Here at Eugene Weekly, we love our letter writers, but with COVID still hurting our advertisers — and thus our page count — we can’t fit all the letters fit to print in print. Here are this week’s online extra letters.
COVID BY THE NUMBERS
I study the Lane County Health Department reports on the COVID cases but don’t see a prediction for when COVID will end. So, I made a prediction.
I built and ran a simulation with input data from the reports from Jan. 27 to Feb. 7. The conclusion was that the COVID pandemic in Lane County is close to the peak with a downward trend. The new cases are likely to get to about one per day by June. About 89 percent of cases after Feb. 7 will be from unvaccinated people compared to 11 percent from vaccinated people. By the time of the predicted end of COVID, about 19 percent of Lane County will have been infected with COVID.
My observation from large difference is that, in practice, the unvaccinated group has volunteered to gain immunity from getting infected rather than from vaccination
The unvaccinated people in Lane County have more than 14 times greater probability of getting infected if they are exposed to an infectious person compared to a vaccinated person. The unvaccinated people are responsible for a larger majority of COVID cases. The unvaccinated are about 36 percent of the total Lane County population and make up about 89 percent of COVID cases. In comparison, the 64 percent of the population who are vaccinated make up about 11 percent of daily new cases.
What events could make these conclusions invalid? Any of the assumptions used to run the simulation could become invalid, or as the saying goes, “Garbage in, garbage out.” For example, if a new variant of the virus makes current vaccines ineffective, then these are invalid and the calculations would have to be rerun with revised input data.
NPR: NATIONAL PROPAGANDA RADIO
As a veteran, I cannot begin to express my deep disappointment in NPR, not only acting as a stenographer for U.S. government war hysteria, but for generating its own warmongering content. NPR has morphed into National Propaganda Radio. It’s led me to discontinue support for KLCC, the local outlet.
VACCINES ARE FOR THE COMMON GOOD
Fear, delusion, belligerence. These are common emotional traits of easily played people. Politicians, religions, bullies and con men use these traits to make money, create cults and exert control. Rush Limbaugh knew it and was awarded the Medal of Freedom by Donald Trump for promoting racism, misogyny and conspiracies for over 30 years to rich and poor white folks who fear change.
Trump, as president, used Limbaugh’s tactics and his high office to make every tenet of society, including our health and well being, political and adversarial. His inept attempt to blame where the COVID19 virus started instead of what to do once it was in our country has killed 600,000-plus people. Just think about that.
There have always been and will be health crises. Except for religious or real medical opt-out reasons, have people ever been so crazy about getting vaccinations or using a mask? Nope. Not until talk radio started lying and right-leaning cable TV joined in realizing that there is money to be made off of fearful, delusional and belligerent people.
Vaccine protection and the wearing of masks is for the common good. It has nothing to do with impinging on our freedoms. If you go into a public space or school, your protection is my protection, and vice versa. What kind of society are we if we don’t care about each other?
Ripe for authoritarianism. Authoritarianism equals no freedom… or guns.
WHAT TO TAKE TO THE HO$PITAL
Even though we are going through a pandemic surge again, you just might have to go to the hospital. Be prepared. Hospital care has dialed back the clock to pre-WWII standards. In other words, you will need someone to help you, whether it is feeding, personal care or a devil’s advocate. These for-profit hospitals look at the patient as a cash cow. Management and the shareholders come first. That is why there is a huge staff shortage and badly overworked hired help, from doctors and nurses down the line.
It is important to get a copy of your patients’ rights. You can have one visitor a day. You can leave anytime you want, and you do not have to sign any papers or wait for an oxygen tank or anything else. No means no. Stop means stop. The hired help has to respect your rights.
Take a package of Depends (very important), a comb, toothbrush and paste, hard candy and wipes, and don’t forget your cell phone and charger, plus a change of clothes. Make sure you have the number for a taxi and at least $20, just in case you are intentionally stalled past the time a friend was going to pick you up.
Don’t forget you can pick up other diseases in a hospital. I did.
OREGON NEEDS TO MAKE THE SWITCH
After this summer’s heat wave that killed 96 Oregonians, we can no longer ignore the urgency of the climate crisis. If we don’t take bold climate action now, these heat waves will accelerate, become more frequent and more intense. Our wildfire seasons, that have already displaced thousands of Oregonains and destroyed the lands we love, will accelerate as well. We need to make the switch to 100 percent renewable energy, and Oregon can become the first state to do so.
It is imperative that we switch to renewable energy now to ensure the health of our planet and our future. Not only this, but our current energy sources will soon be depleted. Meanwhile, renewable energy’s output increases over time, and provides five times more job opportunities than are currently available through the fossil fuel industry. Why would we not make the change?
Oregonians are passionate about taking care of our planet and safeguarding our health, which is why I’m excited to be working with OSPIRG Students to call on Oregon to make a commitment to 100 percent renewable energy. Bold climate action is possible and is something that we are fighting to see happen during this current legislative session. As a voice for Oregonians in the House and Senate, you can be a climate champion for us, by pushing for a commitment to 100 percent renewable energy, which is a goal that we can achieve only with your help.
SHARE THE HOUSING BURDEN
I generally support HB 2001. However, it’s strange that city planners have not addressed the one glaring inequity in the city’s proposed implementation: It will, most certainly, impact certain neighborhoods more than others, and many of those impacts will adversely affect the quality of life.
If we, the people of Eugene, are to confront the problem of housing supply, shouldn’t the negative impacts be shared equitably by all of the city’s inhabitants? Neighborhoods full of single-family homes so large that they take up the entire lot will not be able to fit granny flats. Neighborhoods, where combined home and land values are greater than a developer’s investment and return, will not see three-story townhouses in their backyards.
Neighborhoods with single-family homes are ripe for infill, but those that happen to be in protected homeowners’ associations will not suffer from quality-of-life issues associated with increased density. Is that equitable, that certain citizens are more immune to the negative impacts of the city’s proposed implementation of HB 2001 than others? Can the city staff and leaders of a city that prides itself on its progressive values not do more to create a fair solution to our shared challenge of housing shortage?
STOP CUTTING DOWN OUR TREES
In the last year, I have witnessed more trees removed in Eugene than in the previous 28 years of living in both Los Angeles and New York City. By the way, I grew up here.
There is always some reason given for cutting down trees. However, there appears no way to stop a tree’s life from being taken once a city employee makes the decision. I understand removing dead or dying trees for public safety, but proposed projects that are dreamed up without public choice is wrong. It’s as if decisions are made in secret, and plans are drawn behind closed doors. Are we ever notified until horrified when we walk by and see a sign for removal? At that point, what can be done? The current 8th Avenue project is a prime example of needlessly destroying trees.
Like children and like animals, trees are at our mercy. It is up to us to do what is ethical and to allow trees, which give so much and ask nothing in return, to be simply left alone to grow and prosper. To live and grow, just as each one of us hopes to do.
Certainly, projects can work around existing trees, if the heart and mind are in the right place.
CARS ARE OVERWHELMING EUGENE
Before living in Eugene, I spent my childhood living in Los Angeles. In a city notorious for its thick cloud of smog that hovers over the city skyline, my youth was characterized by the time I spent in the very vehicle that was causing the sickening layer of dirt that I loathed so much: the car.
Arriving in Eugene, I thought my days of inhaling polluted air were through. Notorious for its nature-loving folk, I figured Oregon would be filled with hikers and bikers — granola-type folk with the environment’s best interest in mind. Oh, how I was wrong. American car culture has infiltrated Eugene at last; between commuting, eating and socializing, people spend more time in their cars than at home. Vehicle use has come to represent 20 percent of Oregon’s consumptive emissions, causing transportation to be Oregon’s No. 1 source of global warming pollution (Oregon Department of Energy).
We cannot solve the climate crisis without changing how Oregonians get around. To continue our hectic lives, made possible by cars, more sustainable methods must be adopted. Join me in urging Eugene to prioritize zero-carbon transportation by electrifying and expanding public transit so that we can breathe the clean air we deserve.
After becoming a Forest Service whistleblower and exposing a district ranger’s felonious use of a 20-person fire crew and government vehicles to deliver pacific yew logs to an Oregon legislator in 1991, I’ve worked continuously to dramatically reform the agency. Thirty years on I’d say the Forest Service is more corrupt and inept than ever, because they ignore the latest science on forest ecology, climate upheaval and species decline while prioritizing increases in logging, road building and mountain bike race tracks.
Oregon agencies are also refusing to adopt priorities based on 21st century science. Since 2018 I’ve attempted to push Lane Regional Air Protection Agency (LRAPA) to rein in the largest polluters in Lane County, Kingsford and International Paper. These facilities built before the Clean Air Act release more than 2,000 tons of particulates and sulfur dioxides, and 1,600 tons of nitrous oxides per year. After months of requests by several groups for a public hearing on new emission permits, LRAPA refused the requests.
Since 2015 I’ve been lobbying the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to improve bicycle infrastructure, with no positive results and modest safety improvements like warning signs on dangerous curvy sections along Highway 58 to prevent heavy truck crashes and fuel spills into the Willamette’s waterways. However, ODOT staff say placing new warning signs on Highway 58 will take years while truckers crash almost weekly.
STARNES FOR GOVERNOR
When Pat Starnes is not working hard at his job or hiking backcountry mountain trails with his wife, Mary, he can often be found in Salem, where he has been fighting for years as a volunteer against the corrupting influence of big money in politics. Besides campaign finance reform, Starnes is a fierce advocate for preserving Oregon’s natural beauty and wildlife, and ensuring that all citizens of this state, rich and poor alike, enjoy the benefits of living here.
Starnes has the energy and vision to be a great new governor for Oregon.
LANE COUNTY NEEDS A POLYSTYRENE FOOD CONTAINER BAN
As Eugene took action to ban polystyrene food containers in 2020, following Florence in 2018, it is time for Lane County to extend this to the county.
Around the country, Maryland and Maine banned it, and countless other counties and cities have banned this cancer-causing container for food and beverages. It contains benzene and styrene, known carcinogens in production and consumption. It fills our precious waterways and storm water drains, costing public health and taxpayer dollars to even conceive of trying to clean it up.
The state did not act on this in 2019, but communities around Oregon have been banning it: Medford, Portland, Ashland, Lincoln City and others. It is time for the county to step up and protect our community. The cities of Eugene and Florence implemented ordinances and it has been successful — restaurants and patrons have jumped on board and have worked to reduce the risk of this toxic material to all of us and our ecosystem.
Please contact your county commissioner and urge them to pass a county-wide ordinance.
DON’T GRAVEL TRAILS
I’m a frequent goer of the less developed parks in the Eugene area, especially the pristine nature trails that are more untouched on the outer limits of the city of Eugene, as they remind me a lot of where I grew up in the country more towards the coast.
Anyway, I’m writing today because I have a concern about the natural habitats of our parks that I think the city of Eugene could take into consideration.
Upon visiting one of my favorite nature trails on the outskirts of Eugene today, I noticed that thick gray gravel had been laid down across the trail in a pretty wide path that now leads about a quarter-mile to the edge of the forest. This is the third time in the last few years that I’ve encountered gravel poured pretty heavily on one of my favorite hiking trails, what I believe to be one of the last pristine hiking trails within the city limits.
Of course, my main concern — aside from the obvious discomfort of walking or jogging on gravel compared to soil when going on a hike — is that the diverse natural habitats alongside these trails are going to get further disturbed, potentially preventing more endangered species of flora and fauna from being able to continue flourishing.
To conclude: I feel that gravel is being way overutilized when there may be better solutions to the development of some of Eugene’s best natural hiking trails.