To the editor:

Bill Gates recently stated, "…of all things that could kill more than 10 million people around the world, the most likely is an epidemic stemming from either natural causes or bioterrorism." The bubonic plague and the Spanish flu killed millions, because there was a lack of knowledge about viruses and bacteria and consequently no way of treating these killers.

But today due to scientific research, smallpox has been eliminated and polio and other childhood diseases have been reduced. AIDS in the 80s, SARS in 2002, bird flu in 2005, Swine flu in 2009/2010, Ebola in 2014 have been controlled for now. In 2016 the Zika virus, for which there is no treatment or vaccine, arrived in our southern states. Even some of us in The Dalles remember being victims of a bioterrorist attack in the 80s.

In President Trump's proposed budget, "A New Foundation for American Greatness," government health institutions, like the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are to receive significant cuts. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is being diminished by a third. Yet these are the institutions that protect the environment, develop vaccines and medicines and prepare our country to deal with future epidemics. Trump’s cuts to essential government services are short-sighted and not in our best interest.

Just last March, Scott Pruitt, the new head of the EPA, decided to ignore the advice of scientists and reverse a ban on Chlorpyrifos, a harmful pesticide commonly used in agriculture.

We must continue the progress we’ve made over the years which has allowed us to enjoy such good health. Instead of making us great, this budget would leave us unprepared for a health crisis, natural or man-made.

Let your congressmen know that we need more funding, not less, for these well-established government institutions that keep Americans safe.

U.S. Sen.Ron Wyden, (202) 224-5244, wyden.senate.gov/contact; U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, (202) 224-3753, merkley.senate.gov/contact; U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, (202) 225-6730, walden.house.gov.

Sally Ford

The Dalles

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