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I wish to congratulate the Opinion pages for the commentary regarding requiring COVID vaccination at University of Minnesota campuses ("U must lead, not lag, on vaccine campaign," June 17). As a retired orthopedic surgeon and University of Minnesota Medical School grad (class of '72), I think the decision by the university's administration to not require COVID vaccination for students and staff should be rescinded for admission and attendance on the campuses. The presence of a significant number of unvaccinated students and personnel poses a significant threat to other unvaccinated classmates who may live in close contact in dorms and fraternity and sorority houses, not to mention attend lectures. This disease can gravely sicken and even kill young people who come in close contact with asymptomatic carriers of the virus, and 600,000 Americans are already dead of this disease. Does the university want to contribute to that list?

An extremely effective group of preventive vaccines is ready and able to prevent or mollify this virus. The coming of mutations into the unvaccinated populace may make transmission even more likely. It is almost unbelievable that our university system cannot match what the University of Michigan and Indiana University, plus the Ivy League schools, are doing to prevent needless morbidity and possible mortality from COVID-19. How will the university explain to parents if their children contract this disease with all its implications? Please, President Joan Gabel, listen to the science. Listen to your medical faculty.

Douglas Drake, Minneapolis


So SEIU Healthcare Minnesota is encouraging its members, working in a variety of health care settings, to get the COVID vaccine but believes it should be voluntary ("Some vaccine mandates appear legal," June 21). What I would like to know is what is SEIU doing to educate and truly encourage its members to become vaccinated. Or is this just a passive encouragement?

Dana Higgins, Coon Rapids


We are seeing a significant decline in cases and in the death rate from of COVID-19. Most people feel the vaccines have something to do with that. But there is vaccine hesitancy in a significant portion of the population. And there are clear political sides in this question. An article from the April 22, 2021, New England Journal of Medicine reported that 52% of Republicans and 13% of Democrats would not receive the vaccine.

The development of these vaccines occurred during and with significant support from the Trump administration. Both Donald and Melania Trump received the COVID vaccine at the White House in January. And Donald Trump urged his followers to get vaccinated during his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando in late February.

As the pandemic continues, it is no surprise to scientists that there are mutations or variants of the virus. The delta variant is making the news with some areas of the country seeing a doubling of the percentage of COVID cases due to that variant. This is a variant that seems to be more contagious, more likely to make you very ill and more likely to infect younger people. A recent study shows that the majority of people getting ill enough to be hospitalized with that variant have not been vaccinated. The statistics on the protection of the Pfizer vaccine are about 30% protection with one shot and about 80% protection with two doses. Furthermore, the parts of the country where the vaccination rate is low are having more cases of the virus. Some experts are predicting a surge in cases in the fall (likely weather related like the flu).

I am under the impression that most Republicans hold Trump in high esteem and believe what he says. In fact, that same article asked, "How much do you trust President Trump to provide reliable information about a COVID-19 vaccine?" and 78% of Republicans answered "a great deal/a fair amount."

I am puzzled by what appears to be a disconnect in logical thinking, and as someone raised in a strong Republican household, I do know that Republicans are capable of logical thinking. I have heard that Democrats fall in love with their candidates/issues and Republicans fall in line. To those Republicans who have not been vaccinated, it is time to follow Mr. Trump, and it is time to fall in line.

David Walcher, Eagan

The writer is a retired physician.


Political decisions are not giventhe same weight, apparently

I'm not Catholic, so you can take this comment with a grain of salt, but have the U.S. bishops ever voted to deny communion to their own bishops who seemingly believe in child sex abuse? By their own logic, they should be taking this sort of action. Many U.S. bishops made political decisions not to remove priests who were sexually abusing children for years. I don't mean "political" in terms of Washington, D.C., but in terms of internal politics of their own culture and the options these leaders perceived were available to them. These bishops made political decisions that further perpetuated abuse of many more children. Do they actually believe in sexually abusing children? Likely not, but their political choices undoubtedly led to actions counter to important church teaching on sexuality and the care of children.

They are not letting President Joe Biden and others off the hook so lightly, however. What Biden actually believes about abortion is in his own heart, but because he has taken the political view that, given all the choices and constraints of our society, it is better to continue to let women have the right to choose, he is portrayed as "believing" in abortion and threatened with the denial of communion. It's too bad that the political view of abortion is given such a harsh consequence by the bishops but the political decisions of their own members on managing child sex abuse has never risen to the same level.

Erik Pratt, St. Paul


Tuesday's paper had a number of letters that spoke of the writers' Catholic faith, Biden's deep and lifelong Catholic faith and the Catholic bishops' actions on abortion and potentially withholding holy communion from Biden ("This doesn't reduce abortion"). I respect Biden a lot, but there is one character of his that I cannot abide. That is his often-referred-to "faith." What is faith? It's the belief in something absent evidence. Name one thing in life that cannot be justified merely on faith. Can't do it, can you?

I can believe that Russell's teapot is circling Jupiter as an article of faith. One can believe that a giant tortoise supports the globe on her back and when she stirs, we have earthquakes, merely because of faith. There is no evidence of this teapot nor a giant tortoise but faith is all one needs to believe they exist.

Many times Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett referred to her deep faith in the Catholic Church. So what? Someone who should know better, a Supreme Court justice, should know that there is no room in the justice system for evidence-free beliefs. People the world over are introduced to their faiths, many at very early ages. This allows their leaders to indoctrinate them into a belief system free of evidence. If kids were kept away from such dogma until their critical thinking skills were more developed, I am sure there would be a lot fewer attending churches, synagogues and mosques. In my opinion, this would be a good start.

If your faith gives you comfort, fine. Whatever else it may do for you, again, fine. But please, quit promoting faith as some noble virtue. Stop telling all that you are a person of deep faith. All it does is allows you to believe whatever you want, facts and evidence be damned.

Bob Brereton, St. Paul

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