Letters submitted by BDN readers are verified by BDN Opinion Page staff. Send your letters to letters@bangordailynews.com.

Prioritize vaccinations for people with Down Syndrome

I have an 18-year-old son with Down syndrome. For the last month, we were told by our physician that my son’s vaccination is imminent. We were encouraged to call weekly so that we could get an appointment once it became available.

Studies indicate that people with Down syndrome are five times more likely to experience serious illness and 10 times more likely to die from COVID-19. Maine’s age-based system, coupled with the opening of the floodgates next month to all residents, with no regard for risk factors, puts people like my son at great risk.

Many families like ours don’t have the luxury of manning websites at midnight or driving 3-plus hours for open slots. We also don’t have the luxury of waiting. Our hopes of easing our isolation disappeared as the governor chose to open the state while declining to vaccinate our most vulnerable populations.

My son is a senior who was hoping to get a job through the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. He was hoping to start Section 28 services in the coming weeks to receive much-needed one-on-one support to work on independent living skills. His vaccination slot was expected to come in March, so we were finally able to move forward with plans to help ensure his post-secondary success. These efforts have to be tabled with his inability to get the vaccine.

This population is too often pushed aside and marginalized. It’s time for Maine to do the right thing and prioritize vaccination of residents with Down syndrome.

Jennifer Christensen

South Portland

Collins and PPP delivered when we needed help

Sen. Susan Collins’ Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has been a huge benefit to restaurants and hospitality businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, not only in Maine, but throughout our country as a whole. The vast majority of restaurants over the past year have taken a tremendous economic hit, with a small exception for those who were already set up as takeout establishments, or were in a position to swiftly adapt. For establishments like ours that serve as a venue for weddings and events, the day-to-day losses continue to be substantial as life as we know it continues to be on hold 12 months after the virus first reached our state.

If it weren’t for Collins’ swift action last year, and the continued support from our delegation as a whole, the financial stability of The Shipyard, and our many employees, would now be in grave danger. Simply put, without both rounds of PPP, so many more small businesses in our state wouldn’t have been able to hold on, and we and our staff remain incredibly grateful for the support this program has provided during these difficult and uncertain times.

So thank you to Collins for delivering this vital program just when it was needed most.

Fred Forsley

Founder and Owner

Shipyard Brewing Co.

Portland

National election standards

I encourage Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King to vote for the For the People Act in the Senate and have it signed into law. The For the People Act will strengthen our democracy by putting more power in the hands of everyday people by strengthening our voting, elections, campaign finance and election laws.

Reforms in the For the People Act have already taken hold across the nation; many of the reforms are already in place here in Maine. With anti-democratic forces on the rise in our country, more people are being shut out of the political process through voter suppression laws and barriers to participation. Many states are introducing laws that will limit access to voting by restricting mail-in ballots, reducing the time for early voting, limiting the number of drop boxes and polling places. In a truly democratic country, voting should be made as easy as possible. These states are using “the Big Lie” of voter fraud to implement these restrictive laws.

A new Data for Progress poll shows that 67 percent% of Americans, across party lines, support the passage of the For the People Act.

Nothing, including the filibuster, which subverts the principle of majority rule in our democracy, should stop Congress from passing this very important bill. It’s time that the people of our country have a minimum national standard for our elections.

Mary P. Smith

Plymouth