Last week, WW published three Portland nurses' accounts of working through the worst week of the pandemic. All three health care workers—Heather Rose, Kjersten Olsgaard and Erin Boni—described tragic scenes at overtaxed hospitals, frightened patients and emotional exhaustion. The article was sparked by a letter Rose wrote to WW in which she wrote of feeling "shaken by a different sort of suffering" working in the Legacy Health's intensive care unit, and pleaded for Americans to take COVID-19 precautions seriously. Here's what our readers had to say:

Fellene Gaylord via Facebook: "We are asking so much from our health care workers. As a recent COVID patient myself, my case was mild, but the fear was ever present."

Amanda Ellis via Facebook: "Mine wasn't mild. I suspect it is common, as those who were as sick as I was died. They just can't speak now. How quickly things changed with this virus. How I went from 'not feeling so good' to drowning. Then my fear started because I didn't have time to say goodbyes, even if I could have spoken. How the fear doesn't really stop, watching my life tick away with post-COVID issues. The concern and fatigue of the health care workers should matter. I survived, if this is actually a survival. I didn't have to watch myself decline and carry that fear too. That might have been too much."

P Miller via "A little off point here, but not that far…whenever I read these death toll comparisons to 9/11, I can't help but think that it is more 'on the nose' than is understood or appreciated. Our situation today is the resultant culmination of a mass mental illness that infected America on that very date two decades ago. It led America directly to this place. For it was 9/11 that fertilized an era of conspiracy theories, a generation consumed with brain-rotting lies, a rampant distrust of reality that led to the Trump presidency, to complete COVID denial, and to an utterly vicious incivility. And that's what America now is."

Fred and Joan Booth via "It is only six more months or so and we will be able live normally. Patience, people, is what is needed now to avoid overwhelming the health care workers. Better to wait until next season for holiday celebrations."

Ariane Holzhauer via Facebook: "Just looking at the exhaustion in that nurse's eyes makes me so sad for her and her colleagues who are fighting so hard and so long and have been getting so little support from the federal government, and such sheer obtuseness in so much of the public. I'm not surprised to hear stories of PTSD from the scenes they see, the distress and terror in the patients, the people dying alone, and paired with the insanely long work hours and fear for their own health and that of their families. And so many people out there refuse to do something as simple as wear a mask, and keep their distance?! This is a truly dark and shameful chapter in our history, and so much of it would have been preventable."

How to Cut Traffic Deaths

Thank you for highlighting Portland's record-breaking traffic fatalities ("The Big Number," WW, Dec. 16, 2020).

There are two glaring reasons for this.

First, Portland's Vision Zero is an acknowledged failure, due to the fact that it does not include an enforcement component of any kind.

Second, with Portland's Police Bureau sorely understaffed by national standards (less than one-half the number of sworn officers needed per capita) and the City Council refusing to fully staff it, little attention is given to the rampant speeders along our streets.

Now that the few Traffic Division officers we have are being switched to patrols, enforcement of traffic rules will suffer.

Recently defeated Portland Bureau of Transportation Commissioner Eudaly can squawk all she wants about speed-recording cameras, but that's not going to help the pedestrians run down in the crosswalks. Fully staffing the PPB is the solution.

Frank DiMarco
Southeast Portland

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