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OPINION: Let's follow the science in the New Year and make it a better one than 2020.

The year 2020 should, by now, be a thing of the past.

I was told by a friend that a year should be like a fine wine. This may be so, but I suspect that 2020 was more like a colonoscopy prep. It was an election year, a pandemic year, a year of unemployment and a year of doubt.

I try to walk daily. My goal is to exercise for at least 40 minutes each day. I use a cell phone app that tells me my speed, my distance and maps my route. During my walk, I greet other people who are walking. Some are there by themselves, others are exercising their animals. I see diehard political signs that have not yet been removed — some political flags that I suspect are there because some people don't trust our last election — but mostly, I get to see other people and visit with them.

Today, I ran into an old acquaintance who was also walking. While I stopped to chat, I fastened my face mask.

My friend laughed at me. "Are you really that paranoid? You carry a face mask when you walk?"

I answered: "I'm wearing a mask to protect you as well as myself. Last time I looked at the Oregon Health authority web page, 12 Columbia County people have died as a result of the coronavirus."

My friend countered, "These people all had underlying conditions. Hospitals want to say people died of COVID, that way they can qualify for more money."

I shook my head. "Ain't so; according to the Oregon Health Authority, you are repeating an unsubstantiated rumor. FactCheck.Org also says that this isn't so (https://www.factcheck.org/2020/04/hospital-payments-and-the-covid-19-death-count/).

"No one is being incentivized to inflate COVID figures. It anything, these figures are underreported."

My friend smirked. "I heard different and I believe what I hear on TV. Besides, it was reported that they all had underlying conditions."

I replied, "Sure, people who get heart attacks also die of underlying conditions. … Lack of oxygen to their brains. What doctor would take the chance to get his or her license revoked by making a false statement on a death certificate? Not only can they get their license revoked, they might even have to do jail time.

"Similarly, hospitals could lose their accreditation if they make false claims. This coronavirus is a nasty bug; it is lots worse than a case of the flu. The virus attacks your body's organs. It attacks your heart, your lungs, your liver. Even people who appear asymptomatic can experience damage to their body systems. Some studies seem to indicate that it can cause loss of libido and erectile dysfunction in men."

My friend laughed. "You are so full of BS."

"No, I'm not. I'm not making any of this up. You have a computer, look it up yourself."

My friend replied, "You can find anything you want on the internet. That still does not make it so."

"True, you can. I do know one thing. I will continue to wear and use a face mask. I also plan to get inoculated as soon as vaccinations are available."

My friend shook his head. "I ain't gonna get no vaccinations. You can't pay me to get one. "

I looked at my friend. "You are a religious person, and a loving Christian. My guess is that you must be on the fast track to see Jesus. Personally, I would rather postpone my meeting with the Lord."

We parted and I continued on my walk.

My hope is that 2021 will be a better year than 2020. We now have approved vaccines, a new government and new hope. I hope that we can look forward to a champagne year and not another colonoscopy prep.

Bill Eagle is a St. Helens resident.


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