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Good Afternoon

Election Week, not just Election Day

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Newsday’s editorial “Plan ahead for November vote” [April 12] makes a valid point about the need to encourage and support mail-in voting. There has never been a more urgent need for this country to protect both its citizens’ health and constitutional right to vote.

But for those who feel more comfortable casting their vote in person, it’s time to consider turning Election Day into Election Week. Divide registered voters alphabetically by last name into three groups: A-I, J-R and S-Z. Give each group two days to vote, with the seventh day for those who missed their window. Insist that voters — and those working at polling places — wear protective covering and maintain social distance, and that polling places are thoroughly cleaned at the end of each day.

Such changes would be costly and time-consuming and delay the election’s outcome. But given the large anticipated voter turnout, we have to do more to ensure that people’s voices are heard without jeopardizing their health or that of voters in line with them. The health of our nation, as well as the integrity of our democratic process, depends on it.

Richard Conway,


Don’t blame COVID-19 victims

I was furious about the assumptions that Dr. Jacob M. Appel made about high-risk COVID-19 patients in his op-ed “We’ve been rationing care all along” [Opinion, April 13]. Appel stated his point multiple times that “the underlying conditions that increase the need for ventilators are largely preventable.”

He wrote that severe illness with COVID-19 is “often the product of obesity, smoking, social isolation, lack of access to routine outpatient care.” And yet many patients who are dying do not fit these parameters. Certainly, older patients cannot change their age status and asthmatics cannot eliminate their asthma. Obesity has risks besides being overweight, and a great many seem to fit that parameter. Certainly some illnesses can be reduced, but not all diabetics are overweight. He appears to blame some of the victims of this pandemic, some of whom sacrificed their lives caring for others.

Many questions about this virus remain — genetics that may increase one’s vulnerability (we’ve seen families where the virus’ pathogenicity is severe), viral load, the virus’ potential hybrid characteristics, etc. The infectious disease community is still studying this. It’s not appropriate to blame COVID-19 patients who are victims of this virus, not cohorts.

Christine Ballow,


Editor’s note: The writer is a member of the New York City Branch of the American Society for Microbiology.

NY senators must boost vaccine groups

As a longtime vaccine advocate and registered nurse on Long Island, a COVID-19 hot spot, this pandemic is my worst nightmare [“Anti-vaxxer threat amid a pandemic,” Opinion, April 12]. Nothing in nursing school prepared us for moments telling patients we have no treatment, no cure and no prevention beyond basic hygiene and masks. Living through this moment gives me newfound appreciation for the scientists and medical professionals who spent decades trying to stop diseases like measles and polio, but I feel terrified seeing history repeat itself.

Beyond my immediate concerns for my patients and community, I worry about this pandemic causing disruptions in routine immunization services, especially in low-income countries where we risk seeing a resurgence in outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. I know that this novel coronavirus will have untold ripple effects on many aspects of our health. This is why I am calling on Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand to fully fund lifesaving immunization programs such as Gavi and the Vaccine Alliance, and to support the World Health Organization in broadly strengthening health systems. This virus is overwhelming and exhausting, but it has opened my eyes to our urgent, continued need to protect future generations from diseases we can prevent.

Melody Butler,


Editor’s note: The writer is executive director of Nurses Who Vaccinate.

Trump’s dictum needs big pushback

With President Donald Trump stating at his April 13 news briefing that “When somebody is president of the United States, the authority is total ... I have ultimate authority,” he went the “full Mussolini.” The Italian dictator said in 1928, “I am a man of action. Democracy is beautiful in theory; in practice it is a fallacy. You in America will see that some day” [“Not a mutiny, just leadership,” Editorial, April 15]. If we are never to see that day come to America, it will take the vigorous pushback by both parties’ elected officials and all levels of government, along with a motivated electorate.

If we implicitly accept Trump’s monarchist view with silence and watch him destroy our constitutional republic, “The fault is not in our stars, but in ourselves,” as Cassius said in Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.”

Chuck Cutolo,