Letters to the Editor: Yes, it's the last president's fault that 500,000 Americans are dead

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·2 min read
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WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 22: (L-R) U.S. President Joe Biden, first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and husband Doug Emhoff participate in a moment of silence at sundown in the South Portico of the White House February 22, 2021 in Washington, DC. The four held a candlelight ceremony to mark the more than 500,000 lives lost in the U.S. to COVID-19 since the pandemic hit. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
President Biden, First Lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff participate in a moment of silence at the White House marking 500,000 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. on Feb. 22. (Getty Images)

To the editor: Just pause and reflect on the fact that in one year, at least half a million people in this country have died of COVID-19. The question that must be asked is whether we could have reduced the number of deaths by taking action sooner.

We had a leader who was more interested in his reelection than public health and who chose to downplay the seriousness of the pandemic, assuring us that it was not much worse than the flu and it would disappear within months. He was aware of how easily the virus could be transmitted and chose to ignore it.

Now, there are still deniers out there who refuse to wear masks or stay socially distant. Groups have put out alternative facts and numbers challenging the actual death count, but they are not able to refute the fact that hospital intensive care units throughout the country were full at times and refrigerated trailers had to be brought in to serve as temporary morgues because so many people were dying.

There was warp speed in the development of vaccines, but not in the rollout. There was minimal national leadership in vaccine distribution.

The phrase "it is what it is" should not be acceptable.

Richard C. Armendariz, Huntington Beach

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To the editor: A coldhearted quote attributed to Joseph Stalin is, "A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic."

May President Biden's wise words regarding the pandemic's toll on our nation, "We have to resist becoming numb to the sorrow," serve as an antidote to Stalin's declamation. Let us all take solemn heed.

Ben Miles, Huntington Beach

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To the editor: I was extraordinarily sad to read that Hy Cohen, a Major League Baseball player who became a local teacher, is among those who have succumbed to COVID-19.

I was a student in his history class at Birmingham High School in the 1980s. Coach Cohen (every student called him that) was warmhearted, unfailingly civil to his students and eager to make sure they learned and succeeded.

In personal conversations he told me about the thrill of striking out Willie Mays — which he said was the highlight of his brief Major League pitching career — and how much he enjoyed playing in the Pacific Coast League.

The last time I saw him, I had returned to Birmingham a couple of years after graduation to obtain transcripts to transfer to UCLA. He was genuinely happy to see me and made time to find out what I was up to.

He was, in the words of many like Cohen who have roots in Brooklyn, a mensch

Ron Shinkman, Northridge

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.