Other letter-writers have commented on the wonderful job the Clatsop County Public Health Department has done in the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine.
I echo that praise, not only for the professional health care workers but also for the volunteers who are supporting them. This letter is motivated by those volunteers, who give direct evidence of the level of involvement the community is willing to step up to if the purpose is worthwhile and well-coordinated.
About two years ago, a proposal was made to the mayor's Homelessness Solutions Task Force to form a cadre of volunteers who would be present — perhaps 24/7 — in downtown Astoria, walking the streets in pairs for the purpose of identifying people in crisis and then notifying Clatsop Behavioral Healthcare or the Astoria Police Department to make the appropriate response.
The proposal had these volunteers being well-trained, wearing highly-visible vests and identification cards, carrying two-way communications equipment and coordinating with professionals, very much along the lines of what we have seen successfully implemented at the COVID-19 inoculation centers.
If either the city or county would implement such an idea as an adjunct to other proposals for coming to grips with the issues of homelessness, then the downtown business owners, along with the cruise ship operators, might feel more comfortable — and less confrontational — when the city opens up again. Having homeless people in our community is not a problem to be solved. However, we can do more, and we can do better, to address it.
BARRY L. PLOTKIN