In his commentary “It’s time to end Gov. [Tim] Walz’s peacetime emergency rule” (Opinion Exchange, April 16), Rep. Steve Drazkowski argues that the Legislature, of which he is a member, should have a larger role in decisions about opening up the state.
He first argues that Minnesota’s plan to “flatten the curve” has gone overboard and that it “is flat as a pancake.” The total number of positive tests in Minnesota has been growing at an average of 8% a day during the past week. While that is much lower than the 28%-per-day growth that we were seeing during part of March, 8% per day is still enough to infect half the state in about four months. It makes me think that either Drazkowski doesn’t understand the power of exponential growth or his pancakes are a good deal fluffier than mine.
He then argues that surrounding states that don’t have stay-at-home orders have similar or lower COVID-19 death rates than Minnesota. It’s curious that he chose to base his argument on the death rate, which is a lagging indicator, rather than the positive-test rate. The number of positive cases per capita in Minnesota is half that of Iowa, less than a quarter of South Dakota, and significantly less than every other state in the union that doesn’t have a statewide stay-at-home order. While the ratio of deaths to positive tests varies (for example, it’s over 10% in Spain, 7% in New York, and just under 3% in Germany), it’s likely that South Dakota’s high positive-test rate will eventually catch up to it and be reflected in a much higher death rate. The fact that Drazkowski points to South Dakota as a model makes me quite happy that he is not part of the decisionmaking process.
Matthew Vonk, Minneapolis
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The fallacy in Drazkowski’s opinion piece becomes obvious near the end. He says that Minnesotans know how to defeat the virus; we don’t need the governor issuing stay-at-home orders. What do we, according to Drazkowski and his Republican colleagues, know? That we should “stay home if you are not feeling well.” This is a dangerous misstatement of the truth.
We have learned over the last weeks, that many people infected with COVID-19 actually show no symptoms at all. And even people who do show symptoms are usually contagious before those symptoms appear and possibly for days after they clear up. All of these people are “feeling well” but are still contagious. If they go about their lives as normal, instead of staying home, they are passing on their contagion to anyone they come near. Because they are out and about, people will get sick, and people will die.
How do we get these people who feel fine to stay home and not spread the disease? The government, based on all the knowledge of the doctors and epidemiologists, orders people to stay home. Minimizing this truth, as Drazkowski does, is dangerous. Leading people to question whether they really need to follow the stay-at-home orders is dangerous.
Gov. Tim Walz’s actions have been well-thought-out, based on the available science, and show an overriding concern for the welfare of our people. We are all better off following the path laid out by our governor.
Michael Schwartz, St. Louis Park
Operator, get me Line 3
COVID-19 has changed how we interact with each other. The recent Minnesota Pollution Control Agency public meetings to get feedback for the Enbridge Line 3 project were an example of an effective format to share ideas and opinions. Public meetings for this project are nothing new. What was different with these latest meetings was that it was done in a telephone town hall format.
Just like every other meeting, supporters and opponents get the chance to share their views. The telephone town hall format allows more people the chance to talk. You do not have people threatening others. There isn’t the shouting or attempts by some to try to stop the meetings. No one tries to take the microphone away from someone or jeer at people as they speak. You can’t sneak a bullhorn or a big sign into a telephone meeting. What you do get is the ability to listen to others and hear different points of view in a different and better way.
Thank you to the MPCA for finding a way to bring us together for these meetings. For people like me who want the rules to work and the process to keep moving, this works.
It should be a good format and example of how to do public meetings like this in the future.
Jim Schuelke, Rosemount
What about the next crisis?
We have been warned about pandemics for decades, and now our national lack of interest in them has been revealed in a cruel and unvarnished way. I hate to pile on, but isn’t it time to question our federal preparedness for the other things we know are coming? A dirty bomb in a major American city? A catastrophic earthquake on the West Coast? A biological attack on our water supply? The eventual price that will be paid for climate change?
We need to seriously consider these issues, question our leaders about them and invest in the emergency infrastructure needed to deal with them. No more can we get caught flat-footed and suddenly discover the cupboard was bare, as the administration is claiming in this crisis. It’s hard to spend resources on plans and materials you hope you never use, but how’s that thinking working for us now?
Paul Walthour, Shakopee
Thanks for a fine job in a trying time
As a proud graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, I’d like to give a shout-out to the fine writers at the Star Tribune for their exceptional efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, the numerous articles written by Jeremy Olson and Glenn Howatt are keeping us informed of our state’s efforts to battle this public health crisis.
Much happens before the first word of an article is ever written. The American Press Institute defines journalism as the activity of gathering, assessing, creating and presenting news and information. With a mountain of COVID-19 data that changes daily and so many other moving parts, Olson and Howatt consistently relay important information for all Minnesotans, the result of excellent research, source identification and interviews, analysis, organization and writing. Thank you.
Debbie Musser, Woodbury
A little balm for the soul
A recent letter writer (“It’s not so simple,” April 14) used a W.H. Auden quotation for a reminder that we “love one another or die.” Auden used that essential theme many times in many ways, another of which is in his 1939 eulogy to W.B. Yeats. Here are snippets of that:
“... in the importance and noise of to-morrow
... And the poor have the sufferings to which they are fairly accustomed
... And the living nations wait
Each sequestered in its hate ...
[We must] Make a vineyard of the curse
Sing of human unsuccess ...
... Let the healing fountain start ...
In the prison of his days
Teach the free man how to praise.”
Rodney Hatle, Owatonna
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