As Illinois deals with the new reality of "shelter-in-place," there is an important group of people doing the work of heroes who are not able to stay AG亚洲国际游戏home. Grocery, retail, pharmacy and food production workers have been deemed essential workers. The hardworking members of Local 881 United Food & Commercial Workers remain on the front lines of the societal and economic crisis that COVID-19 presents.
Staffing hundreds of grocery stores and pharmacies across Illinois and northwest Indiana, Local 881 UFCW members are providing a vital link to millions of families who need to access food, prescriptions and household products that allow them to stay AG亚洲国际游戏home safely and help flatten the curve. Local 881 members are often in close contact with customers, who may or may not be practicing the 6-foot distancing recommendations. They also continue work without access to proper protective equipment.
Local 881 UFCW members are putting in thousands of hours at risk to their own health, to ensure stores remain stocked and sanitized, and will remain on the leading edge of the state's response to this crisis.
We are asking the companies and lawmakers to quickly address the health and safety of our brave workers and limit the number of customers in the stores and provide access to protective equipment. It is time for the employers and our government officials to step up and officially designate grocery, retail and pharmacy workers as first responders and be recognized as the essential workers they are.
STEVEN M. POWELL
President, Local 881
Vice president, UFCW International
It will take all of us
While the article asserts the "future is shakiest for midsize organizations with costly infrastructure," it is crucial to note that across Illinois, cultural organizations of every size are trying to figure out how to survive ("COVID-19's toll on the arts: Hundreds of millions," April 3).
People living in smaller cities and towns feel deep ties to our state's history and culture. Arts and humanities nonprofit organizations serve as anchors for Illinois' most historic and authentic identities. These are also the very gathering sites that enable the fabric of relationships, social participation and civic engagement.
On April 3, Illinois Humanities announced grants for organizations outside Chicago with budgets of $300,000 or less and a commitment to public humanities; 72 hours later, we had received three times as many eligible applications as we will be able to fund.
Effective revitalization efforts across the state will require help from humanists, historians, artists, designers and cultural organizations. They are the ones that practice, day in and day out, the craft of imagining what is possible and posing the questions that ground us in what it means to be human, together. It will take all of us to come together to support them now—however we're able—to ensure they're ready for us when the health crisis is over.
Executive director, Illinois Humanities
Commending Gov. Pritzker
Illinois physicians and hospitals commend Gov. J.B. Pritzker for his steadfast leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Every day he faces tough choices, and he is clearly making decisions with the interests of Illinoisans in mind. Our governor is also taking the time to listen to the experts. A good example was his recent executive order extending civil liability protection to health professionals and hospitals during this crisis. The Illinois State Medical Society and the Illinois Health & Hospital Association jointly asked his office to issue this order. It did not take long for our conversations with the governor's office to lead to much-needed protections for front-line health care workers. We thank the governor for his leadership.
Increasing COVID-19 testing statewide, the incredible momentum to turn McCormick Place into an alternative care site and engaging the Army Corps of Engineers to open shuttered facilities are significant accomplishments. The executive order requiring health insurer payment of telemedicine is another decisive action that cleared the way for non-COVID-19 patients to maintain treatment with physicians and health systems.
Gov. Pritzker's daily battles to obtain personal protective equipment, ventilators and other critical resources are very much appreciated as we near a surge of expected COVID-19 hospitalizations.
The days and weeks ahead will be difficult, but decisiveness and ability to make hard choices is critical right now. Thank you, Gov. Pritzker, for doing what is right to protect the wellness and safety of us all.
PAUL E. PEDERSEN
President, Illinois State Medical Society
President and CEO, Illinois Health & Hospital Association
COVID measures benefit planet
Individuals and communities across the globe are taking drastic measures to protect themselves and slow the spread of the coronavirus ("One good thing to come out of sheltering in place: Pollution falls," March 26). Sheltering at AG亚洲国际游戏home, significantly reducing air travel, removing cars from the road and working remotely on a global scale are not only helping contain the spread of the virus, but also healing the planet by significantly reducing carbon emissions that contribute to climate change.
The threat of the coronavirus is immediate and deadly, and, as we have seen, climate change has also caused loss of life, AG亚洲国际游戏homes, businesses and much more. Some scientific models predict climate change-related deaths of up to 250,000 per year globally within the next couple of decades if climate change continues on its current trajectory.
This is a watershed moment for our nation and world, not only in how we respond to pandemic threats, but for what we can do together to alter the course of climate change. The global scale of our concentrated behavioral shifts right now is unprecedented—and the results of these efforts are healing our planet.
Scientists who study air pollution are documenting substantial, immediate improvements in air quality across cities and nations like China and Italy that have decreased travel and factory production. Reports of water quality in Venice and elsewhere are also drastically improved.
The pandemic teaches us important lessons about how our nations can coordinate efforts and how we can all take personal responsibility to change our behaviors so that we protect the health of our families and communities. The actions we take today are profound, and the benefits may be more significant to the health of our communities in the future than is immediately evident.
What will the "new normal" look like when the viral threat passes? Nobody can say for sure, but many believe "normal" will be very different in the year ahead than it was a month ago. Businesses that have shifted operations to remote work may come through this pandemic with a different operating model that requires less travel to and from an office. Behavioral changes we can make to reduce our carbon emissions that may have seemed too daunting a month ago may feel much more reasonable a month from now.
We are all learning what is possible and what we can achieve through collaboration. If our "new normal" includes efforts to reduce our carbon emissions globally at even a fraction of the rate of today, just imagine what we could achieve to change the trajectory of climate change and ensure a healthier future for all.
If we start to see climate change as the global health threat that it is, and treat it with the seriousness of a viral threat, we can reverse the damage and protect the health of future generations.
Illinois director, the Nature Conservancy