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Give me liberty…
Re As New York Becomes The New Epicentre Of Coronavirus, Trump Wants To Ease Up On Social Distancing (March 25): I can’t help but note that COVID-19 cases in the United States are overrepresented on the two coasts, with California, Washington and New York hardest hit. What these states have in common, apart from the terror residents feel at the relentless march of the coronavirus, is that they are solidly Democratic; it’s highly unlikely that they will vote for Donald Trump in November.
Mr. Trump, so obsessed with the coming election, seems to have made political calculations with his base in mind. As he argues that the U.S. should be fully open for business by mid-April, social distancing be damned, it appears American lives are not his highest priority.
Michael Craig Owen Sound, Ont.
Re End The Lockdown, Save The Economy: Is There Method In The U.S. President’s Madness? (March 25): Donald Trump attempts to draw parallels between deaths from driving and deaths from coronavirus. I find the analogy patently false, because of the massive state intervention that is required to keep the death toll from driving to tolerable levels: driver’s licences; safety regulations for vehicles; yellow lines, lane separators, crash barriers; seat belts; speed limits; drunk-driving laws and so on. The restrictions of social separation and self-isolation pale by comparison.
Alan Ball New Westminster, B.C.
Re This Is A Time For Churchillian Leadership (March 21): Columnist Marcus Gee is certainly right that Winston Churchill in 1940 was both resolutely defiant and upfront with his fellow citizens about the brutal threats they faced.
But where that crisis differed from the present one is that Churchill had the backing of RAF Fighter Command to ward off the enemy. Britain was able to achieve supremacy in the air. Currently. any leader, whatever his or her merits, lacks means to fight back effectively against COVID-19. This surely makes for an even greater challenge than the one that Churchill helped to overcome.
Robert Malcolmson Nelson, B.C.
Re Prince Charles Tests Positive For Coronavirus (Online, March 25): I wish Prince Charles well in his recovery from the coronavirus, but his health should be no more important than any of the other millions of British citizens. Pandemics are great democratizers to which even privilege should bend a knee.
Geoff Rytell Toronto
Re How The Coronavirus Took Lynn Valley Care (March 21): A stark and simple lesson emerges from the tragedy at the Lynn Valley Care Centre: If long-term care workers are paid too little, given a dangerous minimum of sick days and deprived of a reasonable amount of vacation, they will likely go to work sick – with devastating consequences for their vulnerable charges and for us all.
In the (hopefully) post-pandemic months to come, will this be a lesson learned or a lesson forgotten?
Anne Holloway Toronto
Women and children first?
Re The Moral Choice Canadian Doctors May Face: Who Lives, Who Dies (March 20) and The Coronavirus Is A Chance To Have The End-of-life Conversations We Need (March 17): We all should make our end-of-life choices known to other family members. I was born on Good Friday in 1936, so I guess, even though I feel reasonably healthy, I’m one of the more vulnerable citizens in the country. So far I’m keeping myself under house arrest, healthy and bored.
My family knows my wishes. I hope it never happens, but if, in the future, I should need a ventilator, I would leave it for some younger person. And I’m looking forward to celebrating another birthday on Good Friday this year.
Joy Ruttan Gatineau, Que.
Re The Trolley Problem (Letters, March 23): No, we wouldn’t want a healthy 70-year-old removed from a respirator in favour of a hypothetical younger patient, as a letter-writer fears. But would she be able to watch while a 30-year-old parent of two were left to die, so that a 95-year-old with severe dementia could stay on a respirator? What if the younger patient was a respirologist or other health-care worker whose skills are vital at this time?
We could spare doctors the agony of such decisions by applying a blanket rule, but that would only mean decisions being made in favour of those who have already had a long life and against those who have not. Either way, it’s a horror movie.
Anita Dermer Toronto
I am 83, and I disagree with a letter-writer who thinks ageism should not play a role in medical triage. Other things being equal, save a child or young person first.
Catherine Sinclair Thornbury, Ont.
Re Words With Friends (Letters, March 25): A letter-writer believes the term social distancing is appropriate since it involves social spaces. Instead, I believe it really involves interpersonal spaces. Waiting in line among strangers, for example, is not really social as few people in line actually socialize, yet it is interpersonal. There may be a modicum of truth to the term, but that technicality seems to pale in regard to the risks it provides.
As a psychologist, I have treated many people with long-standing mental illnesses such as social anxiety, social phobia and avoidant personality disorder, as well as many others related to this issue. The risk is that individuals with these afflictions may use social distancing to justify their socially avoidant behaviours.
“Physical distance” between people seems to be what we really mean. Society should not use terms that will prolong some disorders long after the coronavirus is gone.
Bruce Hutchison C.Psych., Ottawa
A sporting chance
Re Olympics Finally Fall, Flatten The Sporting Curve (Sports, March 25): Columnist Cathal Kelly defines what sport is by separating it from exercise. It seems that the meaning of the word has been hijacked to describe athletic competition.
Being a good sport used to mean fair play, and it meant that to participate was more important than winning. Many years ago, when my young son played competitive squash, he learned the meaning of sport. He was taught that if the referee could not see that the ball bounced twice before he was able to return the shot, he should make the call himself.
We are now in an era where winning is everything: a nod and a wink to sign-stealing in baseball; deflating a football in cold weather for better grip; hiring, until recently, unskilled hockey goons to injure the skilled – all under the heading of sport. To borrow an old phrase: business before pleasure. How sad.
Mickey Belman Toronto
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