Monday, 26 Oct 2020

Opinion | 200,000 Covid Dead: An American Tragedy

To the Editor:

Re “Coronavirus Update: More Than 200,000 Dead in United States” (Sept. 23) and “Senators Line Up to Aid President in Nominee Fight” (front page, Sept. 22):

Some 200,000 have died, economic ruin is a reality for millions of unemployed people and there is still no national response plan.

The Senate must prioritize the pandemic over politics. The 9/11 tradition of reading the names of the departed is a moving reminder of the enormity of the loss.

To honor those who have succumbed to the virus and refocus senators’ minds, the names of some who have lost their lives during the pandemic — perhaps 50 from each state — should be read on the Senate floor before they take up any other business.

Steve Castleman
San Francisco

To the Editor:

My wife and I, who are both over 65, have been quarantining for the last six months. Recently, in what undoubtedly was the highlight of our week, we went to the drive-through at our local Wendy’s for lunch, and brought our food back home.

I’d love to be able to see my family and my friends, but right now it’s not possible. We simply can’t put any more demands on our doctors, nurses or other health providers, with the flu season around the corner.

I ask my fellow Americans to keep that in mind and to act responsibly. Their lives, and many of our lives, depend on it.

Robert H. Moulton III
Commerce City, Colo.

To the Editor:

Re “C.D.C. Again Taken to Task on Guidance” (front page, Sept. 22):

Our respected Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has fallen into the trap of complicated, wordy and sometimes erroneous advice, and it’s irrelevant at this stage whether that is because of politics, red tape or even some genuine scientific misinterpretations.

The simple facts, for all readers, can be summed up in two sentences: 1) “Respiratory droplets” are larger and heavier, resulting from sneezes, coughs, etc., and they tend to fall to the ground or onto surfaces within six feet. 2) “Aerosols” are much smaller, lighter particles, which can hover or drift in the air for much longer, often wafting like an invisible cloud.

Fortunately, there is no need for lengthy deliberations about how to protect ourselves against both. One (even shorter) sentence will suffice: Wear a mask and maintain social distancing. Nit-picking over who said what, and when, and trying to allocate relative importance to both routes of transmission serve no useful purpose. That also confuses the public. I would urge a much simpler, straightforward approach.

Herschel Flax
Great Neck, N.Y.
The writer is a professor of anatomy at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

To the Editor:

Re “Negligence With American Lives” (editorial, Sept. 10):

You explain that the president’s “fatal mishandling of the pandemic” is the product of his public lies and his muzzling and sidelining of scientists and health officials who disagree with him.

It is time, indeed past time, for the formation of a “Shadow Pandemic Cabinet,” the members of which, free to speak their minds, would tell the truth.

The cabinet would be funded by a philanthropy (Bloomberg Philanthropies?), and staffed by former C.D.C., F.D.A. and task force officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, all of whom would have resigned their current posts.

Like shadow cabinets in parliamentary democracies, it would offer alternative views and prescribe alternative policies to those of the government.

For example, the cabinet would weigh in about the safety of a vaccine or the efficacy of a treatment the president, or even his own F.D.A., may vouch for before the election, and prescribe a comprehensive testing program.

Its views and policies would likely be followed by all of the Democratic governors (24) plus two or three Republican governors. The result would put the country in a hugely better place, especially if the president gains a second term.

Robert E. Lehrer
Chicago

To the Editor:

As a physician, I am deeply concerned about the coming confluence of Covid-19 and influenza. A bad flu season with continuing Covid-19 community spread is going to be a huge challenge for the health care system and our citizenry.

President Trump has expressed great confidence in a potential Covid-19 vaccine. Perhaps he can express similar confidence in the flu vaccine and encourage all Americans, which is almost everyone over six months of age, to be vaccinated against the flu this year. Rates of flu vaccination are very poor in the United States. Yet we know that even an imperfect flu vaccine is helpful in reducing the incidence and severity of the flu.

I think that a photo op with President Trump, Melania and Barron receiving the flu vaccine would serve as a great inducement for everyone to get vaccinated against the flu. A light flu season will not only save lives, but will also allow us to have more energy and resources to fight Covid-19.

Sheree Starrett
Verona, N.J.

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