The day in Laguna Beach, where people often gather by the water to celebrate bald, pink sunsets, came to an end quickly.

In Heisler Park, my wife and I found a nice place to record everything and watched a nearby crowd of people with neatly arranged garden chairs and a set meal buffet grow in number.

"This is my sister," said one man, introducing the others in the group to a late arrival.

There were elbow bumps and warm greetings, and the nurse sat an inch from another person. Soon about 10 or 12 people had gathered. It was a beautiful scene, friends and family enjoyed each other's company on a pleasant eve to enjoy the wonders of the breathtaking California coast.

A lifeguard with a face covering walks up the steps in Heisler Park in Laguna Beach.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Apart from the fact that a highly contagious and deadly virus haunts us and these people did not wear masks or did not distance themselves, which neither of them would have been a big victim. If they do not all live together, which apparently was not the case, they run the risk of someone in the group getting sick and passing the error on to others and to others and to …

I think this virus eats brain tissue. From California to DC, people have gone mad.

It should come as no surprise that Orange County had the highest number of COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday – 15 – in over a month. In the meantime, 203 of the 640 people hospitalized in the district were in intensive care units, and the death toll had risen to 253.

Given that Orange County – Huntington Beach in particular – was at the center of resistance to prudent precautions, we have considered ending our quickie trip to Laguna. However, we had a deadline to use or lose an accommodation credit from a canceled trip last year, and I was excited to see what we would find.

The Los Angeles-based Sanchez family wears their masks when they visit Laguna Beach on Friday, July 31, 2020. In Laguna Beach.

The Los Angeles-based Sanchez family wears their masks when they visit Laguna Beach on Friday, July 31, 2020. In Laguna Beach.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

A mixed bag, it turns out. My wife, daughter, and I estimated that about half of the people in town or on the beach either wore masks or kept a safe distance from each other, or both. But the other half went on as if there were no pandemic, even though the signs around downtown Laguna clearly state: “You must wear a face mask. It is the law. "

One day we hiked the trails in Crystal Cove State Park, and that was 50-50. While there is less risk of spreading the virus outdoors, is there a good reason people with no face covering, sweaty and panting, need to clean just a few meters from others on the way?

Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen told me he thought a clear majority of Laguna Beach residents and traders had played it safe. For residents and visitors who don't, the city has only reassigned trolley drivers to explore the city on foot and hand out masks to those they don't have.

Last weekend, Whalen said, they approached 7,000 people and distributed 2,400 masks. Most people were warm, but some just left, he said. The city's policy is to promote good behavior rather than writing quotes for bad behavior.

"The level of compliance has increased in the past few weeks," said Whalen. "It is nowhere near where it needs to be, but it has increased."

The Dr. living in Laguna Beach Eric Alcouloumre is an emergency doctor at Hoag Hospital Newport Beach.

The Dr. living in Laguna Beach Eric Alcouloumre is an emergency doctor at Hoag Hospital Newport Beach.


When mask wear increases, it may have something to do with Laguna Beach-based Eric Alcouloumre's daily training communications. He is an emergency doctor at Hoag Hospital Newport Beach and has been extensively described by Barbara McMurray in the Laguna Beach Independent.

Historically, Alcouloumre took over the Orange County Board of Supervisors for expelling the Chief Public Health Officer from their job, the County Sheriff for failing to enforce mask requirements, and the County Board of Education, which reopened schools without Masks or distancing recommended.

And the doctor wasn't finished with his scalpel.

"Our national political leadership has undermined its experts, made us unsure of what to do," and "destroyed all the gains we made with our initial efforts."

When I called Alcouloumre, who has been practicing emergency medicine for 35 years, he told me that he hadn't planned to start blogging. But he has posted more than 100 times on his Facebook page in four months, trying to make the record clear what is known about the virus and how to slow its spread. He said he started because his wife – lawyer Annee Della Donna – saw people who shared misinformation and conspiracy theories on social media and told him he had to do something.

"I think it's all pretty easy and there isn't much depth in what I told people," said the doctor, who saw many COVID-19 patients in the emergency room. "We have to wash our hands, distance ourselves socially and wear a mask."

Follow these simple instructions, said Alcouloumre, noticing that he speaks for himself, not for Hoag Hospital. We will be able to smooth the curve and reopen shops faster.

"I'm thinking of the April ban when we had a massive climax and everyone showed up and did what they should do. I think about how that flattened the curve … and where we really blew it up opened a few weeks earlier than experts told us, "said Alcouloumre.

"They had demonstrations in Huntington Beach, the mask protests, and I don't know if the government felt the pressure to relax. But here we went to the bathroom. People came together and reopened parties and bars, and it just gave the virus another chance to spread like crazy. "

Laguna Beach's self-proclaimed founder, Michael Minutoli, wears a mask while promoting the city.

Laguna Beach's self-proclaimed founder, Michael Minutoli, wears a mask while promoting the city.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Over the past week, Acouloumre has been particularly busy in the emergency room and on his keyboard, keeping an eye on Washington's activities. It's like watching a mockery of a botched dictatorial regime in a time of crisis.

"Yes, this circus is getting me on my head," wrote Alcouloumre, taking over the quack doctors who are greeted by the stable genius in the White House, including one who specializes in extraterrestrial DNA and demon seeds and believes that hydroxychloroquine is one COVID-19 cure despite the evidence that it is often neither effective nor safe.

"I spent far too much time talking about this Yahoo today," joked Alcouloumre. "The President may respect her, but I don't. They are embarrassing to the medical profession, dangerous and, in my humble opinion, behave unethically and contribute to the suffering and death to which we are exposed through COVID. "

The next day, Alcouloumre wrote about Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), who publicly opposed facial covering and allegedly abused employees for wearing masks, and then tested positive for COVID-19 himself. Gohmert said he believed he got the virus by bowing to pressure and wearing a mask. I would not be surprised if the Congressman now tries to inject some lysol under the skin to kill the germs.

The city of Laguna Beach has signs saying "You must wear a face mask. It is the law".

The city of Laguna Beach has signs that say "You must wear a face covering. It's the law, ”but not everyone is on board.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

"This is the kind of leadership that literally kills us," wrote Alcouloumre. "You can't make this up. If you're wondering why we're not out of this mess yet, this is another great example."

And yet there can be hope, judging by the thousands of reactions to Alcouloumre's post.

"I would say that they are 90% to 95% positive," said the doctor.

Proof that clear speaking and common sense are our best hope.

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