Leaders Recognized for Contributions to the San Francisco North Bay

Thank you to all attendees, honorees, sponsors, and guests who participated and attended the 2022 Leaders of the North Bay Awards Luncheon. This wonderful article by the North Bay Business Journal was written for those who were unable to attend.

“In a virtual and in-person event Friday, the North Bay Leadership Council recognized the recipients of its 2022 Leaders of the North Bay Awards.

The council is made up of people and businesses through the area.

Award recipients

As its United We Stand, Community Building honoree, Keith Woods, a current member of the advisory board of Santa Rosa-based Exchange Bank and former executive director of the North Coast Builders Exchange, was recognized for “work helping rebuild after the devastating fires in the region; partnering with the CTE Foundation, SCOE, and SRJC to launch the North Bay Construction Corps; implementing CHOICES, a high school dropout prevention program; and serving as “Sonoma County’s MC,” where he has volunteered hundreds of hours helping nonprofits raise money,” the NBLC stated.

Paint the Community Green, Environmental Stewardship was the honor this year given to The Climate Center, a citizens group focused on climate issues and based in Sonoma County.

Among its efforts, the center “played a key role in the tremendous growth” of community choice aggregation agencies (CCAs) in the state over the past six years, the council said. There are now 24 CCAs providing on average 88% greenhouse gas-free electricity to over 11 million residents in more than 200 cities and counties.

Recognized for Empowering the Latino Community, Leadership Within the Latino Community was the Canal Alliance in Marin County.

Noting that the Canal area of San Rafael has relatively poor internet connectivity, the council honored the alliance for its collaboration with government and other community groups to gather financial support to provide “a free outdoor wireless network and community COVID-19 website for e-learning services and for residents accessing critical information and services. With the leadership of the core group, design, communication, installation and digital literacy was combined to provide not only access, but also Chromebooks and digital literacy training.”

The From Red Tape to Red Carpet, Leadership in Government award went to Dr. David Wain Coon, superintendent and president of College of Marin since 2010.

Coon has overseen expansion and modernization of facilities at the community college, tackled diversity issues at the institution and “worked extensively to engage with the local community and businesses including supporting numerous nonprofits,” including the leadership council.

As recipient of the Murray Legacy Leadership, named for current NBLC CEO Cynthia Murray, the group tapped Steve Page, who served as president and general manager of Sonoma Raceway for three decades.

“The raceway has raised nearly $7 million for charity. Food drives, blood drives, charity rides, training grounds for disaster response — the track has been made available to help better the community,” stated, adding “Steve Page is known for his inclusive leadership style, sharp wit and big heart. Whether it be taking the raceway through all kinds of innovations and improvements, helping local charities, leading community efforts or embracing change, Steve is the ‘go to” guy in the North Bay.'”


Remember to Vote: North Bay Leadership Council Announces 2022 June Primary Candidate Endorsements

North Bay Leadership Council is pleased to endorse the following candidates for their respective offices as follows.  We are supporting these candidates because they have shown as incumbents, or in their campaigns, that they are balanced in their approach to the issues, not beholding to any special interest group, and committed to economic vitality and more housing.

Candidate Endorsements:

Marin County

Mary Sacket – Supervisor – District 1

Eric Lucan – Supervisor – District 5

John Carroll – County Superintendent of Schools

Sonoma County

David Rabbitt (Inc.) – Supervisor – District 2

James Gore (Inc.) – Supervisor – District 4

Amie Carter – County Superintendent of Schools

Napa County

Suzanne Truchard – Supervisor – District 1

Anne Cottrell – Supervisor – District 3

Please make sure that you are registered to vote and then cast your ballot.  It is imperative that the voice of the voters is heard loud and clear.  If you are voting by mail, remember to mail your ballot very early so the slowdowns in mail delivery do not delay your ballot being received by the Registrar of Voters in a timely manner.  Your vote counts this year more than ever!

Now Is Not the Time to Give in to Climate Fatalism

With April being this month, we celebrate Earth Day and the reports on the acceleration of climate change, we are sharing an article that urges we don’t give into climate fatalism and continue to do all we can to stop global warming.  Susan Joy Hassol and Michael E. Mann say in Now Is Not the Time To Give in to Climate Fatalism (Link), “We are at an agonizing moment in world history. The combined stresses of the war in Ukraine, the climate crisis, and economic troubles stemming from spiking oil and gas prices, inflation, and growing global inequality have pushed us to our limits— geopolitically, environmentally, and psychologically. After centuries of colonialism, intensive resource extraction, and narrow, short-term thinking, the chickens have come home to roost. But what if we could feed three birds with one scone?”

The authors note, “Following the release of climate reports, such as the recent IPCC assessments, we often observe a surge of doomism. When headlines proclaim it’s ‘now or never’ to limit warming, some assume we won’t do what’s needed in time. And if you think there’s nothing we can do, why bother trying? Some well-meaning people can be weaponized by those who stand to benefit if we throw up our hands in surrender rather than challenging the fossil fuel industry’s social license. We must stress the urgency. There is clearly no time to waste. But there is agency too. The problem with ‘now or never’ is that it implies a hard threshold at 1.5°C that if we fail to achieve, it’s game over. But this game will never be over. There is no point beyond which we shouldn’t keep trying to limit warming. Every fraction of a degree matters to the level of suffering climate disruption will rain down on us.”


“With so many crises competing for our attention and concern, how can we prioritize the greatest threats when the more immediate ones so often displace the most important?” the authors ask.  “Someone needs to be thinking about the future, and fittingly, those who will inherit it, are. More than 80 percent of young people are worried about climate change. And they are angry, as well they should be. Greta Thunberg, Alexandria Villaseñor, Vanessa Nakate, and other leaders of the youth climate movement are fueled with righteous anger against those who have stood by and watched as the world burned.”


And Hassol and Mann reveal new insight:  “Interesting thing about anger; turns out it’s a more useful emotion than anxiety or depression when it comes to climate action. It engages and empowers. There is good cause for righteous anger. There is a villain in this story. The fossil fuel industry, the richest in human history, has known for decades the climate damage its products would do. Its own scientists told them decades ago. But instead of releasing the scientific findings and charting a different course, it bankrolled a massive disinformation campaign designed to thwart action on climate change. The industry, and the politicians it supports to do its bidding, have been largely successful in blocking effective measures to rein in climate change.”

And reining in climate change is doable.  According to the IPCC’s latest report, on climate change mitigation, “reducing future climate change by cutting heat-trapping gas emissions or increasing their uptake from the air, tells us that this is entirely possible, using current technologies. Many such actions are on the so-called ‘demand side,’ because they reduce energy demand rather than increasing its supply. The IPCC found that demand-side strategies could reduce 40 to 70 percent of heat-trapping gas emissions across all sectors by 2050. A pretty astounding finding, and as investigative journalist Amy Westervelt bemoans, why wasn’t this a headline in every paper?”

“Let’s return to our three birds: war in Ukraine, climate change, and the economy,” they say. “A broader and more integrated approach sees these not as three separate crises but as one with a single win-win-win solution. Now is the time to tackle these related crises and seize the opportunity to move with determination into the clean energy future. The U.S. is in a good position to do so; we’re not starting from scratch. The U.S. is second (to China) in both wind and solar. Fossil fuel companies can use their expertise, work force, and other resources to become broader energy companies. Their experience in geology can be turned to geothermal energy, which has tremendous untapped promise. Their experience in offshore oil can be turned to offshore wind, a resource with enormous potential, and in which the U.S. lags far behind a dozen other nations. Peabody coal owns extensive lands that can be used for solar farms and other renewable energy development.”

“The only path to lasting security is to get off fossil fuels, once and for all. Let this be the moment that the U.S. takes the lead in solving the related challenges before us, helping propel the world toward a climate safe, politically secure, and economically prosperous future.” Hassol and Mann issue a call to action:  “It is in our hands.”  Let’s hope we can achieve this win-win-win!

NBLC Joins Climate Safe California and Supports SB 833 (Dodd): The Community Energy Resilience Act

In LiveScience’s Alarming heat waves hit Arctic and Antarctica at the same time (Link), by Harry Baker, we learn temperatures peaked at least 50 degrees higher than average in both polar regions.  Baker says, “Both of Earth’s polar regions recently experienced unprecedented simultaneous heat waves that caused temperatures to briefly skyrocket to never-before-seen heights in some areas. While experts say such extreme temperatures cannot be solely attributed to climate change, the unusual phenomenon is nonetheless ‘dramatic’ and ‘alarming.’”

Baker says, “Individual extreme weather phenomena are difficult to attribute directly to climate change. However, experts predict that such events will become more frequent and extreme in the future if current greenhouse gas emissions are not drastically reduced. ‘The warming of the Arctic and Antarctic is cause for concern, and the increase in extreme weather events — of which these are an example — is a cause for concern as well,’ Michael Mann, a climatologist at The Pennsylvania State University, told The Guardian. ‘The models have done a good job projecting the overall warming, but we’ve argued that extreme events are exceeding model projections. These events drive home the urgency of action.’”

The acceleration of climate change indeed increases the urgency of action required.  NBLC has taken two steps to help be part of the solution in addressing global warming.  We are pleased to announce that NBLC has joined Climate-Safe California, a unique and comprehensive campaign to remove more climate pollution from the atmosphere.  Led by The Climate Center, NBLC joins hundreds of businesses, elected officials, and nonprofits and more than 1,000 individuals in this campaign. Climate-Safe California offers climate solutions at the speed and scale that science demands. It’s a set of policies that would allow California to remove more climate pollution from the atmosphere than we emit by 2030 while creating thousands of jobs and building a more equitable clean energy economy. Working together, we will ensure California leads once again toward a climate-safe future for all.

We believe in thriving, healthy communities. We envision a future where everyone in California enjoys equal access to climate solutions, from clean air to renewable energy, healthy food, and more.

California has the tools and know-how to make this vision a reality — if our elected leaders act with the urgency the climate crisis demands. California must put policies in place by 2025 to accelerate equitable climate action.

Existing state policies call for achieving 80% below 1990 levels of GHGs by 2050 (Governor Schwarzenegger Executive Order S-3-05 2005) and maintaining net-negative emissions after achieving carbon neutrality by no later than 2045 (Governor Jerry Brown Executive Orders B-55-18 2018). The Climate-Safe California campaign calls for an executive order and/or legislation signed into law by no later than 2022 mandating that California accelerate these existing state policy timelines to 2030. Per the increasingly dire warnings of the world’s climate scientists and policy experts, 2050 and 2045 are simply too late. The time is now to put the policies in place that will secure a safe, vibrant future for all.

Link to graph

And here is a link to more information about this exciting campaign if you would like to join, too: https://theclimatecenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Platform-Climate-Safe-CA-May-2021.pdf

NBLC also endorsed SB 833 (Dodd) – the Community Energy Resilience Act. Climate-fueled wildfires and heat waves are disrupting lives and businesses across California as the state struggles to keep the power on. The Community Energy Resilience Act (SB 833) — sponsored by The Climate Center and introduced by Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa) — would create a new state program to assist communities in developing energy resilience plans based on clean energy instead of diesel back-up generators.

Recent power outages have cost California billions of dollars. Emissions from backup generators are polluting our air and fueling the climate crisis. Over the past three years, purchases of toxic diesel generators jumped by 34 percent in the Bay Area. In 2021 alone, similar purchases increased by 22 percent in the Los Angeles area. It’s time to prioritize clean energy, especially in lower-income and frontline communities, to keep the lights on without compromising on health and air quality.
The Community Energy Resilience Act enables local governments to collaborate with utilities in planning community-level energy infrastructure, such as solar panels and battery storage, so that communities decide what facilities stay powered during a crisis.

More than 1 million California homes and businesses already benefit from small-scale solar power, including 2,500 schools. These sites only need to add storage to enhance community resilience. The Community Energy Resilience Act also complements Governor Newsom’s Zero Emissions Vehicle Executive Order, which sets the course for California to end sales of internal combustion passenger vehicles by 2035. With proper planning, an expansion of electric vehicles could enhance grid resilience with energy storage in car and truck batteries.

This bill has unanimously cleared the Senate Energy Committee. Now it goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee.  We look forward to seeing the Legislature pass it and the Governor sign it.

Portrait of Sonoma Reveals Inequities

The recently released Portrait of Sonoma has revealed where we need to do more work to have equity.  Writing in 2021 Portrait of Sonoma County: Well-being study finds new successes, ongoing challenges along race, ethnicity, gender and geographic lines (Link), Nashelly Chavez says, Since the 2014 Portrait of Sonoma County was released, local residents’ median earnings have increased by about $7,000 and life expectancy rose by 1.2 years to 82.2 years. The rate of Sonoma County adults who are at least 25 years old and who hold bachelor’s degrees also increased 6 percentage points to 37.8%, the new 44-page report finds.  But a breakdown of those well-being scores by race, ethnicity, gender and geography reveals disparities in several areas, the newest Portrait of Sonoma County shows.”

Chavez says, “Those issues are compounded, according to the report, by both long-standing and new challenges within the county, such as an affordable housing shortage, recurring wildfires and the COVID-19 pandemic. Those issues also disproportionately harm residents who are Black, Latino, or members of other racial minorities, inequities that are the result of local policies, the report adds.”

“The inequalities that exist today are not natural or inevitable, nor are they a product of chance; they are the result of policy decisions made by people in power,” the report states. “Different decisions, made through different, more inclusive decision-making processes, can lead to better, fairer outcomes.”

Pointing out the inequities, Chavez says, “While men and women in Sonoma County have similar well-being scores, despite women earning $11,500 less than men, metrics used to evaluate the health, wealth and education of local racial and ethnic groups vary, the portrait finds.

One of the most glaring changes is in the Black community.  Chavez says, “The most notable change is in Sonoma County’s Black community, whose Human Development Index (HDI) score dipped to 3.99 in 2021, down from 4.68 in 2014.This group has a life expectancy of 71 years, which is 10 years shorter than any other racial and ethnic group in the county, according to 2021’s findings. In the 2014 report, the life expectancy of Black residents in Sonoma County was 77.7 years.”

She adds, “among local adults 25 years or older who have a college degree, only 32.1% of Black community members have undergraduate degrees compared to the county average of 37.8%.

“Asian residents continued to have the highest HDI scores among the largest racial and ethnic groups locally, though their scores dropped from 7.10 to 6.86, the latest report finds. The well-being of white and Latino residents, overall, has improved slightly since the 2014 report. The data from the 2021 Portrait of Sonoma County noted, however, that Latino residents still have significantly lower educational attainment rates. More than a third of all Latino adults age 25 or older are without a high school diploma,” says Chavez.

Another key finding in the report is “While 52% of all renters in Sonoma County use 30% or more of their income to pay rent, that average is higher in some minority communities — 59% of Latino renters and 68% of Black renters use 30% or more of their income to pay for housing.”

To begin to address the inequities revealed in the report, the Board of Supervisors will consider how to invest roughly $35 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds allocated for community investments later this year.

State Senator Bill Dodd Revives Highway 37 Toll Road Plan

In “State Senator Bill Dodd Revives Highway 37 Toll Road Plan” by Colin Atagi (Link), Atagi says, “State Sen. Bill Dodd is reviving his pre-pandemic proposal to turn Highway 37 into a toll road in order to raise funds that would be used to protect the vital North Bay artery from encroaching San Pablo Bay waters.”

Atagi goes on to explain, “On Tuesday, the Napa Democrat announced he will reintroduce Senate Bill 1050. Originally proposed in Jan. 2020, it was withdrawn following the onset of the coronavirus pandemic two months later.

If state lawmakers approve Dodd’s proposal, it would mean drivers will have to pay to travel between Sears Point and Mare Island.

Dodd added that he’ll introduce a second measure, Senate Bill 1049, which would earmark $1.9 billion in federal funds for transportation projects, including Highway 37, that need to withstand the effects of climate change.

Stretching along San Pablo Bay through Marin, Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties, Highway 37, experts believe, could be underwater in 20 years.”

Atagi goes on to quote Dodd, “‘We must take action if we want to preserve this vital link to jobs and family,’ Dodd said in a statement. ‘This legislation creates a dedicated funding stream and leverages federal dollars, which is the only way we can afford these critical improvements that will keep this artery working, while reducing daily commute times.’”

Atagi goes on to remark, “The toll bill could go before lawmakers — and possibly Gov. Gavin Newsom for final approval — by the end of the year. Officials would then need to determine the toll amount, the toll plaza locations and other potential projects needed to save the 21-mile roadway.

Prone to flooding, it has even been affected by inclement weather. In 2017, it had to be shut down for several weeks due to heavy rainfall.

There have been a number of efforts to fix the troubled highway.

Last month, Caltrans presented a series of alternate routes that could be considered for the highway, which links Highway 101 to Interstate 80, which is traveled by about 40,000 vehicles daily.

Short-term initiatives include the Sears Point to Mare Island Improvement Project, a widening effort that would reduce congestion on a 10.4-mile stretch of Highway 37 in Sonoma and Napa counties.

A toll, if approved, also would make it easier for regional governments to acquire federal funding for Highway 37 improvements, said Solano Transportation Authority Executive Director Daryl Halls.

‘Right now, we hardly have any dollars for this project,’ Halls said, adding that approval of a toll would be ‘an important first step.’

Dodd previously estimated a $5 to $6 toll could generate up to $650 million over 20 years. This week, his staff said that projection still stands.”

Atagi closes the article with a message from Cynthia Murray, “Cynthia Murray, president of the North Bay Leadership Council, which advocates for better education, infrastructure and governance to maintain quality of life in the North Bay, said Wednesday that she supported Dodd’s proposal in 2020 and continues to support it.

Most Highway 37 drivers, she added, would be willing to pay a toll to benefit this ‘huge commuter artery.’

Recalling the roadway’s 2017 closure Murray said, ‘People were absolutely frustrated and it was a huge impact economically.’”


North Bay Leadership Council Welcomes Sonoma Valley Hospital as a Member

North Bay Leadership Council (NBLC) is pleased to announce that Sonoma Valley Hospital is a new member of the organization. Sonoma Valley Hospital (SVH) is a full-service acute care district hospital located in the city of Sonoma, providing compassionate expert care to the 42,000 residents of the Sonoma Valley Health Care District. The Hospital has 24 acute care beds and maintains a 27-bed Skilled Nursing Facility. SVH is the sole provider of acute inpatient care in the Sonoma Valley and offers a 24-hour emergency room, inpatient services with an ICU, surgical services and outpatient clinical testing and treatment. In 2018, the Hospital announced an affiliation with UCSF Health to better serve the community.

NLBC’s Board Chair, Patty Garbarino, who is President of Marin Sanitary Services, said “NBLC is proud to have Sonoma Valley Hospital join us in our work to advocate for employers like them to support the healthcare system in the North Bay, and seek more workforce housing, better transportation, improved education and training of the workforce, and adapting to the impacts of climate change to lessen the fires, drought and storms that are wreaking havoc in our region.”

In recent years, SVH has undergone extensive renovation including completing seismic structural upgrades and opening a new wing with a modern Emergency Department and Surgery Center. In 2020, the Hospital opened the first phase of a new Outpatient Diagnostic Center which, when completed, will contain a state-of-the-art CT scanner and MRI. The Hospital is fully accredited by the Center for Improvement in Healthcare Quality (CIHQ), meeting national standards for healthcare quality and safety.

John Hennelly, president and CEO of SVH will be the NBLC member representative. Hennelly said, “The pandemic has underscored how important a robust healthcare system is to the North Bay.  We are looking forward to working with other members of NBLC to ensure the high quality of our healthcare providers is maintained and supported as we continue through and beyond these challenging times.  We are strong proponents of collaboration and appreciate that the members of NBLC are, too.”

In November, the voters approved a renewal of the district’s parcel tax measure, a great accomplishment in Hennelly’s first year.  Prior to leading SVH, he served as CEO of St. Louise Regional Hospital in Gilroy, where he led a financial and operational turnaround, overseeing the 93-bed hospital’s 2019 sale to Santa Clara County. His prior experience includes executive positions at hospitals in Chicago, including at Presence Health, an 11-hospital system, and Saint Anthony Hospital. Hennelly holds a BA from American University in Washington, DC, and an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. He is fluent in Spanish.

SVH works closely with many healthcare providers to provide patients with a seamless continuum of care. They are affiliated with UCSF Health, the top-rated medical center in California and one of the top five hospitals in the nation according to U. S. News & World Report.  This affiliation strives to improve healthcare for Sonoma Valley residents by combining the specialized expertise and resources of UCSF Health with the community care focus of SVH.

They also maintain service agreements with other hospitals and healthcare providers in the region including MarinHealth Medical Network, Meritage Medical Network, MarinHealth Medical Center, St Joseph’s Heath, California Pacific Medical Center, and Sonoma Valley Community Health Center.

Welcome to 2022!

As we enter the third year of the pandemic, which started off with a huge surge from the Omicron variant, most if not all of us, are feeling the fatigue and stress from dealing with impacts and effects of a crisis going on far longer than we anticipated.  And as we experience more people we know getting COVID, or dealing with exposures, or new restrictions, it is not surprising that it is taking a toll on our mental health as well as physical well-being.

One good piece of advice to improve our coping skills is in Chief Executive’s To Win In 2022, Remember The Stockdale Paradox by Dan Bigman (Link)

Bigman recommends that we embrace the Stockdale Paradox, which is a term “coined by author Jim Collins in his bestselling classic Good to Great. It stems from a life-changing conversation Collins had one afternoon with Admiral Jim Stockdale, the highest-ranking U.S. officer held prisoner during the Vietnam War.”

Bigman says, “Repeatedly tortured during nearly eight years in captivity, Stockdale survived it all, despite unimaginable hardships and no sense of when his privations would end. How, Collins wondered, did he do it? How did he find a way through?”

“As Collins recounts in the book, when he got a chance to ask Stockdale those questions, Stockdale told him that he ‘never lost faith in the end of the story. I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.’”

“So, Collins asked, who didn’t make it out?”  Bigman shares, ‘Oh, that’s easy,’ said Stockdale. ‘The optimists…Oh, they were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.’”

Bigman asks, “Sound familiar? In normal times, the uncanny optimism exhibited by so many business leaders I know is a tremendous benefit. It bucks them up, it lets them take the kinds of risks they need to build a successful business in the first place.”

He goes on to caution, “But in Covid times, I’ve come to see it can also be a dangerous blindspot. Not because it creates some kind of health risk or puts a company in economic jeopardy. But because, in a situation that has proven to be beyond anyone’s control, one that has exceeded the duration and imagination of nearly everyone except the most pessimistic among us, the continued belief that the end is just around each and every corner is a psychological bear trap—not just for them, but for their teams.”

Bigman says, “Is Omicron—as at least one eternal optimist I spent time with over the holiday told me repeatedly—the last gasp of Covid? Maybe. Is it not as bad as many first feared? Maybe. Is the media making too big a deal of it? Maybe. Is it just ‘Omnicold as one company president with a large operation in Europe told me definitively? Again, maybe.”

“The brutal fact, as Collins might put it, is this: We don’t know. No one knows,” says Bigman. “It’s out of our control. It always has been. But Covid itself isn’t what’s getting to so many of us—it’s the continued trashing of our best hopes for escape by Easter, by summer, by Christmas. Expectation and disappointment taxing our staffs, taxing us. I see it in our company, you see it in yours.”

Bigman recommends, “As we head into our third year of Covid, perhaps it’s time to get the team together and embrace a new way of thinking: We don’t know what will happen next, or how long this will last, and it doesn’t matter. We will get through it, step by step, day by day, by coming together and dealing with what’s in front of us, in the same way Stockdale did, under much worse circumstances than anything we’re facing today.”

“This is a very important lesson,” Stockdale tells Collins. “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

Let’s see if this wise advice helps make it a better year. For more understanding of what we are up against check out How Year 3 Of Covid-19 Will Mess With Our Minds by Robert Pearl, (Link) Here we learn we are going to need help coping this year.  Pearl says, “As Americans embark on year three of Covid-19, there’s mounting evidence to suggest that most of us are struggling with the pandemic more than we might think. Polling paints a fuzzy picture of the American psyche after nearly two years of pandemic stress. On one hand, people are going about their lives despite the looming threat of the Omicron variant. On the other hand, 41% of adults say they’ve experienced symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder more than half the days of the week, a significant increase from 11% in 2019.”

Pearl says, “Most likely, people’s frustrations and anxieties are far worse than self-reported surveys indicate. It’s one thing to say or even think we’re feeling fine—as if two years of seesawing social restrictions could simply be taken in stride—but how we feel on the inside is something else entirely. Our mood is a complicated mixture of biochemistry, psychology and environment.”

“That last factor, environment, has influenced our lives greatly throughout the pandemic,” says Pearl. “Twenty-four months after the first U.S. case of Covid-19 was reported, we still have to wear masks at airports, in some public arenas and whenever cases spike. Our news feeds continue to overflow with dire warnings about new variants, breakthrough cases and misinformation campaigns. Meanwhile, almost every activity—from birthdays and anniversaries to grocery shopping and television watching—comes with the joy-sapping reminder that we are still smack dab in the middle of a public-health crisis and that almost nothing is as it was before.  If you have any doubt that our environment weighs heavy on our mood, consider how much Covid-19 has changed the ways we work, communicate, celebrate, educate our children, spend our money and even sleep.”

Pearl says, “Sometimes, our brains and bodies fail to give us early and sufficient warning when things are off. As an example, high blood pressure is one of the leading causes of heart attack and stroke, yet people with hypertension can go years without experiencing signs or symptoms, even when their blood-pressure readings are dangerously high. Anxiety works much the same way. We can dismiss or not even notice distressing symptoms: trouble sleeping, loss of energy, overeating or relationship issues. But what starts as an annoyance can escalate over time and become an internal crisis.”

An important point is the need to grieve.  Pearl says, “Take disenfranchised grief, a kind of mourning that isn’t routinely acknowledged because it doesn’t stack up to the type of trauma others have undergone. Comparing ourselves to others—say, those who’ve lost a loved one to the virus—leads us to perceive our own difficulties as trivial. The reality is that all Americans have endured restrictions, experienced frustrations and missed out on milestone events like weddings and graduations. None of these alone feel as painful as a death, but together they erode our sense of well-being. They need to be acknowledged and grieved. Psychologists say that doing so is a cathartic and healthy way of coping. Failing to do so, however, can create long-lasting psychological scars.”

“In the early days of the pandemic, during lockdowns and school closures, much was made of the effects that social isolation had on people,” says Pearl. “Researchers quickly observed upticks in substance abuse, domestic violence and suicidal ideation. Those threats haven’t disappeared, they’ve just become the ‘new normal’ and no longer seem newsworthy. That’s a dangerous societal oversight. Two years of disappointment, frustration and loneliness have produced an odd combination of boredom, malaise and dread. Psychologists call this languishing, a disturbing sense of stagnation and emptiness.”

Pearl says, “The past year, especially, has featured the bizarre and unsettling sensation of being stuck: 2021 began with fears and uncertainty over the Delta variant and ended with fears and uncertainty over Omicron. It started with President Biden calling for all Americans to get vaccinated and ended the same way—with those calls going unheeded by roughly 30-40% of the U.S. population. The coming year brings with it the impending threats of business lockdowns, school closings, event cancellations and travel restrictions; the same way 2021 began.”

Invoking the Stockdale paradox, Pearl says, “Every time we think the finish line is in sight, a new viral threat or sudden surge of cases comes along, dashing our optimism and ushering in fresh waves of anxiety, frustration and fear. If 2022 were to end in a similar fashion as 2021, we’ll have lived under siege for more than 1,000 days. And the impact of an additional year would be even worse when it comes to our mental state and well-being.”

Pearl says, “Untold amounts of money, energy and scientific resource have been hurled at the virus in hopes of mitigating the obvious medical threat.”  More vaccination sites, testing, masks, public education, research on treatments and new vaccines, National Guard helping fill in at hospitals and schools, and more.  But Pearl says we are missing the mark on the “need to address the mental- and behavioral-health risks of a prolonged pandemic. Nowhere in Biden’s plan is there a guarantee that health insurance will fully cover treatment for mood disorders or ensure that out-of-pocket costs won’t limit access to counseling. Nor is there any mention of requiring a paid time-off benefits for workers who experience psychological difficulties or require professional help.”

Pearl says, “Someday, our nation will put this terrible disease behind us. But if we continue to ignore our psychological problems in the third and (possibly) fourth or fifth years of Covid-19, then our nation’s health problems won’t end when the pandemic does. For those whose anxiety has become unmanageable, now is the time to get professional help. But even for those of us who think we’re coping well, let’s make 2022 the year we address our growing anxieties and daily frustrations.” Wise advice – let’s hope we have enough capacity to meet the needs of those who seek help.

1 in 4 COVID Patients in it for Long Haul. That’s Worrying North Bay Employers

In “1 in 4 COVID Patients in it for Long Haul. That’s Worrying North Bay Employers” by Susan Wood (Link), Wood says, “Calvin Sandeen got COVID-19 and is still living with it.”

Wood goes on to explain, “The Forestville resident wonders when he gets the common cold now whether the muscle aches that go with it will turn into joint pain from the virus. He wonders whether a slight headache will turn into a migraine, his most common symptom after contracting COVID-19.”

Wood says, “Vaccinated and athletic, the Sonoma County Economic Development broadband analyst is considered a “long hauler,” someone who continues to suffer the effects of the virus after the initial infection. Health experts say these long haulers endure symptoms for an average of four to six months after contracting COVID-19.”

Wood goes on to quote, “’It’s still early to tell, but my hunch is it seems logical to assume there will be some long-haul impacts, with some burden on our health care system,’ Sonoma State University economics professor Robert Eyler said.”

Wood also quotes, “’As we move from a pandemic to an endemic, this is a huge question when we have millions more disabled people. We’re going to need to increase medical care, and they’ll need support,’ North Bay Leadership Council CEO Cynthia Murray said.”