Letters to the Editor

What I’ve learned traveling during a pandemic

My spouse and I just got home from six weeks in Arizona and California. We debated about traveling while still in the midst of a pandemic. We had both gotten our vaccines in December and January (no side effects), so we decided to try (still masking and distancing). While airlines did their best to practice good protocols, it was difficult to distance in a full plane (which most were).

My observations in both Tucson and Phoenix were people were basically all masking. Stores had masks as well as liquid sanitizers. If you forgot a mask, they would offer you one but no entry without one. If you made an issue of it, authorities were called. On hiking trails, people were very nice. One party usually made the gesture to step aside keeping distance or pulled up masks or both. Friendly greetings were generally the norm. In the city, people wore masks even on the street. Native-owned casinos were opening up with strict protocols. Temperatures were taken at the door, and counts were kept as not to exceed certain numbers. Workers sanitized machines as soon as people stopped playing on them. Plastic barriers were between machines and even in the restrooms.

In California, it was much of the same except I saw more masking on the hiking trails and a little more effort to distance except in some café settings. Restaurants were expanding into parking areas and setting up distancing outdoors.

I noted, somewhat surprisingly, less masking in Homer as I went to stores today.

The vaccines have come out and are being administered faster than anyone imagined with very few side effects. Until we reach herd immunity, it pays to continue being careful.

We are still all in this together. Do it for yourself, for your neighbors and people you don’t even know.

Michael Murray

‘Do face masks stop COVID-19?’ Yes.

Thanks to Mr. Greg Sarber for his letter of April 29, nicely illustrating how how half-truths and misinformation can so easily be used to manipulate our understanding of science. As the old saying goes: ‘”lies told by night get spread halfway around the world before truth gets up in the morning and puts its pants on…”

He cited an article about the alleged ineffectiveness, and even danger, of facial masking, and claimed that it was put out by Dr. Fauci’s own NIH. And that its shocking conclusions were somehow subverted by political/ medical chicanery. In fact, the article merely appeared in an online database of articles published about subjects having to do with the COVID-19 pandemic. This database, under the NIH’s National Library of Medicine, includes any article on the subject, and there is no review or endorsement of the articles included there. Bewildering, conflicting information has been published about COVID, especially during the early stages of the pandemic that have since been sorted out. That’s the scientific process.

The article appeared in an online journal, “Clinical Hypotheses.” (A non-rigorously reviewed publication, Reuters news agency reports, that’s put forth such informative articles in the past as one denying that HIV causes AIDS, another asking “Is there an association between heeled footwear and schizophrenia,”and even another proposing “Ejaculation as a potential treatment of nasal congestion in mature males.”) While the source of information cannot be used to judge its validity, the mere appearance of something in print (or on the Internet for that matter) does not make it true or false. As a physician with years of broad clinical experience, I’d suggest that if your doctor says, “I’m not sure how to treat your life-threatening respiratory failure. Let me consult the latest from the journal of Clinical Hypotheses,” that you find yourself another health adviser.

The scientific evidence about the effectiveness of facial masking in preventing the spread of COVID-19 is solid and internationally accepted; the evidence of serious ill effects from masking is nonexistent. Mr. Sarber may not have been aware that this article was withdrawn by its publisher due to its misleading statements, use of unverified data and many inaccuracies. When it comes to judging information about vital matters of public health and safety, I suggest we all dig a little deeper when we read something that appears so contrarian as to be unbelievable. Because it probably is.

Randall Wiest, M.D.

City of Homer, the Homer Foundation helps feed families

On behalf of the Homer Community Food Pantry, I would like to thank the City of Homer for their grants program and the Homer Foundation for their continued support of our organization. Last year was a tough one for food pantries and food banks across the nation; however, we were fortunate to have the support of our city.

With those funds, we were able to feed a record number of families and distribute much needed emergency assistance in the way of housing, utilities, fuel, and even shower and laundry supplies, and transportation. It has been a tough time for our most vulnerable community members, but with help from the city and the Homer Foundation, we can provide a bit of comfort to those in need.

Thank you.

Cinda Martin, HCFP Secretary

Successful Winter King Salmon Tournament

We would like to thank the Homer Chamber of Commerce, the sponsors and all of the volunteers that made this year’s Winter King Salmon Tournament such a success. It was a pleasure to see Steve Walli’s introduction and the John Hillstrand memorial award. We have known Steve for many, many years and seen him catch fish when there were none in the water. I also had the opportunity to fillet fish as a teenager for John when Coal Point Trading Co. just got started. Scott Ulmer also deserves recognition for his intense support in the development of this event. We are very privileged and proud to be the parents of this year’s tournament champion! Keep your line wet, and we’ll be there to congratulate next year’s winner…Fish on.

Jay and Erica Marley

Do we want jet skis in our bay?

I swam in sea water frequented by jet skis, imbibing gas, oil, inhaling exhaust with every breath and deafening my hearing. Do we really want this for us and all our marine animals?

Jo Going

Storyknife is grateful for Cottonwood Fund support

Storyknife Writers Retreat is so grateful for the support of the Cottonwood Fund, a donor advised fund of The Homer Foundation. Storyknife Writers Retreat is dedicated to supporting women writers by providing the time and space for them to devote to their craft, and will be welcoming its first full group of women writers to its new facility in June.

Each month, six different women writers from Alaska, the lower-48, and the rest of the world will be in residence at Storyknife and will have their own cabin where they can write and reflect, sleep and dream. At Storyknife we deeply believe that the stories and writing of women are very powerful and important.

Author Dana Stabenow founded Storyknife to give women writers the same boost she received at the beginning of her career at Hedgebrook, a writers residency in Washington. Now that Dana’s dream has become a reality, we appreciate the support of people who understand how deeply dedicated time and space can impact a woman’s writing life. Storyknife is committed to elevating the voices of those who have previously had difficulty getting their stories to wider audiences. When women tell their stories, write their poems, author their screenplays, novels, short stories, and memoirs, we are all empowered.

Thank you stewards of the Cottonwood Fund for being part of the Storyknife community.

Erin Coughlin Hollowell, Executive Director of Storyknife Writers Retreat