July 2 Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

A response to those who believe COVID-19 is no worse than the flu:

To those who do not believe in the public health scientists’ recommendations: you must be young, extremely healthy, no friends or family in high-risk groups, never need to come to town to shop and have great health insurance. You might be more susceptible to propaganda than facts. You must not believe that you are your brother’s keeper, nor that a good rule for making decisions about your behavior is “the greatest good for the greatest number of people.”

The speed of transmission – contagiousness – of COVID-19 is much greater than the flu. Influenza has a shorter incubation period (the time from infection to appearance of symptoms), around three days. Physicians observe that you can be infected with COVID-19 for two days and feel fairly good while the virus is spreading in your body. By the third day you are contagious, and by the fourth or fifth day you feel bad, which may last three days or many weeks or until you die.

The number of people you can spread COVID-19 to (the reproductive number), is between two and three — higher than for influenza. For flu, children are important spreaders in the community. Initial data indicates that attack rates in the 0-19 age group are low for COVID-19. The range of symptoms is much higher for COVID-19 patients. For COVID-19: 80% of infections are mild or asymptomatic, 15% are severe infections requiring oxygen and 5% are critical requiring ventilation.

Mortality for COVID-19 is higher than for the flu. Data indicates the crude mortality ratio (the number of reported deaths divided by the reported cases) is between 3 and 4%. For seasonal flu, mortality is usually well below 1%. Mortality is determined by the person’s overall health and immune system and his access to quality health care. Another way of measuring mortality is the case fatality rate, which is 18.5% for COVID-19. Not until all who will get it have gotten it and have either recovered or died can scientists determine the actual mortality rate.

If you recover from severe COVID-19, immune system and blood clotting responses can cause damage throughout the body causing long-term health problems. If you survive a bad case and weeks in the hospital, you might require rehabilitation, kidney dialysis or a lung transplant. Your medical bills could run into hundreds of thousands of dollars.

According to data from the WHO, as of June 26 there were more than 9,619,573 cases of coronavirus in 213 countries and 489,556 people have lost their lives around the world. There are now more cases in the U.S. (2,469,187) than in any other country.

With need for hospitalization in 15% of the cases, many countries with high poverty rates and fragile health care systems are already overwhelmed. Evidence is showing that countries that required masks and quarantining earlier fared better than those that did not. The tri-County area has a regional hospital with 24 beds and 2 respirators. Severe cases will require a care flight.

Your patriotism is not being prohibited nor your Christianity. Your rights are not being taken away. There will be Bloys Camp again as well as more 4th of July parades in the future. Government orders are based on serious study and endeavor to lower risks and slow the spread. We hope danger from this pandemic will lessen in months to come, but perhaps never on this warming planet will pandemics completely go away. Stay well informed by experts in their fields of knowledge, protect yourself and others as well as you can, and have kindness and generosity toward your fellow man.

Beth Francell

Fort Davis


Dear Editor,

It is good that we have had more opportunities to be tested for COVID-19 locally, but a good source tells me that, as of Monday 6/29, a significant number of test results are still pending.

I want to remind people that tests do not CAUSE positive cases, they REVEAL an already existing situation.

Please, let’s help each other stay safer by wearing masks in public and physically distancing.

Pam Gaddis



Dear Editor,

Imagine the reaction if on September 11, 2001, President Bush told New York that it was on its own, that the U.S. government would deal with the Pentagon attack but have nothing to do with the Twin Towers disaster. Nearly 3,000 dead but, hey, that’s New York’s problem.  Yeah, public response would have been devastating to Bush, regardless of individual politics.

So how is it that there is no public outrage that over 125,000 people have died from COVID-19 and the president is still doing nothing except telling governors that it is their problem? That brings us to Texas, where Governor Abbott, way back when, allowed local officials to deal with their jurisdictions as they saw fit (which Presidio and Brewster counties handled responsibly).  But then Abbott sabotaged the possibility of appropriate actions by local authorities, the result being far worse than him doing nothing. Where is the outrage over Abbott’s irresponsible show of fealty to Donald Trump rather than his obligation to the people of Texas?

That brings us to Alpine, where I have generally ignored the multiple years of dysfunctional city government over the 25 years I have lived in Terlingua. But this is different. Dozens of people go back and forth every day between Terlingua and Alpine, and any one of them could be a carrier of the coronavirus. So, based on the Sentinel article last week titled “Alpine passes limited mask ordinance,” well, what “Alpine” passed is a joke. The city council has joined the ranks of Trump, Abbott and scores of other Republican governors and elected officials in abdicating their responsibility to those they supposedly serve.

According to the article, Councilman Rick Stephens proposed letting each individual decide if they wanted to wear a mask or not, rather than the city adopting an ordinance requiring one (in business establishments). Wonderful. According to that “individual choice” logic, I should be able to drive down Holland Avenue at 80 mph if I wanted to. Of course, if I hit a parked car and killed myself no one would care, but if I hit a car and killed members of Mr. Stephens’ family there would be hell to pay and outrage throughout the area. It’s the same concept: protecting the masses from the few who act irresponsibly, which is the basis of a huge number of laws currently enforced nationwide. And with 85 coronavirus cases in Brewster county (as I write this), most of us would prefer not to get sick and possibly require hospitalization (and related costs) and possibly die when mask wearing would likely prevent it.

So, congrats Alpine, even though the Brewster County per capita infection rate is greater than Houston’s, your “limited mask ordinance” did nothing and means nothing. But, I guess that was the point.

It is likely that tens of thousands of Americans have died or will die as a direct result of Donald Trump doing virtually nothing to prevent it. It is also likely that hundreds of Texans have died or will die as a direct result of Abbott’s non-response to the recent exponential increase in coronavirus cases until it was too late to contain the outbreak. I urge not just the Alpine City Council, but every government entity in the Big Bend, to not get on that list of irresponsible government officials. DO SOMETHING!

Fred Gossien



Dear Editor,

Wearing a mask today shows mutual respect. It’s become today’s security blanket. We are preparing for a wave of testing results. Many of us know mistakes were made in communications at local, state and federal levels.

Now it’s sinking in on a more social and personal level. Our beautiful tri-county area. What I or we should have – could have – done better now is sinking in.

This pandemic has been here for months already. Some are just now accepting the consequences and are getting tested.

But, some people and businesses did the right thing by following DHS protocols early on in March. Some are still maintaining those original parameters until our threat is clearly understood.

I want to point out that Plaine Coffee is the only place I know of in Alpine that put those original practices in place, and was never tempted to partially open.

They have never had to close like other local coffee shops and restaurants. Proving to me that implementing the right protocols (health) as WHO & DHS suggest early on prove they are the experts.

These homebodies and businesses should be our heroes today. They were not tempted by money. The health of self and community has been undeniably their motivation over consumerism.

I live in Alpine and started wearing a mask and gloves in the beginning of March. I was hearing ambulances every day for weeks before our judge released our first positive.

Having survival training, I hunkered down and got ready for the worst case scenario.

As a community, state and nation, this will bring difficult changes. Now more than ever we need to see all humans as equals.

We have to open up our minds, not just our pocketbooks, in order to be able to receive and accept all perspectives and learn new things to be able to grow as a better enlightened, caring community.

Respect all elders.

Wear a mask in public places.

Lori L. London