Commentary writer David Arundel calls for a middle path between "shut it all down" and "eat, drink and be merry" for addressing the pandemic, suggesting that we need a plan that gets people working again while protecting the most vulnerable from COVID-19 ("Lives are being recklessly sacrificed under this plan," Opinion Exchange, April 13). Yes, that's reasonable — and Gov. Tim Walz is doing that. His administration is carefully considering which businesses can be reopened while maintaining social distancing. For now, that is the best way to buy time in the fight against this virus so that we can open up again without overwhelming our health care system and endangering people's lives.
This temporary shutdown is painful, not only for people who are losing jobs and businesses, but for so many people who are living on the edge: the homeless, people who depend on low-wage or temporary jobs and take public transportation, and hardworking immigrants who face impossible choices between taking public assistance and gaining citizenship, among others.
So what should we do? Immediately go back to business as usual and just tell people in medically vulnerable groups to stay home? Unfortunately, the virus has killed people who were young and healthy, and until we have widespread and accurate testing, we will not know who needs to be quarantined. This crisis calls for government support to ease the financial pain as well as individual generosity and sacrifice to help the community as a whole. Protecting others is the best way to protect ourselves.
Arundel assumes that people who disagree with him are haters, but I think we can all agree that the last thing we need at this moment is hate. This is a time to remember the poet W.H. Auden's words: "We must love one another or die."
Susan Ranney, Plymouth
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Arundel provided a well-reasoned argument from his heart for a more focused response effort to minimize the spread of the coronavirus and its related death toll; nothing to hate there. The so-called scientific predictions-of-death "models" have predicted from under 1,000 to some 50,000 deaths in Minnesota under current restrictions; they don't really have a clue throwing out this random disparate range of numbers.
Our government leaders will be judged as heroes winning the fight when final numbers come in low relative to some worst-case scenario of relaxing current restrictions, but at such a severe cost, as Arundel so thoroughly explains. The $2.2 trillion stimulus plan and paying the unemployed as much as $5,000 per month for not working will drag on the economy for some time.
I agree, social distance older folks and those with critical health issues, and let's restore business to "almost as usual."
Michael Tillemans, Minneapolis
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Arundel implies that we Minnesotans are overreacting to the coronavirus pandemic. After all, as of his writing, "only" 57 out of 5.5 million Minnesotans had been killed by it. I wonder how those 57 people would feel about the virus that killed them being likened to a bothersome little mosquito.
"Only" 57 of our people have died because of the social-distancing measures implemented by the state government. To halt those measures prematurely would be akin to no longer wearing a seat belt because you didn't go through the windshield during a car crash.
Yes, many of us are sacrificing a lot by adhering to this rule, but I would much rather lose my income to temporary social-distancing measures than lose a family member to COVID-19.
Kelsey Murphy, Shoreview
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I would like to applaud and support Arundel for his levelheaded commentary on Saturday. The travesty of this pandemic will not be measured in lives lost (see statistics regarding death by smoking, etc.) but by financial collapse. And for ... what?
My thanks for (finally!) an approach to the hype that speaks truth.
Gretchen Duggan, Mendota Heights
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Arundel's heartfelt opinion piece raises very real issues facing our society during this crisis. COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders were not part of anyone's business plan; the devastation to daily lives is unimaginable. Businesspeople, workers and the newly unemployed are losing everything they have worked for due to this virus. His suggestion to protect the elderly and those with serious underlying health conditions sounds like a plan, but, as he said, "the truth ... lies somewhere in between." The combination of too few test kits and the virus's 14-day incubation period makes it impossible to identify the infected. Opening up businesses again without knowing who is sick means that the virus will persist. Right now, we must consider another enterprise at great risk from COVID-19, the health care system.
American industry is rising to the challenge of the ventilator shortage. Masks are being made. Personal protective equipment is on order. But there is no way to ramp up the production of skilled medical professionals and first responders who have lost their lives to this virus. The loss of those skilled individuals will take years to overcome. It is wishful thinking that if we only protect the vulnerable, everyone else can get back to what they have worked all their lives for.
If you will need to see a doctor tomorrow, stay at home today or for as long as it takes. Your future health depends upon it.
Charles Hanson, St. Louis Park
Let me add some grim perspective
News reports have said that the U.S. now has more deaths from COVID-19 than any other country ("U.S. toll world's highest," front page, April 12). While that's true, it doesn't show the whole picture. If you look at the number of deaths per million, we're No. 14 on the list. Other countries such as Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom and others have more deaths per capita than we do. The website worldometers.info/coronavirus/ shows this information in detail.
Diane Nieling, Eagan
If transit is out, so is much more
If we are tempted to throw mass transit under the bus due to social-distancing needs because of the chance of another coronavirus-type emergency, wouldn't we also have to abandon air travel, elevators, theaters, arenas, etc., as well?
Jim Dustrude, Mound
A much-appreciated photo
"Hats off" to photographer Jeff Wheeler for his incredibly timed photo, printed on Monday on page A4, of Archbishop Bernard Hebda and Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens offering their Easter blessings in Christmas-like conditions to drivers-by. Their gesture and commitment to the faithful was a testament to their dedication to their flock. Wheeler's work was a testament to his profession and skills. Thank you for that day-brightener!
Paul Zech, Bloomington
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