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Our world’s a university; its countries within, the colleges; and the provinces within the colleges, its classrooms. Our teachers are the scientists, our politicians the deans, and we, the general population, are the students. And we are all studying one common topic: surviving this and future pandemics. And there will be future pandemics.

I know there will be students who don’t listen and those who fall asleep in class. But my prayer is that we learn from this, and that, in the future, the deans don’t pretend to be all-knowing, that they listen and learn from the more knowledgeable teachers. Our lives, and future ones, depend on it.

Dennis M. Daniels, Eden Prairie

WISCONSIN PRIMARY

GOP wants voters to risk their lives

If any voter or poll worker in Wisconsin gets sick or dies from COVID-19 as a result of participating in the April 7 elections, they can lay the blame squarely at the feet of the Republican Party both at the state and national levels. The only reason the election took place when it did was because a very conservative state Supreme Court justice was up for re-election, and holding the election when they did was part of Republicans’ efforts to stack the deck in his favor. Their stated reason, that mail-in ballots would promote cheating, is utterly without support in reality. As a result, voters needed to risk their health at a tiny number of polling places with very long lines.

I hope that, in some way, the people of Wisconsin will hold the Republican Party accountable for all of the difficulties the Republicans will have caused.

David Rosene, Brooklyn Park

• • •

Lawrence Jacobs and Doug Chapin’s commentary regarding difficulties with voting in this uncertain time was very timely and helpful (“Conducting a safe election will be hard,” Opinion Exchange, April 6). Everyone should request an absentee ballot now for the August primary and the November general election. Even if you prefer to vote on-site on Election Day, be prepared with an alternative. We have no idea what Election Day will be like. Request one by going to the Minnesota Secretary of State website or contacting your county election official directly.

Gary C. Fifield, St. Paul

STAY-HOME ORDER

If we can travel, so will the virus

I was very disappointed to read that Gov. Tim Walz is considering a “modified” stay-at-home order, especially as its rationale rested on misconceptions about the disease’s spread, as when State Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm advised in the article that symptomatic people stay home (“Walz weighs modified stay-at-home order,” April 7). We already know that asymptomatic people are key spreaders, yet that and other aspects of COVID-19 epidemiology are absent from the state’s plan and the governor’s rhetoric.

There is no reopening that doesn’t “jeopardiz[e] the state’s progress” in limiting spread. In the absence of a vaccine, serological testing for the recovered, or even marginally adequate COVID-19 testing (for a state with many medical riches, Minnesota has had particularly poor testing and communication about testing), all we have going for us is common sense.

The governor’s actions signal to our citizens, especially young people, how seriously to take the threat. In turn, that will determine the degree of suffering.

Melinda Russell, Minneapolis

HELP FOR HOMELESS

Aid private-school families, too

Matthew Shaver’s commentary (“Mpls. aid leaves out charter school families,” Opinion Exchange, April 7) makes this valid point: “A family experiencing a housing emergency in Minneapolis with a child in elementary school is worthy of this funding regardless of where that child goes to school.” Yet his calculations exclude families whose children attend private schools. The children who attend Ascension Catholic School, St. John Paul Catholic School and other faith-based schools in the city are no less deserving of this relief. If “private school” makes you think “high income,” please consider: 79% of our 448 students live at or near the poverty line. They are able to receive this rigorous education through the generosity of donors. Are they any less deserving than charter school families?

St. Paul did the right thing, Shaver concludes, by including private school families and those attending charter schools. “So let’s do that in Minneapolis!” he writes. Yes, let’s do exactly that.

Judy Romanowich Smith, Robbinsdale

The writer works for Ascension Catholic Academy.

SOCIETY

This isn’t a communist takeover. It’s a response to a global pandemic.

The health and economic impacts of COVID-19 are devastating and people of goodwill have every right to express their different opinions about how we should respond. However, people like the recent letter writer who asserted that local, state and federal restrictions on our behavior just now are “Communism 101” must be confronted. What we need more than anything right now is social trust, and portraying good-faith efforts to respond to a global pandemic as extreme measures with a sinister political goal undermines that trust.

I was especially disappointed that the writer used the phrase “Sic semper tyrannis” to close his letter. These words are originally attributed to Brutus when he assassinated Julius Caesar but were supposedly quoted by John Wilkes Booth when he assassinated Abraham Lincoln. If the writer did not know that, it undermines his assertion that he is refraining from using history to prove his point. If he did know this, well, that is far worse.

John McGuire, Rochester, Minn.

CORONAVIRUS

Test the future hot spots

Is it time to start proactively testing for coronavirus in our senior facilities? Or do we need to wait until those residents get sick in larger numbers? We have seen so many instances across the country where the virus spreads like wildfire once a single case is confirmed in a senior residence. If the tests become more readily available, let’s start testing the residents of senior facilities before they show symptoms. Let’s catch cases early, before infected staff or residents have a chance to spread it widely. We could turn these wildfires into slowly burning embers.

At this point, the median age of Minnesotans who have died from COVID-19 is 86 years old. (As of Sunday, the median age for patients hospitalized or in the ICU was only 63.) There are at least 47 senior facilities that have reported confirmed cases of coronavirus. Senior centers have become our own mini-epicenter in this crisis. And the 80,000-plus Minnesotans who live in them are at risk.

Yes, I recognize that testing is limited right now and that priority for testing has been given to the most critical cases and our front-line health care workers. There is good reason for that. But as soon as more testing becomes available, we need to home our focus on our senior facilities. They are Minnesota’s hot spots. Widespread, proactive testing could change that.

Jennifer Lovestrand, Minneapolis

THANK YOU

Another round of applause is due

Many news articles thank the first responders — nurses, doctors, police, etc. — for their valiant work. Missing is thanking the cleaning and maintenance staffs at the hospitals whose work is as vital as that of doctors and nurses, and they don’t get paid as much.

Avis Hoffman, Minneapolis

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