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U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the daily briefing of the White House Coronavirus Task Force in the James Brady Briefing Room April 10, 2020 at the White House in Washington.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

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Point blank

Re Warnings From Pandemic Playbook Trigger Questions About Preparedness (April 9): It does not seem productive to start finger-pointing. In the recent federal election, I often heard the word “evolving,” an appropriate descriptor for this crisis given that we now effectively have a three-day week: yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Actions being taken by the medical community, the Prime Minister and the premiers are evolving; holes in the safety net are being filled.

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The science itself is constantly evolving. The analysis of our preparedness, or lack thereof, should wait for the appropriate time.

Brian Head Sidney, B.C.


This story reinforces the view, already held by many in the environmental-health field, that Canada’s public-health agencies remain too deeply attached to reactive, risk-based paradigms for responding to public-health threats. Risk-based approaches place an excessive emphasis on the non-disruption of economic activities, and demand very high standards for evidence of harm in order to warrant action.

Whatever the ultimate outcome of the COVID-19 outbreak, it is clear to me that a more pro-active, precautionary model is needed in dealing with threats to public health.

Mark Winfield PhD, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University; Toronto

U.S. relations

Re We Have Better Things To Do Right Now Than Scrap With The U.S. (April 6): Critical shortages of personal protective equipment, ventilators and other medical supplies will cost the lives of patients, health-care workers and front-line workers.

This outcome will be as irresponsible as it is preventable. To address this public-health emergency, I believe we need to adopt a transcontinental approach.

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The U.S. and Canadian governments could collaborate and oblige their manufacturing sectors to meet transcontinental medical supply needs, not just their own. These supplies could then be urgently deployed to hotspots such as New York, Michigan and Louisiana that sit on a knife edge.

Later, they could be distributed to other states and provinces as critical shortages arise. Excess production could be shipped to low-income countries that have been forgotten in the midst of this disaster, but which face an unthinkable loss of life owing to their already weak health systems.

Across the First World War, Second World War and Korean War and after Sept. 11, 2001, the United States and Canada have shared a long history of standing shoulder to shoulder against common threats. Both countries should urgently come together to fight this pandemic. Deadly viruses such as COVID-19 know no borders. Our response to it shouldn’t either.

Keith Martin MD, PC; former MP 1993-2011; executive director, Consortium of Universities for Global Health; Washington

Gift horses

Re When It Comes To Huawei, There’s No Such Thing As A Free Gift (April 10): One might think Huawei’s donation of masks and other medical products to Canada is meant to influence the federal government’s decision regarding use of the Chinese company’s 5G technology, or prompt the release of Meng Wanzhou. Canadians can be excused for making this linkage. As necessary as many of the products sent are to Canada’s handling of the virus, it is easy and plausible to see this act as one more of leverage than of citizenship.

Has Huawei pulled together to help out the Americans? The speed with which it carried out the delivery is impressive. Such speedy largesse would make a huge impact in New York, Michigan, New Jersey or California, to name but a few U.S. hot spots.

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Huawei would do well to use its good graces with the Chinese government to deliver what Canadians would truly like: the return of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig. With speed.

Greg Schmidt Calgary

Fast relief

Re Is Temporary Universal Basic Income A Better Alternative To CERB? (April 9): A sensible and efficient approach would be to immediately send every taxpayer $2,000 a month and claw back all, some or none of it at tax time next year, depending on income level or financial circumstances.

Laurie Kochen Toronto

To good health

Re Wine Is A Luxury – But In These Uncertain Times, It’s Also Essential (Online, April 1): To tackle stress, one must do what one must do to “keep calm and carry on.” In this crisis, those who wine and dine are winners, not whiners. Humour and high spirits are needed now. So, cheers!

Ken DeLuca Arnprior, Ont.

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Back in the medieval days of Kievan Rus, the ruler Vladimir the Great was also known as Saint Vladimir because he introduced Christianity to Kiev. Legend has it that he invited representatives of the major religions to explain their faiths so that he could make an informed choice – he eventually chose what we now call Russian Orthodoxy.

When the Muslims explained that he would have to abjure alcohol, Vladimir is reputed to have exclaimed something like, “If you live in a climate like this you have to take a drink from time to time!”

Russians are not the only ones who know about winter, eh?

Richard Seymour Brechin, Ont.

Step by step

Re What Are The Coronavirus Rules In My Province? (Online, April 8): A little bit of levity (literally?) in times of uncertainty. Last week was set to be the annual CN Tower climb. Our family had marked the date in our calendar since our arrival from Provence, France, last August for a one-year home exchange. Seen from our third-floor deck, we’d been eyeing the tower for months, our two girls watching its lights change colour just before bedtime.

This year’s climb wasn’t to be. But that didn’t stop us from scaling 1,776 steps – at home. Armed with the girls’ drawing of the tower, motivational goodies and views of the real thing, we managed 111 flights of stairs to accomplish our goal. The girls were proud of their accomplishment, and we hope that the city – and all of Canada – can stay strong and undivided during these scary times.

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Be well, et bon courage.

Stuart Sommers Toronto

Moment in time

Last weekend, I was decluttering my office and came upon a Globe clipping dated exactly five years ago. Elizabeth Renzetti’s column began, “I’m sorry to say it, my friends, but this is the weekend for contemplating death,” and ended with the words of a breast-cancer patient who had died: “Find a bit of beauty in the world today. Share it. If you can’t find it, create it. Some days this may be hard to do. Persevere.” (We Can’t Live Every Day Like It’s Our Last, But Dying Does Seem To Clarify The Mind – April 4, 2015) I kept the clipping.

George Harauz Guelph, Ont.


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