03-12-2020 Letters and Commentary

CORONAVIRUS PREPAREDNESS… The onset of the coronavirus worldwide in the past month or so shows once again the greatest nation in the world is the least prepared to deal with it. Flu vaccines, developed every season are best with 30% effectiveness. You know it will be some time before a vaccine is developed for coronavirus, and then it will be only effective to a small percentage of citizens. The United States is continually behind the 8-ball for any widespread disaster response, most notably those spawned by weather events such as hurricanes and fires. We have an abysmal response to the national tragedy that is the opioid crisis. Victims of hurricanes are disenfranchised by Washington dragging its feet in supplying emergency care and longtime rebuilding support. We should no longer be surprised the White House cadre is sending out mixed signals that there is nothing to worry about, it will just be a mild flu or there is a pandemic around the corner, but it will only kill the sick and elderly. Meanwhile citizens are stocking up in supplies of hand sanitizer and facemasks.

WEATHER PERMITTING… The only snow that I’ve seen after the warm weather on the weekend and rain the past few days, is against our Record building here uptown. Could be that the white stuff will be gone until next November or so. Hopefully we will have some decent weather for the St. Patrick’s Day Celebration this Saturday in Coloma. All the good Irish there have laid out a great day with specials and treats at the eateries and other events throughout the day. The grand finale is the lighted St. Patrick’s Day parade Saturday evening at 8:30. You’re going to see the full day’s event schedule and advertising on Page 7.

CENSUS 2020… I’ve been reading about the coming census and the huge impact it will have on our community. We forget, me included, that many disbursements of federal and state money are based on the population in a community or region. If we don’t count every person here in the Tri-Cities, the money that we should get is going to go somewhere else. Read the Coloma library story in this week’s issue about the impact the census has there. The benefits they describe there are based on 100% participation and would be basically the same in any community. Make sure you’re counted in your community, it’s your money.

More than melt value I heard a story recently about someone who had received a gold coin pendant from her husband. The gift contained an ounce of gold! It was obviously very valuable. But what was not obvious was just how valuable it actually was. That coin was worth between $20,000 and $25,000! Fortunately, it had not been drilled for the gold chain, and it was contained in a protective glass box. Selling that coin to a gold dealer, she would receive about $1,680 on today’s spot market. That would be the melt value of the actual gold content. But if she were to present it for sale to knowledgeable collectors that truly understood the value of that coin beyond just melt value, she would receive at least twelve times as much. The gold had been fashioned into a beautiful coin with very specific and rare design. The gold now had “value added”. It is said that while salvation is a free gift of God, our lives lived for Him are our gift back to Him in return. That’s pretty consistent with what the Bible says about who we “owe”. In 1 Corinthians 6:20 we find, “For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” (NASB) That spiritual “value added” is our responsibility. Another passage says it this way: “God saved you through faith as an act of kindness. You had nothing to do with it. Being saved is a gift from God. It’s not the result of anything you’ve done, so no one can brag about it. God has made us what we are. He has created us in Christ Jesus to live lives filled with good works that he has prepared for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:8-10, GW) God has provided the gold. Now we need to learn how to mint it – living up to God’s “value-added” plans for us.

Celebrating March is Reading Month with students Every March we celebrate national reading month. Reading is a great pastime for folks of all ages, and it also provides important educational benefits such as increased vocabulary, memory, and empathy cognitive functions. This month I encourage communities across Southwest Michigan to challenge ourselves to read as much as we can. Whether it’s re-reading a favorite book, finding something new that interests you, or reading a book recommended by a friend, everyone should try and spend some time reading. I also encourage families to emphasize the importance of reading to their children. Reading plays a critical role in the educational and developmental growth of our kids, and we want to make sure our children and grandchildren are prepared for the world ahead. Every month and especially during national reading month, I take time to read to students here at home. “M is for Mitten” is a classic for elementary school students! Sharing the joy of reading with students is one my favorite things to do. To learn more about important legislative issues, follow me on Twitter at @RepFredUpton or sign up for my weekly newsletter by visiting my website: upton.house.gov. You can also call my offices in Kalamazoo (269-385-0039), St. Joseph/ Benton Harbor (269-982-1986), or Washington, D.C. (202-225-3761).

Healthy habits help: Do your part to help prevent spread of illness The COVID-19 virus, commonly called coronavirus, has swept the world, both in terms of infections and news coverage. The relative speed of its spread and the voracity of the 24/7 news cycle have stoked fear and panic. There are about 111,000 reported cases of coronavirus worldwide out of a total global population of approximately 7.8 billion people. To put that into perspective, the total number of people infected is about the same number of people who attend a Michigan Wolverines home football game on fall Saturdays. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the U.S. there have been 164 reported cases, including 11 deaths, in 19 states as of March 7. As of this writing, there are no confirmed infections in Michigan. But even though our country has not experienced as widespread an outbreak as has China or Italy, we should not become complacent. It is important that we each, individually, be vigilant when it comes to taking care of ourselves. Developing healthy habits can help prevent the spread of infectious illnesses, be it COVID-19, the flu or the common cold. The state Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) offers some wise recommendations that we should all be following: Wash hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If soap is not available, use hand sanitizer. Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands. Cover mouth and nose with a tissue or upper sleeve when coughing or sneezing. Avoid contact with people who are sick. If you are sick, stay home, and avoid contact with others. State health officials are also being vigilant. On Feb. 3, MDHHS activated the Community Health Emergency Coordination Center, and the department has been working with local health departments, health systems and medical providers to ensure that appropriate screening and preparations for COVID-19 are being made. Additionally, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer activated the state Emergency Operations Center to coordinate with state, local and federal agencies to help prevent the spread of the virus. The governor also created four task forces to combat its spread and to assess the impact it may have on Michiganders’ daily lives. For all the latest updates on COVID-19, be sure to follow Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

Continuing Michigan’s momentum In my time serving as your state representative, it’s been my goal to put our community’s interests first, and I believe I’ve done just that. Since taking office, I’ve knocked on thousands of doors and have attended hundreds of meetings and community events from Watervliet down to Bridgman. I’ve spoken directly to the people of our community, and I remain committed to ensuring that your priorities are heard in Lansing. Here in Michigan, we’ve shown that just because we have divided government, we can still work to improve the lives of the people we serve. Working together, we’ve led the nation by responsibly reforming our criminal justice system; we’ve fostered an environment that allows small businesses to thrive; we’ve voted to expand FOIA to improve government transparency; and most importantly, we’ve reformed our broken auto insurance system. As we prepare to enter budget negotiations, disagreements will happen, and contrasts will be drawn. The administration still supports a radical 45-cent gas tax and hundreds of millions of dollars of tax increases. I support living within our means, budgeting responsibly, not drowning future generations with billions of dollars of debt, and ensuring every penny we pay at the pump goes towards roads, not politician’s pet projects. I understand that this office belongs to you, the hardworking taxpayer of Southwest Michigan. I remain committed to working with anybody and everybody to improve the lives of the people I serve, and as always, I welcome the feedback of our community. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office at 517-373-1403 or by email at PaulineWendzel@house.mi.gov.

Watervliet Pageant Organization seeking support

Dear Watervliet Community Supporters,

Miss Watervliet 2020, Sophia Tavolacci, and her Court of Honor, Adriyanna Winters and Meghan Klann, along with our Mr. Watervliet, Dylan Tucker and his Court of Honor, Gus Hinch and Alex Isbrecht, are writing to ask for donations to help in the building of the Watervliet Community float for the 2020 parade season.

The theme of our float this year will be Under the Big Tent “Ribbon Girl”. We will display our float in the Blossomtime Festival’s Grand Floral Parade, our Fourth of July and Hometown Christmas parades, and our neighboring communities’ parades throughout the summer.

In the past, our float has won several awards because of the generous support of not only monetary gifts, but donations of goods and services from our community. Remember this is a “community float” so everyone is more than welcome to help with the building of it. The float will be constructed at the location provided to us by the Orchard Hill Landfill, which is located off of M-140 just past Dan Smith Road.

If you are considering a monetary donation, checks can be made out to: Watervliet Pageant Organization or WPO (labeled float donation) and mailed to Rhonda Yerington, 390 S. M-140, Watervliet MI 49098. If you prefer a cash donation, a donation of materials to use on the float, food for the builders, or any other support, please call Rhonda Yerington at 269-201-6049 or 269-757-4220 and she will discuss arrangements with you. We will provide a receipt for tax purposes upon request under our tax ID # 46-4061529.

Thank you in advance for considering supporting our community float.

Sophia Tavolacci, Miss Watervliet Adriyanna Winters, 1st Runner-Up

Meghan Klann, 2nd Runner-Up

& Miss Congeniality

Dylan Tucker, Mr. Watervliet

Gus Hinch, 1st Runner-Up

Alex Isbrecht, 2nd Runner-Up

Little Miss Firecracker Hannah Halamka

Little Mr. Firecracker Nicholas Tenter

Red Cross urges healthy individuals to give blood amid coronavirus concerns

Low donor turnout could hurt U.S. blood supply

The American Red Cross strongly urges healthy, eligible individuals who are feeling well to give blood or platelets to help maintain a sufficient blood supply and prevent shortages as concerns about the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19, rise in the U.S.

Cold and flu season has already impacted the nation’s ability to maintain its blood supply. As the number of coronavirus cases grows in the U.S., the number of people eligible to give blood for patients in need could decrease further.

“We’re asking the American people to help keep the blood supply stable during this challenging time. As communities across the country prepare for this public health emergency, it’s critical that plans include a readily available blood supply for hospital patients,” said Chris Hrouda, president, Red Cross Blood Services. “As fears of coronavirus rise, low donor participation could harm blood availability at hospitals, and the last thing a patient should worry about is whether lifesaving blood will be on the shelf when they need it most.”

Please make an appointment to donate blood now by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device. Blood donors with type O blood and platelet donors are especially needed right now.

Donating blood is a safe process and people should not hesitate to give or receive blood. There are no data or evidence that this coronavirus can be transmissible by blood transfusion, and there have been no reported cases worldwide of transmissions for any respiratory virus, including this coronavirus, from a transfusion.

The Red Cross only collects blood from individuals who are healthy and feeling well at the time of donation – and who meet other eligibility requirements, available at RedCrossBlood.org. At each blood drive and donation center, Red Cross employees follow thorough safety protocols including wearing gloves, routinely wiping down donor-touched areas, using sterile collection sets for every donation, and preparing the arm for donation with an aseptic scrub. These mitigation measures will help ensure blood recipient safety, as well as staff and donor safety in reducing contact with those who may potentially have this respiratory infection.

Blood drive hosts also play a critical role in maintaining a sufficient blood supply and are asked to keep hosting blood drives for patients who rely on lifesaving blood. The need for blood is constant, and volunteer donors are the only source of blood for those in need of transfusions.

The Red Cross, with the help of its blood drive hosts and blood donors, can help ensure the safety and availability of the U.S. blood supply for patients including accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease.

“Keep giving, keep hosting blood drives,” said Hrouda. “Patients across the country need our help.”

To learn more about hosting a blood drive for patients in need, please visit RedCrossBlood.org.

The top priority of the Red Cross is the safety of their valued staff, blood donors and blood recipients, and they are committed to transparency with the American public during this evolving public health emergency. There are no data or evidence that this coronavirus can be transmissible by blood transfusion, and there have been no reported cases worldwide of transmissions for any respiratory virus including this coronavirus, from a transfusion.

Nonetheless, the Red Cross has implemented new blood donation deferrals out of an abundance of caution. Individuals are asked to postpone their donation for 28 days following: Travel to China and its special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau, as well as Iran, Italy and South Korea; diagnosis of COVID-19, contact with a person who has or is suspected to have the virus.

As the situation evolves, the Red Cross will continue to evaluate all emerging risks in collaboration with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and industry partners to determine if additional intervention strategies are needed. Together, we stand ready to keep the American public informed and prepared.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities include:

Wednesday, March 18, 11 a.m. – 4:45 p.m., Caretel Inns of Lakeland, 3905 Lorraine Path in St. Joseph

Wednesday, March 18, 12 p.m. – 5:15 p.m., Peace Evangelical Lutheran Church, 06321 Blue Star Memorial Hwy. in South Haven

Friday, March 20, 12 p.m. – 5:45 p.m., Hartford Bible Church, 65418 Red Arrow Hwy.

AG Nessel joins bipartisan fight against nuisance robocalls with U.S. Supreme Court filing

(Press Release) Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel recently joined a brief filed earlier in March 2020 with the U.S. Supreme Court arguing for the preservation of the anti-robocall provisions of the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

The TCPA, enacted in 1991, is a critical piece of federal consumer-protection legislation allowing states to sue illegal robocallers on their residents’ behalf. A recent decision in the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals invalidated a portion of the act, potentially jeopardizing the entire federal robocall ban.

The case, Barr et al. v. American Association of Political Consultants Inc. et al., is now before the Supreme Court. Nessel joined the coalition of 33 states in signing the brief, which was co-authored by Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill and North Carolina Attorney

General Joshua Stein.

“Michigan is leading the charge in putting a stop to robocalls and I’m proud to stand alongside my fellow attorneys general in filing this brief,” Nessel said. “The Telephone Consumer Protection Act is a critical tool needed to take action against illegal robocallers and we can’t afford to lose it.”

Attorney General Nessel kicked off a robocall crackdown in November 2019 with state and federal partners to begin a comprehensive response to the issue. Since then, the Michigan Department of Attorney General’s Consumer Protection team has received more than 2,400 robocall complaints. More than 1.5 billion robocalls were received by Michigan residents in 2019, and interest in the Michigan Department of Attorney General’s Robocall Crackdown Team has consistently grown since the initiative’s November launch. Currently, more than 1,750 people have signed up to be a part of the Robocall Crackdown Team.

“Michiganders must remain on the lookout for potential scammers and protect themselves by safeguarding their personal and financial information,” Nessel said. “If you are contacted by someone you believe to be a scammer, do not provide them any information and simply hang up the phone.”

The best way to deal with robocalls is to hang up or don’t answer the phone if you don’t recognize the number. However, to aid investigators in holding robocallers accountable, certain pieces of information are extremely helpful to the department’s efforts to investigate, particularly when submitted to the Attorney General’s office as part of an official complaint filed online: Robocaller’s phone number; your phone number and service provider (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, etc.); the date and time of the robocall; whether the robocall was soliciting goods or services; and the topic of the robocall scam (e.g. student loans, Social Security numbers, IRS liability, etc.).

Robocalls to landlines cannot be traced back so any complaints about landline calls cannot be used to further the department’s investigation.

To learn more about Michigan’s initiative to crackdown on robocalls, visit the Attorney General’s website at www.michigan.gov/ag/.

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