Opinion | Reopen or Stay Closed? Which Is More Prudent?

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To the Editor:

Re “‘Momentous’: New York and California Open” (front page, June 16):

Many businesses will be thrilled to have the restrictions lifted. There are, however, at least a couple of caveats.

First is that New York and California are not isolated. People are free to travel from all the other states to visit their restaurants, theaters, stadiums, etc. States such as Arizona and Texas have 38 percent vaccination rates, but their residents are free to travel here.

The vaccines work well, but mild cases are still described in vaccinated individuals. We do not know when vaccine protection will wear off, and producing boosters will be a huge task as we try to help the world.

As a vaccinated New Yorker, I feel fairly safe at the moment. I just don’t know when I should allow my paranoia to return. Dr. Anthony Fauci likely has similar concerns, as should Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Unfortunately, only time will tell. As evidence for why we should be concerned, the flu typically kills between 20,000 and 40,000 people in the United States annually, and we have been vaccinating for years and have many manufacturers and an easy-to-store vaccine.

Josh Torgovnick
New York
The writer is a neurologist.

To the Editor:

Re “Canada Should Reopen Its Border,” by Serge Schmemann (Opinion essay, June 12):

It’s all very well for Americans like Mr. Schmemann to feel that Canada owes them free rein to cross the border, but most Canadians are unconvinced, for good reasons.

First and foremost, Covid-19 is not gone yet, and the relatively low rate of full vaccinations here makes it dangerous for a majority of Canadians, especially given the more virulent variants.

Second, while half of Americans over 12 may be fully vaccinated, the other half aren’t, and a significant number of them refuse to be — to the point of buying fraudulent “proof” of vaccination to avoid it. Unless there is a centralized system that permits verification, there is no way for our border guards to distinguish a good counterfeit from the real thing.

Finally, Canada’s relative success at keeping cases and mortality low has depended on our majority’s willingness to comply with public health restrictions. While these will probably be relaxed as more of us are fully vaccinated and case counts decline, we must reserve the right to crack down quickly where new outbreaks occur.

Much as tourist-dependent businesses here want the border open, Americans should understand that though we like having visitors, we don’t want them at a cost in Canadian lives and health.

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