Editor,

I wonder if anyone else picked up on the stark contrast in Saturday’s (Oct. 9) paper between the lead article on the first page and the letter to the editor a few pages back, both regarding the current COVID mess: How tepid and vague the lead article is and how impassioned and factually specific Katherine Lucy-Hughes’ letter is. The first is lame, basically says nothing, while the second makes a point, takes a stand, shows some fire.

Guthrie is our local front line, where the battles are being fought, and all through this pandemic, I have been disappointed in the diffidence Guthrie has demonstrated time and again, disappointed in its lack of specificity regarding the local facts of this plague — facts that the public should be made fully aware of, this if only to bring home its reality — to make it real.

And by extension, I have been similarly disappointed in The Morning Times coverage as well, this for the same reasons and more: A newspaper is supposed to publish the news which often requires some leg work and actually leaving the office and talking with real people, and not relying solely on the questionable veracity of e-mails and websites.

Time and again I read in these pages “Guthrie officials said …’’ Well I for one would like to know who these officials are, their names and positions, or is that too much to ask, too much work? And trusting an e-mail? Good Lord, Tilly the Toilet Lady could be writing those things.

I know The Morning Times is not The New York Times, but a little fact-checking now and then wouldn’t hurt. For Guthrie to say “the number of ICU beds and the number of COVID patients change daily” while essentially true, is highly misleading. I know for a fact that at least as of last Friday (10/8/21) the entire 7th Floor of RPH was restricted solely to COVID patients: that’s 7 ICU, 7 Main, and 7 North. Why the secrecy? Why the veil of obfuscation? Why the reticence in making public the facts? Why downplay the fact that COVID is still here, and it’s real?

I’m just a lay observer, but feel that Guthrie has been dropping the ball on this pandemic from the get-go, and for the life of me I can’t understand why. Hughes’ letter correctly points out that only about 35% of Bradford County is vaccinated which poses a very serious health risk to everyone.

Vaccination is the only viable defense we have against COVID, and yet Guthrie (as well The Morning Times) remains mute on this issue. Why? And why not make it known weekly here in these pages (and not on Guthrie’s website — who looks at that?) the number of COVID hospitalizations, the differences (if any) in the severity and length of stay between the vaccinated and unvaccinated, the estimated time for full recovery once patients are released, the average cost of a COVID hospitalization, etc., and, most importantly, any deaths — this, again, to make it real.

Without openness and clarity, without facts, consciousness blurs, concern dwindles, until what’s left is the false complacency of “It-Can’t-Happen-To-Me.’’ Well, it can happen to you, and I think Guthrie has been irresponsible all along in not making that fact more real, more public, used its position of authority more effectively to hammer home the seriousness of this virus and the need for vaccination. It needed to take a stand, and it didn’t. But with the closed doors of winter coming on, the advent of flu season, and all that that portends, maybe it’s not too late.

Kenneth R. Law

Athens

Publisher’s note: We loved Mrs. Lucy-Hughes’ letter to the editor on Saturday. We appreciate Mr. Law’s letter today and respect his opinions. That said, don’t look to the Morning Times any time soon to begin muckraking or second guessing Guthrie’s ongoing challenges, efforts and response related to the COVID crisis, or to pull our local healthcare providers into that dirt. We implore everyone eligible to get vaccinated, locally and otherwise.

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