The spread of the new strain of the coronavirus (COVID-19) brings two important issues to light:

1) Misinformation is problematic when it comes to politics, but it can be deadly when it comes to infectious disease.

2) Making sure everyone has access to health care becomes critically important in the face of a quickly spreading virus.

To the first issue, your best source of information regarding the new strain of coronavirus, named COVID-19, is the Center for Disease Control (go to cdc.gov), not the president of the United States.

The president has claimed that the coronavirus is a hoax perpetrated by the Democrats, that it’ll go away in April, “miraculously”. He has challenged the scientists on the death rate (he has a hunch that it is under 1%). He has suggested that it is OK for people to go to work with the virus, that we’ll have a vaccine within a few months and that there are enough tests available for anyone. These statements are not only wrong, they are dangerous. When someone tries to correct his misstatements, he responds with name-calling, belittling tweets. The best way to avoid panic is with the transparent dissemination of fact-based information. The best way to instill fear is to lie and obfuscate the facts.

To the second issue, consider this: You cannot protect your family from a virus if there are families in your community who cannot protect themselves from the virus. People without health care are shopping and sneezing in the same places you are. A virus does not respect walls and pocketbooks. If you are not persuaded to be concerned about your neighbors’ access to healthcare by kindness and love, then be concerned for your own protection.

The Affordable Care Act provides Alabama with a means of expanding Medicaid coverage at mostly federal expense. According to the Alabama Hospital Association, “Alabama can provide health coverage to an estimated 340,000 more adults, create 30,000 new jobs and enjoy an economic impact in the billions.” Perhaps viewing Medicaid expansion from the perspective of COVID-19 is more appropriate than viewing it as Republican vs. Democrat.

In summary, we will all be better protected from COVID-19 if we 1) get our information of the scientists and 2) protect our neighbor as readily as we protect ourselves. Go to cdc.gov to get information and, also, let Kay Ivey know you want Alabama to adopt Medicaid expansion.

Tobey Miller, Fort Payne

Send letters to the Times-Journal by writing P.O. Box 680349, Fort Payne, AL 35968. Fax 256-845-7459. Email kayla.beaty@times-

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