I heard a rather mundane news report recently that rattled me to my core. Six months into the mission, and the U.S. is still short of glass vials and swabs necessary to perform adequate coronavirus testing. And test results aren't reported for days, sometime weeks. Seriously?
While our president remains inclined to forgo his leadership position and not mount a national response, where are all the scientists and public health professionals who would normally be all over this crisis? Where are policymakers who hold our safety and security close at heart? Can one Luddite so stymie our scientific, public health, manufacturing and political infrastructure so as to render them ineffective?
I fear this is yet another symptom of sad situation in which the U.S. is no longer capable of coordinating a response to a crisis, much less strive to achieve an inspired goal. We saw this after hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, after 9/11, after the Sandy Hook school shootings, the George Floyd killing and other acts of violence.
Have our politics become so cynical, so divisive that we are now completely paralyzed?
Mr. President, where is your plan? What have you — what have we — done to so nullify the innate creativity and expertise that has inspired citizens of this country to rise up and overcome challenges in the past?
If we are going to sink into authoritarianism in this country, please, let's at least have effective autocrats in charge.
Dennis J. Sutliff, Minneapolis
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Sadly, my sister passed away from COVID-19 in April. We drove to Nebraska for a carefully planned memorial gathering at the VFW in an Omaha suburb, in the heart of Trump country. My sister was a nurse. Her friends and co-workers were warm, friendly, welcoming, lovely people. I was reminded that many Trump supporters are really good people despite some Trump supporters who embrace or tolerate white supremacy, neo-Nazi-ism, racism, hatred of immigrants, cronyism, groping of women, lies large and small, name-calling, extortion, tax evasion, Putinism, etc. The Nebraskans at the memorial were none of the above. They were patriotic, God-loving, generous, loving folks who loved and appreciated my big sister.
One day, and it may be soon, the Trump train will go off the rails. Witnesses will at last be allowed to testify, tax returns will be made public, the entire Mueller report will be released and the smoke will clear. Reasonable people on all sides will see him for the corrupt liar he is.
With malice toward none, with charity for all, let us welcome normalcy, civility, compromise and a semblance of truth back to our political discourse so we can begin to address the monumental challenges we face as a united people.
Jay Richardson, Minneapolis
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I recently watched the movie "1917."
A year ago I walked the trenches in Flanders Fields of World War I.
I've been to Pearl Harbor and Normandy.
I've walked along the white stones at Arlington and touched the etched names of the Vietnam War dead of my generation.
There really is no way to thank those who have served and continue to do so.
Now, for those who find it inconvenient to wear masks to protect our citizens from COVID, I cannot describe my bewilderment or sadness.
Have fun at the bars.
You are your own monument to selfishness.
Diane Homa, Blaine
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Just some thoughts on my drive to work this morning: Thanks to the many green-thumbs who have such beautiful flowers for us all to enjoy; loved that brightly painted front door; enjoyed the many hearts in the windows; thanks to the ladies out picking up trash at 8 a.m.; oh, those happy, smiling dogs out for a walk with their owners; and I'm so thankful that COVID-19 doesn't prefer children.
Elizabeth Schading, New Brighton
BACK TO SCHOOL?
Has this, too, become political? Plus: Many questions on reopening
As a hands-on science teacher, I am hoping, fervently, for school to be on campus this fall. The spring was very difficult. I have never worked harder in my 43 years in education. With all of the uncertainty about the fall, the summer has become a desperate time of preparation for whatever our situation will be in late August. The driver is safety, for the students and for the staff members. We are relying on the best information we have from the experts as they see this situation unfold. The suggestion that there is a political conspiracy here shows how removed these accusers are from the realities of the classroom.
Michael D. Thomsen, St. Paul
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The positions articulated by Republicans regarding mail-in voting and school reopening are crystal-clear.
There will be no consideration for voting by mail due to the smallest possibility that it may result in even one fraudulent vote. Safety measures included in the process just can't guarantee a flawless result. That is a risk unworthy of consideration!
But the reopening of schools?
It is true, the safety of every student and faculty member cannot be guaranteed. But if we include all reasonable safety measures available, then the possibility of sickness or death to a small number of children and faculty would be an acceptable outcome. Schools must reopen!
It appears there is no margin of error with regard to election integrity. But the possibility of virus outbreaks in Minnesota schools? That scenario is worth the risk of life and death.
Todd Embury, Ramsey
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Questions for school openings:
• If teachers tests positive for COVID-19, are they required to quarantine for two to three weeks? Is their sick leave paid?
• If that teacher has five classes a day with 30 students each, do all 150 of those students need to stay home and quarantine for 14 days?
• Do all 150 of those students now have to get tested? Who pays for those tests? Are they happening at school? How are the parents being notified? Does everyone in each of those kids' families need to get tested? Who pays for that?
• What if someone who lives in the same house as a teacher tests positive? Does that teacher now need to take 14 days off work to quarantine? Is that time off paid?
• Where is the district going to find a substitute teacher who will work in a classroom full of exposed, possibly infected students for substitute pay?
• Substitutes teach in multiple schools. What if they are diagnosed with COVID-19? Do all the kids in each school now have to quarantine and get tested? Who is going to pay for that?
• What if a student in your kid's class tests positive? What if your kid tests positive? Does every other student and teacher need to be quarantined? Does everyone get notified who is infected and when? Or because of HIPAA regulations are parents and teachers just going to get mysterious "may have been in contact" e-mails all year long?
Until and unless these questions are answered, no school should consider opening.
Until and unless those making the decisions can articulate a reason that a delay in opening the schools will cause irreparable harm, no school should consider opening.
Karen Rupp, St. Cloud
HELL IN A HANDBASKET
But do you have a proposal?
There will always be whiners and complainers, but after reading a July 17 letter writer's comments about Minneapolis ("All this, and now nudity?"), I vividly recall a former boss who told me to never show up with a problem unless I could offer a solution. Best advice ever.
Virginia Becker, Minnetonka