Gov. Tim Walz recently lifted certain social distancing measures on some businesses to allow people to return to their jobs after being furloughed or put on leave. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development stated that those who are able to return to work must return, or refusal could potentially cost them their current unemployment benefits (“Can I refuse to go back to work if I feel unsafe?” May 2). Appropriate exceptions were taken into consideration, such as staying home for health reasons, caretaking obligations, and if your place of employment does not meet COVID-19 health code requirements. Closed child care has also been a reason to receive unemployment benefits.
Although I commend Walz for acknowledging child care during these difficult times, I can’t help but wonder why it’s taken a global pandemic for the government and employers to take further child care measures and benefits into account. Regardless of the Child Care Assistance Program, thousands are still going without child care, and now with schools and day care programs closed across the world, inadequate child care has drastically increased. Companies must learn during this unprecedented time that they should implement policies and change company culture by offering child care benefits and schedule flexibility for parents and guardians. If an employee is let go on account of scheduling conflicts with child care, they should be entitled to full unemployment benefits.
Companies are currently being extremely understanding in regard to personal family life and the difficulties that we are all facing, but in so many cases, this is a reality that will continue far after schools and day cares reopen.
Rachel M. Kozberg, Minneapolis
The pandemic might save our knees
Recently, statements arrived from a few major airline CEOs: Delta, United and others describing COVID-19 passenger and employee safety protocols (“Big airlines will require face masks,” May 1). Wearing masks, cleaning cabins to a higher standard and no beverages: Fine. But remember when there was ample room in the airline cabin? I think it was around 1967. Remember when redesigned plane interiors added rows to maximize profits? It occurred slowly over decades. The pitch stiffened; the planeload increased with each new slim seat. And we swallowed our knees in the process.
Right now, there are too many rows. Over time, like the frog in the warming water story, passengers gradually succumbed to “crammation.” Why keep up with crammation? With COVID-19 on a massive frontal attack, new airline safety protocols need to observe the 6-foot social distancing standard.
Solution: Use every other row while eliminating the middles. Remember, there are more rows than ever before. Skipping every other row appears to result in win-wins: The recliners are happy. The people behind the recliners are happy. Social distancing exists. Happier passengers are easier on staff. And, maybe the deplaning mash-up will be more civil. Happier, more confident passengers fly.
Judi Gay, Annandale, Minn.
We can help butcher those animals
Tuesday’s article on the extermination of over 10,000 Minnesota hogs per day (and who knows how many chickens and turkeys) certainly got my attention (“10K hogs put down daily in state,” May 6). It is completely understandable that the food processing chain has been totally disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is an incredible tragedy for Minnesota farmers and animal agriculture here and elsewhere. However, I’m wondering why the governor, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, the state Board of Animal Health, and the state Department of Health have not allowed — no, encouraged — Minnesota citizens and particularly Minnesota deer hunters, in planned coordination with the farmers, to harvest, butcher and preserve these great protein foods for their families and communities. When the Department of Natural Resources annually determines that many lakes are experiencing or are vulnerable to “winter fishkill,” it announces that promiscuous fishing (read: take as many types and numbers of fish as you can catch) is allowed on those lakes.
For 2018 it was estimated that Minnesota hunters harvested over 185,000 deer. Why couldn’t Minnesota allow its deer hunters and other interested citizens, in planned coordination with the animal owners, to harvest these hogs, chickens and turkeys? We know how to do it safely, (fairly) cleanly, with an end result of using and not wasting excellent local foods. A lot of people in Minnesota could have a lot of good, free meals as they manage their way through this mess.
Paul Liemandt, Backus, Minn.
Even if China’s responsible, it’s not
So what happens if the White House forces China to take responsibility for the coronavirus pandemic? (“U.S. sees China virus coverup,” May 4.) Does that mean China will take care of us, that it will administer testing, that it will make the calls on quarantine? Sorry, China, whether you’re responsible or not, I would still prefer America to be taking care of America (albeit, a little more engaged than it has been so far). If we’re talking strictly financial compensation, that’s fine, but let’s deal with the pandemic right now. Worry about the money/blame later.
Steve VanderLinden, Farmington
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Why do I tend to not believe information that comes from the current administration and government organizations that formerly appeared to be objective? Probably for several reasons: The president has nearly always lied or distracted/deflected when he was on the hot seat, he has consistently fired people he considered “disloyal” but were actually “honest,” and he has not allowed knowledgeable people to testify even if under subpoena. The current finger-pointing at China for its actions early in virus crisis is, I believe, to distract attention from his bumbling and his administration’s early inaction and coverup of the pandemic that has caused a huge amount of sickness and death. According to reports, he was vigorously briefed by our intelligence organizations as early as January about the coming dangers. Right now that is his biggest barrier to his re-election — about the only thing he is worried about.
James P. Stathopoulos, Burnsville
RED BARN PROTEST
Then as now, the people have power
Al Milgrom’s recall of the historic Red Barn protest was one of many such Minneapolis protest events that changed lives in the late 1960s and early 1970s (“Don’t forget the Dinkytown uprising,” Opinion Exchange, May 6). I well remember watching an angry massive crowd by the University of Minnesota Armory building as people surrounded an army truck driven by a uniformed and frightened ROTC student. And standing atop a protest barricade on Washington Avenue in front of Coffman Union, while police helicopters circled overhead and the university’s then-president Malcolm Moos pleaded for the crowd to disperse. And the people blocking all traffic on nearby Interstate 94, and the protest march right down Nicollet Mall.
And today, I live in the Boom Island Village neighborhood of northeast Minneapolis only because the local neighborhood groups, St. Anthony West and East, stopped the Minnesota Department of Transportation from building a massive six-lane freeway extension right through the riverfront area.
The power of an organized and determined people can still make a huge difference.
Ronald Korsh, Minneapolis