It's not just that Kamala Harris is a Black woman ("Harris makes history as Biden's pick for VP," front page, Aug. 12). She is this woman. Her qualifications are outstanding. She's smart, experienced, assertive, personable, only in her mid-50s and progressive — without being an out-of-control liberal. She could step in as president, if necessary, and she instantly becomes a viable presidential candidate for 2024. Best of all, her choice by Joe Biden displays his sound and thoughtful judgment.

Jim Bartos, Brooklyn Park

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What a proud day this country ought to be having after the announcement of Harris as running mate for candidate Biden. This is an excellent example of empowerment. Here we have the typical rich, white man with power running for president. Instead of choosing a standard "winning" mate — another powerful white man — he picked a partner from one of the most marginalized populations in this county's history by selecting a woman of color.

Opening the vice presidential platform to more women is too long overdue. With movements like Black Lives Matter, MeToo and the dismantling of our immigration policies, Harris is one candidate who will be sure to fight for systemic change for every marginalized individual in this country. Marginalized people do have a voice, and they need allies to open the podium for them to speak. Voter trends in 2014 to 2018 showed participatory increases in those aged 18-29, women and ethnic minorities. If our nation keeps going in this direction, we shall hopefully see an end to the creation and enacting of divisive policies that have held up this administration during these last four years.

Rusty Rose-Dixon, Minneapolis

The Fifth has taken a turn

It pains me that tens of thousands of Fifth District voters were insufficiently motivated to vote in a primary election of genuine importance ("Record mail-in voting; Omar fends off challenge," front page, Aug. 12). But I am even more disturbed by the inability of so-called "progressives" to distinguish between a divisive, ethically compromised self-promoter and a thoughtful, conscientious individual far better equipped to serve his constituents than is the incumbent. The voters who repeatedly re-elected Donald Fraser and Martin Sabo to represent them would be hard-pressed to identify a common thread linking Rep. Ilhan Omar to DFL incumbents who preceded her. Clearly, we are looking at a Fifth District demographic with radically different political sensibilities.

Robert Rees, Minneapolis

Current measures won't cut it

The commentary by Michael Osterholm and Neel Kashkari, "We need another stint of staying at home" (Opinion Exchange, Aug. 12), is essential reading for political, business and education leaders. They describe why we have failed to control the spread of COVID-19, the results of that failure and a path forward.

The consequences of a restrictive national lockdown for six weeks are enormous, yet refusal to take such action is even more dire. The greatest obstacle to a coordinated, comprehensive response has been and continues to be denial. Far too many politicians at all levels fail to acknowledge the threat COVID-19 poses to our health and economic well-being. An abject failure of leadership is the result.

This failure starts at the top. President Donald Trump consistently minimizes the danger and dismisses science-based recommendations. His personal behavior is a stunning rejection of safe choices. The trickle-down effect of his perspectives on the GOP at national and state levels is painfully evident. The desire for normalcy fuels denial with disastrous consequences.

The public cannot accept leadership that is ill-informed and driven by political self-interest. Denying the severity of the challenges posed by COVID-19 will result in many more deaths and an economy crippled well into the future.

Osterholm and Kashkari recommend short-term pain for long-term benefit. They are correct.

Phil George, Lakeville

As we move along in this twilight zone of the coronavirus pandemic there are silver linings that, of course, will never supersede or dismiss the suffering we've endured, but they hold promise. Although epidemiologists believe this virus is a rehearsal for further pandemics down the line, it does accelerate our knowledge and motivation to halt these global scourges at the outset. Also, because of protective measures taken now (social distancing, quarantining and mask wearing), preventing and slowing diseases that are currently circulating throughout the world is possible. Influenza, norovirus and adenoviruses, to name just a few, are always lurking around the corner but could abate with precautions. The expectation for this fall and winter is that case numbers of all illnesses, including COVID-19, will surge if protective measures are not taken. All the more reason for judicious adherence to safety guidelines.

Limping along with elevated illness levels and a declining economy is not a robust way forward.

Therefore, discomfort and change to get us back to the good old days is worth the inconvenience. No pain, no gain!

Sharon E. Carlson, Andover
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Since the end of July, the seven-day average of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota has hovered around 700 cases per day, the height of the first peak. There are no noticeable moves to try to bring that rate of daily cases down. "Wash, space and mask" won't cut it. We need some action, like banning and fining large gatherings.

Glenn Keitel, Wayzata
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If the Republicans come up a trillion dollars and the Democrats come down a trillion dollars, maybe we will have a second COVID relief package. If the first relief package had included a $2 mask for every man, woman and child and a mandate to wear it, maybe we would not have needed a second relief package of trillions more. If you can't get excited about or even believe in 165,000 Americans dying, the equivalent of 550 jumbo jet crashes on American soil since February, maybe you can get excited about the wasted money and the permanent damage to our economy. We are a rudderless, captain-less ship adrift on a sea of denial, crossing our fingers that we will run aground on a friendly shore soon.

Meg Luhrs, St. Croix Falls, Wis.
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In Wednesday's article "Fitness a critical COVID defense," we are scolded to "get off the couch" and exercise "to reduce the risks of severe COVID-19." While I am a true believer in exercise and fitness being important factors in our health, the facts presented in this article do not support this claim for COVID-19. According to the article, 28% of the Minnesotans hospitalized with COVID-19 in a sample study were obese. But the Minnesota Department of Health says 30% of Minnesotans are obese. If the COVID-19 study is suitably powered to make any conclusions, then it would seem obesity provides a slight protection in Minnesota.

My guess is the sample size was not suitably powered to draw conclusions, and maybe there is more data out there countrywide, but this is an appalling lack of rigor on which to base a front-page article. In this pandemic where we are trying to get everyone to recognize the significant negative impact of coronavirus infections, we do not need doctors touting unsupported claims about what might reduce your risks, as this undermines the whole public health effort. The only things we know to reduce your risk of serious COVID-19 is to reduce your risk of getting infected: Wear your masks and avoid close contact with people!

Cheryl Quinn, Minneapolis

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