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Fragmented St. Louis Region’s Coronavirus Preparedness Is Being Tested

March 11, 2020 Featured, STL Region Comments Off on Fragmented St. Louis Region’s Coronavirus Preparedness Is Being Tested

I wrote the recent Coronavirus-related Sunday Poll a week ago. At the time the Coronavirus hadn’t come to the St. Louis region. Then Saturday night came word of a case in St. Louis County, so I had to revise the post. So much has happened in just a few days, first the non-scientific results:

Q: Agree or disagree: The St. Louis region is well-prepared to handle the Coronavirus.

  • Strongly agree: 0 [0%]
  • Agree: 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat agree: 1 [4.76%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 6 [28.57%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 1 [4.76%]
  • Disagree: 3 [14.29%]
  • Strongly disagree: 7 [33.33%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 3 [14.29%]

We don’t really know, but we’re about to find out.

Source: Food & Drug Administration

I do take comfort that St. Louis County Executive Sam Page is also a physician.  However, I’m a little concerned instructions to self quarantine are only issued verbally, it’s a honor system. As a person with short-term memory issues I often forget things said to me verbally — I really need written information. Email is easy as a backup to verbal.

That said, it seems like common sense if a member of your household might test positive the entire household needs to quarantine — not go out for coffee or attend a party and dance.

As a cancer patient, I’m also high risk. So don’t expect to see me out and about. Other than grocery shopping and visiting Siteman Cancer Center, I’ll be at home. I’d planned to spend two weeks in Chicago next month, but I’m putting that off indefinitely.

Most of you don’t have the luxury to stay at home. Yes, some of you can work from home but most cannot. Many, like my husband, get zero paid days off work — no paid holidays, no paid vacation days, no paid sick days. Even if you get paid days off you if you’re a bus driver, cashier, nurse, etc you can’t do those jobs from home.

Back to the regional preparedness, this will test their communications.  Here are links to Coronavirus pages at St. Louis County and St. Louis City. Plus the CDC and BJC hospitals.

To me a regional approach would be one website where a resident could put in their zip code so they could find out who to contact. Such a website could be helpful in case of natural disasters, voter information, etc. Include every county that’s part of the St. Louis region on both sides of the Mississippi River.

It’s easy to have low expectations — I just hope we’re wrong.

— Steve Patterson

 

Vote For The Moderate Candidate: Bernie Sanders

March 9, 2020 Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Vote For The Moderate Candidate: Bernie Sanders

Wait, isn’t Bernie Sanders the left-wing extremist? No, not really.

In the 1940s, Senators Robert Wagner and James Murray and Congressman John Dingell Sr. introduced legislation that would have established a national program for hospital and medical insurance. It was stymied by a coalition of Southern Democrats and conservative Republicans, as was also the case with Truman’s efforts after 1949 to achieve the same result. But it was central to the party’s core ambition for many years after.

Only in the 1960s did Democrats abandon the concept of universal, single-payer health care and champion a narrower program of guaranteed hospital insurance and voluntary medical insurance for the elderly—the program that we now know as Medicare. They didn’t abandon universal coverage because they viewed it as too radical. Rather, they believed it was no longer necessary. After World War II, major employers began extending unprecedented benefits to workers, including annual cost-of-living adjustments to wages, defined benefits pensions and private health insurance. Given this reality, they turned their focus to a narrower subset of the population that, by definition, would not benefit from employer-based health programs: senior citizens. (Politico)

Since 1980 Democrats have been moving to the right, FDR wouldn’t recognize today’s Democratic Party.

Bernie Sanders in Affton four years ago.

The policies Bernie Sanders has advocated for decades are very moderate:

  • Healthcare for everyone. Millions would live longer, others wouldn’t go bankrupt, people wouldn’t need to resort to online fundraising. Our peer countries have universal healthcare, but somehow we think this is extreme.  Now with Coronavirus it’s especially important people not to fear the cost of going to the doctor.  Speaking of cost, we could save money with Medicare for All.  Doing nothing will continue to cost us more and more. Better coverage for less money isn’t radical, it’s common sense.
  • Taxing the 1%. Decades ago the wealthiest paid their share of taxes, but now we’ve got the 99% objecting to them paying more. Some billionaires paid a lower rate than their workers. It’s not radical to think they should pay a higher rate.
  • Act on climate change. Time is running out, today’s kids count on us to make wise decisions. Not doing anything is the radical position.

Elected Democrats that call themselves “moderates” are only slightly less conservative than Republicans. No wonder the other candidate would consider a republican as a running mate.

Missouri votes tomorrow, Illinois a week from tomorrow.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Is The St. Louis Region Prepared For The Coronavirus?

March 8, 2020 Featured, STL Region, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Is The St. Louis Region Prepared For The Coronavirus?
Please vote below

It’s a common joke that the first hint of a storm St. Louisans head to the store to buy bread, milk, & eggs. Now expand that globally.

Rationing supplies. Overwhelmed delivery workers. Toilet paper protected by security guards.

This is the new reality for some retailers, who are having to take drastic action to limit the number of toilet paper rolls, face masks and hand sanitizer bottles each person can buy as customers stockpile goods over fears of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The epidemic has infected more than 97,000 people and killed 3,300 globally, leading to growing alarm that has resulted in mass bulk buying around the world. (CNN)

I’m not clear on how toilet paper is going to protect you from COVID-19. Last night the first case in Missouri was announced:

Gov. Parson said a St. Louis County woman in her 20s had traveled to Italy and was tested positive for COVID-19. The woman tested positive at a Mercy hospital in the St. Louis County area. The sample was sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A total of 26 people were tested for COVID-19 including the positive case. Three additional tests remain in progress. (KMOV)

Today’s poll isn’t about our personal stockpiles of supplies, but how our region will respond now that the Coronavirus has arrived.

This poll will close at 8pm tonight, assuming I have all the settings correct to deal with the start of Daylight Saving Time.

— Steve Patterson

 

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: 12th Ward Alderman Larry Arnowitz Resigned, Indicted

March 6, 2020 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen: 12th Ward Alderman Larry Arnowitz Resigned, Indicted

At the St. Louis Board of Aldermen meeting last week all 28 seats were occupied.

Not today.

Alderman Larry Arnowitz, who abruptly resigned Tuesday afternoon, has turned himself in to federal authorities Wednesday, officials said.
Arnowitz’s brief letter of resignation cited “personal reasons.”

On Tuesday, defense lawyer Patrick Conroy said Arnowitz, 66, would turn himself in to federal authorities Wednesday morning to face a federal fraud charge.
“He made a mistake,” Conroy said. “We anticipate that the government’s going to allege that the alderman converted some monies from his campaign fund for personal use,” he said.
(Post-Dispatch)

Arnowitz was first elected in 2011, narrowly defeating incumbent 12th ward alderman Fred Heitert, a Republican, in March 2011. He was challenged in the 2015 primary, but easily won. Last year he had two primary challengers, both easily defeated.

I immediately thought of former 6th ward alderman Kacie Starr Triplett.

She was one of the city’s youngest politicians when she was first elected in 2007 — just 26 years old, poised and energetic about serving the city. Then she abruptly left office, announcing that she’d taken another job. Months later, it finally came out that Triplett was also pretty energetic about looting her campaign coffers and using the cash for personal expenses. The money went to pay her mortgage, for her credit-card bills, her salon and spa visits, and for her clothes, shoes and jewelry. The amount was somewhere between $8,000 and $18,900. (Riverfront Times)

Arnowitz was on the board when Triplett resigned, but he didn’t learn from her mistakes.

The Board of Aldermen meet at 10am today, their 35th meeting of the 2019-2020 session. As previously noted, they have the first two meetings labeled as Week #1, so they list this as week/meeting 34.

Since the current session is almost over, today’s agenda has no new bills. The Board of Aldermen meeting begins at 10am, past meetings and a live broadcast can be watched online here. See list of all board bills for the 2019-2020 session — the new bills listed above may not be online right away.

— Steve Patterson

 

Readers: Some Public Schools Must Be Closed Due To Declining Enrollment

March 4, 2020 Education, Featured Comments Off on Readers: Some Public Schools Must Be Closed Due To Declining Enrollment
The former John Marshall School remains unsold, continues to deteriorate.

The population of St. Louis has been shrinking for decades, so has the enrollment in St. Louis Public Schools.

Superintendent Kelvin Adams laid out a data-heavy case for why SLPS needs to overhaul how, and where, it educates 21,500 students across 68 buildings.

SLPS once educated more than 110,000 students and has been closing buildings for nearly three decades to keep up with a student population and overall shrinking city. Meanwhile, more independent charter schools have opened in the last 20 years and educate a third of public school children.

Having fewer students across more buildings, Adams said, “does not make sense, at least in my math.” (St. Louis Public Radio)

Adams is right, too many buildings for too few students. The problem is in deciding which to close. North St. Louis is more sparsely populated than South St. Louis, but some schools should stay open regardless. How many and where?

Former Arlington School in North St. Louis converted to residential in 2013.

In the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll more than half of readers think some schools do need to close.

Q: Agree or disagree: St. Louis Public Schools needs to keep the remaining schools open. Vacant schools harm neighborhoods.

  • Strongly agree: 12 [21.05%]
  • Agree: 4 [7.02%]
  • Somewhat agree: 9 [15.79%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 6 [10.53%]
  • Disagree: 13 [22.81%]
  • Strongly disagree: 12 [21.05%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 1 [1.75%]

It’s inevitable, schools will need to close. No matter which schools do close there will be people who are unhappy about it. I just hope the process is fair and transparent.  The neighborhoods with newly closed schools will need to help market the properties so they don’t sit vacant for decades. Of course, neighborhoods that are already struggling will find this harder to do.

— Steve Patterson

 

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