"I do not approve of the Governor's unilateral decision to continue the order to shelter at home until May 4th," Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka tweeted on Thursday ("State GOP blasts extended order," April 10).

Gazelka's comments are highly irresponsible. I humbly ask all elected representatives to please contact medical professionals to better educate yourselves regarding coronavirus before making public pronouncements that put people's lives at risk. We are in the midst of a worldwide epidemic. This epidemic should not be construed as a Democratic or Republican issue; it is a public health issue.

Due to the outstanding leadership at the state level, Minnesota has the lowest number of COVID-19 cases per million of all 50 states. Let's keep it that way.

Stanley Woolner, St. Paul

The writer is a hospital medicine physician currently treating COVID-19 patients.

• • •

The irony: The Star Tribune reports that Gazelka tweeted "We have to get on with our lives" on the same day that the paper's front-page headline reads "MN deaths hit daily high" (April 10). State Rep. Mary Franson said on the previous day, "I'm not staying home." Could there be any better evidence that these Republican politicians, like many others, have abandoned any grasp on data, science or reality? At least when they deny that humans are major contributors to climate change, the disaster they court is mostly in the future. With the criticism of Gov. Tim Walz's stay-at-home order, Gazelka and Franson are urging practices that endanger the lives of Minnesotans right now.

As a state, we have been reasonably fortunate to have had "only" 57 deaths by Friday afternoon. Why? Because we are staying at home! As examples from England, Sweden, New York and elsewhere show us, without social distancing and staying at home, we will (not may, will) see exponential growth in COVID-19 cases and deaths.

It has become fashionable among political conservatives in the state to question the model used by the governor. Models are not truth, but only tools to allow planning for the worst while enacting policies and hoping for the best. There is no model that shows minimal harm to Minnesota's citizens by opening up the local economy and relaxing current restrictions. The key difference among various models is whether we lose thousands or tens of thousands in the absence of those policies.

Until we have robust testing to allow Minnesotans to know who can safely return to work, school or simply go to the store, we cannot listen to uninformed and dangerous proclamations from political "leaders" who value commerce over the lives of Minnesotans.

Greg Wright, Edina

The writer is a retired physician.

GUN PURCHASES

More sales means more danger

"Minnesotans buying guns like never before" (front page, April 10) raised at least two issues that demonstrate how the public has figured a new way for the coronavirus to keep killing us. The article points out the motive for the buying spree is in case "civil unrest" breaks out and one needs to protect one's family "and their stockpile." Discussion of the common good aside, the article suggests that many of the gun purchasers are new and may not be trained in either storing the firearm or using it. The fact that homes with guns are more dangerous than those without is well-documented. Thus, we can expect an uptick in gun deaths due to accidents, domestic violence and suicides. Do you really want to quarantine at home with all of those guns?

More insidious is the pressure on the background check system. The U.S. Senate has yet to approve legislation extending time for federal background checks from three to 10 days. Currently if the background check is not completed within three days, the sale may be allowed to go through. The article documents how the system became overwhelmed in 2018 and many background checks were never completed in time.

The result of such a panic is that firearms are being obtained by people who are not qualified to have them. I guess that's another reason to go out and buy a firearm.

Fred Beier, Edina

OIL PIPELINE

Line 3 still makes sense

As with retail, hospitality and restaurants, the energy industry is experiencing an unprecedented decline in product demand as governments, businesses and consumers act to contain the spread of COVID-19. Downward crude oil prices and ongoing market volatility present a challenge for North American energy operators, but while temporary demand destruction is disruptive, projections demonstrate the long-term importance of petroleum products and critical infrastructure, including Line 3.

Although the demand for North American crude oil is unlikely to return until the economy restarts, the industry's fundamentals are strong and historically resilient. The latest outlook from the U.S. Energy Information Administration indicates that worldwide liquid fuels consumption — including motor gasoline, jet fuel and distillate fuel oil — will fall sharply this month, but with the expectation that it will rebalance by the end of this year.

As it stands, Canada is America's largest energy trading partner, supplying the crude oil necessary to U.S. refining operations. Imports from Canada to the U.S. have increased steadily over the past 15 years, and Line 3 serves as a vital supply connection — ensuring the safe and efficient transport of liquid fuels to Minnesota and the Midwest. The suggestion that this temporary disruption would immediately displace the need for natural resources and energy infrastructure is a shortsighted reaction to existing uncertainty.

For now, energy producers and pipeline operators are prioritizing fuel deliveries to meet the world's essential energy needs. As the demand for affordable, reliable and cleaner energy returns, our industry is positioned — and our infrastructure should be prepared — to successfully provide petroleum products for the long-term.

Erin T. Roth, St. Paul

The writer is the executive director of the Minnesota Petroleum Council.

• • •

I listened Thursday morning to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Line 3 telephone session with the hope of giving a comment. It was not to be. Lines were flooded with repeat-script calls from Enbridge supporters. I did not get a chance to speak. I was also cut off by the computer when I tried to leave a voice mail. So, no cigar.

My observations follow:

There was no mention of economics. Tar sands oil has to be diluted with solvents and additives that can cost as much as the sales value of the semisolid tar sands bitumen.

There was no mention of the current worldwide slump in oil demand — much discussed in Thursday's Wall Street Journal. The administration is threatening tariffs on oil imports. (Is Canadian oil included?)

There really doesn't seem to be a need for extra oil — particularly tar sands oil.

Supporters implied that the present Line 3 is aging and is in need of replacement. The Minnesota Commerce Department recommended in 2017 that the better solution is to simply shut it down.

One of the arguments was that we need the oil for so many products made from oil byproducts — including tubes for COVID-19 ventilators. I'd ask, if there is such a strong demand for oil for use as a raw material for products such as ventilators and medical tubing, clothing, packaging, etc., then why are we burning so much of it? Why not save the oil for the truly high-value uses?

Joseph E. Ward, Woodbury

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