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Health care during a pandemic; should we all stay at home during the virus crisis?

Our federal government must reopen Affordable Care Act enrollment immediately. An estimated 28 million working-aged people went into the pandemic without health insurance, and now many have lost their jobs. Without jobs they are eligible for Medicaid, but they can't apply until open enrollment begins in the fall. This must change.

Health insurers have asked for reopening the ACA. Yet the Trump administration has decided against it, leaving tens of millions to face the virus without protection. Congress could override the president, but the Senate is on recess until April 20 and the House is recessing soon.

The virus is supposed to peak sometime around April 15. By the time Congress returns, untold thousands of uninsured citizens could be infected and could be infecting others because they're afraid to seek medical care.

This scenario endangers all of us. Congress must get back to work and reopen ACA enrollment, now.

Kaye Schmitt

North Portland

Ministers should obey shelter-in-place rules

As a Christian, I am saddened, upset, and disappointed at the ministers who are brazenly defying shelter-in-place orders. These congregational leaders are defying God.

Their actions seem to be more of an ego trip than obedience to God's word, which states: "Obey the government, for God is the One who has put it there. There is no government anywhere that God has not placed in power. So those who refuse to obey the law of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow." Romans 13:1-2 (KJV)

Again, Matthew 22:21A states: "Render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." [In other words, keep the difference between what the law of the land requires, and what God requires.]

From my point of view, all those "Christians" who are refusing to work together with everyone and shelter in place to help stop the virus, are not only disobeying the lawmakers and medical experts who are only trying to keep people from dying, but also defying their God.

And I say, shame on them. Are they so wrapped up in their egos that they are willingly ignoring God's will, as well as human safety? What is their justification for this? Is a huge, outdoor Easter Sunday service during this challenging time glorifying God, or the pastors who stage it?

I ask them all to put all this misdirected energy to helping those who need it: shut in elders who may not have anyone to get them groceries, and are lonely, needing someone to help them relieve the boredom and stress of no human contact? Are they giving rides to those who must go to the doctor for their conditions? Donating food to those families who are suffering financially? Are these "Christians" showing love by helping pay some of those same people pay their bills, rent, etc. Taking time to watch some children and give their beleaguered parents some needed relief?

What about supporting local businesses and restaurants to help them stay afloat until the pandemic is over? Is flaunting the law the only thing that can get them headlines? And, why do they want them? Doing acts of kindness can be their own reward, but, knowing human nature, these kind acts will soon attract attention, and get them praise better suited to Christians than thumbing their nose at the law, and the people who are suffering patiently through the situation.

Remember 1 Corinthians 13:13 (KIV): "And now abide: faith, hope, love, these three. But the greatest of these is love. Let's show love, not pride. Will your ego-driven desire to defy laws and common sense kill many of your congregation? I will pray for them — and you.

I am a native Portlander, and a retired customer service tech, with an adult daughter.

Hollis Vannatter

Southeast Portland

Save lives with medical research legislation

Medical research, given funding and freedom, saves lives. We need this now more than ever.

I have seen so many diseases that ran rampant in the past when I was young vanish like polio. I carried the Hepatitis C virus for almost two decades because the treatment was not always effective with my particular strain, the cost, even with insurance would've bankrupted me and I probably would have lost my job. Research finally came up with a pill that was 95% effective in twelve weeks with few side effects. Granted it was around $1,000 a pill but the medication was picked up by the government. I now am not tempting fate with increased chance of liver cancer or cyrosis.

This virus and other health care problems need to be eradicated and perhaps we need some legislation to move it along.

I have spent many years advocating for health care reform and while it pains me to say this, I urge lawmakers to move this without cost-control riders. Given the makeup of the U.S. Senate it will not pass or may not even be voted on with cost controls.

That has to be a separate battle. First things first. Let's save lives.

Mark Sturbois

Southeast Portland

City plays games with infill project

With the "fix" obviously "in" on the hopelessly corrupt developer giveaway called the residential infill project, the City Council, led by Mayor Sustainable (Ted) Wheeler, should unanimously and immediately add the requirement that all so-called "affordable" development have solar power installation as part of the permit process.

Isn't about time Portland walked the walk for all of our smug "green" braggadocio?

This is a perfect time, place and circumstance for Portland to step-up and plant a flag in the dirt for energy sustainability. Equally important is a strict requirement for zero destruction to any part of the urban canopy (existing trees) in any of the new development.

Many Portlanders believe that the RIP was designed to pay off developers and experts have testified that this wrong-headed and co-opted proposal will have little or no effect on affordability of homes; but is sure to speed the deterioration the quality of life and neighborhood character residents have long-treasured.

To the few but loud zealots who shout "NIMBY" at any perceived argument against RIP, well, learn to listen and keep the shot wide. You've been played.

Frank DiMarco


Pandemic will leave millions with big medical bills

We need a plan to provide universal health care and paid sick leave for Americans in the next Coronavirus response bill.

The state of our economy during this pandemic proves the connection between citizen health, the economy, and national security. Health care provided by employers doesn't work in a recession or pandemic that forces businesses to close their doors or downsize.

Having access to free health care will slow the spread of the virus and prevent a second resurgence. Universal health care will reduce risk of a future pandemic if Americans can afford to have the health care they need to prevent chronic conditions that increase their susceptibility to pandemic disease. If they have paid sick leave they will stay at home to recover instead of spreading the virus because they can't afford the lost wages.

I'm concerned about the enormous medical bills coronavirus survivors who are uninsured or underinsured will be faced with in the aftermath of this pandemic. This will threaten their financial stability and negatively impact their ability to contribute to rebuild the economy as we recover from this crises.

I urge President Trump to include a plan to give Americans the health care and sick leave they deserve, it will contribute to the strength of the country as a whole.

Theresa Jones

Downtown Portland

Dirty grocery bags won't keep us safe

Why are we not making common sense recommendations in Oregon to keep our food supply safe?

Temporarily ban the reusable bags in food/pharmacy stores. They are not able to be cleaned properly to remove Corona Virus. No one has the correct cleaning supplies to use and no one cleans their bags anyway. People bring these bags from their car and kitchen where they and their family/passengers have sneezed, coughed, touched them and then place them in "cleaned" carts, checkout counters/belts etc.

Then they are even touched in and out by checkers (who are now on the front line too), gloved or not, who then pass bags back to us will all the potential virus from all customers that went before us. This is dangerous. This repeats all day long. Why are we still allowing this?

Right now, people should be stopped from bringing virus/germ covered bags into the store. They can come in, put clean food in clean carts and on clean counters and then have clean hands place them in clean bags that we carry out. With such a massive effort, the red tape and laws could be cut to accomplish this safety step today. Costco corporate is discussing. others are aware. Help us end this practice so we can access as clean of food that we can. This is science, not politics.

Gov. (Kate) Brown and elected officials are ignoring these and other common sense solutions and we are sick and tired. Literally.

Lara Mansfield


Self-employed need unemployment coverage

As a self-employed contractor in Portland, I haven't had unemployment coverage since I worked as an employee years ago.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and necessary social limitations now in effect, my clients have all postponed work previously in queue.

My adult son, my brother, and my work partner, all living in California, are independent contractors. A 2015 Pew Research Center report found that self-employed Americans and the people working for them together accounted for 30% of the nation's workforce, or 44 million jobs in total in 2014 (likely higher now in 2020).

HR 6201 (Families First Coronavirus Response Act) Division D of the Emergency Unemployment Insurance Stabilization Act of 2020 provides a refundable tax credit to help self-employed people make up for lost income. It would not directly compensate self-employed people (i.e. paid leave) as shelter-in-place becomes even more widespread. It would not directly compensate us if we or our families are hit by the virus or our kids can't go to school.

Clearly, tax credits at the end of the year are not going to put food on the table or pay the rent. Self-employed workers need immediate relief. For many of us, our situations are dire.

Now more than ever, we need something akin to "unemployment for all." I don't know what form a program like that would take or how cash would be dispersed.

It is crucial that each of us to contact our representatives to advocate for immediate compensation for the newly unemployed self-employed. Please write to your representatives, assert pressure to truly address the economic hardships faced by this large sector of our community.

Michael Mintz

Southeast Portland

Government has failed our vulnerable seniors

Portlanders are sheltering in place while the city's most vulnerable citizens are denied delivery of food, water and sanitary products.

Portland businesses, government agencies and the media have not addressed this.

In the aftermath of the 1962 Columbus Day Storm there was no electricity but no hoarding. We had food, drinkable water and toilet paper. We came together as a community to help each other.

Now we are the people most likely to die from Covid-19.

Like many elderly and disabled, I can't pay for restaurant delivery at $21 per meal. I don't need Meals on Wheels or a food pantry. I need stores to deliver because I am housebound, elderly and disabled.

These are my experiences during the past two weeks. I paid $12.95 monthly for Walmart delivery. Now I cannot get a delivery. Walmart declined my request to set aside delivery times for their housebound elderly and disabled customers.

After a five-day wait, my Safeway order was canceled by DoorDash. They sent the driver to Vancouver.

Safeway is half mile away from my home. DoorDash had to pass by my home, to return the order. Safeway never called back.

Upon reorder, the water was out of stock and no delivery appointments. Toilet paper stocked on March 17th, but the day of delivery it was gone. I do not believe I am the only elderly and disabled person experiencing this issue.

My opinions and experiences are ignored, but the experts have voiced their concerns.

"On March 9, representatives from the National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs and Meals on Wheels America sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar requesting supplemental emergency funding, roughly $250 million — or 25% of the current Older Americans Act nutrition program budget — to maintain senior nutrition programs. (The initial $8.3 billion coronavirus preparedness bill enacted on March 6 did not include any specific funding for senior nutrition programs.)

"About 28 percent of adults aged 65 and older reported living alone, according to a 2017 Administration on Community Living report.... A different 2017 report found that 7.7% of seniors — 5.5 million people — were food insecure.

"In the U.S., only 1.4 million seniors reside in nursing homes; by contrast, about 47 million older adults are aging in place. An additional 812,000 seniors make their homes at assisted living facilities.... Outside of nursing homes, 15% of America's 65-and-older population (more than 7 million seniors) are frail, a condition that greatly reduces their ability to cope with even minor medical setbacks. Sixty percent have at least two chronic conditions, such as heart disease, lung disease or diabetes, that raise the chance that the coronavirus could kill them. Another major concern is what will happen to clients if home care workers become sick with the coronavirus, are quarantined ...."

Our governments have failed us. There are no standard operating procedures and benchmarks in place. Trillions are being spent to rescue banks, but the lack of medical tests, ventilators and protective gear is barely addressed.

As my grandma used to say, "They're running around like chickens with their heads cut off."

What happened to the sage advice: Be Prepared? For decades there were warnings about the need to prepare for a viral pandemic. Instead, we became a nation consumed with pursuing money and racial hatred and not preparing for a color-blind viral illness that has cost us our livelihoods and possibly our lives.

Ruththella White

Northeast Portland

Act before all small businesses are gone

It's no secret the spread of COVID-19 has absolutely devastated small businesses, yet Congress is stalling when it comes to passing a stimulus package that could help many of our businesses survive this pandemic.

Our elected officials must act now to ensure there's a small business community left to help.

My wife and I have owned Paloma Clothing in Portland for 45 years. We closed our doors last Thursday (March 19) to protect our employees, customers and community. I fear without direct government grants we'll never re-open.

As business owners and members of what was a thriving economy, we know there must be a greater effort by our elected officials to revive the businesses that have had to close. Even though we're closed for business, we still have employees, rent and inventory to pay. The current package going through the Senate doesn't offer nearly enough support. It needs to be amended to include a significant amount of money in grants—not loans that will add to any debt we've already incurred.

As Congress debates the stimulus package, we hope Sens. (Jeff) Merkley and (Ron) Wyden continue pushing for meaningful relief for small businesses like ours across Oregon.

Mike Roach

Southwest Portland

Superfund story headline was misleading

The March 19 Portland Tribune front page headline, "Local superfund feud: A (pretty dirty) river runs through it," seems to be deliberately misleading in an apparent attempt to increase ratings.

Our Willamette River is much cleaner then the headline implies as you point out in the body of your article. The industries targeted have a point. The EPA needs should use the most recent data. If more up-to-date data doesn't support more Remedial action then don't do it.

Everett Hobson

Southeast Portland

Brown's climate protection order is bold, needed

I would like to express my personal gratitude to Gov. Kate Brown for signing a landmark executive order for climate protection.

The executive order is broad, involving nearly 20 state agencies and commissions, and requires the state to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions at least 45% below 1990 emissions levels by 2035, and at least 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

One of the highlights of the governor's executive order is that it directs the Oregon Global Warming Commission, in coordination with the Oregon Department of Agriculture and other agencies, to propose state goals for carbon sequestration and storage by Oregon's agricultural lands, based on best available science.

This is the type of action that goes a long way to restoring public confidence in the ability of public officials to act with boldness and fortitude.

Steven Winkler


Virus gives us a glimpse of needed climate action

There's been a lot of dialogue, opinions, and admittedly some quality memes surrounding the pandemic caused by COVID-19. It's all anyone's talking about, rightly so with the abundant regulations being placed by Gov. Kate Brown.

However, I believe a key discussion has been woefully ignored, and that's the resemblance this issue has to another top concern for our community: the climate crisis.

As a member of Gen Z, the generation facing the brunt of failures to mitigate climate change, I've been doing everything in my capacity to raise awareness and enable strong action from my community and elected leaders. Unfortunately, it's often the mindset of older generations that this climate crisis is one they'll outlive and, therefore, have not made it a priority to resolve. The irony is we're seeing a very similar mindset develop in the eyes of Millennials, and Gen Z individuals like myself. A perspective that we will likely outlive this virus and, therefore, the serious nature of the pandemic fails to sink in . . . spelling disaster for the baby boomers we interact with.

In light of this notion, that the way my generation is reacting to COVID-19 is how baby boomers are reacting to climate change, what we need to do is bridge the empathy gap on both issues.

You may be asking, how do we teach people to care? I recommend in the same way individuals are convincing themselves to stay inside and continue critical work on climate change policies: by following the science and staying informed.

Sharona Shnayder


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