Short Takes On Pandemic Tourism and Lunar Loos

By Daily Editorials

July 27, 2020 6 min read

Pandemic, Schmandemic. Visit Missouri ...

Gov. Mike Parson has argued forcefully against expanding Medicaid, contending the state just doesn't have the money to pay for it. He has cut funding for public schools as well. People living in poverty will just have to work harder, because the budget is too tight to help them out.

But when it comes to tourism, well, it's party time! Tourism is "a great way to support Missouri businesses" Parson declared at his afternoon press briefing July 16. "With all the other things going on, it's still important people need to get out and enjoy life a little bit," he added.

To sweeten the incentive, he announced plans to spend $15 million from federal coronavirus relief funds to promote tourism. Coronavirus infections are now so rampant that Missourians are now required to go into two-week quarantines if they visit New York or neighboring northeastern states. The quarantine also would apply to anyone from those states who visit Missouri after being lured by tourism ads.

Visit Missouri and take home a pandemic memory you'll never forget!

... and Let Suzy Davis Show You Around

Even as Missouri shattered records this week for new daily coronavirus infections, the newest member of the Jefferson County health board doesn't seem to think there's a problem with not wearing a mask. That is, it's not her problem. Board member Suzy Davis led a crowd of protesters in a chant against mandatory mask requirements, arguing that it's everyone's right to risk infection by not wearing a mask if they so choose.

"Are we worried?" she yelled to a crowd of protesters outside the meeting venue of the county health board in Hillsboro. "No!" crowd members shouted in response.

Davis is so determined to stand in the way of life-saving decisions, she ultimately forced the board to delay any final mask order until the issue can be revisited at a followup special meeting on Tuesday.

Too many uninformed people like Davis confuse masks with, say, motorcycle helmets. It's more like driving on a highway wearing a blindfold and not wearing a seatbelt. Sure, Davis might feel a measure of freedom, but her reckless actions endanger herself along with everyone in her path. The health board should resoundingly reject her bullying tactics.

'Going' to the Moon

NASA is challenging the public to build a better toilet — specifically, one designed to work in the low gravity of the Moon. The space agency's Lunar Loo Challenge contest is sweetening the pot with a $35,000 prize. Contenders should not let this opportunity go down the drain.

With cramped quarters and low or zero gravity, how astronauts "go" when they go into space has always been an issue and source of weird fascination for people who closely follow the program. The astronauts on the Apollo Moon missions of the late 1960s and early 1970s didn't have toilets; they used bags that were sealed up and brought back to Earth.

Today on the International Space Station, there are toilets using fan-driven suction systems — but those are designed for zero gravity and take up considerable room. (The water used and produced in that process is filtered and recycled, yes, as drinking water.) With NASA planning a return to the Moon in 2024, there's a need for a toilet that will work in weak lunar gravity while being small enough to fit in a lunar lander.

So the contest is on. Ready, set ... flush!

The Answer Is ... Class.

This week saw two milestones for long-time "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek: He turned 80, and his memoir hit the shelves. For more than three decades, Trebek has hosted the gold standard of brainy game shows, reading clues and politely admonishing contestants who don't remember to couch their answer in the form of a question, because the question is the answer. Frustrating the stereotype of the loud, gaudy reality-show host, his style is professorial. Television, so often an intellectual wasteland, here offers knowledge. And facts.

"There's a certain comfort that comes from knowing a fact," Trebek told The New York Times. "The sun is up in the sky. There's nothing you can say that's going to change that. ... There is reality, and there's nothing wrong with accepting reality. It's when you try to distort reality, to maneuver it into accommodating your particular point of view, your particular bigotry, your particular whatever — that's when you run into problems."

The staid, smart performer, battling late-stage pancreatic cancer, is the perfect antidote for these fact-challenged times.

Shutting Down a Real Super-Spreader

Bangladeshi hospital owner Mohammad Shahed figured out a surefire way to make money. With workers desperate to know whether they had a clean bill of health to go back to their jobs, he began offering coronavirus tests. He raked in an estimated $350,000 by charging thousands of patients for their tests even though he had promised the government he would give the tests for free.

That was bad enough. Far worse, though, was that the test results were bogus. He handed out certificates verifying negative test results, deceiving patients into believing they were safe and badly rattling the medical community as doctors contemplated the potential of thousands of virus-positive patients walking around falsely believing they weren't spreading the disease.

Shahed was arrested July 16 while trying to flee the country — disguised as a woman and dressed in a burka. Although his clinics conducted around 4,000 genuine tests, he is believed to have faked the results on another 6,500.

REPRINTED FROM THE ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

Photo credit: SplitShire at Pixabay

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