- Associated Press - Monday, July 13, 2020

Here are excerpts of editorial opinions from newspapers throughout Illinois.

July 12, 2020

Chicago Sun-Times

How Trump’s deadly reelection strategy comes back to bite every 3 to 14 days

Mark Urquiza, 65, died of COVID-19 two weeks ago, having made the mistake of listening to President Donald Trump and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.

Trump and Ducey, like a lot of Republican leaders, began urging people in early May to get back to their normal lives. They said the pandemic was subsiding and sort of a hoax anyway, and Urquiza took them at their word and started going out with friends again.

Three weeks after Ducey lifted Arizona’s stay-at-home order on May 15, Urquiza began feeling ill. On June 30, he died.

In a stunning obituary in the Arizona Republic on Wednesday, Urquiza’s daughter, Kristin, put the blame right where it belongs:

Ducey, she said, “has blood on his hands.”

It never fails to amaze us how Trump, Ducey and others like them remain wedded to an approach to the pandemic - denial - that is doomed to failure as a matter of both public health and politics.

The more they try to wish the pandemic away, the more they will have blood on their hands.

And the more they try to force life back to “normal” before it is safe, the more they will lose on Election Day, Nov. 3.

Because a political strategy with a rolling shelf life of three to 14 days - the incubation period of COVID-19 - is hopeless. It is sure to come back to bite, as it already has, all summer and fall.

Pandemic in the pews

A few weeks ago, Trump demanded that houses of worship be allowed to reopen. He figured he’d get a little political mileage out of that, even if every public health expert said reopening church would be crazy stupid.

And now, right on cue, the coronavirus is surging through churches. Three to 14 days after churches began to reopen, according to a New York Times analysis, people in the pews started getting sick.

In Texas, about 50 people contracted the virus after a pastor encouraged everybody to start hugging again. In Florida, a teenage girl died last month after attending a church party.

Nobody’s about to forget this. Nice church people will still be dying on Election Day. Others will be dying, too.

Expert forecasters - scientists, not politicians - are now predicting more than 200,000 Americans will be dead from COVID-19 by Election Day.

The moral tragedy is that Trump and his craven choir of Republican governors, senators and representatives are not even trying to beat the pandemic. They have never tried.

They’re just trying to bamboozle us long enough to win an election, their efforts constantly undone by COVID-19’s politically inconvenient brief time span from infection to death.

They’re wasting their time.

When, come to think of it, was that Trump rally in Tulsa? The one that smarter Trump supporters stayed away from?

June 20, that’s when it was. Three short weeks ago.

And now, in the last week, Tulsa has seen a surge of almost 500 new cases of COVID-19.

Trump’s rally was “more than likely” a cause of the surge, Dr. Bruce Dart, director of the Tulsa Health Department, told Business Insider. “We just connect the dots.”

Enough Americans know better

Trump and his accomplices can snort all they want that the pandemic is 50% hooey. They can keep pushing us to get back out there, spreading the virus like kids with squirt guns. But the United States will never prevail over the pandemic until enough Americans feel safe, and enough Americans will never feel safe until they really are.

They won’t eat in restaurants again, or go to a concert or fly in a plane just because some mayor or governor says they can.

They won’t send their kids back to school until they’re convinced it’s safe, for that matter, though Trump threatened last week to cut funding to schools that don’t reopen fully in the fall.

They will follow the science and listen to experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci.

They will continue to size up the difference between what’s allowed and what’s safe.

Could not convince her father

Denial is a lousy way to beat a pandemic.

Kristin Urquiza told the Washington Post she tried to convince her father not to go out, but he told her Ducey wouldn’t have lifted the stay-at-home order if it were not safe.

“Despite all of the effort that I had made to try to keep my parents safe,” she said, “I couldn’t compete with the governor’s office, and I couldn’t compete with the Trump administration.”

And, as it turns out, denial is a lousy way to win an election.

The truth keeps coming back to bite.

Every three to 14 days.


July 13, 2020

Chicago Tribune

Enough excuses, governor. The unemployment mess deserved your early attention

The emails continue to pour in. Thousands of workers furloughed or laid off due to COVID-19 shutdowns still have not received unemployment ­­­­­help from the state of Illinois, to which they are entitled.

“I applied for benefits two months ago. I have $0 and am completely out of options,” Alexis wrote to us over the weekend.

Jeff of Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood told us he made about 400 calls to state agencies and officials trying to get help. “I still can’t get a live voice. It’s seriously frustrating. I am back to work full time at the end of July … I am wondering what people not as fortunate as myself are going to do.”

The Tribune Editorial Board is not identifying by full names those who’ve emailed us because a data breach at the state employment agency - the same one now incapable of processing timely claims - in May allowed public access to the personal data, Social Security numbers and private information of unemployed Illinoisans who had used the recommended online portal to apply.

In addition to that screw-up, thousands of laid off workers have spent months waiting for help, making countless phone calls, sitting on hold, getting cut off if they even get through to a live person, or have been ignored and added to “lists” once they do reach a human being. One Downers Grove resident told the Tribune she estimated she made 2,000 phone calls to try to get help.

This is inexcusable, governor.

­­­”Our experience has been heartbreaking,” state Rep. Anne Stava-Murray, D-Naperville, told us. “What started out as a clerical problem has turned into a major failure by IDES (Illinois Department of Employment Security) to be able to address obvious mistakes.

“People who are employed, who don’t have a job guaranteed when they get back, need to be able to focus on a job search and see what their next move is. They should not have to sink a ton of time into calling their state reps or checking to see if the website is up or down.”

Stava-Murray was among more than 60 lawmakers who signed a letter calling for change after being flooded with phone calls from constituents. She said she is hopeful a late-game decision last week to bring in new management at IDES will clear up months of failures at the agency.

But it’s clear Pritzker ignored this growing problem for far too long. His executive orders shutting down wide swaths of the Illinois economy are the reason these folks are waiting in line for unemployment benefits to which they are entitled. Some have turned to food pantries to get by. They’re panicked.

They deserved far more attention and accountability months ago than the excuses that continue to flow from Pritzker’s office.


July 8, 2020

The Pantagraph (Bloomington)

Silence can speak volumes

It’s OK to not have an opinion about something.

It’s all right to look at a social media post and, even if you disagree virulently with the sentiment, keep your thoughts to yourself.

It’s perfectly acceptable to disagree with pundits and personalities with whom you traditionally align.

What’s best? Sometimes simply listening.

If the start of the 21st century has taught us anything in the United States, it’s that no ideology has all the answers, and adhering to one ideology exclusively is likely to lead to a disaster.

Yet too many of us adhere to the adage that every question has a right and wrong answer, every event that takes place has a winner and a loser, and the side we believe in is wholly correct.

Take our current coronavirus existence. The people who believe the pandemic to be a hoax are ignoring scads of evidence produced by medical and scientific experts. But those same experts have fumbled with some of their own execution of duties, and have further muddled the message with imprecise language, and a reluctance to attempt to correct or clarify inaccurate statements.

We’re not exactly doing well with subtle right now.

We’re also not exactly helping ourselves with our non-stop appetite for news. The question of origin of stories once was a mystery. Why did this one story become a worldwide sensation while the other was ignored?

Yet the one thing that’s a constant for most of us is some kind of input for news. We carry news with us, and can’t resist checking. We’re living evidence of why some stories get attention and others do not. Yet we remain blind to the obvious.

We are all the media, and every remark we make on social media adds to the non-stop cacophony.

What’s the answer? A good place to start might be with tone. Tone is important, however much we think it might dilute our message. Starting a discussion with an angry and provocative opener doesn’t give much room for a response besides a level five reaction.

In too many ways, our arguments are exercises in talking to ourselves. How can we convince anyone to come to the other side or even move toward the other side when a conversation starts with an unwillingness on the part of either side to listen?

One faction winning doesn’t by definition have to mean the other is losing.

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