BURR'S CONTRAST--PRIVATE ACTIONS VS. PUBLIC PASSIVITY IN ADDRESSING CORONAVIRUS: To private donors: "There's one thing that I can tell you about this: It is much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history," he said. "It is probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic." In public op-ed: “The United States today is better prepared than ever before to face emerging public health threats, like the coronavirus, in large part due to the work of the Senate Health Committee, Congress, and the Trump Administration,” they reassured readers. We have since discovered things aren’t quite that way. If he had such confidence as a Senator, why did he on Feb. 13, unload dozens of stocks – personal investments worth up to $1.5 million – that would lose much of their value in the next few weeks? Burr was elected by the citizens of N.C. Seems like it would be his job to call home, sound the alarm to his constituents and help us get ready and push the federal government to get its act together.
HERE'S A COVID 19 ORDER JUST FOR DAN FOREST: HUSH: In a news release Tuesday afternoon, Forest said Cooper lacked the authority to order bars to close and restaurants to shut down their dining rooms. Earlier in the day, Cooper had issued the order, which allowed for restaurant takeout and delivery, starting at 5 p.m. Forest, however, took things one step further, saying Cooper’s order was a bad idea. “His mandate will devastate our economy, shutter many small businesses, and leave many people unemployed, especially in the rural areas of our state where food supply is already critical,” he said in a news release. Forest seems to be one of very few who’s complaining. Restaurant owners aren’t objecting much, at least publicly, and some welcomed the move because they believed Cooper’s order would make it easier to qualify for federal aid. Elizabeth Turnbull, who co-owns the Durham restaurant COPA with her husband, Roberto Matos, told The News & Observer: “We weren’t sure if a voluntary order would be enough (to be eligible for relief). We really feel it’s important it becomes a mandate.” Forest’s complaint sends a dangerous message about the social distancing North Carolinians need to do, and the partisan bickering that followed was unseemly and unfortunate.
AMID THE CRISIS, THANK THOSE WHO STRIVE TO KEEP OUR LIVES STABLE: If you walk into an emergency room there will be doctors, nurses, attendants and others who will make sure your urgent needs are met. This is their job. It is what they do every day. The coronavirus outbreak hasn’t changed that. At emergency stations there are EMS specialists and firefighters – professionals and volunteers – ready to answer the call. Law enforcement officers – from the Highway Patrol to the cop-on-the-beat – are keeping our roads and communities safe. Of course, our armed services – and our National Guard – always stand at the ready to serve when duty calls. It is not just those folks. Utility workers make sure our basic services are operating and if they aren’t, get them fixed. Grocery store workers are at it, seemingly round-the-clock, to keep shelves stocked and cash registers tapping. They engage hundreds of people a day, even as the rest of us heed isolation warnings. They are there because in our nation, we know it is our duty to look out for each other. And when there are those particularly tasked to do it, they stand at the ready. They are our neighbors, friends and family members.
TRUMP DECEIVES WHILE LAWMAKERS CASH OUT. IT'S THE "STORY OF LIFE": It’s bad enough that the public was misled and that even now the Trump administration muzzles the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and hides information about testing, the availability of ventilators and whether or not he’s using the Defense Production Act for urgently needed medical supplies. It’s appalling that the well-connected got better information and that the rich and famous got tests while others couldn’t. No doubt they’ll have priority for ventilators, too. Now Senate Republicans are working to lard a stimulus bill with corporate tax cuts and bailouts for airlines (including those refusing to refund many tickets even as the government tells Americans not to travel) and hotels. Will Trump’s hotels be included? The stock market set a record high that day. The next day, Burr dumped stock, including hotel stock. The day after that, Loeffler bought stock in Citrix, which provides teleconferencing. Meanwhile, the greater public remained unaware of, and unprepared for, the looming catastrophe. Now Trump says unfairness is the story of life. Maybe that’s why we’re living this nightmare.
I SPENT A YEAR IN SPACE, AND I HAVE TIPS ON ISOLATION TO SHARE: One of the things I missed most while living in space was being able to go outside and experience nature. After being confined to a small space for months, I actually started to crave nature — the color green, the smell of fresh dirt, and the feel of warm sun on my face. That flower experiment became more important to me than I could have ever imagined. My colleagues liked to play a recording of Earth sounds, like birds and rustling trees, and even mosquitoes, over and over. It brought me back to earth. For an astronaut, going outside is a dangerous undertaking that requires days of preparation, so I appreciate that in our current predicament, I can step outside any time I want for a walk or a hike — no spacesuit needed. Research has shown that spending time in nature is beneficial for our mental and physical health, as is exercise. You don’t need to work out two and a half hours a day, as astronauts on the space station do, but getting moving once a day should be part of your quarantine schedule. Some people are surprised to learn I brought books with me to space. The quiet and absorption you can find in a physical book — one that doesn’t ping you with notifications or tempt you to open a new tab — is priceless. Many small bookstores are currently offering curbside pickup or home delivery service, which means you can support a local business while also cultivating some much-needed unplugged time. One of the side effects of seeing Earth from a the perspective of space, at least for me, is feeling more compassion for others. As helpless as we may feel stuck inside our homes, there are always things we can do — I’ve seen people reading to children via videoconference, donating their time and dollars to charities online, and running errands for elderly or immuno-compromised neighbors. The benefits for the volunteer are just as great as for those helped.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
THOMAS MCKEE: SMALL GOVERNMENT REPUBLICANS HAVE PUT US IN DANGER: Hundreds of Republican legislators signed Grover Norquist’s pledge to oppose all tax increases as a way to get the federal government down to a size where it can be, “drowned in a bathtub.” Years of this Republican, “small-government” philosophy has starved many federal agencies. We are now in the midst of a crisis with citizens and businesses looking to the government for rational decisions, guidance and help. The slowness and inadequacy of the government’s response is causing additional illness, loss of life and financial stress. This highlights the need for an adequately-funded government. The USA is continually experiencing challenges which cannot be properly dealt with by a government that has been “drowned in a bathtub.” We must all accept that, for our well-being, our country requires a big government and sufficient taxes to support it.
NELDA HOLDER: PUT RALEIGH STADIUM ON HOLD: I watched the Raleigh City Council session live-streamed Tuesday and was disturbed by the “business as usual” attitude about the proposed soccer stadium. We are in the middle of a crisis that really has no end in sight at this point. Now is the time to think of every way possible to earmark funding for this city’s response to and recovery from coronavirus. Council’s first priority should be the general public and our lifeblood small businesses. Deciding to invest in a stadium now would be investing in the city we were three months ago. That city no longer exists and we will have a long, painful haul back to normal. Proposed plans for a stadium or other “luxury” investments should be put on hold for at least one year.
LIBBY MANLY: HEALTH CARE WORKERS NEED HAZARD PAY DURING THIS OUTBREAK: Front-line health care workers deserve hazard pay during this pandemic. Health systems like Duke, UNC, WakeMed, as well as local, state and federal employers of first responders and other front-line workers should immediately provide hazard pay of 50 percent on top of base hourly wages and offer a minimum of $1 million in life insurance to any worker who dies due to COVID-19. Emergency health care workers, first responders, and hospital environmental staff cannot “stay home” or telework. Many of us now face overtime mandates while scrambling to cover new childcare costs during indefinite school closings. We also lack basic personal protective equipment on the job, which risks our lives and impacts spread. Take care of the ones who care for us all.