WE’RE IN THE SAME STORM… I came across this “essay” on Facebook last weekend. Its premise strikes a good tone to what we are going through with the pandemic COVID-19; hence I’m putting it here. Its authorship is unknown.
“I heard that we are all in the same boat, but it’s not like that at all. We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat. Your ship could be shipwrecked and mine might not be. Or vice-versa. For some, quarantine is optimal. A moment of reflection, of re-connection, easy in flip flops, with a cocktail or coffee. For others, this is a desperate financial & family crisis. For some that live alone they’re facing endless loneliness. While for others it is peace, rest & time with their mother, father, sons & daughters. With the $600 weekly increase in unemployment some are bringing in more money to their households than when they were working. Others are working more hours for less money due to pay cuts or loss in sales. Some families of four just received $3,400 from the stimulus while other families of four saw $0. Some were concerned about getting a certain candy for Easter while others were concerned if there would be enough bread, milk and eggs for the weekend. Some want to go back to work because they don’t qualify for unemployment & are running out of money. Others want to kill those who break the quarantine. Some are home spending 2-3 hours / day helping their child with online schooling while others are spending 2-3 hours / day to educate their children on top of a 10-12-hour workday. Some have experienced the near death of the virus; some have already lost someone from it and some are not sure if their loved ones are going to make it. Others don’t believe this is a big deal. Some have faith in God and expect miracles during this 2020. Others say the worst is yet to come. So, friends, we are not in the same boat. We are going through a time when our perceptions and needs are completely different. Each of us will emerge, in our own way, from this storm. It is very important to see beyond what is seen at first glance. Not just looking, actually seeing. We are all on different ships during this storm experiencing a very different journey. – Unknown author”
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Importance of vaccines
Parents agree that feeding and sleep schedules are important to help keep their children healthy. The same goes for childhood immunizations. Vaccinating children on time is the best way to protect them against 14 serious and potentially deadly diseases before their second birthday. Public health and medical experts base their vaccine recommendations on many factors. They study information about diseases and vaccines very carefully to decide which vaccines kids should get and when they should get them for best protection. Although the number of vaccines a child needs in the first two years may seem like a lot, doctors know a great deal about the human immune system, and they know that a healthy baby’s immune system can handle getting all vaccines when they are recommended. There is no known benefit to delaying vaccination. In fact, it puts babies at risk of getting sick because they are left vulnerable to catch serious diseases during the time they are not protected by vaccines. When parents choose not to vaccinate or to follow a delayed schedule, children are left unprotected against diseases that still circulate in this country, like measles. In past years, the state of Michigan has experienced outbreaks of measles, similar to other areas in the United States. The number of cases reported already this year is greater than any single year for the past 20 years. Measles is a highly contagious illness that can cause serious symptoms and even death in some cases. But, measles is also preventable with the highly effective vaccine given in early childhood, with the first dose between ages 12-15 months and a second dose between ages 4-6 years. Staying on track with the immunization schedule ensures that children have the best protection against diseases like measles. If you have questions about the childhood immunization schedule, call the Berrien County Health Department at 269-926-7121 or for more information about vaccines, visit www.bchdmi.org.
Let’s go fly a kite
I like kites. My earliest kites that I can remember were made by my dad for my older brother and for me from a paper grocery bag, tape, three sticks, two about 22” along, and a third, shorter one of about 16”. He taught us how to make them and how to fly them. That was Nuremberg, Germany. I was about 5 or 6 years old, and my older brother was 8 or 9. The tails were rags, and the string was packaging twine. We flew them in a field behind our apartment building not far from the Nuremberg armory, where we could sometimes watch dad march with his company. Dad also made boomerangs, carving them from two pieces of wood and attaching them in the center for an “X” shape. They worked well. I never learned how to make a boomerang. After Nuremberg’s fields, I didn’t do much with kites until Philadelphia where I would fly a two-stick version in the school yard. Then there were no kites in my adventures until one that I flew at North Carolina’s Wrightsville Beach. It finally got eaten by the ocean, but that large, winged box-kite flew gloriously, and with a stability and strength that allowed it to go out of sight at the end of 1100 feet of 20-lb. test fishing line. It took over 30 minutes to reel it in. Dad would have been proud. A song, “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” in the movie, “Mary Poppins”, is about the joy and freedom of newly rediscovered right priorities. There’s a proverb: “Don’t expect anyone else to fully understand both the bitterness and the joys of all you experience in your life.” (Proverbs 14:10, TPT) Kite encounters are a treasured joy of my past. Your treasures will be different, but you will have them – reminders of God’s blessings all along the journey. Remember to remember.
Safe & smart
Since the start of this pandemic, my focus has been on developing a thoughtful and common-sense approach to addressing COVID-19. I believe we can fight this virus safely and smartly to protect public health without driving our economy into the ground. We can protect both our public health and economic health, and I believe there is a clear path forward. The first step we should take is changing our thinking from an essential vs. non-essential approach to a safe vs. un-safe approach. As I’ve stated previously, there is no such thing as a non-essential business in Southwest Michigan. If companies like landscapers can operate safely, they should be allowed to return to work. As of the time this column was written, the state is soliciting volunteers to take care of the lawns of senior citizens in Michigan. If the work is safe for volunteers, it’s safe enough for landscape professionals to operate as normal. I believe this is a sensible first step to putting safe industries back to work and easing the strain on the unemployment system. A second step toward re-opening the state is regionalization. I was pleased to hear Governor Whitmer’s recent remarks about opening our state and easing her executive order on May 1. I was also pleased to hear that our county health officer was supportive of the concept of a regionalized approach. This is welcome news and could be a sign of returning to normalcy. As conversations proceed in Lansing, I will continue fighting for my community and for common-sense solutions to re-opening our state that protects both public and economic health. I will continue working with Governor Whitmer and my colleagues to ensure Michigan has the resources we need to defeat this virus. If I can ever be of assistance to you, you can reach me via email at PaulineWendzel@house.mi.gov or by phone at 517-373-1403.
A checklist for reopening
The coronavirus outbreak has rocked our nation to its core and folks across the country have been severely impacted by this terrible disease. While we continue to address this public health crisis, it’s no secret that we need to start looking ahead at a plan to get folks back to work. On Monday, the Problem Solvers Caucus released our “Back to Work” checklist, a series of benchmarks that are data-driven and science-based that we believe should be used to safeguard public health and help our economic recovery. Among several requirements to restart our engine, we need to establish a robust testing system to pinpoint virus hotspots, secure critical PPE for our health care workers and those on the front lines, and maintain social distancing measures at schools and workplaces. We must also offer relief loans to struggling businesses, support job placement programs, funnel more resources to state and local governments, and implement agriculture initiatives to aid our nation’s farmers.
My top priority remains the health and safety of Michiganders, and I will continue to work closely with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to do everything possible to keep folks safe and put an end to this crisis. To learn more about important legislative issues, follow me on Twitter at @RepFredUpton or by visiting my website: upton.house.gov.
A return to old comforts
If you have been out to the grocery store during Gov. Whitmer’s shutdown of the state, then you have no doubt noticed empty shelves and shortages of previously abundant items. I have found it odd that packages of Oreos are plentiful, yet bread flour and yeast are nowhere to be found. But when I think about it more the less surprising that is to me. During times of uncertainty or distress, people turn to what comforts them. As we are all forcibly gathered in our homes these days, many of those comforts come from the kitchen. This has been the case for the LaSata family as I’m sure it has been for countless other Southwest Michigan families. For me, spending time with my girls in the kitchen, baking with one another, has been a wonderful bonding experience, and these memories will hopefully outlast that of the virus. As baking is a shared experience, I wanted to share one of our family’s favorite recipes with Southwest Michigan residents. I hope that making our favorite banana cake can bring your family the same joy that it brings ours.
Banana Cake Cake ingredients: 1/4 cup shortening 1 and 1/3 cup sugar 2 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 cup sour cream 2 cups flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 3/4 teaspoon salt 2 large, mashed bananas (1 cup) 1/2 cup nuts Frosting ingredients: 3/4 stick margarine, browned Powdered sugar Vanilla Milk, if needed
Directions: Cream shortening and sugar; add eggs. Add dry ingredients; alternate with sour cream but begin and end with dry ingredients. Add bananas. Put in 9-by-13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Mix frosting ingredients. Add frosting to finished cake and enjoy.
The dangers of the coronavirus are very real. While we pray for healing, fewer infections, and to be able to reopen Michigan’s economy safely and smartly, I hope that your family has found solace in this time spent together, whether it has been in the kitchen or in some other enriching way. As always, residents can contact my office with any state or local issues by calling (517) 373-6960.
Opening businesses is about food not money!
For all the people, on social media and even in letters to the TCR, that seem to think opening businesses is about Wall Street or the DOW. It is NOT, it is about having money to feed our families and put a roof over our head. Does the American public really believe Government can continue to dish out trillions of dollars to support the population?
Yes this Chinese virus is causing many people to die. To keep the economy closed many of us will be standing in soup lines, possibly committing suicide. At one point during the depression in 1930 every half hour a person died of starvation in Detroit.
Have you seen the fights in stores on the internet of people fighting over toilet paper and anti bacteria soap? This will only get worse if we continue to keep the economy closed.
While this virus is deadly, it is not the bubonic plague. Many, many people survive it. My understanding is we are not just going to throw open the doors of all businesses and holler come in everybody. Social distance will continue and caution of freely spreading germs will be a part of it. Older people and those with health issues can continue to stay home and be safe. To not go to work, not go to that wedding, not go to that 25-year wedding anniversary, not being at the hospital when our first grandchild is born because we are home hiding under our blankets, we might as well be dead.
Death is part of living, and while I have not lost someone to this Chinese virus I have lost loved ones close to me and it is always hard. I am sure the parents of the thousands of young men/boys that died for our freedom in WWII had a very tough time, many of those young men killed never returned home. We are at war with an invisible enemy, let’s suck up the courage our parents and grandparents had during WWII and prove we are Americans.
Dennis Bachman, Benton Harbor
Blame CCP not President Trump
To the Editor,
I would like to state my support for President Donald Trump. He has been consistently criticized by the media and even his colleagues in Washington.
In the beginning of this present chaos of the virus pandemic he was criticized for not taking the situation serious, when in reality he was trying with his optimistic attitude to prevent the general public from panicking. I credit him for that type of response.
His decision to limit travelers from China was wise. He was quick to recommend financial assistance to people affected by the shut down but the proposed bill was delayed by the House of Representatives who wanted other spending included. Did you know that approximately 450 million dollars was included that had nothing to do with relief for the people who needed the money? for example, $324, 000,000 for diplomatic programs.
I trust that the President will do something about the World Health Organization which has lost its focus and forgotten its original purpose. A recent budget indicates it spent twice as much money on travel than on medical supplies. They have been more concerned in defending the Chinese Communist Party then in protecting the rest of the world.
I could continue but will close with this. If you have to blame someone, start with the CCP.
Some of my material comes from an article by Larry P. Arnn at Imprimis@Hillsdale.edu.
Roy Jeffery, Coloma
Trump tries to blame the WHO for his own failures
On April 14, Donald Trump announced that he was suspending funding for the World Health Organization (WHO), the major international group fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only will this destructive act compromise the WHO’s ability to combat COVID-19 across the globe, it will also threaten many other of the organization’s initiatives, including programs to eradicate polio, increase access to essential health and nutrition programs, reduce the prevalence of vaccine-preventable diseases, and enhance the prevention and treatment of tuberculosis and HIV-AIDS.
Suspending funding for the World Health Organization is an attempt by Trump to distract attention from his repeated failures of leadership and to blame the WHO for his own negligence.
The World Health Organization declared an International Health Emergency on January 3h. Trump waited until March 13 to declare a National Health Emergency in the U.S. During the intervening six weeks, he repeatedly denied the seriousness of the COVID-19 outbreak and took very little action to prepare for the likelihood that this virus would soon invade our country.
The one action Trump did take, along with many other countries, was to partially restrict travel from China. He continually refers to this as a “travel ban”, which it definitely was not. Exceptions were made for U.S. citizen permanent residents, and their families. Trade related travel continued as before.
After instituting his partial travel restrictions, Trump did nothing to prepare the country for the impending epidemic in the U.S., despite repeated warnings from public health experts about the seriousness of the threat. He failed to lead and now he is looking for a scapegoat to blame.
Trump’s negligence has endangered our nation. His action against the W.H.O. is endangering the world.
Thanks for all that you and your staff are doing to keeping us informed in these trying times.
Audrey Lester, St. Joseph
Carried forward from 4-16
Senator Gary Peters is an exceptional leader
Senator Gary Peters is a conscientious, honest, and highly competent leader. During the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis, he has repeatedly taken decisive action to combat the spread of this dangerous disease and to counter the economic damage it has created.
On March 12, Senator Peters, who is the Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, introduced legislation to expand access to free COVID-19 testing. He also pressed the Trump administration to ensure that health care facilities across the country were equipped to handle the large number of Americans who were likely to need to be tested as the virus spreads. In explaining the need for this legislation, Senator Peters said: “Widely available testing is the most effective way to identify and contain COVID-19 cases before they spread further, and our nation’s inadequate testing program is simply unacceptable.”
Senator Peters also pressed the administration to take immediate action to ensure that all health care providers were supplied with the personal protective equipment they need to safeguard themselves and their patients from exposure to the virus.
On the same day that he introduced the COVID-19 Free Testing Bill, Senator Peters led the introduction of the bipartisan Coronavirus Worker Relief Act. This legislation provided disaster unemployment assistance to all individuals who were unable to work due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Both the COVID-19 Free Testing Bill and the Coronavirus Worker Relief Act were incorporated into the bills passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president.
Michigan is blessed to have Gary Peters as one of our two excellent Senators. Our state and our country need his knowledge, his experience, his voice, and his determination to do what is right. We need to re-elect Senator Peters this November.
Dr. Larry Feldman, Lakeside
New guidance about COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries from Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul
(Press Release) “The Treasury Department launched a new web tool allowing quick registration for Economic Impact Payments for eligible individuals who do not normally file a tax return, and also announced that it would begin making automatic payments. However, for some people receiving benefits from the Social Security Administration – specifically those who have dependent children under the age of 17 – it is to their advantage to go to this portal to ensure they also get the $500 per dependent Economic Impact Payment. I encourage them to do this as soon as possible, and want to provide the following details:
“People who receive Social Security retirement, survivors, or disability insurance benefits and who did not file a tax return for 2018 or 2019 and who have qualifying children under age 17 should now go to the IRS’s webpage at www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments to enter their information instead of waiting for their automatic $1,200 Economic Impact Payment. By taking proactive steps to enter information on the IRS website about them and their qualifying children, they will also receive the $500 per dependent child payment in addition to their $1,200 individual payment. If Social Security beneficiaries in this group do not provide their information to the IRS soon, they will have to wait to receive their $500 per qualifying child.
“The same new guidance also applies to SSI recipients, especially those who have qualifying children under age 17. To receive the full amount of the Economic Impact Payments you and your family are eligible for, go to the IRS’s Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info page at www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments and provide information about yourself and your qualifying children.
“Additionally, any new beneficiaries since January 1, 2020, of either Social Security or SSI benefits, who did not file a tax return for 2018 or 2019, will also need to go to the IRS’s Non-Filers website to enter their information.
“Lastly, for Social Security retirement, survivors, or disability beneficiaries who do not have qualifying children under age 17, you do not need to take any action with the IRS. You will automatically receive your $1,200 economic impact payment directly from the IRS as long as you received an SSA-1099 for 2019.
“For SSI recipients who do not have qualifying children under age 17, we continue to work closely with Treasury in our efforts to make these payments automatically. Please note that we will not consider Economic Impact Payments as income for SSI recipients, and the payments are excluded from resources for 12 months.
“The eligibility requirements and other information about the Economic Impact Payments can be found here: www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payment-information-center. In addition, please continue to visit the IRS at www.irs.gov/coronavirus for the latest information.
“We will continue to update Social Security’s COVID-19 web page at www.socialsecurity.gov/coronavirus/ as further details become available.”
InterCare receives $50,000 for telehealth services
InterCare Community Health Network, a network of health centers providing services to underserved individuals throughout southwest Michigan, was recently awarded funding from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund to help support its fight against COVID-19. InterCare was notified last week that it had received a one-time grant of $50,000, which it will use to expand its ability to provide “virtual” visits – either by telephone or video conferencing – as well as buy new texting software to help keep in touch with patients who are staying safe at home.
InterCare was one of 61 health care providers in Michigan who has received expedited funding support from the Health Fund to launch immediate local initiatives in the battle to prevent, mitigate, and respond to the pandemic.
A major aim in InterCare’s battle against COVID-19 is to help support the Governor’s Stay at Home requirements, and to provide a means for patients with non-urgent or non-emergency health problems to receive services without violating social distancing requirements or jeopardizing their own or others’ health in face-to-face contact. Previously, most telemedicine services have not been covered by health insurance companies; however, many of those restrictions have been lifted so that InterCare’s doctors and other clinicians can serve their patient populations remotely without putting them at risk.
InterCare’s five fixed facilities have remained open throughout the COVID-19 crisis, but its on-site staff and providers are mostly focusing on patients with acute health problems, pregnant women, patients struggling with substance use disorder, patients recently discharged from the hospital, and immunizations for infants and young children.
For more information about their current services and hours of operation, visit InterCare’s website at www.intercare.org or find them on Facebook.