Letterwriter Spotlight: Retired Nurse Laments Vaccine Misinformation | Local voices

Every Tuesday, we highlight a letter to the editor author. Every writer is asked the same five questions. The aim is to add to the understanding of where we all come from and what we might have in common. Featured this week is Gayle Ray of Lititz.

1. What Lancaster County issue concerns you most?

The Lancaster County issue that concerns me the most was and still is the response to COVID-19. Our elected officials and public health experts faced a deadly virus with little knowledge and resources to fight it. Most residents have responded by complying with restrictions, mandates and possible vaccines for the greater good of us all. Others have chosen to attack, slander and threaten medical professionals.

Most of us were vaccinated against polio and smallpox as children, but some have chosen to believe that the COVID-19 vaccine is different and somehow experimental and harmful. State lawmakers then tabled a constitutional amendment limiting a governor’s emergency powers on the ballot during an election cycle with an expected low turnout. This should work very well in our next crisis, because legislative committees are such fireballs when faced with a crisis.

2. What solutions to this problem would you suggest?

As a retired registered nurse, I hope those who have lost loved ones can be a voice of reason in combating the misinformation that continues to fill the airwaves. Doctors, nurses and other health care providers are reliable sources of information. Ask them questions and listen to their answers. When the bubonic plague ravaged medieval Europe, those who suffered from it would have been grateful for flea powder. We were given a lifeline. Please use it.

3. Why do you write letters to the editor and what shapes your thinking?

I write letters to the editor because I’m happy to be American. I think long and hard before replying to a topic, and when I do, I try not to insult or denigrate other people’s opinions. This is also why I go through a lot of drafts before hitting the send key.

History has been my passion for as long as I can remember. It teaches us that humanity is imperfect. We make the same mistakes across generations. We are waging senseless wars. We are working hard to destroy our planet. Yet we are capable of doing great things and progressing. It’s the fascinating ebb and flow of creation and destruction, while trying to maintain hope rather than despair.

4. What if you surprised others?

This might surprise people who only know me by my letters: my last name was Bliss. I come from a long line of oxymorons. I say that in the nicest way possible. Some people are simply immune to happiness.

5. What do you think sets Lancaster County apart from other places?

My husband and I moved to Pennsylvania 13 years ago and it’s not just Lancaster County but the entire state that intrigues us. The layers of history here are palpable and there are so many. We love living in a town that was founded in 1756, and Gettysburg is only an hour away. A young Amish befriended us while building a porch on our old house and started calling us “Mom” and “Pop”. We settled into a retirement community of friendly people. Pennsylvania has been soothing and we are grateful for that.

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