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  1. Opinion

Universities led the way in a rational reaction to coronavirus

Here’s what readers are saying in Monday’s letters to the editor

Universities led on coronavirus

Coronavirus

In the United States, universities led the response to COVID-19. This fact is remarkable and should make us proud — one of the main pillars of our democracy strongly supported the republic during a confusing, deliberately misinformed response from our federal government to what the World Health Organization is now calling a global pandemic. For several decades now, a large faction of Americans, led by corporate misinformation, have put anti-science, anti-education leaders into power. With climate change, vaccinations and reproductive rights, these elected officials have insisted on discrediting and ignoring the people who research, study and create knowledge about these subjects. Now faced with a rapidly changing global pandemic, the response from the White House down has been confusing at best, deliberately misleading at worst.

Meanwhile, universities started to decrease the density of people on their campuses by eliminating in-person classes for online versions, banning non-essential travel and canceling sporting events. The nation, and world took notice.

And yet politicians have threatened and continue to threaten the way our universities maintain themselves as leaders in global research that enriches our daily lives through technologic advances, medical research, arts, understanding of the Earth and, in general, free thought. State universities, in particular, have been beset with funding cuts, lack of subsidies to educate citizens of those states, and meddlesome operational legislation that forces many person-hours of administrative work to comply. Those leaders are afraid of the free thought at our universities.

We must look forward. As we deal with climate change, inequity, racism, xenophobia and other problems that have begun to plague this nation, we must continue to look to our universities for leadership, and our leaders to support and invest in these great pillars of our society.

Brad Rosenheim, St. Petersburg

Viruses have no party

President Donald Trump takes questions during a news conference about the coronavirus in the Rose Garden of the White House, March 13, 2020. [ EVAN VUCCI | AP ]

Leaders don’t blame others, hold grudges or call people names. They provide solutions and, if they can’t, they get out of the way and let an expert find a solution. We’d be better off if President Donald Trump would self-quarantine and put down his phone for at least two months.

The federal government is going to have to step up in a massive way for people who are unable to go to work. That means the House, Senate and president talking to each other and passing massive stimulus and bailout legislation. We are only now beginning to discover how far behind the eight-ball we are in our unpreparedness for this virus. Viruses don’t discriminate. Viruses don’t look at passports. Viruses transmit, whether you believe in them or not.

Gary Gibbons, St. Petersburg

Careful, not hysterical

Far more lethal than the flu | Letter, March 13

In my letter published a few days ago, I noted what it’s like to live as a lung transplant recipient in the time of the coronavirus. As a doctor pointed out in a letter reacting to my first letter, being immune-suppressed makes me extra vulnerable to all sorts of viruses and bacterial perils. That’s true, but as a life-long Democrat, I am hardly buying into the Trump administration’s rhetoric about disregarding the dangers of COVID-19. Rather, my letter focused on what I see as undue hysteria. I, along with others on immune suppression drugs, live each day focused on a variety of fears about viruses and bacterial agents. But we try to do this without panic. I am extremely cautious, but that does not cause me to want to hoard toilet paper.

Gregory Matthews, St. Petersburg

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