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To the Editor:

Re “What We Owe the Vulnerable,” by Sarah Wildman (Opinion, Sunday Review, April 10) and “County With New Jersey’s Highest Virus Death Rate Lags in Vaccinations” (news article, April 10):

These two articles should be read back to back. In the first, Ms. Wildman urges people to get vaccinated and take precautions during the pandemic to protect the vulnerable and immunocompromised, those like her 13-year-old daughter, who received a liver transplant as part of her cancer treatment.

In the second, residents who live in a county where vaccinations lag and Covid deaths are high have this to say: One 76-year-old man, who was vaccinated in order to take cruises and travel out of the country, won’t be pushed into getting a booster: “Nobody controls my body.” A local mayor, vaccinated and boostered, opposes vaccine mandates: “That’s the great thing about our country: We have freedom of choice.”

Ms. Wildman eloquently pleads on behalf of those who don’t have choices and who must depend on the behavior of others to maintain some modicum of safety in their daily life. Is it that hard to choose sides here?

Cathy Bernard
New York
To the Editor:
Thank you for giving voice to the experience of my family. Our 3-year-old is undergoing cancer treatments while being ineligible for a vaccine that would offer him only negligible protection even if it were available. It is so painful to be confronted daily with the callousness and even scorn of our friends and neighbors as they celebrate their returning freedoms in front of our masked faces.

I appreciate so much your raising awareness of the risk this presents to those like us. It is hard to see mask fatigue as being on par with our child’s risk of an untimely death, which he has already narrowly escaped three times in his short life. Your call for empathy couldn’t be more timely.

Cherilyn Harline
San Clemente, Calif.
To the Editor:

Sarah Wildman raises empathetic points to promote the safety of vulnerable people. I applaud her promotion of human decency. Yet — and I say this gently — what is most empathetic is not always practicable.

“‘Safe’ is not the equivalent of ‘risk-free,’” Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in a landmark 1980 ruling in which the Supreme Court determined that OSHA did not have “the unbridled discretion to adopt standards designed to create absolutely risk-free workplaces regardless of costs.”

There is wisdom in Justice Stevens’s opinion that applies to our present-day circumstances. Only in a utopia would we be able to accommodate everyone’s needs and have a productive society at the same time.

Yes, we can be (and should be) considerate of vulnerable Americans, but we must understand that the general will of the people is moving forward despite risks … as usual.
Dominic Gonzalez

San Antonio
To the Editor:

Sarah Wildman is so correct about the immunocompromised being left out of the discussion. As chair of Texas Nurse Practitioners Education Committee, I’ve been trying to find a way to get the word out about Evusheld, an antibody treatment that helps prevent Covid in people with weakened immune systems. The Evusheld.com website is very helpful.
I had a patient who I think could have survived had I known about this drug a couple of months ago.

Sheri Innerarity
Upton, Texas
The writer is a clinical associate professor at the School of Nursing at the University of Texas at Austin.
To the Editor:

As an elderly person, I was deeply moved by Sarah Wildman’s essay. She captured much of my feeling of being marginalized and forgotten because my elevated risk of Covid, due simply to my age, seems increasingly ignored by the society around me.

But I regret that Ms. Wildman gave so little attention to the elderly. We are the largest of the vulnerable groups who face this growing marginalization.

It has long been something of a cliché that our youth-oriented culture devalues the aged, and the aging process, in so many ways.

The diminishing concern about Covid makes this obvious in newly painful and dangerous ways.

But Covid also gives us a new chance to recognize that the elderly, like the immunocompromised of all ages, do (as Ms. Wildman says) “add value and are thus worth considering and accounting for.”

Ira Chernus
Longmont, Colo.

To the Editor:
Re “After Citywide Dragnet, Subway Attack Suspect Is Charged as Terrorist” (front page, April 14):

I commend Mayor Eric Adams’s plan to improve subway safety. As a subway commuter and the mother of a teen who takes the subway to school, I have seen more officers in the subway system than in past years, but they are more often than not talking in large groups near the turnstiles. I very rarely see police officers on the platforms or on the trains where they are most needed.

Following the horrific Brooklyn subway shooting on Tuesday and too many deaths of people who have been pushed from platforms into the paths of incoming trains, urgent action must be taken to ensure that officers are present where they best serve the public.
Tanya Traykovski

New York
To the Editor:

It’s tax time, and once again I find myself paying quite lofty annual dues for the privilege to live in the Empire State and the greatest city on earth. So imagine my dismay to read about Tuesday’s tragic shooting on the subway in Brooklyn and learn that not only did a responding police officer’s radio not work, but a security camera in the station was also not functioning at the time. Meanwhile seemingly every human being in the city over the age of 6 carries a functioning, Wi-Fi-enabled communication device with an HD camera at all times.
Really makes me wonder how our tax dollars are best spent. Well, at least the fans will get a shiny new football stadium up in Buffalo.

Paul Ravi Nair
New York
To the Editor:

An April 2 front-page headline, “Congress Back at Pork Barrel, Spending $9 Billion in a Year,” and subheadline, “5,000 Special Projects Stuffed Into Budget,” imply that Congress is just back to “politics as usual.” But that ignores the historic reforms and reinforces public cynicism about government.

As chair of the House Appropriations Committee, I led a reform of the budgeting process, based on the recommendations of a bipartisan House modernization committee.
You describe the process of approving projects as rushed, with “earmarks” “stuffed” into the spending bill. But the House’s “community projects” and the Senate’s “directed spending” were required to be posted for months. The House projects were posted for almost a full year. Rather than being “stuffed” in the bill, each project has the member’s name next to it.
The reforms bar any family member from benefiting, bar funds to private corporations and limit the projects to 1 percent of the budget. The House required that the projects have community support.

In the coming months, I hope The Times will take a different tack and emphasize the reformed, more transparent budget process.
Rosa DeLauro
Washington

To the Editor:

A negotiated settlement that cedes Ukrainian land to Russia is a victory for Vladimir Putin. He could tell the Russian people how he rescued the Ukrainians from Nazis. He would gain time to refit and retrain his ground forces for a renewed invasion, perhaps when a friendly president returns to the White House.

Most important, Mr. Putin would learn that he can cow the U.S. and our NATO allies merely with the threat of the use of weapons of mass destruction, rendering NATO’s eastern flank an inviting target for an attack.

Therefore, Ukraine must be given the weapons it needs not just to fight the Russians, but to win.
John Miraglia
Old Bridge, N.J.
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