Don't know about you, but I have never dined at French Laundry.
This is how Lonely Planet describes this outstanding restaurant:
The pinnacle of California dining, Thomas Keller’s three-Michelin-star rated French Laundry is epic, a high-wattage culinary experience on par with the world’s best. Book one month ahead on the online app Tock, where tickets are released in groupings. This is the meal you can brag about the rest of your life.
Yes, as I said, I have never been there *** But our Governor has. And recently. He and the wife went to a birthday party for one of his "advisors". Who is also a lobbyist. Jason Kinney. Turned 50. Hmmm......
And there were so many people (a dozen) there from so many different households that they violated the guidelines from the California Department of Public Health.
Oh my! What's up with that?
There is an article or segment about this episode in just about every news media outlet in the state. The front page of today's Sacramento Bee has this headline: "Newsom catches heat for attending party amid COVID-19" and a sub-headline "CA Gov. Gavin Newsom raked for attending Napa birthday party". Oh, man is that bad news!
Now, I want to disclose that I voted for Gavin Newsom. And I consider myself a "supporter". And I am a "public health guy". So, I was particularly supportive when he apologized for this bad behavior which he apparently identified as a mistake (see Bee article or any of dozens of other commentaries on this visit to French Laundry). Because obviously (or obviously now) he has to serve as a role model the rest of us. That's part of his job as governor, right?
The Republicans jumped on him .....probably with a fair amount of GLEE!....and he was roundly criticized by just about everyone. Maybe this widespread attack is some sort of "aversion therapy" for politicians.
Nonetheless, it makes an important point and one that extends FAR BEYOND NEWSOM. And that is that almost all of us can and should function as "Pandemic Role Models" in our public and private lives. We should mask up, social distance, wash our hands, and get tested for coronavirus at least once a month, more often if we have regular "exposures". This is part of what is referred to as being a "contributing member of society". (vs just being a "yahoo", I guess).
So, for me, as someone with extensive training in public health (PhD in Public Health from Berkeley, GO BEARS!)..... it means I have to role model all the good behavior listed above. (I just got back my 8th NEGATIVE coronavirus test result). And more.....
To be straightforward, I also feel an obligation and an opportunity to spread "The Public Health message"..... which is that we have neglected funding the public health infrastructure (from data systems to workforce) for far too long, which has had disastrous effects on our own shores as the US establishes world records for number of cases, number of deaths, etc essential "Pandemic Screw up of the World, Bar None"!!! That public health training is a gift which I can share with others.... you know, avoiding hiding my light under a basket, so to speak. For a couple of years now, I have been urging the County and the City of Davis to adopt a "Health in All Policies" policy which informs everything we do with the potential health effects. I guess we can all see the reason for that .... now.
But all of you have an opportunity to be a role model in your professional and personal lives, as well. And I can give you a "for instance" on that. Tell you about one fellow who kind of quietly role modeled being responsible, being safe, and caring about others. He conducted himself in an exemplary fashion. That would be the "campaign tactics" of Supervisor Jim Provenza. As you know, he was in the recent election as a candidate for his own seat as supervisor, a runoff from the primary where the votes were split so that he did not reach the level needed to give him the seat without a runoff. So, he was back in the race but this time with only one opponent. Jim's opponent utilized a variety of campaign tactics including going door to door to round up votes.
Not Jim. He made a policy decision ("Health in All Policies" applied to self) that he would not risk exposing the residents and voters, himself, his family, and others who he came in contact with during this pandemic. Even knowing that door to door voter canvasing is one of THE MOST EFFECTIVE ways to gain votes, Jim declared that it was not safe and how could he look his constituents in the eye if he himself did not follow the recommended coronavirus mitigation measures.
So, Jim employed many other campaign techniques (phone banking, signs on yards, FB videos) including just doing a really good job as supervisor to wage his campaign for re-election. And hey, it worked! Jim was re-elected and come January 2nd will step up to Chair the Yolo County Board of Supervisors.
And that is just the kind of person I want in there.... a role model for the rest of us! Sometimes, virtue IS rewarded. :)
So, let's both admire Jim and imitate him....... and think about this: "Who can I role model for in my professional and personal life?".... and make it happen folks. You might be surprised who is quietly watching you and seeing how you behave during a pandemic. So, be good.... you'll feel better about yourself I guarantee it!
PS As I sit here typing this article, I am wearing my face mask. I "technically" don't need to as I am sitting by myself right now but there are other people in the household and when they get up they are gonna see "Dr. John" sitting there at the computer with his mask on. Besides, I think I look cool in it!!
*** But I have dined at Guadalajaras, Ket-Mo-Ree, Huku, and deVere's and other local restaurants so I am not suffering too much!