To the editor:

(In response to the March 26 Our Turn column, “We could learn a lot from a squirrel.”) Yes, Lowell, it has been a long year. Jan. 1, you suggested giving “a gift that will keep on giving… it will cost nothing in actual dollars,” but “may cost you dearly in other ways.” This gift was giving people “the freedom to be themselves and not be controlled by us or others,” clearly referencing the mask mandate.

The costs have, in fact, been “dear:” 6,864 Minnesotans lost their lives; others are struggling with chronic symptoms; jobs lost; businesses devastated; and healthcare workers exhausted. Government mandates and the recommendations of medical experts are meant to curb the pandemic through community effort, not to take away individual freedoms.

March 26, you again suggested readers throw caution to the wind and act like a risk-taking squirrel. You pontificate about 10 mph speeds, limiting government involvement and condescendingly inform us that we should get over our fears and stop hiding out because, in case we didn’t know, “We will all die someday from something.” Could you be anymore callous?

While you may be privileged enough to sit at home getting paid to observe and report on the daring behavior of squirrels, please remember those who have not been able to work from home have often contracted COVID-19 from “fearless” unmasked folks passing it around the community. Before using your platform to chastise people who choose to wear masks, socially distance and spend more time at home perhaps you could reflect on the possibility that one might make choices out of respect for themselves and others.

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Meanwhile, numbers are climbing again. I appreciate those who continue to wear a mask in public and support businesses that enforce the policy. Urging the community to work together to curb the pandemic would be the more appropriate way to use your platform.

Sylvia Luetmer

Alexandria, MN