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Opinion | Unvaccinated, and Hospitalized With Covid

To the Editor:

Re “I’m an E.R. Doctor in Michigan, Where Unvaccinated People Are Filling Hospital Beds” (Opinion guest essay, nytimes.com, Dec. 8):

Dr. Rob Davidson’s experiences at a small Michigan hospital mirror my own working as a staff pharmacist at a small regional medical center in Minnesota.

Vaccination rates in our county are barely 40 percent. For more than a month we have seen our patient census at two to three times normal, with anywhere from a third to two-thirds of patients ill with Covid-19. The vast majority of them are unvaccinated.

Our emergency room is constantly full with all manner of patients, though those with Covid-19 or suspected Covid-19 make up the majority. The sickest become boarders in our E.R., too ill to go home but with no beds in our medical center or anywhere else in the state to send them to. Wait times in our E.R. have mushroomed from minutes to many hours.

Staff in every department (doctors, nurses, housekeeping, pharmacy, lab …) is under tremendous strain. Determination to give quality care coexists with fear of missing something important while caring for so many patients. The stress has become more evident daily in fatigue, momentary flares of temper and tears. We are drowning in patients.

Ken Vaselaar
Cambridge, Minn.

To the Editor:

Dr. Rob Davidson writes: “With every shift, I see the strain people sick with Covid-19 put on my hospital. Their choice to not get vaccinated is not personal. It forces patients with ruptured appendixes and broken bones to wait for hours in my emergency department; it postpones surgeries for countless other people and burns out doctors and nurses.”

Hospitals need to establish triage guidelines that place higher priority on patients who are vaccinated and require treatment above Covid patients who come to the hospital and are unvaccinated. It is absolutely unacceptable that the irresponsible actions of unvaccinated people should harm the health of others. There must be consequences for their carelessness and disregard for others.

Rob Fenstermacher
White Plains, N.Y.

To the Editor:

Isn’t it ironic that the same anti-vaxxers who end up in hospitals willingly accept all of the medical interventions offered to them? They don’t want a vaccine to avoid getting sick but will accept intubation, drugs, oxygen and whatever else is offered to try to save their lives.

The excuses given for not taking the vaccine such as “it’s not a proven science” or “I don’t trust the drug companies” or “there isn’t enough evidence” sound hollow against the willingness to try novel approaches to saving their lives with new drugs and therapies.

Hold up a mirror to their hypocrisy.

Sally Baydala
Calgary, Alberta

To the Editor:

Re “A Half-Trillion-Dollar Boost for the Fight to Save the World From Warming” (news article, Nov. 20):

When it comes to climate change mitigation, it’s not how much money we spend that counts, but how much emissions we reduce. Scientists warn us of the dire consequences of continuing to burn fossil fuels.

President Biden wisely set a goal of reducing emissions 50 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. In its current form, Build Back Better offers to spend $555 billion luring businesses and consumers to reduce emissions. It won’t be enough.

Opinion Conversation
The climate, and the world, are changing. What challenges will the future bring, and how should we respond to them?

This article acknowledges that economists say creating incentives through tax credits will not get us to our goal, that the most effective way to reduce emissions is to tax the polluting industry. If the Build Back Better legislation required coal, oil and gas companies to pay an increasing tax on their carbon pollution, the transition would be accelerated, investments in alternatives spurred and revenue provided to ease the transition for consumers.

Further, if the tax applied to imports, all nations (including China) would be incentivized to adopt similar policies.

Bob Taylor
Montecito, Calif.

To the Editor:

It is generally thought that a Supreme Court decision voiding Roe v. Wade would backfire against conservatives by energizing the left. Wouldn’t it also backfire in another way? There are millions of people for whom abortion is the defining issue. If it is off the table, would they bother turning out to vote?

Richard Helfer
New York

To the Editor:

Re “The Nicest Resolution I Ever Made,” by Margaret Renkl (Opinion guest essay, Nov. 25), about her 2021 resolution to write a note, by hand, every day:

I write letters and have for 50 years. My wife says I complain too much when people don’t respond, and she’s right. Mostly, I write for myself, and I know that.

I write them at an old desk surrounded by photos of family and friends, those passed on and those still receiving earthly dispatches. Below my writing desk are three overflowing alphabetized accordion files, filled with letters received, real letters, over half a century.

When I have the sad task of sending a condolence letter — more common these days — first I reread the letters received from the deceased friend or family member, then I choose one and enclose it with my note to the survivors. As I reread the letters, the person comes alive again.

I hope that the family members appreciate receiving them as much as they may like receiving flowers, maybe even more. I’ll never know for sure, but I like doing it!

John E. Colbert
Arroyo Seco, N.M.

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