THUMBS UP: Ogden City is toying with the idea of temporarily closing off a part of Historic 25th Street to vehicular traffic. We think it’s a pretty good idea.

But we also can’t help but think: Why make it temporary?

One of the reasons the city is floating this balloon is that opening up the popular dining and drinking area to more outdoor seating might help during this time of social distancing and prohibitions against dine-in service. That makes sense.

And clearly, it would behoove the city to give serious consideration to local businesses’ wishes and concerns in this matter. But the idea of a permanent pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly historic retail district is undeniably alluring.

Sure, some have pointed out that the heat of the summer and cold of the winter could dampen enthusiasm for such a plan, but shade can be created, and at least a certain amount of heat can be generated.

It’s at least worth a look.

THUMBS UP:

Even prisoners have rights — among them, safe and humane confinement for the duration of their sentences.

Last week, a class action lawsuit was filed against the Weber County Jail and the U.S. Marshals’ Service over inmates’ exposure to an outbreak of COVID-19. The suit alleges the government defendants “are aware of the grave dangers posed by COVID-19 and have failed to implement measures to comply with their constitutional obligations to those in their custody.”

The lawsuit was filed by the Federal Public Defenders’ office in Salt Lake City, asking the court to order the immediate transfer of the most medically vulnerable inmates, those who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 and those “remaining inmates in excess of the jail’s ability to comply with CDC guidelines.”

Here’s hoping the class action lawsuit will spur officials to make timely changes to protect its charges from the pandemic. Prisoners may have forfeited many of their freedoms, but being treated humanely is not one of them.

THUMBS DOWN:

A big ol’ raspberry to the rental assistance that doesn’t seem to actually assist renters.

According to a story in Monday’s Standard-Examiner, nearly $400,000 has been set aside to help pay the rent of Weber County residents who have been struggling with the economic impacts of COVID-19. Which is all well and good until one realizes that due to tight restrictions placed on the money, it may not actually be getting to those who need it.

Andi Beadles, executive director of the Weber Housing Authority, said just five people successfully applied for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program’s rent help in April and May. This, despite the fact her office has been receiving as many as 30 calls a week from people struggling to keep up with their housing payments.

Beadles would like to see the state take a closer look at the funds provided through the federal CARES Act and revamp the guidelines and requirements in order to open it up to more people.

We heartily concur.

THUMBS UP:

Education heavyweights Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are suing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for a policy that would take away international students’ visas if they only attend online classes in the fall.

And now, Weber State University is joining the fight.

The Ogden school joined 180 other colleges and universities that signed on to an amicus brief earlier this week protesting the ICE decision.

“Cases of the virus are increasing and the national emergency is still in effect,” according to WSU senior international officer Dr. Yimin Wang. “We request ICE to allow institutions to continue to operate under the flexible policies previously established so as to enable higher education institutions to best serve our students.”

These are unprecedented times. The government’s intransigence in dealing with the changing landscape of this pandemic serves no one.

THUMBS UP:

“A Mask for Every Utahn.” Now that’s an initiative we can get behind.

Earlier in the week, in an attempt to protect its citizens, the state announced it was shipping 140,000 masks to grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, convenience stores and other retail outlets throughout Utah. Customers can request a reusable cloth mask by visiting the counters or customer service desks at participating stores.

The masks were also initially available online through the state website, but a recent check of that site revealed that all of those masks have been distributed.

It’s the Standard-Examiner’s hope that those without masks will avail themselves of the “A Mask for Every Utahn” program — and wear them.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!