Daily news from Monterey County Weekly

ETC. Photo of the day by Bob Sutton. The river may be drying out, but the beauty of the Arroyo Seco canyon is still reflected in pools at Sycamore Flat. Photographed with a Samsung S10. Submit your best horizontal photos. (Please include the location where the photo was taken in the caption.)

A heavy-handed and layered reminder of the times we are living in.

Good afternoon. 

Last Friday night was a lovely evening. I attended my first concert at the Henry Miller Memorial Library—my first live show in the area since the state reopened. The trio of acts were impressive but I was mostly buzzing off that long-sought palpable energy of a crowd gathered for the same purpose. 

Upon arriving home around 11:45pm, excited about a return to normalcy, I received an unfamiliar notification on my phone from the California Department of Public Health. “Possible exposure to Covid-19 virus: You have been near someone recently who tested positive for Covid-19, which means that you could be infected. Tap to learn more.”

Bewilderment immediately replaced any remaining post-concert buzz. Of course, I tapped to learn more and what I found out was an unexpected mix of strange, unsettling and comforting. Let me first clarify: I was not exposed at the library show. But more on that in a second. 

The exposure notification came from CA Notifya collaboration between Apple, Google and the state of California. This is not an app I sought out and downloaded, but apparently something I opted into when I moved to California earlier this year, which means it’s something you can opt out of if you feel encroached upon by Big Brother. The app allows my phone to communicate through bluetooth with other phones that have opted into the program. If my phone is within six feet of another CA Notify phone for at least 15 minutes, our phones will match a unique key and log it for two weeks into a record of “exposure checks.” 

Users can view this log on their phones, which, for me, looks like a list of five to six time stamps for each day over the last two weeks. Each time stamp offers a “matched key count” which is basically how many times I was, for 15 minutes, within six feet of another CA Notify phone. The most I have for any time stamp is two, which tells me either I do not stick closely around people for very long or very few people have enabled this app on their phones. 

When a CA Notify user receives a positive Covid test, they can call the CA Notify center or enter the information into their app and make the deliberate choice to alert those they’ve been around. Among the questions asked is when they first experienced symptoms. For those with symptoms, CA Notify will alert all phones with which the infected phone matched a key, beginning two days before symptoms began, and continue to alert nearby phones until 10 days after symptom onset. For the asymptomatic, alerts are sent out to phones they matched with from two days before the positive test until 10 days after the positive test. 

A CA Notify rep tells me the infected have to provide a unique code that matches with a database to prove they are actually infected so people don’t go around infecting others with a false fear of exposure. 

Now, about where I was possibly exposed… 

I received the notification on Aug. 27 because that is when the infected chose to enter the information into CA Notify and alert those phones with which they matched. I encountered them sometime within 24 hours of Aug. 22, which was within the two-day window of their symptom onset or their positive test result.

The first: While in Oregon, my phone matched with a phone belonging to a person from California who enabled the CA Notify app. The second: Although the notification is time stamped Aug. 22, possible exposure could have happened on Aug. 23 while I was on the return flight, which was full of California residents, some of whom may have enabled CA Notify. The rep told me the time stamp of the notification is actually a 24-hour window, which means it could have been anytime between Aug. 21-23—they are purposely vague to protect the infected’s identity. 

I received the notification on the 27th because that is when the infected chose to enter the information into CA Notify and alert those phones with which they matched. I encountered them sometime within 24 hours of Aug. 22, which was within the two-day window of their symptom onset or their positive test result. 

I am fully vaccinated so I was less worried about the impact of exposure. However, I thought I was exposed on the date of the notification, so I waited until the 30th to get a test (which is increasingly inconvenient in this new, mostly vaccinated world) and received the negative results on the 1st. If I was unvaccinated, California recommends a 10-day quarantine from the date of exposure, which means I would have been walking around for the first five days of that 10-day quarantine, unaware of the exposure. 

The rep I spoke with acknowledges the technology’s holes but we both agreed that it’s the best we have in a terrible time. It was, in a way, comforting to get the notification but at this point in the pandemic, it feels like we are past the point of usefulness of contact tracing and an app like this. 

Thoughts? Shoot me an email. Always love to hear from y’all. Happy Labor Day weekend. 

-Christopher Neely, staff writer, chris@mcweekly.com

BY THE NUMBERS

This is the California Department of Public Health’s estimate for how many phones have activated the CA Notify system since it was launched in Dec. 2020. “CA Notify substantially expedites notifying those who are likely exposed,” the agency says.

LATEST LOCAL NEWS

Seaside auto sales revenue increased during the pandemic, despite a key supply chain disruption. Auto sales have accounted for roughly one-third to one-half of the city’s sales tax revenue over the last five years, and about 15 percent of the city’s overall revenue. That’s holding, despite pandemic-related challenges.

As gubernatorial recall faces criticism, election changes may be ahead. Carol Moon Goldberg, president of the nonpartisan League of Women Voters of California, says the scarcity of recalls makes it difficult to sustain the momentum required to make changes.

Give peace a chance. In which Squid wonders whether public safety is worth casually normalizing military artillery at a community arts festival.

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LOCAL INSPIRATION

LOCAL INSPIRATION of the day. BiG SuRCuS, a singular creation of the coast, is coming into its own—with a lot more than fire dancing. Depending on the evening, BiG SuRCuS is part burlesque, part belly dance, part fire dance and part poetry reading, often focused on big social themes like a women’s right to choose or environmental stewardship. Photographed by Brian Mack. Submit your Local Inspiration (digital art, music, multimedia, video, etc.; please include the medium you’ve used, and note when and where it was created).

Chartwell School will welcome the Monterey Bay community. The open house event will take place from 10:30am–noon on Sunday, Sept. 5, in Seaside

Bike on, Greenfield. The city of Greenfield’s Recreation Department invited residents to join a community bike riding program called Greenfield Coasters Bike Club. Sign up at the Community Center at Patriot Park.

End-of-summer fun. Take a tour on Marina’s handcars before the season ends at the end of September.

BEST OF MONTEREY BAY® REAL ESTATE

Click for more >>
realestate.montereycountyweekly.com

  
IN CONTEXT

Muslim youth in America: A generation shadowed by the aftermath of 9/11. 
-The Los Angeles Times, Sept. 3, 2021

Closing the largest generic drug plant in the U.S. is a sick joke. What it looks like when the jobs at Mylan Pharmaceuticals’ flagship plant in West Virginia get shipped overseas.
- The Nation, July 23, 2021

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HELPFUL DISTRACTIONS

Soba noodle delivery. Could you balance a load like this while biking?

Star light, star bright. Horoscopes are here.

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