An April 19 letter writer tried to shift the blame for the lack of personal protective equipment from the current administration to poor planning on the part of hospitals, as he claims hospitals may not have had a 10-week stockpile of PPE. What he fails to realize is that even a stockpile of 10 weeks would not be sufficient at this time.

Normal operation of a hospital involves masking only those in the operating room and for those on respiratory precautions. This is a small minority of the hospital personnel. The current practice is universal masking — not only for health care workers but also housekeeping, dietary, transport, etc.

Another article that same day detailed the shipping of masks to China from the U.S. as late as February, at the encouragement of the federal government. This despite briefings about the risk of a major pandemic hitting our shores.

Hospitals are getting first priority for PPE supplies. That leaves medical clinics next in line and woefully undersupplied. As a physician in one of those clinics, I am part of an effort to coordinate volunteers to sew masks from surgical wrap material so we have adequate production at a fraction of the cost of what is currently being charged on the open market. Reuse of masks for a week at a time is now the normal rather than the rare exception. This problem is squarely on the administration and its multiple errors in mismanagement of this crisis.

Dr. Leslee Jaeger, Minneapolis

• • •

As far as being prepared, the current administration dismantled the National Security Council’s pandemic response team in 2018.

The question of whether local hospitals were prepared is an interesting one. However, if you want to spread blame, there is enough to go around. A better question might be: What are both federal and local governments doing to collect the knowledge we are gaining about pandemic response and coordinating that knowledge into improved plans and follow-through?

Laurie Nelson, Hopkins

AT-RISK SETTINGS

Add group homes, corrections — anywhere there’s congregate care

Thanks for bringing light to the dangers of COVID-19 in nursing homes. We at the Minnesota Disability Law Center (a division of Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid), and the Minnesotans with disabilities we serve, call attention to the same potential rapid contagion spread in group homes, correctional facilities, hospitals and other congregate care settings where many of the state’s more vulnerable population reside.

We applaud the governor and state officials in making thoughtful, data-based decisions to protect all Minnesotans, including those with disabilities. To guard against more lives being lost to COVID-19, we call on the public to maintain appropriate distancing measures and we strongly advocate for those working in congregate care facilities to receive higher pay and more robust benefits, to have ready access to personal protective equipment, and for the facilities to otherwise protect their staff and residents.

The Legislature should consider more ways of funding, supporting and protecting these types of facilities and the people who rely on them. More emphasis on getting and implementing rapid-results testing for staff and residents is urgently needed. These steps, as well as showing unity behind Minnesota’s approach to preventing the spread of COVID-19, will indeed take time and patience but will help us all emerge out of this public health crisis with our neighbors, friends and family members safe and healthy.

Dan Stewart, Minneapolis

The writer is legal director for the Minnesota Disability Law Center.

STOPPING THE SPREAD

It’s true: We all have a role to play and the potential for messing up

Thank you to the Star Tribune for posting articles emphasizing the responsibility we all share in keeping each other safe during this pandemic. I particularly appreciated Dennis Anderson’s warning (Outdoors, April 19) to everyone heading to the outdoors — including his key message: “Make no mistake. This is a gift. If we mess it up, it’s our own fault.”

The front-page feature the same day on Ben O’Donnell’s brave fight to survive COVID-19 is one more reason why we all must be extremely diligent to prevent the spread of this coronavirus. I cannot bear the thought of passing this disease on to another person, even if I were lucky enough to have a “mild” form of this illness. This virus is extremely contagious. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently posted a scientific study showing that one asymptomatic person unknowingly infected 10 other diners sitting at three different tables in a restaurant — in just over one hour.

The risk of catching COVID-19 is lower when outside — but only if all of us maintain physical distances, wear masks, wash our hands, etc. Heck, Minnesotans figured out how to host a Super Bowl with temperatures below zero. Let’s do this right.

Ann Pennington, Minneapolis

EARTH DAY ANNIVERSARY

50 years on, we have new (if unwitting) calls to action

Thank you to James Lenfestey for your April 19 commentary “There is no Planet B.”

The 50th anniversary of Earth Day was certainly a moment to celebrate and reflect on environmental progress. The environmental issues over the last half-century have clearly evolved, from gross pollution such as burning rivers flowing into the Great Lakes to the more complex issue of climate change.

I was studying chemical engineering at Ohio University in 1969, when the burning Cuyahoga River helped to raise awareness the world over and initiate the first Earth Day. The Trump administration and the current coronavirus pandemic may be blessings in disguise, by raising our collective consciousness again and showing that scientific evidence always beats opinion and wishful thinking.

The lessons we are learning from the handling, and mishandling, of the coronavirus pandemic should invigorate our national and global responses to climate change. And, as Lenfestey stated, there is much room for hope, as solar, wind and renewable energy technologies continue to slowly drive petroleum and coal out of business. I am also hopeful that the American electorate is becoming wiser, as we recognize that Planet Earth is truly on the ballot in November.

Kirk Cobb, White Bear Lake

BALANCED NEWS

Thanks for the tip, but …

An April 19 writer suggested tuning in to 1130 AM or 1280 AM for a half-hour every day to get balanced news. I did. Monday at 4, I turned to 1130, and there was Sean Hannity engaged in a vitriolic attack on Nancy Pelosi. It didn’t take me anywhere near a half-hour to get the idea, so I went to 1280. The first words I heard were “that clown Biden.”

Is that really anybody’s idea of balanced?

David M. Perlman, New Hope

LANGUAGES

Expression is a living thing

Pondering the existence of a word for “monkey” in the Ojibwe language, an April 19 letter writer was mystified. “Why,” he wondered, “would the Ojibwe, a people of the relatively far north, have found the occasion or need to find a name for a monkey?” Well, the Norwegians have a word for monkey, as do the people of Iceland. Likewise, the Ojibwe language is a living language, spoken by people who are not simply historical figures but are very much alive. It’s a major error, and a dangerous one, to imply that the Ojibwe people and their language are frozen in time. Let’s celebrate the lives and languages of the original, and still living, residents of what is now called Minnesota!

Jeff Nygaard, Minneapolis

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