Taking Precautions as Coronavirus Cases, and Fears, Grow 1

To the Editor:

Re “Italian Officials Sequester North in ‘Emergency’” (front page, March 8):

The lockdown in northern Italy is an aggressive measure to control a virus that causes mild illness in 80 percent or more of those infected. However, I’d estimate that about one out of three Americans is elderly or has a chronic condition that puts them at high risk for Covid-19. Clamping down on this infection is needed to save lives, to avoid overwhelming our health care system, and to avoid the social and economic consequences of a lockdown.

As we ramp up the number of tests performed in the United States, we may find that our caseload is only a week or so behind the Italians. If we continue business as usual, we may find it necessary to lock down the epicenters of disease activity, currently the Seattle area and Westchester County, N.Y.

We have a collective responsibility to protect our communities. Mastering hand hygiene and cough etiquette, cutting back on nonessential travel, and canceling large group events should become the new normal until we find medications or vaccines to control this virus. We have no time to waste.

Kenneth Croen
White Plains, N.Y.
The writer is an infectious diseases specialist.

To the Editor:

Re “‘It Will End’: Trump Urges Nation to Avoid Panicking” (news article, March 7):

I am deeply concerned that our president has given greater priority to his own political image and welfare rather than that of our country. We have a nation fearful about the coronavirus and the lack of adequate testing, and all he can do is fly off to Florida to play golf, attack the Democratic governors of the states affected by the virus and try to maintain a low number of cases by recommending, unsuccessfully, that cruise ship passengers not disembark on American soil.

Harriet Hornick

To the Editor:

While Donald Trump says he would not be inclined to cancel events and travel except to infected areas, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders should cancel all rallies. The Democrats can send a message that they put people’s health above politics.

Lauren Small

To the Editor:

I am an internist practicing in Westchester County and am active in my local Jewish community. Currently, dozens of my patients are under quarantine, several are exhibiting symptoms and at least one has clear signs of Covid-19 infection (testing is pending). The number of diagnosed cases is increasing exponentially daily.

Experience in South Korea and now in New Rochelle, N.Y., has demonstrated how rapidly spread can be enabled through faith communities. During the Spanish flu of 1918, municipalities that banned public gatherings reduced mortality by up to half compared with those that did not.

All great religions preach the sanctity of life. Clergy of all faiths should act now to place public services on hold until the threat has passed. There is no time to lose; worship at home will simply save lives.

Steven M. Kubersky
White Plains, N.Y.

To the Editor:

Celine Tien’s experience, as described in her excellent piece “I’m Chinese. That Doesn’t Mean I Have the Virus” (Sunday Review, March 8), sadly echoes what I’ve been seeing in the Bay Area as well. Both Los Angeles and San Francisco have large populations of Asians. I’ve always felt more comfortable in these cities than anywhere else. But as the death toll and fear ratchet higher, I feel more and more self-conscious when I am out and about. I see the furtive glances, then the averted eyes, and am given wide berth as I walk past.

My husband is Italian, hailing from the Lombardy region — the European epicenter of the virus — but he doesn’t merit a second glance. I, however, cannot hide. And our children cannot hide. I worry about the subtle psychological effects that fear and being feared will have on them. As Ms. Tien’s closing sentence entreats, can’t love (and objective facts) dispel irrational fear?

Connie Chang
San Mateo, Calif.

To the Editor:

Re “Countering Potential Risks of Jam-Packed Public Transit” (news article, March 4):

The coronavirus outbreak has led the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to pledge that it will sanitize the interior of New York City subway cars every 72 hours. My first response as a daily rider of the system was “Wait, what? Only every 72 hours?” How many infected people might possibly ride on a subway car in the three-day span between cleanings? Why not clean them every night?

A major part of the reason is that our subway runs 24 hours a day. Cleaning every car every day is not possible when the service runs around the clock. Perhaps during this public health emergency, the M.T.A. should consider shutting down the subway for a few hours every night.

Peter Peyser
New York

To the Editor:

We have long been advised to cough and sneeze into our elbows, not our hands. Now, a new group of experts is telling us not to shake hands, but to bump elbows. Put these two pieces of advice together, and what do you get?

I would like everyone to know that I am coughing into my left elbow, and bumping with my right elbow. I hope you do the same.

Brian Donahue
Weston, Mass.