To our elected officials: Be bold, be consistent, be honest, be helpful

  • Tuesday, March 17, 2020 3:14pm
  • Opinion

By Patrick Grubb, Washington Newspaper Publishers Association

Governor Jay Inslee has been forceful in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic because our state is the nation’s hotbed of CV-19 infections. Whether he has been forceful enough is open to question, with many infectious disease experts are saying more is needed to slow the spread of the disease.

Looking at the reported number of cases isn’t helpful. Mark Lipstitch of the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health says the U.S. has been severely underreporting for CV-19 and that the true extent of infections could be 50 times the current count. No one knows for sure because there is a continuing shortage of tests — as of March 8, the U.S. had tested 1,707 people, just five per million people compared to 189,236 people or 3,692 per million in South Korea. Why does the shortage in tests keep persisting? No one seems to know or say.

Be bold

We are past containing this disease — the best we can do is to spread infections over time so our health system doesn’t get overwhelmed. The state prohibition against gatherings of 50 or more people should match the federal recommendation of 10 people. Social distancing and self-quarantining efforts must increase as well as continually educating everybody about proper hygiene.

Be consistent

Why do we continue to see our politicians and public health experts standing right next to each other on TV when they’ve been telling us to keep six feet apart? Why are they still shaking hands?

Be honest

A study just released from Imperial College London estimates that up to 82 percent of Americans will contract CV-19 and as many as 2.2 million Americans will die if stringent quarantine requirements aren’t put in place soon. It also says these restrictions will need to remain until an effective vaccine is produced and rolled out in massive numbers. That’s 12-18 months away. Don’t tell us it will just be a few weeks.

Be helpful

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which mandates paid sick and family leave, has a “big box store” exemption for companies with 500 or more employees — companies like McDonald’s, Target, Walmart and Amazon. With exemptions for companies with 50 or fewer employees, it is estimated that less than a quarter of American workers would benefit. For those companies who do pay, they would receive a payroll tax credit.

Tax credits are no good to companies facing an existential crisis. The economy is tanking before our very eyes — it could be worse than the Great Depression. What Americans need right now is cash and lots of it. If 40 percent of Americans can’t handle a $400 emergency expense in normal times, how do you think they will handle the immediate loss of their jobs and businesses?

There needs to be an immediate moratorium on mortgage and commercial loan and credit card and installment debt payments. President Trump is apparently in favor of giving a cash payment directly to Americans — how much is the question. People will have rent payments due in two weeks — will they have enough money? Unemployment benefits must be immediately activated and directed through company payrolls to employees.

The homeless, the gig economy workers and the undocumented must all be taken care of and quickly. We are facing this pandemic together — we’ll get through it together.

And now a plug for the home team. Local newspapers have an important role to play in this crisis. We educate, we inform, and we help readers in our communities as they navigate this unprecedented crisis. Right now, our advertising is melting away and many newspapers will not live through this experience. Governments at all levels, federal, state, county and city should seek every opportunity to support all newspapers through informational and public service advertising. Every dollar will help.

Good luck and good health!

Patrick Grubb is the publisher of The Northern Light in Blaine and the 2020 President of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@rentonreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.rentonreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Opinion

How using a face mask to cover my Asian face could put me in danger

Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, Asians and Asian Americans have been targeted.

Opinion: Public deserves honest information on sex education

The Washington comprehensive sex education bill passed in the Senate on March 7.

Grocery store staff are working hard to keep the shelves stocked during the COVID-19 pandemic. File photo
Thank you grocery store clerks

Recognizing the sacrifices of our unsung essential workforce.

As the deadline nears, state lawmakers face a few challenges

There are four major decisions lawmakers are tackling before the end of this legislative session.

A tax break for working families

As rents continue to climb in our communities, as food prices continue… Continue reading

Accelerating equity in STEM education in the Puget Sound

At the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB), headquartered in Seattle’s South Lake… Continue reading

Rep. Zack Hudgins, D-11
It’s hard to do homework when you don’t have a home

We have heard it a million times — a good education is… Continue reading

Letters to the editor for the week of Feb. 14

Tommy the turtle — a childhood friend Dear editor, “Tommy the Turtle”… Continue reading

Guest opinion: Legislative ‘wants’ and ‘needs’

With a third of the legislative session nearly gone, lawmakers are starting… Continue reading

How far will Artificial Intelligence go?

The smartest Jeopardy contestant was beaten by a computer. So was the… Continue reading

Confirmation bias in the impeachment proceedings

Most of us believe what we want to believe. Our natural tendency… Continue reading

Letters to the editor for the week of Jan. 31

Voting can bring us together Dear editor, In response to Jerry Cornfield’s… Continue reading