Letters to the editor

Local hospitals pushed to capacity and beyond by COVID cases

Nearly every hospital in our region has reached capacity or is exceeding capacity, which means we consistently have more patients than beds. Cases of COVID-19 have been increasing during the last several weeks. Most of these patients have not been vaccinated. Our already busy emergency departments are now overwhelmed.

How are you affected?

• You may have a much longer than usual wait for emergency care.

• You may have a prolonged stay in the emergency department waiting for a hospital bed.

• Certain surgeries or procedures may be postponed.

• Visitor restrictions and mask mandates will remain in effect in our healthcare settings.

You may have thought things would get back to normal. They haven’t. You may have thought the worst was over. It isn’t. We implore the community, now is the time to stop the dangerous path we are on.

The strain on our hospitals affects our ability to care for you if you are seriously injured in an accident, suffer a heart attack or stroke, or experience another medical emergency. We frequently have to divert all but the most critical patients to the next nearest accepting facility, which can be miles away. We are challenged to discharge patients to skilled nursing homes because of the staffing shortages that are impacting the entire health care industry.

After nearly two years of caring for patients during the pandemic, our healthcare workers are stressed and exhausted. Many are sad and frustrated by so much preventable loss.

When vaccinated patients contract COVID, they typically are not as sick and do not require hospitalization, or they have a much shorter stay.

Hospitals here and across the country are starting to see an increase in respiratory illness and flu. Health experts are keeping a close eye on the new omicron variant and emphasizing how it is more important than ever that we remain vigilant and follow these public health recommendations:

• Get vaccinated. Get boosted.

• Choose the right level of care. Seek emergency care for life-threatening conditions or severe injuries.

• Mask when indoors, or whenever you are unable to socially distance.

• Wash your hands frequently.

COVID has cast a shadow on our lives, but how long it lasts is up to us. We can get through this together, but we need your help. We implore members of our communities to do everything you can to avoid COVID-19, especially this holiday season. Take every possible measure and precaution to keep you, your family and your friends safe and healthy.

Elizabeth Buchanan, District 2 Healthcare Coalition readiness and response coordinator

Congress should pass Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund

I am writing to urge Sens. Young and Braun and Rep. Walorski to support H.R. 4529 — Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Act. This bill establishes a fund for “the deposit of income, gift, and estate taxes” by taxpayers who have conscientious objector status listed in writing, with the funds appropriated to non-military governmental purposes.

As a Mennonite and Goshen College student (a Mennonite institution), I believe that all military service runs completely counter to Jesus’s life and teachings. Furthermore, I object to paying taxes to fund war efforts, which I believe is my religious freedom right.

As a member of a historic peace church — one with a large population in Goshen — I should not be compelled to financially support the killing of other humans. Paying for war is morally equivalent to participating in war. There is always another option, and Jesus calls us to creatively work to find it.

I do not wish to withhold tax payments for my personal enrichment, which is why I strongly urge Congress to establish a peace tax fund. With the passage of this bill, I would be able to legally demonstrate my objection to military service while continuing to support the vital role that government plays in our lives.

Finally, I acknowledge that Sen. Young served in the Marine Corps, and I respect his bravery. I hope that he can acknowledge that he was fighting to support the religious liberty of Hoosiers like myself.

Caleb Shenk, Goshen

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