Essential workers include those who clean our wastewater to protect our environment during pandemic

MWRD essential staff, like other essential workers, come in and perform their duties despite the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

SHARE Essential workers include those who clean our wastewater to protect our environment during pandemic
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The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District’s Calumet Water Reclamation Plant in 2014.

Gary Middendorf/for Sun-Times Media

Have you thought about what happens to your water once it goes down the your drain or after you flush your toilet? In most of Cook County, it ends up at one of Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and its water treatment plants.

These reclamation plants are run by dedicated professionals: plant operators, engineers, pipefitters, laborers, machinists and so many others. These front-line workers are backed by many more support staff who continue to ensure that our wastewater is cleaned and our environment is protected.

MWRD essential staff, like other essential workers, come in and perform their duties despite the risk of exposure to COVID-19. Contact with other workers and the water reclamation process increases their odds of contracting the virus. While MWRD takes many precautions to reduce these risks for staff, the threat remains while they perform their responsibilities.

The next time you wash your hands, flush your toilet or have a glass of water, take a moment to remember the MWRD staff who are working to protect our water, our communities and the environment.

Kim du Buclet, commissioner, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District

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On being caught flat-footed

Sun-Times columnist Lynn Sweet’s tutorial on the nation’s swab supply was quite informative, but why were we caught flat-footed, in desperate need of such anti-epidemic supplies?

At great expense, the federal government stores millions of barrels of crude oil in case overseas supplies get interrupted. We have millions of rounds of ammunition on hand in case a shooting war breaks out. Families in areas prone to hurricanes, tornadoes or floods are expected to have an emergency kit of bare necessities handy to grab on a moment’swarning. In strategically located warehouses, FEMA pre-positions tents, stretchers, emergency rations, bottled water, tents, etc. in anticipation of natural disasters.

Why does Washington not store up what’s needed to do battle with virus attacks, including swabs and ventilators, especially given that we depend mainly on overseas sources to make them, including China, a potential enemy?

Already we have been threatened or attacked by prior viruses: H1N1, swine flu, chicken flu, Ebola, AIDS, etc., — all new strains for which no vaccines existed. We are told that prior administrations provided the Trump administration with a complete playbook including prudent readiness against new virus attacks which epidemiologists assure shall come in time, one after the other.

Not only was heed not taken, the Trump administration de-funded or reduced funding for multiple efforts here and worldwide to anticipate and fight infection outbreaks which, thanks to air travel, can spread around the world in48 hours. They even went sofar as to renounce all responsibility for that failure. So now in dollars and lives we are paying a price many times the preparation cost for official readiness. We, the mighty super power, the USA. Even South Korea was better prepared. Instead, we invest billions in a pointless border wall thathas gained us nothing.

Yet this administration expects to be re-elected?

Ted Z. Manuel, Hyde Park

Stop saying ‘new normal’

May I propose a moratorium on the expression “new normal”?

It isnot “normal” for human beings to have to mask themselves, shun one another, and fear one another as toxic repositories of death and pestilence; it is not“normal” for our deepest and most meaningful rituals, both sacred and secular, to have to be conduced via electronic devices rather than through the actual participation of human beings singing, praying, dancing, and celebrating together; it is not “normal” for our children to have to live, learn and play in isolation from others.

Such restrictions are necessities, for the time being, in a time of crisis.But if we “normalize” them, we run the risk of forgetting what the true “normal” really is, even after the crisis is over, and how essential it still is. We will lose forever irrevocable facets of what it means to be human.

D.G. Whiteis, Humboldt Park

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