Friday, November 27, 2020

You don't need to stand alone

| October 30, 2020 1:00 AM

One of the hardest things to do in life is to stand alone.

It can also be one of the most redeeming.

Kootenai Health, we’re talking about you. When four of the seven Panhandle Health District board members stripped you of one of the few external weapons you had in the local war on COVID-19, you may have felt like you were standing alone.

When critics deride the science behind your statements in public meetings, like last week’s PHD board meeting and this week’s Coeur d’Alene City Council session, you might feel like you’re standing alone. But you’re not.

Your 3,500 employees, dedicated warriors on the front lines of battle, stand right there with your top medical and administrative officials. Tens of thousands of Kootenai County residents also stand with you, more appreciative of your efforts than you could possibly know.

Coeur d’Alene City Council, we’re talking about you. When Amy Evans, Kiki Miller, Dan English and Christie Wood gave their emphatic support to a temporary citywide mask mandate this week, they might have felt like they were standing alone. Just outside their meeting, protesters were chanting and singing — to be heard, maybe, or possibly to try to drown out the serious discussion that was taking place inside.

And these four, plus Mayor Steve Widmyer, knew very well that their courageous stance would outrage some citizens. Sure enough, a recall effort formed almost immediately. Taunts have turned to threats, as the council members knew they would.

Council members, you’re not alone. The recall effort will fail miserably, if it gets any momentum to begin with. The vast majority of citizens are with you — those who reside in Coeur d’Alene and those in outlying areas who are frequent visitors or work in the Lake City. The silent majority is speaking up, as the overwhelmingly supportive voice of letters to the editor this past week illustrate.

Coeur d’Alene Police, we’re talking about you. We don’t envy you the task of first educating but eventually citing people who refuse to mask up in public places with other people. Group think and a lot of alcohol can be a bad combination for rational discussion or instruction, and Coeur d'Alene bars are a prime area of concern. But we know the police force is packed with dedicated public servants who will carry out their duty to the best of their ability, and they will not look the other way simply because it’s less confrontational.

We encourage other official bodies to back up Kootenai Health and the city of Coeur d’Alene in any and every way they can because it's the right thing to do — for individuals' health, for business survival, for kids in school. That’s called standing together, and it will help the entire region win this war not just against a deadly virus, but against ignorance itself.