I found Tuesday's letters to the editor to be disheartening ("Let me get this straight"). For four years we couldn't prosecute Donald Trump because he was president, and now we have to let him get away with it because he's no longer president? A complete lack of accountability portends a grim future.

Toni Gurvin, Bloomington
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Our reputation as the stalwart beacon of freedom in the world has suffered a most damaging blow by the events of Jan. 6. The debate continues as to whether Trump should be convicted of charges in the Senate. What are the ramifications of that vote? Americans may be taking a myopic view of the matter, partly because a great number of people just wanted him gone. They are so fed up with the man that the simple act of his leaving office was considered their No. 1 objective. All right, Trump is gone. Now what? Yes, we move on to the Biden presidency and administration, a fresh start in the eyes of many. But what is the true price we have paid? In terms of our international reputation, some countries have questioned if we are any different from other banana republics. Our former allies await the course of the aftermath of Trump and what will be done to the damaged soul of the U.S. Has a country that has been standing behind the rule of law since its foundation and offered its young people in sacrifice in countless wars lost its ideals? Will America prove itself by prosecuting Trump for sedition? Will Republican senators stand on principle or cave to political expediency by sweeping him under the rug? The eyes of the world are upon us. If ever we need to stand on our principles, it is now.

Marvin A. Koski, Minnetonka
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To the elected representatives of Minnesota: After promoting this unconstitutional show trial in the U.S. Senate, please don't lecture us about political reconciliation and a new "political unity."

Joe Mann, Brooklyn Center
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Trump refused to honor or defend the Constitution as president, but he's darn sure quick to try and hide behind it as a civilian. In his trial Trump's lawyers will defend his right to "free speech," a right that as president he consistently refused to grant to Black Lives Matter demonstrators. Peaceful marchers were cleared from the streets violently on June 1, 2020, so that Trump could have his picture taken while casually and irreverently holding a Bible in the air in front of St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. But his lawyers are now arguing that he had the right, on Jan. 6, 2021, to stand in front of an angry mass of disgruntled supporters and falsely shout "Fire!" in the proverbial theater.

The faster Trump's former acolytes can recognize his crimes for what they are the better. And the faster our nation can put this would-be dictator behind us, even better.

Andrew Lake, Columbia Heights
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Let's pretend it was a Democratic president who incited the insurrection on Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol. However Republican senators would vote in this scenario, they should have the decency and the courage to do that now!

Cheryl Hunstock, Minneapolis

HEALTH SYSTEM

Surprise us: No extra fees

On Feb. 5, Minnesota Hospital Association CEO Rahul Koranne wrote to state Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm on behalf of Minnesota's hospitals and health systems to decry the lottery system currently used to distribute COVID-19 vaccines, stating, "The result of this lottery process, as it stands, needlessly brings public trust in all of us into question" ("Rural vaccine allocation blasted," front page, Feb. 6).

If there are angels among us, they are the doctors, nurses, first responders and health care personnel who have put themselves at risk to care for us during the pandemic, especially those who work in hospitals. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the administrators who control these merged corporate entities. It is these administrators that Koranne represents.

Some months ago, I tried to schedule a COVID test with our large health systems. I was told by each that before a test could be scheduled, I must have a "telemedicine" visit. Why? Because it can be billed for, even though the tests were free. I went to the Minnesota Department of Health website and booked a free test that was done at a National Guard armory staffed by the Guard and health care workers. Not an administrator in sight. The entire process took five minutes.

Back to Koranne's issue of public trust. Here is what erodes public trust: the possibility of hidden and surprise charges for the free vaccine. An article published on the New York Times' website in December, "The vaccines are supposed to be free. Surprise bills could happen anyway," stated that "additional fees could accompany a vaccine." Most emergency rooms and office buildings that hospitals own charge a "facility fee." What happens if someone goes to an outpatient department that charges a facility fee and gets vaccinated? Will there be a charge? Will parking be free?

The letter Koranne needs to write is one that publicly commits his member corporations to keeping the free vaccine free. Also, that letter must not skirt the issue by referring to Minnesota Statute 62J.824, which requires posting facility fees but does not prohibit charging them.

Patients and communities are, in fact, more important than health systems.

David Feinwachs, St. Paul

The writer is a lawyer who was for 30 years general counsel for the Minnesota Hospital Association.

DISEASE

The meaning of the COVID vaccine, from a polio survivor

I am a polio survivor, class of 1951. Not quite 2 years old when I contracted the poliomyelitis virus, I have no direct memory of the event, but I have lived my entire life with its aftereffects and am now largely confined to a wheelchair. With financial help from the March of Dimes, I received multiple bone fusions and muscle transplants, state-of-the-art braces and crutches and eventually was, for many years, able to walk with little assistance. I had the good fortune to recover sufficiently to live and work in England and Germany for two decades, to have been married for 43 years to a great man and have a wonderful family: two sons and daughters-in-law and three grandsons. I know that I am one of the luckiest of survivors.

Unlike COVID-19, the peak group of polio incidence was young children. Others were spared my experience because so many parents at the time did what was necessary to protect their children from the disease, keeping them away from swimming pools and friends and avoiding crowds during summer and autumn, when the disease struck most frequently. Schools closed and sports events were canceled. More stringent hygiene (hand-washing, frequent baths), healthier diets and frequent naps were adopted in the hope of warding off the virus. It was at one time so widespread that most people had a friend, relative or neighbor who had contracted polio. Not so anymore. When a vaccine finally became available after many years of research, practically everybody received it and its boosters. Now the disease has been virtually eradicated.

My experience with that earlier epidemic — I spent time in an "iron lung," the precursor of today's respirators — has made me especially vulnerable in this pandemic. I've followed all of the guidelines; I haven't been in anyone else's home since last March, and I allowed our son's family to visit us only after they agreed to testing and a complete quarantine. I knew only too well what suffering viruses can cause — what the polio virus cost me as well as my parents and family.

I was extremely lucky two weeks ago to get a first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, but I was unprepared for the profound emotional effect it had on me. My life would have been so different had there been a vaccine available at the time I contracted polio. And so I strongly implore everyone to get the vaccine whenever it becomes available to them and, in the meantime, to continue with the strict measures we all must be taking to limit the virus's spread: wearing a mask in public, distancing, washing your hands — and showing that you truly care about yourself, your family, your friends and your neighbors.

Adele Poindexter Evidon, Minneapolis

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