Getting through this together
Thank you for protecting our community and staying home.
Just a few months ago, we rang in 2020 with renewed hope and optimism. I don’t think any of us at that time expected what would come in the months ahead. The emergence of COVID-19 has resulted in a dramatic shift in our lifestyles to combat the spread of this virus — a virus that we are still trying to learn so much about. And it remains uncertain for how long we will need to live life under these new conditions.
We understand what a sacrifice this is for us all — and I want to sincerely thank you for the sacrifices you have made to protect yourselves and your loved ones, to help flatten the curve, and stop the community spread of this virus.
It will be difficult, but in the coming weeks, I urge you to keep up the effort. By remaining diligent, we are helping ourselves by limiting the spread of infection.
Please continue to practice good hand hygiene (washing your hands as often as possible for at least 40 seconds), covering coughs and sneezes, and maintaining physical distance from others, if you are sick.
We must all remain hopeful to a swift end to this crisis and a return to normalcy, even as we plan for whatever comes our way.
Together, we will get through this. Only by maintaining our united front will we stop the spread of infection and keep ourselves and our most vulnerable in the community safe.
James Jarvis, MD
Director of Clinical Education
Senior Physician Executive
Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center
Quarantine people entering Maine
Unless you live on the coast, you might be unaware that the snowbirds are returning early this season from New York, New Jersey, and points south to escape the coronavirus. I heard these rumors, and then spoke with a person at a local grocery store filling her car with supplies. When I commented on the large load, she said she was “from the south” and admitted that her family had returned to Maine early this year.
According to news reports, the governor of Hawaii has decreed that persons now entering that state — including its citizens — must be quarantined for 14 days to determine they do not have the virus. Maine should do the same.
Be wary of disaster capitalism
During this unprecedented time, I’m concerned about the massive corporate welfare being proposed by the Republican Party. I grew up conservative, and the slush fund being proposed for corporations goes against common sense and party doctrine.
In good times, corporations take advantage of consumers and often their products are detrimental to the health of our planet and people. Good examples of this are airlines, auto manufacturers, oil industries, military contractors, homeland security, insurance and drug companies, banks, Wall Street and so on. They should not get a dime.
For 30 years, the wealth has concentrated at the top. Conservatives espouse free-market economics while they rig systems for their benefit, and uncaringly watched huge portions of society scrape by.
Efforts should be solidly on helping the poor and lower income people and small businesses get through this time. Priority should also be on wide-spread testing, treatment and safety equipment. This might be a great time to trial a Medicare-for-all approach, if only for the poor and low income. I can luckily afford to take care of myself, but I’m most concerned about those of limited means.
We must be vigilant against disaster capitalism. At every turn, I believe corporations and monied interests will attempt to profit during this pandemic.
When we are through this, it will be a perfect time to adjust our addiction to destroying the planet as a way of life — excessive flying, driving and consumerism. The earth is having a well-deserved break. I’ve been biking to get fresh air and the slower, quieter world is haunting and inviting. I must say I feel deep empathy for those suffering, without sufficient food, heat, or means to take care of themselves and loved ones.
Picking up the litter
With so many of us now homebound as we deal with this unfolding health crisis, many have found going outdoors for a walk, hiking on trails, and visiting parks to be a much needed relief from the four walls of our homes and the endless news on coronavirus.
The snow will be melting quickly and spring seems to be arriving with birds singing, but it also reveals all the usual litter that has been hidden under the snow. The litter was either intentionally dropped or has been blown about by the winds from our recycle bins.
Why not grab a trash bag for your next walk and pick up litter along the trails, roadways, and parks? It adds exercise to your walk and will make your next walk more attractive for yourself and others. You should wear gloves or use a grabber stick, and be mindful that as the snow disappears, ticks will be reappearing.
A secondhand memory of the 1918 flu
I grew up in Massachusetts next door to my sixth grade teacher, Bessie M. Norris. She attended Lowell Normal School and graduated in 1918. As she and her sister graduates anticipated the beginning of the new school year, they were called to report for service to the Lowell health department. She, along with the others were each assigned several blocks in the tenements of “mile or more” mills.
Ms. Norris’ mandate was to go from door to door each day to count the number of people in each flat. She was expected to identify anyone who died and order the body to be placed on the street in front of the tenement. She would then contact the health department who would send the wagon to pick up the bodies placed on the street that day.
I think she told me about this with the hope that this memory would not die with her. Therefore, thank you for letting me share this with you.
The Rev. Lee Ann Betz