We were moved Wednesday evening when we listened to Gov. Tim Walz bring us up to speed on the troubling spike in COVID infections and call us to rally together in order to combat the spread of this dangerous virus ("Forced back into shutdown," front page, Nov. 19). But something was missing that would have sent a clear message and helped draw us together. That missing something was a representative of the Republican Party. It used to be that in time of crisis, in time of war, politics ceased and we all stood together singing the same song. We need that now, desperately. One voice, one united spirit.

Jim Mulrooney, Mendota Heights

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As Walz again shutters restaurants and bars, among other places, and puts a pause on youth sports for the next four weeks, there are several questions that still gnaw away at me.

For starters, why aren't churches and big-box retailers included in this latest round of coronavirus pandemic-related closures and restrictions? What data support that Minnesotans are more on their best behavior regarding COVID-19 safety precautions at these exempt industries? One trek down any aisle at a big-box store and there's plenty of masks being worn well below the nostrils.

Truly, what perplexes me the most can be summed up with an analogy: There are 50 states and 50 different peeing sections in one pool — and not one competent or consistent lifeguard from President Donald Trump's administration on duty.

Bailey Meixner, Minneapolis
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I found the governor's COVID briefing on Wednesday very informative, especially the information on critical care bed capacity. It would be very insightful to see the age distribution of COVID patients occupying those beds. I would bet it is highly slanted to 50-plus. Perhaps we would be better served locking down or issuing a stay-at-home order to folks over a certain age. That may have immediate impact on improving critical care bed capacity. Rather than subsidize shut-down businesses, take a significant chunk of that money and send it to the folks in lockdown.

Yes, it sounds harsh, but may be less painful at the overall macro level. Oh, by the way, I'm over 65.

Keith Nystrom, Embarrass, Minn.
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Gov. Walz: You are closing restaurants, gyms and bars. Well, good for you. As a nurse of 35 years, I take exception that you are not taking into consideration canceling elective surgeries. At the hospital where I work, we had 60 cases last Friday, which meant 300-plus people in a confined area. How is that responsible or right? We can and will get through this pandemic. Right now, we as a community need to do the right thing; that is, limiting exposure. Please, just do the right thing.

Jeanne Kenady, St. Louis Park
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I belong to a major fitness club chain. Every time I go in my temperature is checked. Machines are spaced and even every other machine is not open for use. Capacity limits are enforced.

I have periodically asked the management if there have been COVID issues and they have said no.

Last weekend I was at a major warehouse club. There appeared to be no limits on capacity; in fact, it was so hectic in both the parking lot and store that I felt I was at the State Fair. No one has their temperature checked. Where do I feel safer? Which do I have to believe is a bigger problem?

The Star Tribune needs to do investigative reporting on the real cases emanating from health clubs. With today's stress levels, many find relief in exercising in a club environment and thus avoid other health issues. Perhaps health clubs could institute more targeted approaches like no basketball games or kids parties where people are running into each other, and maybe keep certain areas of the gym less dense. But to flat-out shut down gyms and deny responsible people the opportunity to help improve their health? The very fact that we go to a gym suggests we are among the most careful in keeping ourselves and others healthy.

I empathize with Walz as he has a state to keep safe, and I thought his restrictions earlier in the year were justified. But to shut down gyms when big-box retailers remain open?

Kevin R. Lindquist, Maple Grove
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I wish to express my gratitude to Walz and his team for their leadership through the COVID pandemic. Their actions may not be popular, but they are necessary, and they do save lives. Republicans in the Minnesota Legislature have tried for months to remove Walz's emergency powers, but dealing with this oncoming "second wave" of increasing cases, hospitalizations and deaths is precisely why those powers are needed.

Instead of helping Minnesotans during the pandemic, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and other Republicans made things worse by their irresponsible behaviors. They have endangered others by not wearing masks or socially distancing, and then failing to publicly report when they became infected. The contrast in leadership between Gazelka and Walz is striking.

Jim Haemmerle, Savage

The writer is a retired physician.


Parents, your kids are watching

Dear parents of athletes,

Please put aside your own emotions and use this pause in your children's sports activities as a "teachable moment" ("Youth sports pause saddens backers still seeking options," Nov. 19). Acknowledge your kids' disappointment and your own. Listen to them.

Then have an age-appropriate discussion about being a citizen of the larger world, interconnectedness, compassion, the possibility of being asymptomatic and passing on the virus, and the importance of stopping the chain of infection.

Next, brainstorm with them on how to keep up their physical conditioning and skill-building with individual activities and drills (our young neighbor has been doing this for six months.) Ask what positive contributions they can make to your household and community to help others — doing chores while you work at home, shoveling snow for neighbors, teaching their skills to younger siblings, running and playing outdoors to give Mommy a break ...

Finally, point out that not all the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rules were followed during games and events. There are many images of excited athletes, without masks or social distance, on the fields, courts and sidelines, jumping on each other and hugging. Stress that following the guidance — mask-wearing, social distancing and hand-washing, all the time — will help get the virus under control.

Your attitude, behavior and guidance will help determine how your children handle the situation.

Sue Sherek, Fridley

A little more here, a little less there

Jay Ambrose complains that we are not giving President Donald Trump enough credit for developing the COVID vaccine ("Believe it or not, Trump deserves credit for this," Opinion Exchange, Nov. 19). The bar is low for Trump, but I agree we should give him credit for actually doing his job and helping, along with leaders in other countries, to expedite vaccines. But we should also hold him responsible for not doing his job in informing the American people and failing to get us prepared for the pandemic. In particular, he is responsible for impeding science-backed mitigation strategies and contributing to the spread of the disease through unsafe mass rallies — all leading to the death of over 250,000 Americans. Credit given where credit is due.

Peter Thompson, Hopkins
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It is interesting to note, as we get closer to the availability of the unique new mRNA vaccines, that they were made possible by the pioneering research of a woman immigrant. Katalin Kariko is a Hungarian-born research scientist. She labored for years with repeated rejections from funding agencies and her peers because it was thought that mRNA vaccines could not be successful. Now, we all stand on her shoulders. Thankfully she was not trying to immigrate to the U.S. during the current administration.

Jim Bracke, Eden Prairie

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