Much to lose without masks
As parents of children in the Salem-Keizer Public Schools, we strongly disapprove of the updated mask policy, allowing students, staff, volunteers and visitors to not wear masks outside while attending school and school events.
This policy seems counter to the current CDC guidelines, which loosen the mask requirements only for people who are fully vaccinated.
While the risk of transmission does seem to be lower outside, it is not zero. There is little to be gained and much to lose by allowing children to take off their masks outside.
Marion Country is still considered high risk, especially at the elementary school level where the students can not yet be vaccinated.
Acting as if we are already safe is foolish and inviting a continued outbreak and the potential evolution of new mutations. Vaccines are bringing us close to defeating the virus, but we are not yet there.
The longer we can keep our masks on, the sooner we will get the virus under control and resume normal activities.
Darren Howard and Melissa Witkow, Salem
Coronavirus in Oregon::Oregon psychiatric hospital asks National Guard for staffing help due to COVID-19 absences
Voting uniformity for all
The right to vote is the hallmark of American democracy, and the foundation of, “A government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”
Today, across America, the Republican Party has drafted hundreds of bills seeking to severely cripple the constitutional right for millions of voters. It plans to reduce the number of polling places, close them early, demand photo IDs (a hardship for millions) and seek to all but eliminate voting by mail. All of these tactics have one goal: to eliminate voters more inclined to vote for the Democratic Party.
It is time for America to have a single nationwide voting regulation for all federal offices, a uniform system governing all states and protectorates. This system would be independent of state and local elections and would provide printed ballots assuring a verifiable paper trail.
President Abraham Lincoln said that a nation cannot remain half free. In a broad sense, that includes the freedom to vote. Thomas Jefferson said that it was the duty of citizens to change a government that no longer serves the interests of its citizens. I believe that would include eliminating restrictive polices.
Loyst R. Streeter, Sublimity
A burning-hot thank you
Marion County Fire District No. 1 wants to thank residents for passing a local option levy in the recent election. This revenue is critical to reduce response times that were increasing as a result of personnel layoffs last year when funding was cut.
We will move forward immediately to rehire nine firefighter/paramedics positions. Doing so will guarantee a fire engine in service 24 hours a day, which means we can respond to emergency calls faster.
We will continue to report back as these positions are filled and when the engine is back in service. Your support makes this possible, and we are extremely grateful. Thank you again for partnering with us to save lives and property.
Kyle McMann, Fire Chief, Marion County Fire District #1
For subscribers:What’s that construction in Riverfront Park in downtown Salem?
ow hard is it to show a card?
The Enchanted Village’s proposed policy that unmasked visitors show evidence of vaccination is entirely reasonable.
To the skeptics: yes, some people will dishonestly evade verification of vaccination status, but it’s all about risk reduction, not perfection.
Vaccines, hand-washing, social distancing are all less than 100% effective. Most, albeit not all, people are honest and would comply with requests to show verification. That reduces risk. Yours and mine.
How hard is it to show a card when your wallet is open anyway to pay for your admission?
Richard Yates, Salem
Extend an elbow, the neighborly thing to do
It’s as easy as falling off an Oregon log . . . with no threat of injury! Any Oregonian can accomplish this feat simply by adjusting his attitude about residents of color. All of us can change an attitude we may not be proud of by willing himself to do so.
By its prejudicial practices, the pitfalls of negative behaviors have sometimes developed ingrained negative attitudes toward certain groups of persons. It’d be the “coolest” of societal developments if we could change this outlook among all of us. Incidentally, the U.S. Bureau of the Census projects that by 2043 persons of color will transition from minority to majority status.
Meanwhile, should anyone among us wish to make a change an attitude regarding certain others, here’s a suggestion: The next time you can unobtrusively approach a person or family of color, assume a friendly posture and introduce yourself, even extend a hand (or now, during the pandemic, an elbow). Whether the person or family responds, display an authentic smile and comment, “This is a nice place to live. I hope you like it here.”
This is the sort of initiated outreach that could be the start of a beautiful relationship!
Gene H. McIntyre, Keizer
In case you missed it:Four stories of life as a person of color in Salem
All in the name of ‘hazard removal’
The fires that swept across the state last year released huge amounts of sequestered carbon, polluted watersheds and turned the skies above Oregon the color of a used cigarette filter.
However, as the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management address the potential hazards of burned forests along many of our forest roads, we risk greater ecological damage.
Post-fire forests pose many environmental challenges; impacting watersheds, soil quality and releasing tons of sequestered carbon. Yet indiscriminate post-fire logging is no solution.
Research at Oregon State University found that logging burned forests released an additional 40% of carbon stored in large tree trunks. Moreover, post-fire logging worsens soil and water quality, too, increasing sedimentation in watersheds by up to 28 times.
Removing burned trees and overhangs near frequently-trafficked roadways that pose legitimate safety hazards to road users meets the definition of ‘hazard removal’. Pressing ahead with up to 200-foot-wide roadside clear-cuts under the same excuse presents a different issue entirely.
It is maddening to see environmental regulations reserved for healthy ecosystems tossed aside in the very name of the ‘public safety’ these regulations are supposed to guarantee.
We must urge the Forest Service and the BLM not to clear-cut tens of thousands of acres, but to cut trees carefully and selectively. In this way, we can follow the science, allow burned ecosystems to revitalize, ensure our forests are still safe to navigate, and avoid further environmental destruction in the misleading name of “hazard removal.”
Finn Maunder, Corvallis
Guest Opinion:No pass from Forest Service ‘nanny state’
We need strong OSHA standards
Although I was fortunate to work in indoors, as union president of Salem city workers, I was aware of the unnecessary suffering of fellow workers during the wildfires of 2020. I am very pleased the OSHA is currently writing rules to protect Oregon workers.
Many people described the high levels of smoke as suffocating. Despite this, workers were sent out as if conditions were normal. They were sent to mow park lawns, dig ditches at the airport, sweep city streets and continue library curbside service.
N95 masks and eye protection were not available. Supervisor messages were inconsistent – telling some workers not to go out and telling others to go out only in emergencies. The default message was just work normally. Many ended up going home on sick leave with burning eyes, headaches, sore throats and coughs.
At scientifically determined trigger levels of bad air quality, work should be stopped unless it is emergency…