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Forum, March 23: Prepare to have our patience tried

Published: 3/22/2020 10:00:12 PM
Modified: 3/22/2020 10:00:10 PM
Prepare to have our patience tried

The excellent editorial, “Reading in the time of coronavirus” (March 19) expressed the hope that social distancing would become “the new norm” only temporarily. That is likely to be a vain hope, unless “temporarily” means as much as a year and a half or two years.

Unfortunately, the math of pandemics is unforgiving, which is why stopping transmission from the first few cases of coronavirus in China would have been so valuable. In the absence of an effective vaccine, a pandemic will continue until so many people have had the disease that the odds of an infected person coming in contact with an unexposed person fall so low that the pandemic fizzles out.

There may be periods when the number of new cases declines, as it has in China recently. But the most common pattern is that people then let their guard down and the local epidemic resumes. Thus the general rule: The more effective social distancing is, the longer it must last.

Distancing is still of great value, of course, because by slowing the progress of an epidemic and stretching it out, social distancing reduces its intensity at any given time. That enormously improves the ability of hospitals, doctors, nurses and other workers to provide the equipment and care needed to prevent the deaths of many severely affected patients.

But to imagine that the norm of social distancing will be a brief interlude in our lives is a mistake. It might turn out to be, but that would be a surprise. It is better to expect a time long enough to try our patience.


Springfield Vt.

Help restaurants; order takeout

Many of us eat out once a week or so. I was in a restaurant picking up takeout recently. Nobody there. Only takeout orders, especially since the Dartmouth students are gone.

Here’s a thought: Let’s all order takeout at least once a week so our restaurants and all their personnel can survive this. And include a tip!



Underestimating Trump concerns

In these troubling times I would like to address this letter to my fellow Americans who voted for Donald Trump in 2016. Please know that I, as an independent voter, respect your decision to vote for the person you thought best qualified to lead our vast and beautiful country, and as a result, be the person who would become the leader of the free world. Personally, I was not a huge Hillary Clinton fan, but on a gut level I was troubled by Trump’s imperious demeanor and lack of governing experience. I was also offended by his use of crude language. Call me old fashioned, but I just couldn’t swallow a candidate running for president of the United States speaking that way.

Now, three years into the Trump presidency and in the midst of a global crisis, I find that my concerns about this man were grossly underestimated. I find myself continuously shocked by his lack of compassion and empathy, his childish name-calling and his denigration of anyone he disagrees with, including patriotic men and women who far surpass him in integrity and accomplishment, such as John McCain, George H.W. Bush and many more.

He panders to religious conservatives while being guilty of all seven cardinal sins. He refers to our White House as a “dump.” He is guilty of nepotism as unqualified family members are given influential positions on his staff. He ignores the emoluments clause in our Constitution while millions of dollars get funneled into Trump properties. As a veteran, my stomach turns every time I see a Marine salute given to this draft dodger as he exits a plane returning from a campaign rally or a visit to one of his golf resorts.

So now, my fellow Americans who voted for Donald Trump in 2016, I hope you will remember that this president disbanded the National Security Council’s global health security team two years ago, which resulted in a shortage of tests and protective equipment as we now confront this global health crisis.


Hartland Four Corners

A lack of class in Washington

Gina Barreca’s recent column (“What exactly do we mean by ‘class’?” March 17) was an excellent description of what “class” means. The article gave me a chuckle. It’s just too bad our current administration in Washington does not seem to display any.



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