After a brief foray into the world today, during which I observed a number of employees and a far greater number of shoppers wearing masks down around their necks or, worse, with no masks at all, I have concluded that all establishments should adopt this policy: No mask, no entry.

• • •

We all need to wear masks, even if only homemade cloth ones.

I was recently hospitalized for five days with a collapsed lung, concussion and broken tailbone after a fall down my basement stairs. Being 70 years old with a toxic-exposure-caused immune problem and a damaged right lung, I was terrified by the COVID-19 dangers in the hospital. I was further dismayed by the collection of cheap and crummy-looking masks hospital staff were stuck with.

However, my doctor calmed me down by explaining how the "crummy" masks actually work fairly well if all patients and all hospital staff wear them. No one can exude virus aerosol droplets on anyone (mutually assured survival). The mutual "crummy" masks worked, and four weeks after leaving the hospital, I am still free of COVID-19 symptoms.

So why aren't we all keeping each other safer by wearing at least some sort of face covering in public places? Are we just too selfish to think in terms of protecting others? Why can't we think in terms of, "I'll protect you with a mask and you reciprocate and protect me with a mask"?

As we continue to fight this plague and open even more businesses, we need to do whatever is necessary to get and wear more masks. For example, I think all stores need to make mask-wearing (at least some sort of face covering) mandatory for all staff and customers.

Jim Voytilla, St. Paul

No factory meat, no factory suffering

In response to "Pilgrim's Pride workers protest company's COVID-19 policies" (, April 28), I'm so glad the public is hearing more about how terribly workers are treated at poultry processing facilities and slaughterhouses. This disregard for workers' health is not unique to Pilgrim's and extends beyond COVID-19. Workers at slaughterhouses across the country face high rates of injury and illness, along with low wages. Minnesotans care about workers and animals, and we can all take steps to reduce our consumption of animal products that come from these facilities.

Purchasing animal products also supports animal suffering. For just one particularly cruel example, mother pigs in the pork industry can be locked in wire cages so tiny they can't turn around. Most never see grass.

However, it's easy to reduce reliance on animal products when there are so many delicious, convenient and nutritious alternatives to meat at restaurants and in grocery stores. I've been a happy vegan for years, enjoying things like Impossible Burgers, Field Roast's variety of plant-based cheeses and sausages, and making my own recipes with Beyond Meat (my non-vegan husband loves Beyond Meat tacos).

These companies and products don't violate workers' rights or risk their health. Plus, these products are protein-packed, easy to find and delicious, without the ethical problems that come from eating animal meat.

We should take a stand against the truly awful (unimaginable, really) treatment of slaughterhouse workers and animals. And we can start by making a simple and powerful change — our diets.

Alyssa Foggia, Maple Grove
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Unemployed people in the U.S. are lining up for hours to get help from food shelves, people in other countries like Ethiopia and Sudan are facing devastating famine. At the same time the corporations that own our food systems are killing thousands upon thousands of chickens and hogs and burying them or sending them for dog food. Milk is being dumped. Vegetables are going unpicked.

This is a shameful waste of food, precious animal life and of an opportunity to do good. The federal government should buy this food at a reasonable rate with some of that tax money being used for recovery and pass it on to either feed us or to remind the rest of the world that the U.S. wants to help. I'm sure our big corporations could help with the distribution process. With so much hunger in the world, it is unforgivable that we are allowing so much food to be destroyed.

Lenore Kathleen Millibergity, Minneapolis
• • •

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's decision to roll over and permit the expansion of Daley Farms (a dairy) near Lewiston, Minn., shows how industry has captured the very agency that is responsible for protecting our environment and neighbors ("Pollution study for big farm rejected," April 30).

As an elder who was born and raised in karst country, I remember when the MPCA was established to "protect and improve the environment and enhance human health." We could count on it to use science and to stand up to businesses that would harm Minnesota's environment, people and future.

This recent decision to allow the Daley Farms project despite MPCA staff's admission that they did not have enough data to assess harmful impacts shows that the agency has forgotten its original mission and betrayed the public trust. Furthermore, it counters Winona County's right of local control to prevent expansion of nonconforming land uses. In response, each of us can straighten our spines and remind our officials to do their jobs and act for a healthy future.

Bonita Underbakke, Lanesboro, Minn.
HEALTH CARE capacity

Bed decrease is not so simple

The Opinion Exchange article written by two attorneys about certificate-of-need requirements as the reason we have insufficient hospital beds is simply wrong ("State certificate-of-need laws must go," April 29). As someone who worked in health care her whole career, from the mid-'70s until two years ago, I can assure you there are many reasons the numbers of hospital beds have decreased over time. Not the least of these are massive changes in how health care is provided and the advancement of medical technologies.

When I was 10 years old in the mid-'60s and needed my appendix removed, I was in the hospital for one week. In the mid-'90s, when my son had his appendix removed, he was in the hospital for one night. Fewer beds needed! In the mid-'80s, pushed by the nursing strike, many surgeries began to be done as day surgeries, with no hospital stay at all! Fewer beds needed! With the advent of technologies that are less invasive — witness robotic surgery — hospital stays are shorter than ever. Fewer beds needed! All of these are reasons why there are fewer hospital beds needed now than in years past.

This article is a needlessly inflammatory and narrow-minded view of the topic. I am disappointed that this newspaper would publish such a piece.

Linda Zdon, Lake Elmo

We're still working. And caring.

I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to Linda Sauve, of Eagan, a licensed social worker, who wrote an article titled "Elder care workers are front-line health care heroes too" on April 28.

Having worked for seven years as chaplain at an assisted-living facility in Edina, I can vouch for her experience when she says they deal with death every single day and are doing their best.

I pray for our residents, my co-workers and my family each day as I leave for work and give thanks for them once more when I come home. My co-workers are doing an amazing job of adapting to these new hardships so that we can continue to care for our residents. In good times and bad, our work continues. We are together, serving, loving and caring for the residents every day. Yes, we care.

The Rev. A. Kwanza Yu, Edina

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