Omaha World-Herald. Jan. 22, 2021.

Editorial: Creighton’s expanded global health outreach is timely and encouraging

COVID has not only caused death and upheaval in countries rich and poor. It also has undercut longstanding work to improve health care in the world’s neediest countries.

“Because of COVID-19,” Reuters reports, “extreme poverty has increased by 7%” worldwide. In addition, “routine vaccine coverage — a good proxy measure for how health systems are functioning — is dropping to levels last seen in the 1990s.” Due to the COVID-related disruptions, key indicators for poverty reduction and health improvements have fallen in the world’s poorest nations.

The World Health Organization warns that “the pandemic threatens to set back hard-won global health progress achieved over the past two decades — in fighting infectious diseases, for example, and improving maternal and child health.”

In short, now is the time to redouble efforts to improve global health. The need is enormous.

News, then, that Creighton University is launching a major new health outreach to poor nations is especially timely and heartening. The new initiative, powered by a $25 million donation from a foundation that asked not to be named, embodies the Jesuit tradition of service and compassion toward others. The effort builds on Creighton’s decades-long health care involvement in developing countries. It also fits well with the ambitious Creighton Global Initiative begun several years ago by the Rev. Daniel Hendrickson, the university’s president.

Starting in 2022, the new program will annually select 12 medical students to treat patients in low-income nations and train health care workers in those countries. The long-term impact can be tremendous. As Creighton Board Chairman Mike McCarthy notes, “One person can impact the lives of thousands.”

It’s fitting that Creighton has titled this effort the Arrupe Global Scholars and Partnerships Program, in honor of the Rev. Pedro Arrupe, who founded the Jesuit Refugee Service 41 years ago.

The Creighton community has long taken pride in the university’s health care work overseas. Creighton’s Institute for Latin American Concern has carried out health care and educational work in developing countries since the mid-1970s. The university’s Project CURA provides health care information to low-income individuals in the Omaha area and has sent Creighton medical students to serve in Ecuador, Peru, Guatemala, Romania and Ghana.

Such service, Creighton explains at its website, is founded on the Jesuit ideal “to explore new ways to accompany the poor and excluded, promote education and support a shift from what Pope Francis called ‘a globalization of indifference’ to a globalization of siblinghood.” Creighton has long promoted those outward-focused principles for its students, and the university’s graduates have gone on to hold leadership positions in such organizations as the Stomp Out Malaria initiative in Africa; ONE, a global nonprofit focusing on child health and vaccinations in Africa; and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Creighton Global Initiative focuses on that Jesuit vision, and its 65 projects have provided research, educational and experiential opportunities so far for 1,400 students and 400 faculty and staff.

The moral awareness and global vision Creighton is encouraging prepares students well for the 21st century. Its new health care initiative could not come at a better time.


Lincoln Journal Star. Jan. 21, 2021.

Editorial: It’s time for cocktails to go to become permanently legal

The cocktails to-go movement, which began -- and continues -- as a way to help struggling restaurants stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, looks like it might be heading toward becoming permanent.

LB295, introduced last week by Lincoln Sen. Anna Wishart, seeks to repeal the prohibition on the sale of alcoholic liquor to a person within a motor vehicle. It would reinforce Gov. Pete Ricketts’ emergency mandate that was put in place last spring, allowing restaurants to sell drinks to patrons making take-out food orders.

Ricketts was wise to institute the emergency order early in the pandemic and keep it in place until Nebraska is back to normal.

Wishart’s proposal is the next step as Nebraska begins rebuilding an economy that was greatly hurt by the pandemic.

Nebraska isn’t alone. Thirty-one other states that have instituted temporary laws that legalized curbside alcohol service to help a struggling service industry, and many of them are trying to extend them long past the pandemic.

It’s hard to disagree with the logic -- and harder to put the toothpaste back into the tube. It would be impossible, not to mention hypocritical, to cite safety issues for suddenly reverting back to previous pre-virus laws.

Of course, we’d suggest that protocols remain in place that require checking the identification of anyone placing a curbside order to ensure that the underaged are not provided with an opportunity to acquire alcohol.

We would be remiss to endorse any piece of legislation that makes it easier to drink and drive. Then again, this law does nothing of the sort.

Most people are keenly aware that sneaking a sip on the way home isn’t nearly as innocent as reaching into the bag for a french fry or two on the way home from the drive-thru.

Capitalism has given everyone of age ample opportunities to drink and drive. There is no difference between chugging a purchase from a bottle bought at the local liquor store and a sealed carton of margaritas from your favorite Mexican place. The open-container laws already in place punish both equally.

And it should be noted that restaurants have done a good job of sealing their drinks to go in containers that are not conducive to sampling or sipping by the driver.

The statistics would back up that statement.

Nebraska State Patrol statistics indicate that drunken driving arrests declined by nearly 24% from the end of March through December, compared with the same time from a year ago.

Of course, critics will contend that those statistics are skewed by the fact that fewer people were driving this year because of the pandemic.

We care to believe that the vast majority of people abide by the laws in place, meaning Nebraskans won’t abuse their ability to purchase to-go cocktails to take home.


Kearney Hub. Jan. 23, 2021.

Editorial: Vaccine slower than hoped

By mid-March, Americans will have reached the one-year anniversary of the emergency declaration for COVID-19. Looking back over those 12 months we see encouraging signs. Topping that list of positive news is the success of ex-President Donald Trump’s Operation Warp Speed. In less than a year we’ve developed several safe and effective vaccines.

We are fortunate to have unraveled the riddle of the coronavirus so rapidly. However, we seem incapable of unraveling the mystery of what motivates Americans. At a time when long lines should be forming for Americans to be immunized, scores of people are expressing their doubts about the shots. Even some health workers are dragging their feet, even though you would expect people battling the virus on the front lines would desire some protection from the illness that’s killing 4,000 Americans per day.

If it doesn’t feel remarkable that we’re approaching the one-year mark in our battle against the coronavirus, here’s a sobering thought: Public health experts are expecting that, growing at the rate of 4,000 deaths per day, the death toll will have reached 500,000 in the United States by mid-March.

It took the United States just 16 weeks to register 100,000 deaths, rising from 200,000 to 300,000 deaths overall. However, our death toll is revving in high gear. Medical experts tell us deaths rose from the 300,000 mark to 400,000 mark in only four weeks.

How to set goals for 2021 when everything feels uncertain

At that pace, it would be a mathematical miracle if we don’t record 500,000 deaths by mid-March.

These numbers don’t lie. They’re telling us the coronavirus remains a deadly serious threat to our health and to our lives, and yet we hear Americans thinking twice about taking the vaccine when it’s available to them. Being immunized is the best defense against contracting COVID-19, but unless the vaccines go from the syringes into people’s arms, it will be a waste. In order to develop the herd immunity against COVID-19, at least 75% to 80% of Americans need to get their shots.

The vaccine will be far less effective if the percentage of vaccinated Americans fails to reach the 75% to 80% immunization level for maximum effectiveness.

We Nebraskans are seeing some encouraging signs. Infection rates are down slightly and stabilizing. That’s good news, but we cannot rest, we cannot let down our guard, until enough of us have been immunized, but with vaccine supplies falling short of what is expected, we’ll all be waiting months longer than we were told to expect.

That means masking and social distancing continues to be necessary. We need to take care to sanitize surfaces and wash our hands frequently.

Avoid crowded places with poor air circulation. We all need to remain on high alert and take this pandemic seriously. It may take longer, but we’ll see this through.