Congress must keep COVID-19 money flowing to help the uninsured

The federal government has tragically failed to fund additional emergency funding for COVID-19 testing and treatment for the uninsured. On April 5, the funding for the administration of the vaccines will be exhausted. The end of the government’s significant investment to make vaccines, boosters, treatments and masks widely available, regardless of ability to pay, threatens the last 14 months of progress against COVID.

Chicago has sponsored hundreds of events to ensure equitable access to vaccines and testing, hosted by public entities, nonprofits, clinics, schools, hospitals and pharmacies. The announcement of the end of all funding for these resources for the uninsured undermines this work.

Vaccination efforts in Chicago are already winding down. One such effort is with a community organization, Centro San Bonifacio, which opened a weekly vaccination clinic in November 2021 with Broadway Pharmacy and health care providers from the Chicago Vaccine Brigade. The clinic served families until last week when vaccines became unavailable due to funding cuts.

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There are many more efforts like this across Chicago and around the country, reaching the uninsured and/or hard to reach.

Failure to make funds available now will be disastrous as new strains of COVID emerge. Have we learned nothing in the past two years about the danger of being under-prepared? How many more preventable deaths and serious illnesses will we experience?

We urge all Chicagoans to write their representatives in Congress demanding full funding for COVID-19.

Chicago Vaccine Brigade Leadership: Peg Dublin, RN, MPH; Beth Blacksin, RN, Ph.D.; Ellen Mason, MD; Kathleen Kilbane, RN, MSN; Charles Gutfeld, RN, MPH, MBA; Carol Friedman; Candace Wayne, JD.

Tribute to handwritten letters

We learned in school that Abraham Lincoln expressed his displeasure with General George Meade in a letter that Lincoln never sent. The 16th president wrote the letter in July 1863, 11 days after the Battle of Gettysburg. The Union army, under Meade, had been victorious at Gettysburg, but in the following days the general failed to pursue the retreating Confederate army and prevent it from reaching the safety of Virginia. In his letter, Lincoln chastised Meade for missing an opportunity to end the war.

Our history teacher said that Lincoln used to put the letters he wrote in his desk drawer at night. In the morning, he often decided not to send them, especially when they criticized others. Reflecting further on his letter to Meade, Lincoln considered factors such as the large number of losses suffered by the Union army at Gettysburg. He sealed the letter in an envelope, and it was later discovered, among other things, that Lincoln decided not to send it.

How quaint it all seems now. Today, we don’t make letters by hand at a desk; we type messages on the fly. We don’t stop before sending a letter; we hastily hit send before we’ve had a chance to think.

I remember a customer complaint letter I received when I ran a shoe store on Michigan Avenue. The handwriting was shaky but legible. The language was clear and simple. Grammar and spelling were correct. The customer said he was disappointed with his latest pair of Florsheim shoes because the sole was wearing out after just six months. He had always worn Florsheim shoes, just like his father. He had bought them at the company store in his hometown until it closed years ago.

I imagine the client sitting at a desk, or perhaps at the kitchen table, to write the letter. He spoke in a tone that was more persuasive than angry. At one point, his letter could have been considered quite ordinary. In my reply, I assured him that we would replace the shoes and thanked him for his very good letter.

David Caplan, West Rogers Park

Ditch Columbus for Vespucci, an Italian worthy of a statue

It looks like the tussle over Grant Park’s Christopher Columbus statue is back on Chicago’s agenda, as if something has changed since it was removed months ago as a result of an uproar about it. The world has learned that Christopher Columbus’ moral failings are too glaring to be ignored, let alone revered, and overshadow his good deeds. This is why the statues of Robert E. Lee were taken down: his cause and his deeds were too flawed to stand, now that our nation rejects mythology in favor of fact. Both men have too many skeletons in their closets to be considered heroic.

Even the so-called “discovery of America” ​​by Christopher Columbus rings hollow because this continent was already populated. If, at the same time, a crew of Native Americans had sailed east on a boat and landed anywhere on European shores, could we say that they had “discovered” an already populated Europe?

After Columbus, another Italian explorer, Amerigo Vespucci, made a name for himself exploring not in the name of Spain as Columbus did, but in the name of Italy. Unlike Columbus, his bold acts were not deemed controversial. Why not replace the statue of Christopher Columbus with that of Vespucci, whose name America – a Latinized version of Amerigo – bears? Here is! A genuine and indisputable hero of Italian descenta statue in Grant Park or elsewhere should solve the problem.

Italian reality and pride would be honored in equal measure.

Ted Z. Manuel, Hyde Park