MerriLea Kyllo makes a tempting argument (“One plan doesn’t work for all of Minnesota,” Opinion Exchange, May 13) for easing pandemic restrictions on gathering in counties, mostly rural, with few coronavirus cases. But there’s a fallacy at the heart of this idea.

What’s to stop an infected person from, say, a hard-hit Twin Cities county traveling to adjacent McLeod, where Kyllo lives, and spreading COVID-19? Perhaps few people who are sick would do that, but those without symptoms can unwittingly transmit this highly infectious disease. It’s been shown that single “super-spreaders” have brought sickness and death to many previously untouched corners of the globe.

Having just returned from wintering in Florida, I’m maintaining a 14-day quarantine. My county there, Martin, had few coronavirus cases and kept its beaches open — until people swarmed in from neighboring Palm Beach County, one of Florida’s hot spots, and forced officials to order closure.

Incidents like that show why many governors, including Minnesota’s Tim Walz, plan to coordinate with their cross-border counterparts any future reopening. Deadly germs respect neither county nor state lines, and no place is a safe island in a pandemic.

Conrad deFiebre, Minneapolis

• • •

Kyllo is disheartened by all counties being treated the same. She offers her profession, nursing, in an attempt to validate her proposal for categorizing risk. In fact, given the basis of her argument, it would be better if she were a mathematician. The number of cases in any given place is not as significant as the number of cases per capita. Moreover, if you live in a place with zero confirmed cases, the chance of community transmission is still 9%.

Anyone following the coronavirus dashboard is aware that things are not going that well in Minnesota. Despite all the measures we have taken, our numbers of cases and deaths continue to rise. COVID-19 is alive and well here and ready to move in on the less vigilant or uninformed.

What we want and what we need are mutually exclusive in many cases. Discipline is the key to knowing the difference.

Toni Gurvin, Bloomington

• • •

Kyllo’s commentary in the Star Tribune was flawed. Her rating system for determining the level of restriction in counties based on their number of confirmed COVID-19 cases would be counterproductive. A key concept is “confirmed.” Counties with zero or a low number of cases need to capitalize on their advantages, not undermine them. A pattern around the state is developing that there are more unconfirmed cases than confirmed ones.

A major purpose of social distancing is to reduce the amount of illness spread by people who are asymptomatic. If testing everybody who wants to be tested is not realistic at this point, distancing is a necessary step no matter where we live and no matter how much we wish to socialize. Another wish is to protect businesses and our economy, so let’s protect them in the long run by regretfully accepting what can be fewer losses in the short run.

Jim Bartos, Brooklyn Park


Inconsistency does grads no good

As a mother of a high school senior and as a health care professional, I simply don’t understand why an outdoor high school graduation ceremony cannot occur. I particularly don’t understand this when the governor just approved the reopening of “Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store” in Jordan, Minn. That indoor store can have over 200 people in it at one time. However, the state won’t allow an outdoor high school graduation ceremony with proper social distancing measures in place? Is the governor saying that apples, meat and lots of candy sales are more important, more “essential,” than a ceremony honoring the academic achievements of our young adults?

Don’t get me wrong, I want businesses to stay afloat in this difficult time as much as the next Minnesotan, but let’s be fair! If we can safely distance in the candy store, we can do it on a football field while celebrating the achievements of our high school seniors.

I ask Minnesota Commissioner of Education Mary Cathryn Ricker to reconsider the guidelines. Look no further than Springfield High School senior Isaac Rasset’s petition. In just a few days, this petition has garnered more than 15,000 signatures supporting an outdoor high school graduation ceremony.

I know the state is trying its very best at keeping everyone’s safety and health in mind, but we, their parents, along with the help of our high school administrators and teachers, can come up with a plan. We can provide an outdoor graduation plan that is memorable, safe and socially distanced. Please reconsider. Please.

Gina Peschel, Waconia


A good time to learn what motivates

In regard to a recent letter to the editor about Minneapolis Public Schools’ decision to move to a credit/no credit grading system for the final quarter of the 2019-20 school year (“This grading solution is just lazy,” May 13), I feel glad that the letter writer has an opportunity to learn something about himself far more significant than any lesson he would learn in school: his own attachment to extrinsic motivation.

As the writer mentioned, President Theodore Roosevelt said that “the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” Note that Roosevelt did not say “to receive an A+ for working hard at work worth doing.” I advise the letter writer to give priority to the value of his own integrity and to continue to push himself to do his best work regardless of whether it will receive external praise. This skill, above all others, will determine far more about his future than his high school grade-point average.

Hillis Byrnes, Minneapolis


Beware of loyalty over expertise

Maoist China followed the principle that translates to, “It is better to be ‘red’ than expert.” Anyone with education or technical expertise was considered politically unreliable and was purged in favor of political hacks whose only qualification was slavish loyalty to the leader. The result was the twin disasters of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, leading to the deaths of millions of people.

With astonishment and sorrow I now see my own country starting down the same road. Knowledgeable, competent, apolitical public servants have been fired or driven out of public service for perceived lack of “loyalty.” Now, even our top medical and public health scientists, whom we need the most in an hour of utmost crisis, are muzzled for contradicting the uninformed ramblings of the leader. How big of a disaster this will cause remains to be seen.

Is this how we do things in America?

Mark Hansell, Northfield, Minn.


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