Even with no coronavirus vaccine on the horizon, our fossil fuel addiction is a far more dangerous global pandemic. The World Health Organization estimates that 4.2 million needless annual deaths globally are linked to air pollution. Dirty air is directly linked to deaths from heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer and acute respiratory infections in children.
An ironic benefit of sheltering in place is a 30% air pollution reduction seen in some regions, and presumably, an equivalent reduction in premature deaths. A Stanford study using data as of March 8 estimated the lives saved in China were 20 times more than the virus took.
We are about to spend billions bailing out several carbon-intensive, outdated industries. Let’s use this opportunity to also hold our elected officials accountable for creating inclusive green jobs in renewable industries that will help us cure our fossil fuel addiction.
Mark Andersen, Wayzata
If he cared, we didn’t see it
It is unfortunate that the vice president’s visit to the Mayo Clinic was marred by the understandable focus on his refusal to wear a face mask (“Pence calls on Mayo, but spurns mask,” front page, April 29).
It appears that members of the president’s administration could benefit from my experience. Years ago, as a young officer on board one of this country’s submarines, I was having some leadership difficulties. The commanding officer called me to his cabin and made it abundantly clear that my job was to be a positive example for the men in my charge. Part of this effort included “displaying visible concern” (his words) at all times, and especially under emergency conditions. It’s not enough to just be concerned — it must be obvious to everyone that you care. Because of this timely “advice,” I had great experiences in the Navy, as a civilian manager and as a teacher.
It’s long past time for everyone on President Donald Trump’s team to show more visible concern; this includes wearing their masks when asked to do so.
Kenneth Thielman, Woodbury
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Vice President Pence showed a colossal lack of empathy by not wearing a mask at the Mayo Clinic and by his answer to a reporter who asked why. Some adult in the room should tell the VP that even though he gets tested every few days and knows he’s virus-free, the “we’re all in this together” slogan means you wear a mask for solidarity with others, not just for others’ safety.
Here is another bit of information for Pence: While you claim that not wearing a mask gave you the chance to meet people’s eyes, masks don’t cover the eyes. And still another: The people before whom you paraded mask-free are the people who will save this country. They deserve the respect of not being treated like lesser beings who can’t be tested frequently while you can.
Elaine Frankowski, Minneapolis
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Mr. Pence, head of the coronavirus task force, two questions for you:
1. Do you understand the concept of a false negative test result?
2. Do you understand the word “asymptomatic”?
Mayo Clinic, why did you allow this person or violate your own rules and risk harm to your workers and patients?
James Halvorson, Farmington
Protection, not lax standards
Why is it that Minnesota is the only state in the country that has not licensed its assisted-living facilities? What have been the barriers to licensing these facilities?
It is outrageous that the Minnesota Department of Health wants to postpone establishing licensing and minimum standards of care for Minnesota’s 1,700 assisted-living facilities until August 2022 (“Virus may delay new assisted-living rules,” front page, April 29). As has become all too apparent with the COVID-19 pandemic, our seniors are the most vulnerable (according to the article, 77% of the deaths in Minnesota from COVID-19 have been in long-term care facilities). Our seniors deserve better. Minnesotans deserve better.
I hope that legislators will not agree to the postponement and will require the Minnesota Department of Health to adhere to the legislation mandating all assisted-living facilities be licensed starting in August 2021.
Inge Chapin, New Brighton
Out for (beef) blood
Uh-oh! Somebody told the president that bleach can be used to kill germs on surfaces. Who knew? Obviously, that leads Trump to ponder whether the same cleaning agents could be used to combat COVID-19 if taken internally.
I suspect another adviser must have tipped him off that Quarter Pounders come from cows. Thus, the executive order declaring that meat processing plants must remain open, even as hundreds of workers fall ill to the virus. The president and his adviser Stephen Miller must consider this a twofer: The president still gets his burgers, and Miller finds another way to punish our immigrant workforce.
John Baer, Stillwater
We have a common enemy: COVID
In the midst of this pandemic comes a glimmer of hope. The United Nations Security Council is preparing for a vote declaring a global cease-fire to allow for a humanitarian focus on dealing with the virus. “Our world faces a common enemy: COVID-19. The virus does not care about nationality or ethnicity, faction or faith. It attacks all, relentlessly,” said U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.”
I bet if you asked the heroic health care workers in the Star Tribune’s Inspire section, they’d sign right on. So have 100 countries and countless leaders, like Pope Francis. I bet if we had a global referendum, support for a cease-fire would be overwhelming.
Perhaps we can count as our start to the cease-fire the recent decision to cancel the NATO war game that involved massing 35,000 (mostly U.S.) troops and their weapons at Russia’s borders. Correspondingly, Russia canceled its military game, which it had planned in response for the same time. The waste of millions of dollars and nonrenewable resources along with much unnecessary pollution was prevented — not to mention the possible accidental incitement of World War III. What a life-protecting decision canceling has proven to be!
Now the U.S. needs to make another good decision by not blocking the U.N. Security Council’s affirmation of the cease-fire. A global cease-fire would truly save lives and be in our national interest so we can all focus on healing.
Amy Blumenshine, Minneapolis
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