“Minnesotans need to understand what a national disgrace PPE supply has become,” the Star Tribune Editorial Board commented on April 12. “This shouldn’t have happened, especially in one of the world’s wealthiest countries. It’s unconscionable that those who care for patients in hospitals and in long-term care facilities do not have the equipment to do their jobs safely.”

The shortage of personal protective equipment is bad, but is this a national disgrace or a local one?

First, did our hospitals have the 10-week supply of personal protective equipment recommended by the National Institutes of Health, with an even higher stockpile recommended for pandemics?

I don’t know, but as far as I know, no one has asked. Until we find out, we shouldn’t automatically blame the current administration. Maybe it’s our own fault.

As I understand it, the national supply is for emergencies in select areas that need it, not a backup for the entire nation. Think hurricanes — the Federal Emergency Management Agency sends aid to the Gulf Coast or Atlantic Coast, not to every city in the U.S. simultaneously. That’s what we’re expecting/asking for? Officials who monitored the national stockpile were hopeful that hospitals were making their own stockpiles, like the NIH recommends.

New York City was hit bad. Did it have its 10-week backup? Articles I have read state that the city operates on the “edge” all the time, not taking into account the current virus. Of course COVID-19 would push it over.

Bottom line: We’re in a mess, but the automatic blame game on the current administration on this issue is not certain until we know more. The mirror may show us a different story.

P. Alan Goodwin, Brooklyn Park

CORONAVIRUS STATISTICS

In aircraft carrier situation, potential but missing illumination

The April 12 issue of the Star Tribune had this Page One teaser:

CARRIER CRISIS

USS Roosevelt reports 550 of crew now test positive.

A terrible event.

We know senior care facilities have an inordinately high morbidity and mortality — age and risk factors.

Now, we are given an unfortunately large “test” population of 550 young, premorbidly healthy subjects, and the most important piece of data is just not there! What percentage of the 550 positives were asymptomatic? Mild? Resolved?

Reassuring or depressing, that’s information that should be there.

Dr. Steven Lebow, Minnetonka

The writer is a neurologist.

COVID AND CLIMATE

A reality applicable to both crises: Wishes are insufficient

One April 12 article called COVID 19 “the crisis of the century.” Another nominated global warming. But these two problems have an important difference.

In a pandemic there are natural corrective mechanisms in play: antibodies made by our immune systems and the economic behavior of free markets. So things will eventually improve regardless of what we do. Unfortunately, the laws of physics provide no such countervailing forces to stop global warming. Rather, they predict it will worsen, inexorably.

But there are also some similarities. Wishing a crisis away doesn’t work. Taking quick action can slow things down. Mitigation can save lives. We can in fact come together as human beings and take amazingly strong collective action. The question is, can we apply the lessons from one crisis to the next?

Richard Adair, Minneapolis

MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT

It takes a crisis for leaders to figure out how to run a city?

According to the April 12 article “Mpls., St. Paul table special projects,” COVID-19 has caused the leaders of Minneapolis and St. Paul to focus on “the basics of city governance — repairing streets, responding to 911 calls and supporting residents through the pandemic.” In other words, they are finally discovering their adult responsibilities as representatives of Minnesota’s two largest cities.

While the annual shootings of hundreds of their constituents wasn’t enough to divert the city leaders’ attention from such trivial matters as shopping bag ordinances, apparently the disease has enlightened at least a few of them. Let’s hope this trend toward more responsible governance continues when COVID-19 subsides.

Jerry Anderson, Eagan

EXPLAINERS

Curiosity nearly satisfied

The April 12 Curious Minnesota article unmasking the mystery of what happens to Twin Cities sewage was enlightening. However, it neglected to tell us where the ash, which was formerly poop, ends up. I now know that my pee finds its way into the Mississippi River, from which St. Paul draws my drinking water. So I’m very curious to know if I’m also consuming the ash in some “purified” form.

Mike Bader, Mendota Heights

• • •

Congratulations for an excellent article on Anton Treuer and the Ojibwe language (“The language warrior,” Variety, April 12). The article was informative and very interesting, but it left me pondering one mystery. The lead paragraph properly emphasizes that verbs dominate the language and animals are named by their behaviors. “A monkey, for example, is a lice hunter.” The mystery for me is: Why would the Ojibwe, a people of the relatively far north, have found the occasion or need to find a name for a monkey?

Tom Salkowski, Buffalo, Minn.

BALANCE

You, too, can pursue it

To the April 12 letter writer who wondered if he was getting balanced news from the Star Tribune and Minnesota Public Radio: Try listening to talk radio for just half an hour a day for a month. Listen between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. to 1130-AM or 1280-AM. You won’t get conspiracy theories or “hate speech.” You will hear facts and another point of view. That is why I read the Star Tribune.

Chris Schonning, Andover

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