While the Emergency Executive Order 20-56 regarding “Stay Safe MN” offers some modicum of relief to small businesses, it inexplicably distinguishes between shoppers (“store occupancy must not exceed 50 percent of the normal occupant capacity as determined by the fire marshal”) and those who would gather for “faith-based” events. (“Dialing down lockdown,” front page, May 14.) Presumably, it does this because the latter involves more time gathered in the same space. For religious services, “All gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited.”

Let that sink in: 10 worshipers inside the Cathedral of St. Paul. The interior nave of the Cathedral spans 180 feet at its widest point and includes 224 pews. Seating capacity is well over 2,000 people. While math was never my strong suit, across the eight sections of pews, we could accommodate 30 unrelated people in row 20 alone, leaving 216 pews empty! Yet we have been granted 10 attendees, including me!

Stay Safe MN discounts the possibility that places of religious worship are capable of devising a responsible plan whereby the 6-foot social-distancing guidelines are observed while also providing spiritual sustenance to their members. A limit of 10 appears unscientific, unjustified and, dare I say, capricious. What a shame.

The Rev. John L. Ubel, St. Paul

The writer is the rector at the Cathedral of St. Paul.

SOCIAL DISTANCING

A delayed funeral served us well

In response to “With regular funerals hindered by social distancing, how can I honor my mom?” (StarTribune.com, May 14), one of my dearest aunts who lived in Moorhead, Minn., died at age 90 during the big Red River flood of 2009. It was late March and the cemetery was flooded, plus travel in town and lodging were questionable. So the family waited until June for a memorial service.

It was the best funeral ever. By then most of the crying was over. People told stories. It was like a mini family reunion. Were we happy she died? Of course not. But if a funeral is for the living, the living were well-served.

Jeremy Powers, Fridley

WORK SAFETY

Customers have a say here, too

Thank you for publishing Mike Meyers’ commentary about employers who push to reopen their business without adequate safety measures and risk the health and lives of their workers, the worker’s families and their communities (“Employers who risk workers’ lives will pay a price,” Opinion Exchange, May 14). Meyers makes a very important point about how workers in the future can — and probably should — not choose to work for those employers. He left out, however, another consideration: Customers can refuse to patronize those companies. I certainly plan to not give my business to companies that put their employees at risk.

Richard Sethre, Minneapolis

• • •

This bumper sticker made me smile: “What Would Mr. Rogers Do?” In these difficult days of a deadly pandemic and as Minnesota opens up, I am certain of one thing Mr. Rogers and his role model would do. He would attend to “the least of these.”

There are so many among us, but we can actively insist that one group — those who work in our food processing and meat packing facilities — is protected as it provides the food we require. These people, our brothers and sisters, and so many in health care and service jobs and places where they are truly at risk deserve the strong support of government and elected officials with the power to require safe workplaces. They, like all of us, should be assured of safety as they provide for us in places of great risk.

We know what Mr. Rogers and his mentor, the Galilean carpenter, would do. We and those we elected are their hands and feet and voices today. Let’s insist on safety and care for essential workers.

Warren Bradbury, St. Cloud, Minn.

STAY-HOME ORDERS

Flawed comparison is none at all

Mark Kroll uses a weak analysis to assess whether stay-at-home orders have helped curb the spread of disease (“Have stay-home orders actually helped?” Opinion Exchange, May 14). It would be hard to fully assess the model without seeing the data sources and collection procedures. Even in the absence of this assessment it should be noted that Kroll’s analysis cannot yield causality.

A simple comparison shows why. Italy has had arguably worse outcomes than Sweden, despite a very strict lockdown. The lockdown in Italy was a consequence of the outbreak, not vice versa. If Sweden had an outbreak equivalent to Italy it also would have issued lockdown orders. The necessary comparison isn’t another geographic region, it is what would have happened in the absence of a strict lockdown.

Time-series analysis will show that Italy reduced R0 over time and that therefore the lockdown was an effective intervention that reduced the number of cases from what it would have been with no intervention.

Lisa Langsetmo, Robbinsdale

The writer is an epidemiologist.

FACE MASKS

The message behind the mask

In the column “Reading lips in a masked world” (May 13), the writer wrote a beautiful message: “Every person behind a mask is a person who cares whether you live or die.”

What if that message was displayed everywhere people must be in close contact with one another?

Religious institutions could share it with their congregations. Would it help to diffuse the polarization and politicization that has grown up around the issue of wearing masks? Maybe wearing a mask is simply an act of compassion and love for one another — not an act of fear, not an act of defiance. Think about it.

Linda Rademacher, Plymouth

• • •

Thursday’s photo of two maskless women in a shop seems to be a reflection of our society’s values. Shopping is undoubtedly one of America’s most popular pastimes. Apparently not even a deadly pandemic will prevent people from engaging in it on their terms. Masks off to those who promote consumerism over the common good.

Judi Sateren, Minneapolis

DISTANCE LEARNING

Actually, new grading system works

A recent letter from a fellow student essentially described the new Minneapolis Public Schools grading system, which made all grades this quarter credit/no credit, as unfair to exceptional students and as taking away from worthwhile work (“This is just the laziest solution,” Readers Write, May 13). This solution is actually not the “laziest” option but the most equitable.

It’s not unusual for students to be essential workers. This means that while many of us are available all day to do school work, some have to be at their jobs. And working is not optional for many kids who need to save for college or whose parents have lost their jobs.

Students have also had trouble getting access to devices and Wi-Fi. Some of us were immediately able to access and do the work our teachers assigned, but many students only had one device they shared with the rest of their household or no device at all.

Opting out of credit/no credit is simply not a fair option when so many students can’t have comparable learning situations. I understand this solution seems unfair, but that mind-set ignores how this situation has amplified the unequal access to education within our school district. We have to be considerate of how grading solutions affect all students, not just the most privileged.

Alison Kennedy, Minneapolis

The writer is a student at Southwest High School.

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