Clinics must shift gears

What I have learned from this pandemic is that we are suffering due to our leaders not taking the epidemic in China seriously despite evidence that this was a serious issue that required China to take extreme measures at containment.

Some of us still are minimizing and casting doubt to the epidemiological models being put out there. One of the dangers is that we will run short of health-care workers as they fall sick. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has put out recommendations to health-care facilities to postpone “routine” office visits. Urgent care and ER are, of course, needed, but many clinics continue to operate with full capacity and staffing.

Please stop exposing workers and patients unnecessarily.

Rajib Choudhury, M.D., Bellevue

Safety for grocery-store workers

Re: “Grocery stores add ‘seniors’ hours; Fred Meyer and QFC agree to provide sick pay to workers with COVID-19” [March 18, Northwest]:

All these workers who have contact with the public should be allowed — indeed required — to wear masks and gloves. Why should they be put at risk when they have so much contact with the public? They are already dealing with stressed out, even frightened customers, and should not have to worry about their own health risks. The reason given that they are not wearing gloves and masks is lame, even ridiculous — that the public’s anxiety will increase if workers dress with masks.

Gov. Jay Inslee should mandate that all workers in grocery stores wear masks and gloves. This step would give the workers some protection and enable them to continue working. If customers would stop to think about it, they should feel better about having these front-line workers protected. Furthermore, it should reduce the spread of the virus and help to maintain the availability of grocery stores. Who will be there to stock shelves and check out customers if many grocery-store workers become ill?

June J. Bube, Seattle

Find safe ways to provide support

In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, public-health officials are warning us to practice social distancing. That seems like good advice given the contagious nature of the disease, but it is also essential that we connect.

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Now is a good time to think about neighbors who could use some support. Could you call that neighbor who is feeling isolated and vulnerable to check on their welfare and to assure them that they are not alone? When you go to the store to stock up on supplies, could you also get some for your neighbor who is fearful of going out or has no means of transportation? Is there a way you could support the family whose parents need to report for work but whose children have had their school closed? Could you make it a point to patronize Asian restaurants and other small businesses impacted by the outbreak?

Of course, we need to provide support in ways that don’t endanger our neighbors or ourselves. People are finding creative ways to greet one another while avoiding skin contact with elbow bumps, air hugs, bows and waves. Let’s get equally creative in finding safe ways to provide support.

Jim Diers, Vashon Island

End testing confusion

After returning from South Korea March 2, I developed a fever. I am 65 and have asthma, so I called my health-care provider. He asked if I had a cough or a fever over 100.4 (my temperature was 99.9) and dismissed me saying that wasn’t even a “real” fever. I chose to self-quarantine.

Still feeling ill a week later, I called another doctor. His conclusion: I probably have COVID-19, however, they are only testing the critically ill and health-care workers. This was the same week the Trump administration announced that “everyone can be tested,” and that Tom and Rita Hanks, whose symptoms were identical to mine, tested positive in Australia.

We now know this disease is transmissible by asymptomatic people and people with mild symptoms. Social distancing and closing schools and businesses may slow the spread of the virus, but until we can test those who might be transmitting the disease — not just those who are already critically ill, and those with the privilege of rank, office or celebrity status — this pandemic will continue to take thousands of lives.

Please contact your legislators asking this administration to make testing and availability of testing kits the utmost priority.

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Rebecca E. Snyders, Lynnwood

Honoring the dead in trying circumstances

Re: “Funerals prohibited in Washington state in effort to slow coronavirus spread” [March 19, Northwest]:

This is only half of the story. Thousands of faith communities throughout the state stand ready to care for those affected by COVID-19, including end-of-life honors, rituals, blessings, and prayers.

The day before the story, I, along with nearly 100 other members of local faith communities, participated in a conference call with King County Public Health and representatives from the CDC. Funerals and memorial services are not, in fact, prohibited. This is an important distinction to make. Funeral businesses may be operating in a reduced capacity and gatherings in those places may be suspended, however, our churches, synagogues and mosques are up and running, actively caring for their neighborhoods in creative ways.

Faith communities have always found ways to honor the dead, even in the most trying of circumstances. I have no doubt that we are up to the task now to pay respectful tributes to any one of us who may face death as a result of this outbreak.

Rev. Kelly Wadsworth, Alki United Church of Christ, Seattle