By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Bladine: Election, pandemic still have to play out

Politics and COVID-19 remain prominent in our Readers Forum. This week there are a few signs of a return to diversity, but first a still-volatile election and a truly terrible pandemic have to play out.

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Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

> See his column

In public, the election conspiracy theories will subside. Unfortunately, they will continue to fester and rot in an underground cesspool of “alternative media.”

We should always remember the famous quote attributed to various sources over the past 200-plus years: “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty; power is ever stealing from the many to the few.”

Meanwhile, the pandemic rages on, with understandable concerns over rise of the “nanny state.”

In Oregon today, state mandates require a sole worker in a 3,000-sq.-ft. warehouse to wear a mask if there’s an open door at one end. New two-week regulations limit indoor/outdoor gatherings “for any purpose” to six people — thankfully, a small footnote says households with more than six people don’t have to reduce household size.

So, big families, all the kids can eat Thanksgiving dinner together. But no gramma or grandpa!

One writer today asks why the media reports only the numbers of sick and dying COVID-19 patients, ignoring the vast majority who recover and return to normal life. Here are a few related numbers:

Statewide, through Wednesday, there were 59,669 COVID-19 cases among 4.27 million Oregonians (1.4 percent). Of those cases, there were 3,888 hospitalizations (6.52 percent) and 788 deaths (1.32 percent).

Applied to total state population, 9-100ths of 1 percent of Oregonians have been hospitalized by COVID-19, and 1.8-100ths of 1 percent have died from the virus and underlying conditions.

Yamhill County percentages closely reflect state averages. Through Wednesday, there were 1,412 cases and 16 deaths among 108,605 residents, with county hospitalization numbers not readily available. Testing in both the county and state has produced 94-plus percent negative results.

So, are COVID-19 concerns overblown and gubernatorial edicts overcooked? Perhaps, but what would those numbers be if Oregon had greatly relaxed pandemic-fighting measures? Currently, Oregon hospitals hold 406 COVID-confirmed patients — 484 including suspected cases — which more than doubles those then-highest 2020 numbers from two weeks ago.

Despite rising hospitalizations and deaths, some regard new government mandates as a harbinger of totalitarianism. Others see only temporary annoyances and inconveniences as a price to ensure full families are alive to enjoy future Thanksgivings.

Meanwhile, people, businesses, organizations and institutions are being decimated financially by the pandemic and government-ordered shutdowns.

We all should be asking, is help on the way? From my perspective, not fast enough.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503-687-1223.

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