Warford 2020

We’re lucky to live in a community where leaders know what they are doing.

I think Lancaster, under Mayor R. Rex Parris and his team, have run circles around county, state, and federal leaders when it comes to leadership on COVID-19.

Parris sugarcoats nothing in his daily messages to the community and lays out all the numbers — the good, the bad and the ugly.

When the crisis hit, he immediately appointed medical experts as deputy mayors and arranged for field hospitals to handle patient overflows.

And he was not afraid to lambaste county officials for their lack of movement in getting a vaccine center here.

Lately, the numbers are getting better, and a vaccine center finally will open soon, at Antelope Valley College, so locals will not have to drive to Magic Mountain or Dodger Stadium.

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Speaking of Antelope Valley College, it is remarkable how much better that campus looks compared to when I first arrived here in 1980.

A pejorative term for the college in those days was “Tumbleweed Tech,” and you could see why.

The corner of 30th Street West and Avenue K was an ugly bare patch of ground with a ugly bland sign designating it as Antelope Valley College.

I have to admit that I was rather shocked the first time I drove out there some four decades ago.

One man who deserves a lot of the credit in turning AVC into the beautiful, modern campus it is today is Bill Fellers, who died Jan. 27 at 88.

Bill was truly the model of a solid, midwestern gentleman. A native of Illinois, he served as a longtime vice president of business services at the college.

In 1990 he was promoted to assistant superintendent of Facilities Planning and Campus Development — overseeing the college’s massive building program.

He did a terrific job working with the state officials and the contractors to bring about many of the improvements you see today.

It’s obviously not only because of Bill Fellers and the building program, but I have not heard anyone call AVC “Tumbleweed Tech” in a long time.

Under the solid leadership of President Ed Knudson and the elected Board, AVC has navigated the choppy waters of the pandemic and is ready to come roaring back as the number of infections falls.

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One theme I have hit on repeatedly in a year of writing about COVID-19 is its confounding unpredictability.

Some people get horribly sick, some people die, some people get the virus and never have symptoms.

The other head-scratching aspect is lockdowns. I have never been one to doubt the severity of the pandemic, and I have been very good at mask-wearing and physical distancing.

But it is a remarkable thing that Florida and California have almost identical rates of infection, serious illness and death from the virus.

And yet, California has been locked up tighter than a drum for a year, and Florida has remained opened. They have had in-person schools, athletics, indoor dining, etc.

Parmenides reminds us that we cannot know what was down the road not taken, but you have to wonder what would have happened had California followed Florida’s lead.

Do bans on public gatherings simply lead to larger, more frequent private gatherings? Do so many mandated restrictions lead to rebellious flouting of precautions?

Or would California have suffered even great damage from the virus?

Unfortunately, because we are a “blue state” and Florida is a “red state,” it cannot be discussed rationally because people examine the statistics through ideological lenses.

William P. Warford’s column appears every Friday and Sunday.

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