By mobilizing a cadre of community health-care workers to mount an aggressive nationwide response to the novel coronavirus, South Africa is employing a model that has proved effective in other large epidemics, including the recent outbreak of Ebola in Congo [“With door-to-door checks, South Africa takes health care to communities,” news, April 22].

While resources and technical assistance from international humanitarian groups are welcome and necessary in addressing these health crises, the most effective approach is to engage local communities and civil society, including faith leaders, as implementers and agents of change.

In the case of Congo, we have seen the importance of community involvement and the use of trusted local stakeholders, minimizing the footprint of outsiders. We were reminded of this with the recent demonstrations and attacks on humanitarian workers in the outbreak zone since Ebola again reared its ugly head. This came after rumors that Ebola was reintroduced by the foreign workers, who didn’t want to lose their livelihood after the anticipated declaration by the World Health Organization of the end of the outbreak.

It is through the courage, dedication and hard work of community health workers who conducted door-to-door campaigns to promote vaccination against Ebola and the sanitation practices that help stop its spread that we have managed to nearly end the Ebola outbreak in Congo. These same approaches can be used effectively to fight covid-19 — both here and abroad.

Daniel Speckhard, Washington

The writer is president and chief executive of
Lutheran World Relief
and IMA World Health.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has suggested that states, such as New York, whose budgets have been completely blown by the burden of responding to the novel coronavirus pandemic should declare bankruptcy. In the meantime, President Trump has ordered a multicity tribute tour featuring flyovers by the Navy’s Blue Angels and the Air Force’s Thunderbirds, at a minimum cost of $60,000 per hour [“Pentagon planning to dispatch Blue Angels, Thunderbirds in tribute tour,” news, April 23]. 

The purpose is “to thank first responders, essential personnel and military services personnel.” How about repairing the mold-infested housing on military bases and providing hardship pay to those who are risking their own health to serve their communities — including military personnel, medical staff, police, public transportation workers, trash collectors and grocery store staff? Unlike the states, whose budgets are busted, the Defense Department appears to have money to burn.

Frances Callanan, Falls Church

Does the Pentagon think that health-care workers can leave the bedsides of their critically ill and dying patients to watch the flyovers? Or that first responders can pause while transferring patients into an ambulance to look up and see the show? These caregivers don’t eat and are afraid to go to the bathroom because they’d have to take off their gowns. Will any essential employees wake from their exhausted sleep to go outside to see the “tribute” to them? 

Please, if there is extra money, instead of using it for this needless display, use it to provide masks, personal protective equipment or even food for these heroes. Save the show until those for whom it is intended can enjoy it. 

Joyce Stocker, Silver Spring

Regarding the April 23 front-page article “Moneyed conservative nexus helps fuel shutdown protests”:

The best puppets don’t notice the strings, whether they’re originating from the deep pockets of GOP elites or Russian President Vladimir Putin’s troll factories working day and night to reelect President Trump — shadowy groups orchestrating from far away these supposedly grass-roots march(es) of the marionettes.

Harvey Solomon, Takoma Park

The April 23 front-page article Moneyed conservative nexus helps fuel shutdown protests” helped readers understand the rapid and widespread appearance of the protests. They clearly were not just spontaneous grass-roots events.

Covert Russian involvement is also possible. The April 22 news article “Senate panel backs spy agencies’ Russia findings” reported on more conclusions that Russia conducted “covert influence operations” to sway the 2016 election. And the intelligence community has warned that Russia is working and will work to influence the 2020 election.

From a Russian perspective, what better way to destabilize and weaken the United States than to encourage rapid and premature abandonment of the novel coronavirus pandemic shutdowns. The immediate effect would be to deepen existing political divisions in our country. And if successful, it could lead to a major second wave of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, with deaths and illness worsening the economic downturn we are already experiencing. A golden opportunity! The only drawback from a Russian viewpoint: It could lead to President Trump being defeated in the November election.

Gerald Rogell, Bethesda