Letters to the Editor

Passengers should get relief, too

Dear Editor,

Alaska Airlines is eligible for $1.2 billion in federal relief from the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s part of a $25 billion package currently being negotiated that will be spread among the major airlines depending on their size.

The focus of the relief is keeping airline employees paid. A worthy idea, and one likely to be followed up by further relief legislation sure to be necessary as pandemic impacts proceed into summer.

That leads me to my beef with airlines. Passengers are not being granted the same relief. Instead of refunds – which many families out of work may desperately need – airlines including Alaska Airlines are offering vouchers. They say they’ll be good when “things get back to normal.”

But no one knows when that will be, or if those passengers will be able to afford travel given the recession that soon could turn into a real depression.

People are doing the right thing to save lives. It’s time for the airlines to do the right thing, too. Grant a voucher if a customer prefers. But pay a refund whenever requested. No questions asked.

Not only is that the right thing to do, it’s also good public relations.

If airlines are not willing to make that move — which I see as tantamount to stealing — then perhaps it is an issue we should raise in Congress. Let this and any future relief package for airlines be contingent upon their agreeing that refunds will be paid when demanded.

Sincerely,

Hal Spence

Stupid, not free

On Saturday I took a drive out on the Spit and was surprised to see the Mariner Park parking lot packed to the gills. Yes, it was a beautiful day, and yes, lots of people have been hitting the beach for some fresh air and exercise. But this was different.

I saw a huge gathering of people crowded around a campfire, no masks, no social distancing. After some research I found out this was an organized “picnic” posted to a FaceBook page “Sons of Liberty” where the post seemed to encourage hugs and handshakes.

We are very fortunate that in Homer we do not have a large number of COVID-19 cases (for now). This is hugely because we have been good about following the advice of scientists, listening to health professionals, and abiding by our state and local mandates. My question to the people who participated in this “picnic” is “Which of my family or friends should I sacrifice for your ‘rights?’” My grandson who has restricted airway issues, one of my friends battling cancer, or maybe my 80-year-old neighbor?

Because if you think just because nobody showed symptoms of being sick at your little party and can’t spread this virus, well, you don’t understand science even a little bit. I may not go to your church or belong to the same political party as you, but I am your neighbor and we are all in this together. We have all made sacrifices so that this can be over soon. “Sons of Liberty?” more like “Sons of Stupidity.”

Stay safe and stay well.

Margarida Kondak

Mariners Softball Team thankful for support

The Homer Mariners Softball Team very much appreciates the financial support we received from the Homer Foundation’s Mary and David Schroer Fund for the purchase of a full set of new batting helmets. We are pleased to report that they worked so well that no one suffered any cranial injuries during our recent undefeated season.

We are also extremely grateful to the many local businesses, listed on our website at marinersoftball.net, that joined us as cheering sponsors for the season. We look forward to coming back strong next year.

Mariner coaches Hannah Zook and Bill Bell

Agitated?

Rep. Sarah Vance recently said that people were getting “agitated” because of the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus and she wants to do something about it.

I wonder if she knows if people felt agitated when Medicaid recipients found their benefits cut or eliminated, or if she realized if students and teachers felt agitated when education funds were cut. Did she feel the pain of communities on Alaska Marine Highway routes that have suffered irreparable economic damage from the cuts to the ferry system, cuts that she supported? Has she felt the agitation and pain of the students and faculty of the University of Alaska system from the Draconian cuts of last year?

In the future, Rep. Vance should be less selective in perceiving the agitation of her constituents and pay more attention to the plight of those who she has helped disenfranchise.

Hal Smith, M.D.

I Love Homer help appreciated

The Independent Living Center would like to thank Church on the Rock-I Love Homer Relief Fund for the generous donation to our transportation program. We would also like to thank the Rec Room for their donations of taxi vouchers. Through these donations we will be able to get taxi vouchers out to our elders and those that experience a disability and barriers to transportation. Thank you for your amazing work.

Dana Roberts, Independent Living Center, Aging and Disability Resource Center

Take the test!

If you are having any symptoms of COVID-19, we want you to be tested. It’s easy to do. If you have a provider, let them know you have symptoms. If you don’t have a provider, you can call the hospital at 235-0235. Go to the hospital’s main entrance parking lot and follow the instructions to be tested.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include cough, diarrhea, fatigue, fever, chills, difficulty breathing, headache, muscle or joint aches, nausea, decreased sense of taste or smell, chills with shivering, runny nose, sore throat, and sputum. Please note – testing is not available for those without symptoms.

We know patients can experience COVID-19 as a very mild illness sometimes, but the first several days of having symptoms are also when people tend to be the most contagious. Testing is a tool we have to help protect your health and the health of others.

If you have symptoms, please reach out for testing; isolate from others while staying home; wear a cloth face covering if you must go out; disinfect surfaces; and keep up with frequent hand washing.

We are in this together, and together we will work to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep our community safe and healthy.

Bonita Banks, RN, Community Educator, South Peninsula Hospital

Don’t forget the essential workers

I work two jobs, 80 hours a week at essential businesses and have many coworkers. Without these services people wouldn’t survive — healthcare providers wouldn’t survive or be able to serve. I haven’t once heard of any thought or thanks to the people who risk their lives to serve communities like we do.

I work at Homerun Shortstop and Save U More in Homer. People do not follow social distancing on a daily basis. I am exposed to 500+ people who go through my line daily. I touch their stuff, take their money and clean up after them. So do my brave coworkers. We listen to complaints about how bogus this all is from people who think it’s fear mongering and don’t even wash their hands after using the restrooms.

We serve healthcare providers fuel, Red Bull, lunch, groceries, to keep them going to work and caring for the sick. We make $12 an hour which most healthcare providers couldn’t imagine being a living wage. Our business has not slowed down but grown rather, with people buying more then ever and stocking up.

We are worked hard our whole shifts filling propane, lifting groceries, 50 pound bags of flour over and over. Cleaning as much as we can with our never ending lines to keep the spread of germs down. We lost employees to fear of being exposed, so lots of us are working short staffed and having to push ourselves harder. Stocking is impossible to keep up with but we bust our butts and do more. For the same pay. And with good attitudes. And then we go home to our families, taking whatever germs we’ve picked up and energy we have left with us. To feed people. To provide fuel. At minimum wage.

I just wanted to bring the forgotten into the sights of media, government, social services, healthcare providers and budget makers. We are on the frontlines everyday risking our lives for all of you — for almost nothing, because we can’t afford to lose our jobs. We can’t afford to make up rent later. We can’t afford to stock up our pantry. We live paycheck to paycheck.

We can’t afford health insurance. We aren’t even offered health insurance through our jobs, most of us, even if we are fulltime working overtime. So pray for us and think of us. Change your gloves for us. Don’t lick your finger to get cash from your wallet for us and please wash your hands. Stop leaving the water running and not putting up the toilet seat so we have to clean your urine off the seat when you are done. Use a paper towel to flush, turn on/off the water, and put the seat up and down. Wash your hands. We are working so hard to keep everyone safe.

Thank you for listening and considering us in the budget and not taking us for granted.

God bless you, stay safe.

April Selenka

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