In the March 26 front-page article “Hospitals debate do-not-resuscitate orders over fears for staffers’ health,” several arguments were made for and against universal do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders. For a covid-19 patient on a ventilator, different people can argue whether cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) would or would not be futile. However, one stands on firmer ground for arguing that CPR is ethically inappropriate mainly because of a justice concern regarding limited hospital resources; non-maleficence in regard to protecting health-care workers from being infected, which has been occurring at an alarmingly high rate; and reciprocity in what we owe to health-care workers who are putting their lives on the line.

These ethical principles outweigh the principles of patient/family autonomy and the limited, if any, benefit that CPR has for these patients. When one has reached this conclusion, the health-care provider should compassionately inform the family why a DNR order is being entered and reaffirm that the patient will still receive all available interventions. The hospital’s ethics committee should also be involved with such decisions.

Henry Silverman, Baltimore

The writer is an ethicist and professor of medicine.

Regarding the March 27 front-page article “Self-isolation leaves U.S. out of customary leadership position”:

Really? Don’t we think maybe that happened with the decrying of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or the withdrawal from the climate accord or the nuclear agreement with Iran, or our failure to act in Syria, or our withdrawal of aid to Afghanistan, or smiling faces at the North Korean border? The list goes on and on. And while I hate to blame this on a president who has personally suffered so much, let’s not blame our loss of leadership on a virus.

 This president chose this course long before the coronavirus found us.

Barbara Coughlan, Berlin, Md.

In his March 24 op-ed excerpt, “Impeachment got in the way,” Henry Olsen implied that President Trump couldn’t be expected to be presidential while being impeached.

After Ebola in 2014, President Barack Obama set up the White House’s National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense. Pre-impeachment, Mr. Trump eliminated the standalone office in May 2018. Starting in 2005, amid the H5N1 bird flu scare, the U.S. Agency for International Development ran a project to track and research diseases, called Predict. In its nearly 15-year existence, Predict collected more than 100,000 samples and found nearly 1,000 novel viruses, including a new Ebola virus. In October, Mr. Trump abolished it.

Mr. Trump was aware of the danger in January. South Korea started testing early. Two months later, we know the positive results of this move. The United States still doesn’t have enough tests. Health-care workers and many others are going to die because Mr. Trump won’t use his authority to get masks, gowns, protective equipment, etc. As New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) has pointed out, with all 50 governors and every mayor vying for masks, they are up to $7 from less than $1.

Allen Ahearn, Silver Spring

Regarding George T. Conway III and Carrie Cordero’s March 26 op-ed, “What did they know about covid-19, and when did they know it?”:

If President Trump depicts himself as a “wartime president” and was briefed on the severity of the virus spreading as early as Jan. 22 but deliberately withheld this information from the public and failed to take any action that would help Americans prepare for such an attack, what does this say about the state of our republic? 

It is one thing to withhold classified information to protect intelligence methods and sources, or to minimize general panic, but logic and morality would dictate that elected officials are obligated by their constitutional oath of office to educate and prepare the population for the inevitable attack of an unseen enemy. 

If President Franklin D. Roosevelt had been informed that bombers were en route to attack Pearl Harbor, would he have taken no action? If President George W. Bush had been informed that an attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were imminent, would he have taken no action? The apparent intentional withholding of information and lack of timely action for personal political gain by this “wartime president” have put uncounted Americans at risk. 

Such behavior speaks to either utter incompetence or outright treason. The question for our nation now is, how do we respond?

Gerald Stone, Westminster, Md.

The March 24 Tuesday Opinion essay by Tim Searchinger, Anthony LaMantia and Gordon Douglas, “The U.S. faces two disastrous scenarios. There’s a third option,” was extremely important. The three authors pointed out that the current approaches to stemming the coronavirus pandemic involve plunging the economy into a deep recession and generating millions of unemployed. They argued convincingly for a third option: massive testing of nearly everyone for the virus. This would allow those who tested negatively to return to work and thus mitigate the economic costs of the virus. The implementation of this option would obviously require a huge increase in the production of testing equipment, but this should be possible if the federal government coordinated with the private sector in an effort akin to the Manhattan Project in World War II to produce the atomic bomb. 

Given that the technology for testing already exists, this should be a much easier project and one that the Trump administration should embrace immediately to reduce the economic damage caused by the virus.

Peter Clark, Chevy Chase

In his March 27 Friday Opinion column, “Our election system will be infected,” Eugene Robinson discussed how the current pandemic will affect the coming election. I think it already affected the campaign in one very positive way. The most recent Democratic debate, the one without an audience, was a great improvement over the prior debates. Without an audience, the candidates answered the questions without the need to go for the cheering or jeering of an audience. 

This improved the tone and the candidates’ answers in a very positive way.

Marilyn H. Paul, Washington