Sunday, April 5, 2020
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Letters: My children offer answers

I often turn to my children when facing life’s vexing moments. So I did just that.

“Kiddos, what do you think coronavirus is here to teach us?”

My 11-year-old spoke first, “To be thankful for our health.”

Gratitude, huh? I step back from this moment and wonder if she is on to something.

Working as a physician and educator at the University of New Mexico and having spent the better part of the last days thinking about the implications of COVID-19 for our New Mexico population down to the level of patients and students, I am thankful for this moment.

If you will allow, I would like to infuse some coronavirus-induced gratitude into the moment in which we find ourselves.

First, a time to see more clearly the importance of the people and communities that sustain us. Reflect on this when (likely today … again!) your workplace huddles together to discuss COVID-19 precautions and procedures. It is so easy to work around great people and, distracted by the work to be done, forget to appreciate those doing the work. Reflect on it, but don’t stop there — tell the beautiful people around you how much you value them.

I can’t leave this topic without thinking of the epidemic of loneliness that afflicts our society that claims to be so technologically connected — take a moment to notice the neighbor, classmate, work colleague who do not have community and invite them into yours.

Second, in a world eternally on fast forward, truncated to 140 character messages, coronavirus gives us a moment to pause, breathe deep, slow down, dig deeper. Self care — increase the dose. Story time with your children — increase the dose. Prayer, exercise and other ways that you connect with yourself and things larger than you — increase the dose.

Start today with the birds and trees outside your house and office that greet you only to have you rush past without a nod or smile. Continue with the food you eat — take a moment to slow down and be mindful of how this food got to your plate. Consume accordingly.

Consider this next few weeks an extended snow day, an invitation to slow down to a healthier speed of living than our usual. And since angst and anxiety are among us, spreading like the virus itself, your work to slow down and breathe deep will be good medicine.

Last, a very simple ask of myself and all of us, returning to my daughter’s advice — gratitude. Make a point today to express gratitude. If necessary, use words.

Make your living something the poets and prophets speak of, gratitude in your heart and hands (washed frequently, of course).

In the 100,000 heartbeats, 20,000 breaths, and the 86,400 seconds that make today, take a few heartbeats, breaths, and seconds to give thanks. Increase dose steadily.

The test question for my students would be simple: “Coronavirus — curse or blessing?”

You get to decide today what answer to choose.

Anthony Fleg
Albuquerque, N.M.

Protect casinos with these suggestions

The entire nation is in the state of panic due to the fast-paced spreading of the coronavirus and the medical experts are scrambling to find a new vaccine for cure. Navajo Nation officials are in panic as well.

I am wondering about the four casinos where there’s usually a large turnout daily for gambling and most are our very own Navajo people. Are the gaming officials concerned about their guests and what precautionary measures they have implemented to control the spread of the virus?

I would like to recommend they implement the following measures for their guests’ safety and well-being in mind as the foremost concern.

• Expanding higher and better standard sanitary protocols to include the use of hospital grade disinfectants.
• Promoting common sense preventive measures and sanitation that would work for any virus including flu, COVID-19, etc.
• Increasing the number of public hand sanitizing stations located throughout the casinos for both guests and employees.
• Posting proper procedures in all back-of-house work areas.
• Instructing the employees to wash hands before and after eating and before returning to work areas.
• Increasing the frequency of disinfectant procedures with focus on faucets, toilet flush levers, doorknobs, locks, exit doors, handrails, slot machine handles, buttons, elevator buttons, light switches, etc.
• Making sure that all tableware, dishes, cutlery, and glassware are washed and sanitized.
• Provide food and beverage staff with additional training on sanitizing and cleanliness.
• Encourage staff to stay home if they exhibit any symptoms of the flu or cold.
• Ensure the guests who chew tobacco to dispose of their waste in the disposal cans and not to let the waste sit around the slot machines.

In conclusion, I just want to say our elders back in the day told us about the use of stewed horse meat in combating virus of any size, shape, or form. I’m wondering if our elected tribal leaders and officials in the health professions are aware of this. Maybe it’s time to go back to the good old days.

Thank you for allowing me time to express these public concerns.

Vern Charleston
Farmington, N.M.

Nation not ready for coronavirus epidemic

To President Nez and Vice President Lizer:

I am very disturbed that the Navajo Nation is not ready to face the coronavirus epidemic once it hits out here. The Indian Health Service hospitals are not ready, because among other needs we don’t have the finance to expand service or purchase antidotes.

Once it hits the Navajo Nation, whether in Tuba City, Shiprock, or Chinle, this deadly upper respiratory virus will spread internally among patients, nurses, EMTs, and people that happened to be there. There are no quarantine preparations and where to house these infected individuals.

Yes, we have Navajos living in these states where the presence of this deadly virus is present. It’s only a matter of time.

So, what to do, from the government end:

1) Public broadcasting.
2) Meetings on site at these hospitals on the Navajo Nation to gather preparation information.
3) Emergency meeting with Council delegates in funding resources.
4) Meet with CDC representatives on what they can do.
5) Visit with top Washington officials to request funding.

Ray Begaye
Shiprock, N.M.



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