The novel coronavirus pandemic has created challenging times for our country. Unprecedented sacrifices have been and will be demanded of the American people. The government cannot ask this of them without adhering to the highest standards of integrity. There are disturbing allegations that several senators dumped millions of dollars of stock shortly after learning in confidential briefings of the true severity of the outbreak and potential effects it could have on the financial system. If these allegations are true, the behavior is disgraceful and represents nothing less than an unacceptable breach of the public trust to profit off a global catastrophe.

However, there has been some progress in the realm of transparency. Swift action is necessary to curb the damage to the general public and to our economy, but swift action does not mean unaccountable action. The stimulus package contains important accountability provisions, including publicizing loans to corporations and providing for an oversight board and inspector general watchdog. Congress and all Americans should press administration officials to prioritize ethics and oversight even as they respond to this crisis.

Shruti Shah, Arlington

The writer is president and chief executive of the Coalition for Integrity.

We, the residents and leaders of the District, can complain about our disenfranchised existence, and we can make the obvious pronouncement that the District should be the 51st state — or we can lead.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D), a Marylander and a recent supporter of statehood, is uniquely positioned to be such a change agent. Operationally, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) are already leading as if they are one and the same.  Their actions show us that local political leaders can act independently from the dictates of partisan, identity and geographic politics. 

The novel coronavirus does not know where Eastern, Southern and Western avenues are.  Now more than ever, we look for our leaders to let go of unproductive partisanship and to come out and support creating Douglass County, Maryland, through a second retrocession. Let’s fix this for once and for all. Let’s fix this together.

David Krucoff, Washington

The writer is founder and executive director of Douglass County, Maryland.

The March 26 front-page article “Recently ascendant firms swell queue for taxpayer aid” was illuminating in a perhaps unintended way: We now all assume that large American companies’ default position is, as noted in the article, to behave in ways “that are making a bailout tough to swallow.” That’s right.

How embarrassing. And how in the world did we as an economy, society and nation get to the point at which we assume our companies are going to pocket as much cash as they can and stiff their workers and the tax authorities? How is it that needed emergency measures are hindered by the nagging suspicion that we’ll be taken advantage of by companies that already exploit every tax, environmental and other opportunity to place profit before responsibility?

David Ballard, Reston

Several conservative senators balked at increasing unemployment benefits for workers who were laid off. They argued that this would encourage such workers to quit or refuse to return to work once the pandemic ended, because they could instead be paid for doing nothing. Yet during the 2008 financial crisis, multimillionaire chief executives were offered huge retention bonuses to “incentivize” them. Tom Brady, fine football player that he is, recently signed a contract for $40 million and can earn an additional $9 million in “incentives.” How much more incentive does one need when one is already being paid millions of dollars?

The lesson is clear: You motivate poor people by paying them less and rich people by giving them more.

Norm Antokol, Silver Spring

I strongly disagreed with the sub-headline on the  March 27 editorial “Congress to the rescue — for now”: “A unanimous vote reflects the no-fault nature of the crisis.” As early as January, our intelligence agencies warned the Trump administration of the possibility that a virus outbreak in China could develop into a dangerous worldwide pandemic. President Trump had already dismantled key elements of the nation’s disease control apparatus and failed to implement guidance from experts who had recommended steps to take in the wake of the Ebola virus scare. When it became clear that a pandemic was on its way, Mr. Trump and his supporters in the right-wing media loudly pooh-poohed the danger and wasted precious time that was needed to prepare for a possible outbreak in the United States.

The vote in the House, contrary to the editorial, was made despite egregious inaction and misleading statements by the administration. The vote reflected a willingness by Democrats to temporarily look past obvious mistakes and incompetence in the interest of the greater good. The obvious faults of this administration will be addressed in the voting booth in November.

Martin JohnsonCharlottesville

The March 26 news articleAs N.Y. crisis deepens, a split over how to contain spread” noted that 140,000 hospital beds are needed in New York for the ever-growing flow of coronavirus-afflicted patients. As a result of the virus-related economic slump as exacerbated by the need for social distancing, the city’s many hotels are suffering from ultra-low occupancy rates. Some of those underused hotels already have offered their facilities to health-care workers without charge for the duration of the crisis. Trump hotels in the United States and Canada have 2,200 rooms. The president could offer these as hospital rooms during the crisis, pitching into the effort in the way he seeks to have other corporations do. It would be so reassuring to the nation were he to do this.

David Cohen, Arlington