Monday, September 20, 2021
Sept. 20, 2021

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In Our View: Cheers & Jeers: Chiles’ aplomb; end of Elahan

The Columbian

Cheers: To Jordan Chiles. The Vancouver native and Prairie High School graduate helped the U.S. women’s gymnastics team win a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics, playing a big role in one of the most dramatic sports moments in memory.

The United States was a heavy favorite for gold, but that changed when star Simone Biles withdrew, citing mental health issues. That forced Chiles to unexpectedly compete in the uneven bars and balance beam events, where she performed with aplomb. She struggled on the floor exercise, and the Americans were unable to catch the Russian Olympic Committee team in the overall standings, but a silver medal in one of the marquee events of the Games is a remarkable achievement. Cheers go to Chiles and all the athletes who are representing the United States to the best of their ability.

Jeers: To a lack of mental health care. Clark County’s only long-term facility for mental health care is closing soon, highlighting the dearth of such care here and elsewhere. Elahan Place, a 32-bed long-term treatment center run by Columbia River Mental Health Services, has seven patients who must find another place to go. “There are limited beds across the state, but the goal is to keep people in their own area,” said Kim Schneiderman of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Southwest Washington. “It’s important that their support system is accessible to them if they are sent out of the area and it puts added stress on the family. It’s heartbreaking.”

The state of Washington is developing regional mental health facilities. The imminent closure of Elahan Place demonstrates the need for such a system.

Cheers: To Boeing profits. The aerospace giant has reported its first profit since 2019, earning $567 million in the second quarter of this year. A year ago, with the pandemic stifling global air travel and the company facing troubles with its 737 Max product line, Boeing reported a loss of $2.4 billion for the second quarter.

Boeing has been replaced by Amazon as the state’s largest employer, but it remains an essential part of the economy. The company supports vendors and suppliers throughout Washington, meaning that what is good for Boeing is good for all of us. Stability at Boeing is a sign of stability for the entire state.

Jeers: To excessive heat. The heat is back, with the National Weather Service issuing a heat advisory for this weekend in the metro area. The good news is that temperatures are not expected to approach last month’s record-breaking marks.

Officials urge residents to stay hydrated and to avoid being outside during the hottest part of the day. They also recommend staying in air-conditioned places as much as possible, and not leaving children or pets in cars. The June heat wave is believed to have contributed to about 100 deaths in Washington, pointing out the need for caution when temperatures climb.

Cheers: To COVID vaccines. Data from Southwest Washington further demonstrate the effectiveness of coronavirus vaccines. Being fully vaccinated has reduced the risk of hospitalization for people 65 and older by 90 percent, according to an analysis of Clark, Cowlitz, Lewis, Pacific, Skamania and Wahkiakum counties.

“This report demonstrates how effective COVID-19 vaccines are at preventing severe illness that can lead to hospitalization,” said Dr. Steven Krager of Clark County. “Completing the vaccination series provides the most protection, but even those who are not yet fully vaccinated receive some protection from the vaccine.”