April 30 Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

I would like to thank the team behind Marfa Steps Up for organizing the Marfa Steps Up response — what an incredible project. I’d also like to thank the donors, near and far, who donated so much (and so fast), and the Get Go and Porter’s for making it a reality. Thank you all for your immense kindness and generosity.

Nicki Ittner



Dear Editor,

I was saddened and concerned to read in The Big Bend Sentinel (April 9, 2020) the story about worker furloughs and the parent company of the Big Bend Regional Medical Center (BBRMC) filing for chapter 11.

This story brought back vividly to my mind the debates that happened years ago when we first considered turning over hospital administration to a for-profit company.  Many asked at the time what was to prevent a for-profit company to do this very thing, to cut staff or, God forbid, to even close down the hospital, if “we” weren’t profitable enough for them or the company suffered a hit to their bottom line?  We were assured that would never happen but, it seems now otherwise.

In light of this, I want to take this opportunity to express my truly heartfelt appreciation for everyone who works at the hospital from the doctors to nurses to all the support staff.

A few months ago I had to go to the emergency room for excruciating pain I was experiencing from, what I later found out, passing a kidney stone. I was in pain for twelve hours, from 1 a.m. to 1 p.m. It was unbelievable pain and everyone at the hospital was at their utmost professionalism. From the staff that did the initial intake and had to listen to my screams to the nurse who took care of me through my entire time there to the radiology tech who wheeled me around the hospital. I could not have endured it without all of them.

(As an aside, one of the nurses told me that she heard the pain of passing a stone was the same as the pain from childbirth, to which I can only say, if what I suffered was in any infinitely small percentage of what actual childbirth feels like, I honestly don’t know how women are still having babies. I’m surprised women didn’t organize many, many, many millennia ago and beat every man within a mile radius of them with a stick!)

Six years ago prior to that, I suffered a serious shoulder injury that took two years to heal and I know that I would not have recovered full mobility of my shoulder without the excellent therapy I received from their physical therapy department.

To say I’m grateful to BBRMC is an understatement. I know how much this hospital means both to me and countless others living in our tri-county area who’ve depended on it.

But, with the threat hanging over our collective heads, is this really the time to cut supportive staff?

Further, I’m troubled by a remark from a member of the local COVID-19 task force who said, in reference to local health authorities being hesitant to set up higher tier guidelines for rationing equipment and from a psychological standpoint, “she wants doctors and residents to approach the coronavirus crisis ‘from as optimistic a viewpoint as possible.’.

I can understand optimism as a comfortable mental viewpoint but, is that what’s needed now?

“The wave” is coming and it will hit us. COVID-19 doesn’t care about our optimism. It’s not a bacteria or a parasite. It’s a thing. It’s not alive. It doesn’t know that it sickens the people it infects or that roughly 1%-2% of those it infects, die.

It’s a machine that’s sole purpose is to infect a healthy cell by injecting a small piece of a DNA strand (called RNA) into the cell. The RNA is like a computer program that reprograms the cell, turning it into a factory that’s dedicated to nothing else than building as many copies of the virus that it can before they burst out of the cell and spread to other cells, repeating the process over and over and over and over till the infected person either recovers or not.

From what I read in the article, I understand now why we can’t stockpile PPEs and ventilators but, why can’t we start building out more bed spaces in a gym or building?

Coronavirus cases double about every two days. BBRMC has 25 beds. If you get two COVID-19 cases on Monday, by the following week those 25 beds will be left long behind.

If the BBRMC and the county are actively working on a plan, then I support their efforts wholeheartedly.

A friend of mine said that seeing a building built out with extra hospital beds might scare people.  What scares me is seeing what is happening in New York repeated here: hospital lobbies crowded with COVID-19 patients on stretchers because the rooms are full.

Optimism is not what is needed. It’s eyes wide open pragmatism and practical planning for the worst case. “Hope for the best, plan for the worst.”

A year from now, I hope to say the tri-county was one of a few rare oases in the world that escaped the deluge of “the wave” that circumnavigated the globe.

That’s “hope for the best…” But, without the second part of the phrase, my future hope is no better than a child’s wish.

We have to face what’s happening, here and now, in our country and the world. If we continue to ignore the true magnitude of COVID-19 and forsake scientific guidance for gut feelings, for optimism without follow up, are we not all children wishing in the dark?


Amit Rangra



Dear, Judge Cano, Judge Cinderella Guevara and Judge Kerith Sproul,

I am a current resident of Jeff Davis County and a past resident of Presidio County and I have heard rumors that instead of 25% you all may be considering reopening to 50% occupancy! I believe that 25% is putting the cart before the proverbial horse and that 50% is a possible death sentence for many. We have had no testing and do not know where we stand! The testing that was done is a farce and was only done on those presenting symptoms, so it does not consider carriers or those who are infected who have no symptoms. There is not enough known to make the dangerous move of re-opening at all, much less to 50% of occupancy.

I believe that if you take this step, you will be culpable in the illnesses and possible deaths of many county residents. This is a time to be smart and abide by science and the advice of health professionals, not politicians. Please take this thing as slowly and as cautiously as possible. Please!


Garrick Stephens

Jeff Davis County


Dear Editor,

The choice is always ours!

Is it Taps or Star-Spangled Banner? Read The Atlantic’s, “From Access Hollywood to Disinfectant,” connecting our pandemic-related problems directly to President Trump.  Then contact the offices of GOP senators and representatives.

Facilitating, they had numerous opportunities over 3 years – preceded by the Republican campaign – to know exactly who Trump was. They are worse than head-in-the-sand Sgt. Schultz’s, “I know nuh-thing, nuh-thing,” failing to act responsibly when it mattered.

His supporters are complicit too, for the ashen smoke rising from the stacks. That’s a metaphor for our Constitution, though not beyond the realm of possibility for those targeted.

Observe Trump’s nativist, Tweet-encouraging, radical rightwing-funded, mirroring their Brown Shirt predecessors. Responding, armed white supremacist street thugs manifest the worst impulses among us! We forget and ignore; at recorded history’s peril, Charlottesville, “Zero Tolerance,” and now these immature, armed protests against common sense preventive pandemic health measures.

It is also where the original parchment of the Constitution went. Shredded first by hypocrisy and a greed-based lust for power and money, it didn’t receive the last rites due to the true patriots for the service given by those who came before us.

Make your voice known about which patriotic music sounds. What’s your decision?  The choice is always ours!

Rev. Barry Abraham Zavah