or wear a mask). He’ll tell you that it is all BS, a lump sum, but then say that if you want the truth, he can show you where to find it. In other words, he knows when you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake.

    These are wild times. Fiction has become fact, belief has replaced truth, and reality is a setting adjustment to the Facebook algorithm. If there weren’t so many guns in America, this could get really fun!

    Thanks for staying on top of things.

    • Always good to hear from you JT. The human mind is both a frail organ and an artefact of culture and conditioning. Our defenses against the darkness…science, learning, and law…require a constant regime of maintenance. They are always under assault and easily undermined by superstition and false idols. Faulty as it is, civilization is so far our best answer to the barbarian wilderness. It is often wanting in justice, but at least provides ideals that can lead us closer to it. Meanwhile, I’m building my collection of facemasks, including one with an arty depiction of a blue wave.

  2. The pandemic denial lunacy of many republicans is schizophrenic. They say the pandemic is all a hoax, won’t wear masks . In the same breath, they’ll come up with all these preventatives and “ cures” that are pure quackery. If the virus is a hoax, why do they try so hard to to push cures?
    The selfishness and blatant stupidity are the reasons I’m not participating in Halloween this year. I don’t want a bunch of hyper kids , some of whom won’t be wearing masks along with their maskless parents , coming to my door, spewing germ laden aerosols all over my porch and face.
    Halloween is my favorite holiday, btw.
    Trump says the virus will “ disappear “ after Election Day. Yes, he really said that.
    I’m on Nextdoor and there are people who believe this hook, line and sinker.
    I feel like I live in an open air insane asylum.

    • Mary, the only thing we can do is keep chugging the Clorox. If we drink enough of the stuff we won’t care about Halloween, Election Day, or even the Orange Menace.

  3. Well, I would tend to engage the left in a debate- but hard to tell if JT is on that side of the aisle or not. I know where Mr. Caine’s loyatly lies, but I do agree with some of what he writes. Vote them out- including Josh Harder . Too many politicians have been in office for too long. As an FYI- if Josh gets one more term, he then gets the Congressional pension plan- it now takes 3 years of service to qualify to get 80% of their pay for LIFE. Wow, isn’t that nice. All paid for by you lot and myself. And, they get their own medical plan where they pay zero, and we the taxpayer pay until our great, great , great grandchildren become taxpayers….. Vote all of them out, Politicians , likely diapers shoudl be changed often. Pelosi and Feinstein have become Billionaires thanks to the gullable Dmocrats…. Obama went from lower middle class to the 1% in his 8 years in office. Wake up. the swamp is deep- term limits for all.

    • Mr. Woods: If you find it hard to tell which side of the aisle JT is on, you may need a checkup. As for Congressman Harder, you should be thankful he gave up certain wealth and success in business in order to work for the people in his district, even those who don’t appreciate all he’s done for them. We need more leaders like him and we need them soon. Vote.

      • For the sake of those not regularly to in tune with this becoming more obvious left wing news rag, some of us do not know who JT is. If he is anyone we should recognize, please, inform on him. Who is JT?

        I think the name Valley Citizen is inappropriate for its lack of transparency, since not nearly are all Stanislaus County’s or valley citizens are leftists.

        As for Damon Woods’ comment above, he did not, only, question what side of the table JT is on, but RATHER, made the statement as to whether JT, being left, is on that side of the table as to having a willingness to open debate. Many left leaning citizens are no longer willing to expose their ideas to debate. They just throw out opinions not expecting to back them up. Not all valley citizens are satisfied with being spoon fed, some want something to chew on.

        From what Damon Woods specifically stated, I believe JT was invited to a debate.

        Please pay more careful attention to readers actual statements and apply critical thinking to the nuances behind their words.

        Also, do not respond for them. If JT is all that you make him out to be, he can reply to his own invitations. Especially if he wants to earn the respect of more voters.

  4. REGARDLESS of COVID-19 and belonging to an apparently vulnerable community ethically:

    Many people, are having gatherings of 25+ people on a regular basis on both sides of the last block, after Colousa, of Spokane Street, Modesto, CA.

    One group meets indoors 3-4 times weekly, every week, singing and shouting for on average 4-8 hours, with doors wide open

    The other group meets indoors and out, sometimes for 2-3 nights in a row, or a minimum of 1-2 night(s) per month, holding large family gatherings.

    Two (2) examples of how numbers of positive Covid-19 cases may persist.

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