Regarding the Monday headline “Spike in cases could derail holidays” (front page, Nov. 16) and the stunning statistics it reports: There have been more than 11 million COVID-19 cases nationally and over 245,000 deaths from COVID (and more by today). The numbers are increasing at a staggering level. So, why are we still wasting our time and energy trying to figure out how to “safely” celebrate the holidays with extended family? How about we take this seriously and say, “Spike in cases should derail holidays”?

I myself take a cue from our own resident epidemiologist, Michael Osterholm. I have heard him state repeatedly, “This is our COVID year,” which to me means that for this year we make sacrifices, including abstaining from holiday celebrations with anyone who is not presently living in our house.

Let’s stop playing games with promises of masks, distancing, tests and fewer than 10 people.

During our COVID year, we can best celebrate the holidays by doing our part to stop this virus dead in its tracks. It’s tough, but for one year we can do it. It’s a whole lot easier than saying goodbye to the people we love way too soon.

MARTHA WEGNER, St. Paul

• • •

Our most memorable holidays are the unusual ones. My grandmother always recalled the year all three of her sons were serving in World War II whenever she heard the song “White Christmas.” She hated that song. Everyone was either lonely and worried at home or risking life far away.

Another worldwide threat will form our 2020 holiday memories. But we can choose our story. We can stick to traditional gatherings of family and friends, or limit the celebration to our immediate household — even staying alone — and connecting with each other on a screen or phone. There’s really no middle option as COVID-19 spikes out of control. I could be infected from an innocent encounter, or a guest may have visited friends the day before; either of us could unknowingly share the virus in conversations around the table.

Maybe next year will be memorable for returning to traditions and enjoying stories about the 2020 holidays apart — online chats, dropping off food on auntie’s porch or family drive-by trips to wave at grandparents. Or it may be the year of regrets about 2020’s gathering, followed by sicknesses, hospitalizations or even a funeral.

My extended family of 23 is planning a video call across 10 time zones from Alaska to Milan on Thanksgiving. It’s the holiday we’ll always remember for not getting together — the time we kept everyone safe to make future memories. I hope you do that, too.

Karen Lilley, St. Paul

COVID SPREAD

Keep in mind: Virus is everywhere

Twice recently the Star Tribune has shown the New York Times’ impressive map of COVID-19’s spread. Please think hard, however, before using it again, because it conflicts with what we know to be true — e.g. that the Dakotas generally are hot spots.

This fault arises because “parts of a county with a population density lower than 10 people per square mile [i.e. fewer than two to three families per section] are not shaded” — no matter their status.

By trying to avoid one misrepresentation — deeply marking what are, after all, sparsely populated areas — the map instead creates another misrepresentation: that large areas of the plains are shown to be free of COVID-19.

Gregg Shadduck, Minneapolis

PANDEMIC PRECAUTIONS

No one wants endless restrictions

So Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito seeks to warn us regarding COVID restrictions that “we surely don’t want them to become a recurring feature after the pandemic has passed” (“Justice Alito gives unusual, foreboding speech,” Nov. 14). What is this dystopian nightmare land in which conservatives live? Who besides the masochistic would want these restrictions to go on a single day longer than necessary? As a Joe-Biden-voting liberal, I despise wearing a mask. But I gladly do it, because it’s about other people’s health, not my own. And that’s a pretty low bar to clear; try not to be a jerk.

Do I want to continue wearing a mask once this threat has ebbed? Um, no. As my friends in the restaurant industry are, at best, hanging on by a thread, do I want them to permanently be limited to 50% capacity? Nope. Do I want to stay 6 feet away from my mom, not being able to hug her? No way.

The interminably divisive noise from our “leaders” is such nonsense. What relationship would function if displaced blame and an assumption of evil motives were the centerpieces? Can we not see where this rabbit hole of demonization leads? Easy answer: nowhere useful, and most likely somewhere dangerous. So let’s start here: I want my family and friends to be happy and healthy, and I know you (conservatives) do, too. Let’s debate on fact and merit, not the imagined depravity of the other side.

Travis Anderson, Minneapolis

LINE 3

Finally, construction time. Right?

Now that permits are getting issued, the Line 3 replacement project is finishing a strict review process that has taken years (“MPCA OKs permits for pipeline,” Nov. 13). Thankfully, construction workers should be able to break ground very soon.

Why has it taken so long? Activist opponents of the project have thrown up every roadblock that they can think of to stall the project, and now they are running out of stall tactics.

So much of what we hear against Line 3 are these false narratives and red herrings driven by the opponents — such as how the water that has already had pipelines going under it for decades is supposedly now in danger from a brand-new pipeline or how we supposedly don’t need the oil (even though our refineries beg to differ).

All of these excuses are distractions that have missed the important point: that Line 3 is an aging pipeline that needs to be replaced. The oil it transports needs to be safely moved. A new pipeline is clearly the best way to do it.

Those against the project have moved the goalposts whenever they haven’t gotten their way. Now that our state agencies are giving their final stamp of approval on the project, where will they move the goalposts to now?

Jim Schuelke, Rosemount

• • •

I am a proud Minnesotan because of the underrated joy of feeling the freezing air on my face, the thrill of jumping into a crystal-clear lake in the spring, the beauty of wildly tall pine trees on the North Shore. But most of all, I am proud to be a Minnesotan because of the community that we create. Minnesotans love Minnesota, and we want to protect it. Meanwhile, Enbridge Energy is moving forward with an environmentally detrimental pipeline project that will destroy much of the wildlife that makes Minnesota so breathtaking.

Enbridge has the audacity to claim that its new Line 3 will simply restore and replace the corroded and outdated existing pipeline. In actuality, this new pipeline extends and expands into currently untouched wilderness areas. I am thoroughly disappointed in the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for granting the final round of permits needed for Enbridge to begin construction. For a state that claims to be environmentally driven and community-focused, Minnesota should and can do better.

I am a proud Minnesotan. I am prepared to stand up and fight against this pipeline, and I know that I am joining a passionate community of proud Minnesotans who are already fighting against this pipeline. I stand with the environmental groups, Native American tribes and the environmental justice community activists who want to stop Enbridge. Line 3 does not belong in the bold north.

Julie Johnson, Crystal

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