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Robyn Burnett

Jefferson City

Dear Editor:

Inspired by a recent magazine article title, I've been thinking about how to love your neighbor during a pandemic as I've walked around my neighborhood exchanging friendly greetings (at a safe distance!) with my neighbors. I suppose it's a question we should grapple with every day, but it seems particularly relevant during a pandemic.

Before offering my recommendations, it might be helpful to remember that when Jesus was asked "Who is my neighbor?" his answer wasn't the person who lives next door to you, looks like you, has a similar economic status and shares your political views. Instead he answered with the parable of the Good Samaritan, who proved to be a good neighbor to a stranger, possibly someone who would have considered the Samaritan to be his enemy, who was robbed, beaten and left half-dead on the side of the road. The Samaritan saw the man's need and showed mercy on him, taking care of his wounds, carrying him to safety, and leaving money for his additional care.

Here are my suggestions for how to love our neighbors during this pandemic. First, practice good hygiene, keep a safe distance away from people, and wear a mask when you're in an enclosed public space — it may provide you modest protection, but it will almost certainly provide a significant amount of protection for your neighbors if you have COVID-19 and don't know it. This virus is so dangerous because too many people are infected with it but are unaware of it.

Second, vote yes on Amendment 2 on Aug. 4 to expand Medicaid to low-income working-age adults. Too many of our neighbors cobble together part-time jobs that don't include health insurance or, increasingly, are self-employed in the gig economy. The pandemic has made this worse as people have lost health insurance when they were laid off from their jobs. Too many people cannot afford the insurance options available to them. The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and organizations representing the health care sector offer many good reasons to back Medicaid expansion: It will support jobs and the financial viability of hospitals and emergency medical services, among others. For me, though, there's a more fundamental reason: My neighbors need access to health care.

So let us love our neighbors during this pandemic: Wear a mask and vote yes on Amendment 2 on Aug. 4.

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