So the state’s GOP leadership wants to vanquish COVID-19 control measures, saying that “we trust the people of Minnesota to keep safe and keep others safe” (“GOP pledges to open up state,” Oct. 20). With that stream of logic, why do we have — for example — drunken driving or speed-limit laws? Let’s just trust people to do the right thing, OK?

Tom Baumann, Isanti, Minn.

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Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka trusts the people to keep each other safe and wants health and safety protocols to be voluntary. Really? Many folks are not wearing masks, socially distancing or limiting numbers at events and the infection rates are rising with mandates in place. Are those people going to be smarter and more respectful without a rule? Probably not, and community spread is what determines school safety.

Karen Karls, Grand Rapids, Minn.

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State Republican leaders are pushing to “open up Minnesota” even as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are surging. We all want to safely reopen. I can’t wait to worship with my friends, volunteer, teach in person, hear live music and dine inside at our neighborhood restaurant. But we can’t yet, in large part because some Minnesotans are not making responsible choices about preventing COVID spread. Republican leaders say Minnesotans will make smart decisions, but it still isn’t happening enough, and they need to lead their supporters. They need to follow the facts and promote what has been proven to work.

If we want to get back to normal, we have to show that we care about one another. The message is simple: Mask up to open up.

Rod Christensen, Northfield, Minn.

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I was disappointed in the response given to a caller in the Oct. 19 Minnesota Public Radio program featuring Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm and MDH infectious disease director Kris Ehresmann addressing the surge in COVID-19 cases in Minnesota.

The caller objected to protective measures such as wearing a mask and limiting the size of gatherings and proposed instead that vulnerable people take personal responsibility for themselves by avoiding contacts, allowing all others to work and socialize freely. I wonder why the commissioner or director did not point out that “vulnerable people” would include a large percentage of our state’s population, i.e., people with heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and other ailments — not to mention those over age 65. This could include half of our state’s adults. The caller’s proposal is simply unworkable. With half of us sheltering in place and the other half freely associating and spreading the virus, the economy would be shut down and the number ill and dying would be much higher.

We need to point out to the caller and others holding his view that we cannot separate the state into those with a COVID-19 problem and those without it. We are all in the same problem as potential spreaders of the virus or victims of infection and illness. As the caller pointed out, we will all die — but to hazard illness and death needlessly or heedlessly is a denial of our interdependence and an affront to human dignity.

Our public officials need to be much more direct in addressing objections and proposals such as this. These are not merely differences of opinion and should not be treated as such. They are threats to well-being by delaying and detracting from containment of this virus.

In concern,

Frank Schweigert, St. Paul

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When dying or becoming seriously ill for an extended period of time as a result of a coronavirus infection becomes voluntary, I will happily consider making health and safety protocols voluntary.

Jonathan Riehle, Minneapolis


Ignore naysayers. Our system works.

As the election approaches we continue to see concern expressed by the president and members of his party about the dramatic increase in absentee ballots. They suggest the opportunity for fraud is everywhere but can only point to ultrarare instances. Critics say the real intent is to set the table to challenge election results, should they lose.

Here in Minnesota, we have a tested and secure process to handle both mail-in as well as in-person voting. But it appears the Minnesota Voters Alliance and attorney Kim Crockett feel it is necessary to plant the seed of doubt in the public’s mind with Crockett’s counterpoint article on Oct. 19 (“All is not well with the state’s election system,” Opinion Exchange). The MVA has a close association with Republican politics and especially state Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, chair of the Senate committee on elections. This Senate committee has a history of entertaining a variety of voter suppression options including intrusive voter ID requirements, provisional ballots and bills to control apportionment that bring gerrymandering to mind, while at the same time refusing to give hearing to bills passed by the House that would encourage easier voting, automatic voter registration and independent citizen input in apportionment.

Crockett accuses Secretary of State Steve Simon of “encouragement of lawlessness” on the same issue in which she admits the courts upheld Simon’s position. How is that lawless? She also accuses him of “his partisan extension of the election to Nov. 10.” How is it partisan to count all the votes? Everybody’s vote should be counted. It can only be seen as partisan if your party’s intent is to suppress the vote.

Jim Herrick, Lauderdale

The writer is treasurer for Clean Elections Minnesota.


They know where they stand

I’d like to voice my support for the entire Republican slate of endorsed candidates in this year’s elections. Voters will know exactly what they are getting when they vote for Jason Lewis, Rep. Jim Hagedorn, Rep. Pete Stauber, Rep. Tom Emmer, Michelle Fischbach, Kendall Qualls, Lacy Johnson and Tyler Kistner.

Unlike the Democrats’ slate of candidates, whose goals are radical, far-sweeping and obscenely expensive, the Republican candidates support moderate, narrowly construed and realistic government funding for improvements in our economy and society. On the one hand, Democrats will saddle Minnesota’s taxpayers with much more public services, but Republicans will limit public expenditures, leave more money in the taxpayers’ pockets and stimulate private enterprise and innovation.

In sum, Minnesotans will not know what they are getting by voting for the Democratic Party — the sky’s the limit. But by voting for our Republican candidates, Minnesotans can be assured of a solid, well-grounded and pragmatic future.

Bill Holm, Bloomington


Yes to re-wilding the gorge

There is only one true gorge on the Mississippi River, the eight-and-a-half-mile stretch between St. Anthony Falls and the confluence with the Minnesota River. Here the river drops 63 feet. This may not sound like much, but it is enough. Enough — if we remove the lower dam below St. Anthony Falls and Lock and Dam No. 1 near Minnehaha Falls — to reveal white-water rapids. Enough to reveal boulders left on the river bottom 10,000 years ago. Enough to unleash river currents and countercurrents. Enough to form eddy pools. Enough to transform what is now two separate urban reservoirs into one free-flowing urban river.

According to American Rivers, along the entire 2,300-mile stretch of the Mississippi River, only four such sections of white-water rapids once existed: Rock Island, Ill.; Keokuk, Iowa; St. Louis and the Minneapolis/St. Paul gorge. Should we choose to remove our dams, miles of flat water both upstream of St. Anthony Falls and downstream of the Minnesota River confluence would remain. Rowers can relocate. And who knows, maybe after a morning workout some of these rowers will hop into a canoe or a kayak or a raft and spend their afternoon floating the gorge? To me, this sounds like a perfect day!

Timothy Hennum, Minneapolis

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