OPINION: April Cheers & Jeers

There was an incredible amount of news that took place in between our April 2 issue and today’s Post-Record — in the span of just one month, we went from local mayors pushing the need for physical distancing to slow the spread of the deadly COVID-19 disease to the governor talking about partially reopening Washington’s state parks and allowing golfers to hit the links again — so we have no shortage of Cheers or Jeers to give out this month.

The first Jeers goes out, again, to the president of the United States for his incredible lack of leadership and outright lies in the face of a devastating pandemic that has now killed more Americans in three months than the Vietnam War did in nearly 20 years. The president has failed to provide any direction based on actual science to help our country escape the coronavirus’ ravaging effects; has instead focused on more petty fights with other countries (this time, it’s China instead of Mexico); and has actually suggested combatting COVID-19 with an unproven drug (hydroxychloroquine, which we now know is a failure in treating coronavirus and linked to an increased risk of heart attacks), as well as injecting household cleaners into patients (it should go without saying, but please do not do this) and treating people with ultra-violet light, which can suppress the immune system, harm vision and cause skin cancer. Jeers to all of that.

And an extra Jeers to the president’s son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner, for telling Fox & Friends this week that the federal government’s handling of the coronavirus is “a great success story.” Kushner says Donald Trump has “created a pathway to safely open up our country and make sure that we get our economy going” and made light of the vast majority of Americans who feel it is way too soon to lift the “stay at home” orders meant to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

On that eye-rolling note, our first Cheers goes out to every person who refuses to believe this bizarre spin and, instead, listens to public health experts who warn that our country cannot reopen until we have adequate testing and the ability to not only confirm each case of COVID-19 — a disease often transmitted by asymptomatic people who don’t even know they have the coronavirus — but also to painstakingly contact-trace people who may have been exposed to the virus through each confirmed case.

Thanks to Trump’s startlingly lax response to the crisis (he reportedly ignored more than a dozen intelligence briefings warning about the coronavirus’ danger to the United States throughout January and February, instead telling the American public “We have it totally under control” on Jan. 22), our country is still woefully unprepared to reopen.

As Washington’s governor, Jay Inslee, said this week, many data models now show that, without much greater rates of testing and contact-tracing, the state cannot lift “stay home” orders without experiencing another surge in coronavirus cases and fatalities.

Cheers go out to Inslee, by the way, for showing what leadership in the face of a deadly virus actually looks like. Washington’s governor was one of the first to implement a “stay home” order, has regularly given data-driven updates to the public and has been clear that fully reopening the state will not happen until Washington has adequate testing and contact-tracing capabilities.

Of course, that is easier said than done. Even though Trump assured us on March 6 that “anybody that needs a test, gets a test … they have the tests; and the tests are beautiful,” governors across the country are still waiting for our federal government to get its act together and provide those “beautiful” tests. Jeers to that.

Without testing, we are all in the dark about COVID-19’s deadliness, rate of infection and risks to ourselves, our loved ones and our immediate community.

We are running out of room in this month’s editorial, but have several Cheers to dole out, so we’ve left the best for last:

Cheers to the coaches, educators and other school district employees in Camas and Washougal who are thinking outside the box during this stressful and emotionally charged time. Reporter Doug Flanagan’s front-page story in today’s Post-Record shows the efforts of two such people, both Washougal middle school coaches, are paying off for their young student-athletes. If you know an educator we should feature, email kelly.moyer@camaspostrecord.com (for Camas educators) or doug.flanagan@camaspostrecord.com (for Washougal educators).

Cheers to the small business owners who have found ways to lift others despite worrying about their own financial state of affairs. We’ve already highlighted a few and will feature more throughout the next several weeks in our “Open for Business” series.

And one final Cheers to all of the essential workers on the front lines of this pandemic: Thank you for your hard work and your sacrifices. We also hope to highlight local essential workers’ stories throughout this crisis. Know an essential worker we should cover? Please email kelly.moyer@camaspostrecord.com.

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