Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) is on the griddle for stating a demographic reality based on the current coronavirus morbidity statistics: that the elderly, and, more specifically, individuals older than 70 with other health issues are the overwhelming bulk of the population at risk in this pandemic. Deaths of otherwise healthy people younger than 50 who contract the virus are at minute fractions of 1 percent.

This is a real question that will be pressing harder as this situation progresses. How far are you going to lock down social and economic normal life to protect the ill and the elderly? It’s an awful, no-good, rude, horrible, uncomfortable question, but, unless the death curve flattens out quickly, it’s going to be front and center. As a working 61-year-old, I’m interested in the answer. I’m at risk, but I can’t afford to let everything go to hell. No one can.

Christian Peek, Salisbury

I am an 83-year-old writer. President Trump’s remarks about the coronavirus cure (social distancing) being worse than the problem (death) were feckless, outrageous and criminal. They will cause the death of thousands of people like me. Unlike President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who gave us inspired leadership during World War II, Mr. Trump is clearly unfit to be a wartime president.

Lynne Mckelvey, Washington

Our president reportedly wants social-distancing advice to be relaxed, perhaps as early as next week. The reason is transparent: It’s electoral.

Effective social distancing can greatly reduce the near-term pressure on our hospitals. However, it does so by cutting the number of near-term infections, and thus slows the buildup of partial or complete immunity in the population. When the social-distancing period ends, there is likely to be a repeat explosion of cases among those who were not already infected. This is what the experts hope we achieve by social distancing, because it moves the peak in cases later, when we have been able to increase hospital capacity and, perhaps, will have learned more about how to treat the disease. There’s even a possibility of a vaccine. 

However, the president does not want the peak to be delayed, because then it would come during the run-up to the election and be bad for his prospects. So he calls for easing of social distancing against the advice of medical experts, hoping to get through the peak before the election season. But many people will die, not just covid-19 patients but also those they displace from hospitals.

Robert Dennis, Potomac

Regarding Catherine Rampell’s March 24 op-ed, “The $2 trillion question”:

Let’s be candid concerning the so-called taxpayer-funded stimulus. The federal government was on course already to spend all the funds taxpayers provide it annually and then some — an estimated $1 trillion more — before the pandemic struck. The added $2 trillion are borrowed funds against the incomes of future taxpayers, not us, and thus are an intergenerational transfer of wealth.

Sadly, we need it this time, but had Congress and the administration been prudent in a fully employed economy, we just might have had a surplus of funds to partially help us through this latest shock. Income support for the neediest is unavoidable clearly, but let us target wisely the expenditure modalities of our descendants’ incomes. With proper controls and continual oversight, lending can be win-win, as it was in 2008 and 2009, when banks repaid in full, with interest, at no or minimal cost to future taxpayers.

John Weeks, Vienna

The writer is a former director of global
economics at the Treasury Deparment.

Regarding the March 25 news articleUnions decry DOD mandate to keep working”:

It seems worse than just shortsighted to continue to expend our military and industrial resources on building weapons of war when our defense contractors could and should be building emergency hospitals, hospital beds, respirators, ventilators, medical supplies and coffins. Even in the long run, our country will be safer if we follow China’s example and focus our industrial capacity on the immediate danger to our country’s security.

Carolyn Clark Miller, Alexandria

Three hearts to Miguel Jara, owner of La Taqueria in San Francisco. As reported in the March 23 Politics & the Nation article “Pandemic tests whether America can rise to the occasion,” Mr. Jara sent his staff of 75 home early because he didn’t want them exposed to the virus and is continuing to pay them. “I’d rather take a hit in the bank than have one of them get sick,’’ he said. 

Patrick O’Connell of the Inn at Little Washington, recipient of three Michelin stars, laid off 165 employees, keeping only managers, as reported in the March 24 Style article “Table for none.” The rest of the staff received their regularly scheduled but last paycheck on Friday.

Hearts vs. stars in the time of crisis. When all is said and done, let’s support the hearts.

Regina Cour, Ashburn

In a sea of sober news, the March 23 Metro article “Gun ammunition sales up amid pandemic fears” was absolutely chilling. As families are cooped up in their homes facing myriad serious stressors, it is easy to foresee that incidents of domestic and family violence will escalate significantly. When great numbers of people under stress have easy access to guns, there will be deaths due to guns, including suicides and the deaths of children. The article pointed out the crucial need for sensible gun laws throughout our country right now.

Rebecca Batt, Rockville

It was sad to read in the March 26 obituary “Celebrated playwright was a pivotal chronicler of gay life” that Terrence McNally succumbed to the coronavirus.

Mr. McNally survived the scourge of AIDS despite the ignorant, politically motivated decisions that led to the death of so many gay men during the Reagan era. What a horrible thing that, as a senior citizen, he had to die as a result of another wave of ignorant, politically driven health policy focused on denying, then minimizing, the risk of this dangerous illness.

Rita Zeidner, Falls Church