I was horrified to read that around half of senior care workers in our state refuse to get vaccinated ("Senior care workers still reluctant to get shots," front page, May 5). These people should understand medicine well enough to 1) recognize the threat COVID-19 poses to senior citizens and 2) reject misinformation and conspiracy theories about vaccination. If that's not enough, they should talk to their residents. What was life like before the vaccines we now take for granted? How many suffered through measles and whooping cough? How many saw other children die of polio?
I'm so thankful that my older relatives are still independent. I would be heartbroken if any of them were in the "care" of providers as irresponsible as this.
Helen Risser, Edina
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Have I got this right? Minnesota won't let long-term care workers kill residents with secondhand smoke. But the state is willing to let long-term care workers who refuse vaccination kill residents by giving them COVID.
Did I miss something?
Bill Catlin, St. Paul
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We see why this was a front-page article; the story is shocking. These health workers get to keep their jobs because of what?! Because there aren't enough applicants to replace them? Because COVID is survivable? Many of these arguments are really lean on both scientific information and logic, and, frankly, display a misguided selfishness. Let them meet some COVID victims — dead or alive.
What we would find interesting is to learn if the assisted living and nursing home agencies and administrators have explained to their employees how their vaccination rates compare to the front-line workers in the ambulances and hospitals. People who try to save COVID victims every day were so eager for the vaccine that they never hesitated for a minute at the opportunity to get the shot(s).
Joel Marty, Minneapolis
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I am not sure which part of me is the most stunned by the front-page picture accompanying the long-term care worker story — the daughter of a former resident with little protection, the registered nurse or the reader viewing the photo of an unvaccinated employee with the right and privilege to visit within six feet with tenant residents while family members who have long been refused visitation due to COVID-19 hire cherry pickers and bang on windows just to see their loved ones.
Do the resident tenants and their families have a right to know which staff are unvaccinated?
I suspect not.
Jean Peters, Bloomington
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Regarding the picture of Oak Meadows Senior Living office manager who is unvaccinated by choice and sitting with seniors in close proximity: This picture is worth a thousand words, showing vulnerable elders put at risk because of an unvaccinated employee wearing a poorly fitted mask. I found this to be infuriating. This employee should not be allowed to be in contact with seniors in the facility. The science is convincing: COVID vaccines are safe and will save lives. They should be required for employees in senior care settings.
Paula Mackey, St. Paul
The writer is a physician.
CLEAN CARS RULE
Threat is misguided, but so are EVs
To those who are unhappy with the GOP's stance on clean cars: I agree that reducing funding to the Department of Natural Resources and state parks is wrong ("Lay off the tantrum, GOP," Readers Write, May 6). However, to argue for more electric vehicles is shortsighted. Just reread "Curious Minnesota" from May 10, 2019 ("How much are electric vehicles affected by Minnesota's extreme cold?"). According to the article, EV travel range decreases by 41% when the temperature drops to 20 degrees, due in part to the engine not producing heat and the battery having to heat the vehicle's cabin. I wonder how the EVs performed during the polar vortex this past winter.
Barb Kivisto, Webster, Minn.
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It is wrong and unfair to force auto dealers to accept electric vehicles that they may not be able to sell. This rule by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency shifts responsibility for increasing the number of EVs from the state to the auto dealers.
The job of the state is to provide incentives for car purchasers: 1) Add more charging stations on the major highways, especially those leading up to northern Minnesota. 2) Provide tax credits for the purchase of an EV. 3) Increase the state gas tax to drive consumer choices to EVs.
Incentives, not rules, will put more EVs on Minnesota roads.
Dennis West, Minneapolis
How it ought to be, not how it is
In response to Carol Becker's counterpoint ("Hennepin Av. plans leave equity stranded," May 5), it's important to remember that the data on transit riders and bikers reflects usage of the road in its current state.
As it is, I'd be very reluctant to ride my bike on Hennepin Avenue — the mess of car traffic makes it seem irresponsibly unsafe to do so. Instead, I'd ride out of my way to find a safer alternative. If we redesign Hennepin to support safe biking, I'd gladly ride along it, saving myself time in the process, and in turn I'd be more likely to stop and shop or eat along it.
Likewise with buses, the idea that our transit infrastructure doesn't support the needs of working families and people of color isn't a reason to abandon transit — it's a reason to improve transit until it does. A dedicated bus lane along Hennepin makes faster trips possible, making it possible for people to get where they need to be quickly and easily, increasing the utility of our transit system.
If transit isn't living up to its equitable aims, we should aim to make it work better, not abandon it. Transit can serve all people if we invest in it properly.
Mike Phillips, Minneapolis
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I applaud Becker's rigorous analysis of why the two proposed bike lanes on Hennepin are a bad idea. Here are two more reasons. Minnesota is a four-season environment. Yes, we are more than 1 degree warmer than in the past with warmer winters to come, but winter will hold its bite for a long time. So the capacity and convenience of cars will not disappear, but their future will be electric, already cheaper than gasoline-powered cars over the vehicle lifetime, and will be commonplace when the charging infrastructure is in place to eliminate range anxiety. Instead of adding bike lanes on Hennepin Avenue few will use, add charging stations all over the city, as Gov. Tim Walz sensibly proposes for the state. That build-out will radically increase the demand for electric cars and eliminate the need for Walz's ill-advised mandate that car dealers stock electrics. Virtually everyone who operates an electric vehicle immediately recognizes its superiority in torque, handling, roadworthiness and almost nonexistent maintenance costs.
Bottom line, there are plenty of easy and safer bicycle routes through south Minneapolis that avoid high-traffic Hennepin. And with parking stalls and charging opportunities for electric cars, the climate crisis will be addressed as the state's utilities continue their rapid transition toward cheaper, non-carbon wind and solar energy.
James P. Lenfestey, Minneapolis
The writer is a former Star Tribune editorial writer.
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