A little arithmetic and a question. Using numbers reported in the Jan. 8 Star Tribune, the current Minnesota COVID vaccination rate is about 10,000 shots per day. This rate is occurring in a situation where less than half of the doses received by the state have been administered, so there is not a bottleneck of supply. The target recipients are in well-defined groups of front-line health care workers and residents of nursing homes, institutions where nice lists of names are available and people are readily reached. At the rate of 10,000 shots per day (expecting everyone needs a booster) it will take about three years to vaccinate all 5.6 million Minnesotans, many of whom are not on nicely organized lists and who live scattered across the state.

What is the state's plan to increase the vaccination rate by a factor of four so that we might reach the coveted herd immunity level by the time school starts at the end of the State Fair and all Minnesotans might be vaccinated by late fall?

Bruce Odegaard, Crystal
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Regarding the commentary "What ails rollout is too much management" about the COVID vaccine (Opinion Exchange, Jan. 7): The problem is that most of the practicing physicians, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses or vocational nurses, medical assistants and pharmacists have full time jobs and are not available to spend all day giving COVID-19 shots.

Why not utilize retired RNs, LPNs, pharmacists or other medical personnel to assist in giving COVID-19 injections? Have the Health Department certify these individuals are trained in giving injections and get the COVID-19 vaccines out to all Americans as soon as possible.

I am a retired RN who gave thousands of injections in my 35-year career at HealthPartners and would gladly volunteer my time giving COVID injections.

Carol Heinzmann, Spring Lake Park

VACCINATING PRISONERS

Need, not behavior, should determine who gets the shot

In response to the Jan. 5 article, "State's most vulnerable inmates receive vaccine," I applaud both the Minnesota Departments of Health and Corrections for taking a principled stand in favor of distributing the vaccines to those in most immediate danger. As a Presbyterian minister and criminal justice reform expert, I can confidently say that it's the correct step from both a public health perspective and a religious one. Our faith calls us to think compassionately about others, not to judge them for their mistakes. Hebrews 13:3 is explicit about taking care of prisoners — "Remember those in prison as if you were bound with them, and those who are mistreated as if you were suffering with them."

Every medically vulnerable person should be first in line for the vaccine, regardless of where they live, who they are or what they've done. That is what God has always expected of us.

The Rev. Fred Davie, New York
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Count me among those who don't understand why Minnesota prison inmates are getting the COVID-19 vaccination before vulnerable senior citizens. Responding to complaints, Ann Blanchard at Faribault's prison medical ward said, "Mom and Dad have the ability to stay home. They get their groceries brought in" and can choose to isolate or not interact with others. "These [inmates] don't have the same privilege." Here's a news flash. Senior citizens didn't choose to isolate; fear forced their quarantine. And many of us can't afford to have our food or meals delivered.

Prisoners gave up their privileges when they committed the crimes they're serving time for. They get their meals served on site, no grocery shopping required. Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell said that vaccinating prisoners is the fastest way to end lockdowns and regain privileges. Works for us seniors, too.

In Minnesota a conviction doesn't come with a death sentence. But neither should a law-abiding senior citizen face the possibility of dying before your time because their shots are allocated for the arms of 400 convicts. Seniors over 75 are being told to wait until the end of January, maybe early February for their first shot.

Those over 75 make up more than 70% of the confirmed COVID-19 deaths in Minnesota, including 12 of the 13 deaths reported Jan. 4. Over half of the 7,000 Minnesota inmates have contracted COVID, and nine have since died. So who's the most vulnerable?

Carolyn Thompson, Champlin

FUTURE OF THE GOP

Try these options on for size

State Republicans say they are uncertain about the way forward for the party ("Minnesota Republicans torn over how to move forward," front page, Jan. 8). I have some suggestions: How about affirming a rejection of negative attack ads on opposition parties and candidates? How about an affirmation of respect for the state Constitution? How about publicly pledging all candidates and the party to moral, ethical and honest behavior and then living up to those standards, regardless of potential political fallout? Finally, how about the party hold all national candidates who wish to campaign in Minnesota to the same high standards?

Carl Brookins, Roseville
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What is the opposite of RINO, "Republican in name only"? Not DINO. Calling myself a Democrat would be a lie. But I can no longer bear the name "Republican." We need a fresh-start party for people like me who hold traditional conservative values but don't embrace flat-earth-like nonsense.

Ross Moen, Golden Valley
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The article about the Minnesota Republicans in the Jan. 8 paper quoted former Gov. Tim Pawlenty saying, "It's fair to say the Republican elevator has arrived in the basement." Later in the article it states that some conservatives hope to cleave the party from Trump and again win statewide races in 2022. I'm sorry, you will have to stop on every floor on the way up because somebody pushed all the buttons. There are probably at least 10 floors or more.

Victor Blonigen, St. Cloud

CAPITOL RIOTS

Maybe there was bias, but maybe it's more complicated

The article "Floyd protest veterans decry inequality of police restraint" (front page, Jan. 8) echoed a current theme that the weak response of security at the U.S. Capitol was race-based. While Capitol Police were clearly unprepared and understaffed (with subsequent resignations of Capitol security leadership), the mayor of the District of Columbia, Muriel Bowser, prior to the riot, sent a letter to the acting U.S. attorney general, the acting secretary of defense, and the secretary of the army stating, "To be clear, the District of Columbia is not requesting other federal law enforcement personnel and discourages any additional deployment without immediate notification to, and consultation with, MPD if such plans are underway. ... MPD is well trained and prepared to lead the law enforcement, coordination and response to allow for the peaceful demonstration of First Amendment rights in the District of Columbia."

A Jan. 7 report from National Public Radio suggested the mayor wanted to prevent a heavy-handed federal response to protesters in D.C. as seen last year. It is premature to draw conclusions about motivations around the insufficient preparation for and delayed response to the mob overrun of the U.S. Capitol. Investigations are underway and will likely find failures of assumptions, preparations and response at several levels of government.

Leslie Everett, Falcon Heights

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