Death roll

We need to look at the COVID statistics in Washington and Oregon. As of today (Sept. 13), 66% of Washington residents have been fully vaccinated. Of these people, there have been 220 breakthrough deaths. In Oregon 59% have been vaccinated and 145 breakthrough deaths.

Of the unvaccinated in Washington 6,759 have died and in Oregon 3,274 have. Almost 10,000 people in these two states have died from COVID because they weren’t vaccinated.

If you don’t get vaccinated you may become one of the death roll.

Bill Nix


Selective science?

I am curious to know whether some of my fellow liberal friends who are scathing against anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers as being anti-science see any irony in their own opposition to fluoride in drinking water to save poorer people from, for example, heart disease as cavities do their lifetime harms?

If you laugh at signs we have seen like “Science is Fake News,” can we now dig ourselves out and see clear similarities in the anti-science stands of both groups?

And can we see that these oppositions are tribal identities — group think at its most anti-intellectual and destructive?

Both cohorts find “facts” that are hidden from ordinary fools, such as the fluoride to be used is an industrial “waste product,” or drug companies profit from vaccines and other such misunderstood nonsense.

Somehow I’m reminded by this foolishness of the question, “Why is nothing foolproof?”

Because fools are so ingenious!

And of course there are those mostly-better-off soccer moms and Bobby Kennedy Jr. who have just enough science to “know” that vaccines cause autism.

And friends who won’t get flu shots or shingles vaccines because ... well, maybe because of the autism noise or because someone we know got the shot one time and got the flu.

I know if some otherwise often clear thinkers make these errors, I must also make similar mistakes and be open to questioning my own seeming perfection when that is pointed out to me.

Bob Williams

Hood River

Stop pretending

I wish that Republicans would stop pretending Donald Trump didn’t transparently attempt to steal the presidential election. You know that he did, so why not say how y’all actually feel? You’re upset that he didn’t succeed. You wish that the insurrection on Jan. 6 had succeeded and that AOC, Nancy Pelosi and others had been killed, because then you could publicly condemn the insurrectionists, while behind closed doors celebrate the damage done. And credit where credit is due, he almost stole it. If our institutions had been weaker, we might have emperor Trump.

But that’s not how it panned out, so you instead pretend like two plus two equals five, and that the (would be) emperor isn’t butt naked. You’re embarrassing yourselves. You are upset that you lost an election, and are willing to dismantle the institution of democracy to get what you want. This is the equivalent of throwing a fit, taking your bat and ball and going home.

And look, I get it. I’m fed up with electoral politics too. I’m a socialist! Every election is a losing battle for us, but authoritarianism and totalitarianism are not the answers.

The answer is more democracy, direct democracy, and direct action; its unionizing and collectivizing — working together — to support and protect individual freedoms. This requires an educated, civically-engaged populace, which is anathema to the Republican ethic of letting your betters make all the decisions while you remain in blissful ignorance. Like children.

Benjamin Sheppard

Hood River

Editor’s note: Benjamin Sheppard is employed as a social worker.

Statism God

Statism has unfortunately become the God all Gods in this country for most Americans. Most Americans honor the state above all else, even the commandments. For instance, if their religion tells them, “Thou shalt not murder,” but the state orders them to murder, then they murder. If the state tells them to rob, to destroy property and to imprison innocent people, then, notwithstanding any religious structures, they rob, destroy property and imprison innocent people. We know that murder and robbery are wrong, and that no one has a justifiable right to bully his neighbors simply because he does not like the way in which they are conducting their lives but these followers give a moral pass to the God of all Gods to do all of this. Frankly the slogan for this religion should be “Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato” (everything for the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state). This slogan actually came from the Italian Fascists during Mussolini. This God like the old one knows what we are doing at all times and has his hands in everything but will take everything from you or lock you up for disobeying. Where do Americans turn to especially these days when adversity happens? Americans look to the state (God) for salvation. Look how massive our government is and how much it keeps growing and tell me I’m wrong. Read that slogan above again and ask yourself, has America become the fascists? Keep telling yourself that you are free while praying to your new God. Maybe we are experiencing all of this chaos because most Americans have kicked the original God to the curb and have gone morally bankrupt or close to it in the process. Keep building those “quarantine camps” and telling yourself that you are not repeating history.

Doug Geary

Hood River

Editor’s note: Statism is described as “the practice or doctrine of giving a centralized government control over economic planning and policy. Also, the art of governing a state; statecraft; policy.”

Thank you

We sincerely thank the Columbia River Gorge Community and our partners North Central Public Health District and One Community Health for your enthusiasm and commitment to clinical research to find new tests to stop the spread of COVID-19.

In May the Oregon Rural Practice-based Research Network started the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics Test Us national clinical research studies at North Central Public Health District in The Dalles and One Community Health in Hood River. The studies recruited volunteers to answer surveys and provide nasal and saliva samples to improve testing and diagnosis of COVID-19. There was an outpouring of interest and passion to contribute to research that as one participant put it “helps the war on COVID-19.”

Over the course of less than three months, 126 people from the Gorge enrolled in the studies and many more expressed interest and willingness to participate. Participants contributed data to two national studies that had other research sites mainly in urban academic areas. It was gratifying to contribute data representing diverse, rural populations from the Columbia River Gorge.

We would especially like to thank One Community Health and North Central Public Health District, whose enthusiasm and commitment to research never wavered. Thank you to everyone who volunteered or expressed interested in the research. Your contributions have made a difference to research that will help the pandemic.

Laura Ferrara and Dr. Nancy Elder and the rest of the RADx TestUs Team at the Oregon Rural Practice-based Research Network

Hood River

Unfair fees

Wasco County has proposed increasing fees for Planning Department services for those living in the National Scenic Area (NSA) by 200% (from $640 to $1,960) for an expedited review and by 139% (from $1,840 to $4,401) for a full review. In comparison, those living outside the NSA will only see a 5% increase under the proposed fee schedule.

If you are a resident of the NSA and believe this is not fair, please contact County Commissioners Steve Kramer and Scott Hege. Commissioner Kathy Schwartz is opposed to the increase.

As Wasco County will be receiving a State grant totaling $100,000 to reimburse the County for Gorge Scenic Area planning assistance for 2021-2023, this increase seems unreasonable. NSA residents are county taxpayers like everyone else and deserve fairer treatment.

Sheila Dooley


Coronavirus Ignorance

There have been some appalling instances of ignorance in the Gorge lately. One was Klickitat County Sheriff Bob Songer contracting COVID and claiming that he “beat it.”

Sheriff Songer did not beat it; he exposed the entire sheriff’s department, the courthouse and all of its staff by being his usual blustery self and not wearing his mask.

From there all of those exposed to Sheriff Songer exposed the rest of Goldendale and the east county. Sheriff Songer is a superspreader event all by himself.

Another was the demonstration in White Salmon against the mandate for children to wear masks in school. Another was the demonstrations in The Dalles and Hood River against mandated vaccines.

These people know nothing about COVID. It is a piece of RNA (like DNA). It is not alive as we normally view life. All it does is replicate; make copies of itself by the trillions in living cells. Unfortunately, this process kills the cells. COVID has a mechanism to invade the cells in our respiratory tract, our lungs — how we breathe.

It is just a coincidence that COVID-19 is uniquely suited to invade our lungs. If it cannot get into our respiratory tract and lungs, it cannot invade our cells and replicate.

That means a mask can help prevent COVID-19 from entering our lungs in sufficient numbers to infect us, and can keep us from spreading it in the air and infecting others.

Also, when COVID-19 replicates itself trillions of times its copies are not always perfect and one of these imperfect copies sometimes is better at reproducing itself and better at infecting us. This is how the delta variant came to be.

It is better at infecting the young and everyone else. It can also reproduce itself many more times than the original strain (called viral load). This makes it more infectious and more lethal simply because of its numbers. There is no cure other than the body’s own defenses.

Which brings us to prevention by wearing masks, especially the young, in crowded classrooms, and helping the body’s immune system by being vaccinated. Vaccination gives the body the ability to recognize COVID when it encounters it, which means the body can fight and completely defeat it, often without symptoms or much discomfort.

If you believe that the government cannot mandate masks, why do you let the government dictate that you wear clothes in public? If you believe in absolute freedom, prove it and go stark naked.

If you believe that vaccines are bad, why are children inoculated for polio, small pox, measles, chicken pox, and any number of myriad childhood diseases before they are permitted to attend school? I have been inoculated well over 50 times and have never gotten any number of diseases which could have been fatal. The more you allow COVID-19 and its delta variant to replicate by not being vaccinated and not wearing masks, the more you are courting a new variant which may kill on contact, not just you but your children, your loved ones, and me.

Lance S. Stryker

White Salmon