In their May 5 Tuesday Opinion essay, “Three steps to shore up working families,” Rajiv Shah and Jason Grumet offered three basic steps to help working families as the nation eventually recovers from the economic effects of the novel coronavirus crisis. But it seems to me they neglected one basic element that precludes their first recommendation, that incentives be created to encourage savings. As they stated, fewer than half of working-age Americans have enough savings to cover expenses for three months.

It seems to me that building any kind of savings is impossible if workers are not paid a living wage. So many are using every available penny to cover regular expenses, with nothing extra to sock away. Wouldn’t the first requirement be for everyone to get a decent wage?

Debra Sternberg, Washington

It was with considerable dismay that I read the May 5 front-page article “HHS official shifted stockpile’s focus,” about Robert Kadlec, assistant secretary of health and human services. Dr. Kadlec, like any passionate and aggressive defender of our national security, will always have more than his share of detractors and backstabbers. I have known Dr. Kadlec professionally and personally for almost 25 years, and I know we are quite fortunate as a nation to have such a skillful and dedicated patriot at HHS. This feeling is shared by numerous colleagues and scientific professionals.

Indeed, Dr. Kadlec has worked tirelessly throughout this pandemic and doubtless has saved thousands of American lives. I believe that any fair examination would show that he always placed our national security far ahead of any personal interests.

James Lawler, McLean

President Trump’s refusal to let Anthony S. Fauci testify before the House of Representatives, as noted in the May 6 news article “Nominee for relief-fund oversight pledges independence,” sends one more arrow into the heart of American democracy.

Dr. Fauci, as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is one of the government’s foremost experts on the novel coronavirus and could tell Congress and the American people the truth about what’s at stake and what the future holds. The president’s action is of a piece with his refusal to let other government employees testify before Congress or provide it with documents needed to fulfill its oversight responsibilities.

Congressional oversight is at the heart of our system of government. Autocrats disdain oversight. Mr. Trump’s quiver is undoubtedly filled with additional arrows poised to pierce our democracy.

Stan Marcuss, Washington

The writer is a member of
Lawyers Defending American Democracy.

As President Trump presses states to reopen, emergency physician Leana S. Wen’s May 6 Wednesday Opinion essay, “How to protect yourself from the coming surge,” said it all.

Dr. Wen, a visiting professor at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health and former Baltimore health commissioner, said concisely what needs to be said now to hurting small-business owners and citizens accustomed to instant gratification. Her views doubtless will be drowned in the clamor to reopen, and only after the inevitable surge hits will they be reflected piecemeal around a worse-wounded country.

Patricia KentFredericksburg, Va.

I was standing in the back of the room of a news conference in the Hubert H. Humphrey Building with the secretary of health and human services and the assistant secretary for health. I was an acting deputy assistant secretary for health policy and evaluation and a career member of the Senior Executive Service. One of the reporters asked how long it would take to develop a vaccine for the virus. The assistant secretary answered that it would take at least a couple of years.

The year was 1983, and the disease was AIDS. We still don’t have a vaccine for AIDS. I hope we get it right this time.

James M. Friedman, Bethesda

The May 6 front-page article “Poll: Americans deeply wary of opening economy” clearly demonstrated that the majority of Americans are concerned about reopening the economy. Call us the “silent stay-safe majority” —  people who want to do the right thing in these challenging times. Our motto: “Don’t shed on me!”

Contrast us with the “reckless loud minority.” They make a show of not wearing masks or practicing social distancing when in public, as recommended by our top experts in infectious disease, Deborah Birx and Anthony S. Fauci. Their ranks include the president, who recently visited a mask-making company and was photographed without one.

The imperative to love your neighbor as yourself is one that universally applies. As the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said: “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or the darkness of destructive selfishness. This is the judgment. Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’ ” 

 Deborah Jones, Henrico