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Shoppers take an escalator in an empty shopping mall in Calgary, Altberta, Wednesday, March 18, 2020. Readers debate the costs of reopening the economy during a pandemic.Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

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Tough choices

Re We’re Nowhere Near Herd Immunity. Why Would We Trust Governments To Get Us There? (April 29): When this is over, I believe total deaths as a percentage of population will be the most important statistic. Sweden has chosen to front-end this load, which may be the wisest strategy. The collateral health costs of extreme economic and social disruption will also have to be factored in. Pandemic anxiety will have future consequences.

The unknown unknowns paralyze me. I agnostically accept the extreme measures because so much is uncertain. However, we shall know better in a decade. I hope future responses will be guided by all relevant evidence so that herd immunity prevails over herd mentality. I do not see reason prevailing until we can accurately measure the pandemic against overall influenza mortality statistics – deaths so common among the aged that we have accepted such loss of life.

Right now, we don’t move into the future looking in the rear-view mirror, but in complete darkness. In such a world, there seems no way to distinguish between paranoia and caution.

Dan Moore Peterborough, Ont.

Our politicians should recognize that the decision to reopen is an ethical one to be informed by scientists, not made by scientists. If speed limits were halved on all roads, automotive accidents and deaths would be reduced. We don’t do it because there is an economic cost.

Society makes trade-offs like this all the time, and our leaders should come to terms with the fact that this is no different.

Chris Stoate Oakville, Ont.

Florida man at beach

Re Canada Must Protect Itself From America’s Response to COVID-19 (Opinion, April 25): Exhibit A in columnist Robyn Urback’s case against the U.S. response to COVID-19 is Florida, likening pictures of Floridians on beaches to clips of the seconds before a traffic collision. But in reopening beaches, Governor Ron DeSantis said that counties should “do it in a good way. Do it in a safe way," and distancing guidelines must remain in place. “The governor said it was important for people to have outlets for getting exercise, sunshine and fresh air,” it was reported in another Globe article.

Florida’s approach to outdoor activity seems very similar to that of much-praised Dr. Bonnie Henry and Adrian Dix in British Columbia. My reading of the U.S. COVID-19 deaths per capita is relatively not at all bad. That’s not to suggest we should open the Canada-U.S. border anytime soon, it’s simply to point out that the U.S. response has been anything but monolithic, and we still don’t know a great deal about what works and what doesn’t.

Don LePan Nanaimo, B.C.

Stay safe

Re Thank You, And Stay Safe (April 17): Two ubiquitous expressions are now highly irritating, perhaps for many more than just me.

My bête noire is “stay safe.” It feels like a lecture to the innocent – of course I’m going to stay safe. I am not one of those Floridians flocking to a crowded beach. To remind me to stay safe is to insinuate I’m of the same ilk.

And could advertisers please stop repeating, “We’re in this together.” So many ad agencies have used this bromide. What it really seems to mean is, “We can’t think of something meaningful that justifies this ad expense, and makes less venal a corporation’s request for consumers to use curbside service and keep its business alive."

Mark Christian Burgess Cobourg, Ont.

Smooth sailing

Re Some Overwhelmed Parents Are Giving Up, Opting To Abandon Pandemic At-home Schooling (April 28): In 2005, my wife and I took our kids, then seven and 10, out of school for three years while travelling and living aboard a sailboat. We left armed with boxes of textbooks. We did not have regular internet access.

The first year was daunting as we faithfully tried to follow the entire curriculum. I had to learn that throttling my son while uttering Homer Simpson’s line of “Why I oughta…” was not a productive teaching technique. By the third year, we had a strategy that served us well: Follow the math curriculum, but forget the rest; read, read, then read some more; write a journal. We did our own version of everything else on the fly: science experiments, books about places we visited, museums, David Attenborough videos – anything that was fun and easy.

Our kids were fine when they returned to public school. Now adults, our daughter has two degrees and our son just finished business school. The pandemic will end and things will return to some semblance of normal. Until then, it should be okay to not have a perfect home-schooling routine. The kids will be fine. Just don’t kill them first.

Gordon White Comox, B.C.

What’s for dinner?

Re A Recipe For Feeling Normal Again (First Person, April 23): It is heartwarming to read that families are doing more cooking and enjoying dinners together. However, it should also be important to remember the enterprising local restaurants that are attempting to stay alive by offering take-out meals.

For those who can afford it, take-out from local restaurants once or twice a week would do much to help them, and provide families with a sense of community spirit.

Raili Garth Toronto


Re Growing Up In A World Of Catastrophe (First Person, April 30): Each generation grows up with their own catastrophes.

I grew up under the shadow of nuclear war. The polio vaccine was just being made available to all. Measles and mumps were childhood illnesses that wreaked havoc in many cases. There were no flu shots. Elsewhere in the world, segregation was rampant, conscripted young men died by the thousands in war, and soldiers ended up killing university students during a peaceful protest.

My generation did not freeze in fear and uncertainty and search for blame. We tried to make a difference and had some successes. We will always be experiencing firsts, and life may take unexpected twists and turns that surprise some. Every generation should be aware of that.

Odeen Probert Thornbury, Ont.

I am guilty of being a boomer who has indulged in "oh my God" too many times over the past two months. No more.

I recognize that I have had many privileges in my 70 or so years. The freedom to shop and to buy things I have needed or wanted. The luxury of returning things I don’t want. The freedom to go out with friends or stroll in a park. The freedom of not being consumed by the world’s disasters. It is time to make this new world work for everyone and not indulge in “oh my God.”

Thanks to writer Georgia Noble Irwin for her “grown-up” words.

April Laufer Toronto

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