Letters submitted by BDN readers are verified by BDN Opinion Page staff. Send your letters to letters@bangordailynews.com.

Protecting others

Last week I learned that my friend and colleague in Nicaragua had died of COVID-19. He was only in his 40s, in good health and was a doctor.

In Nicaragua, the government is trying to deny the reality of the epidemic, so they are not encouraging or providing masks. Neither are they encouraging social distancing. My friend may not have died if these basic measures had been in place.

Unfortunately, Nicaragua is not the only country where masks are not provided, or in many cases, not actively encouraged. We see the same mixed messages in the United States, but fortunately we have a governor, Janet Mills, and a CDC Director, Nirav Shah, who are both adamant about protecting our neighbors by social distancing and wearing masks.

Two messages should be simply put and often repeated: A person can have COVID-19 and not show symptoms, and wearing a mask is not about protecting ourselves but protecting others.

Robert Bach, MD

Bangor

Leah Baldacci and free speech

I am writing in support of Leah Baldacci, daughter-in-law of former governor John Baldacci, and in disagreement with the president of the Maine State Bar Association, Thaddeus Day, who essentially says he should have shushed Baldacci when she spoke during an online discussion to say she feels sexism is a bigger problem in Maine than racism.

Baldacci has every right to this opinion and I appreciate her speaking up in support of women who, by the way, still hope to pass the Equal Rights Amendment to formalize protections under the law.

If you do an analysis of crimes committed in Maine, you might see that women (regardless of color) are victims of assault more often than men. Targets of discrimination and hate crimes in Maine include women, LGBT people, those who practice non-Christian religions, Native Americans and other minority races.

Is it so terrible to say that sexism is greater because it potentially targets half of the population? In any case, shushing a woman in a public forum because you disagree with her opinion could be construed as sexist in itself. I do believe President Donald Trump has been accused of this very thing during press conferences.

It is hard to express a belief that isn’t PC (politically correct) during contentious times such as these. However, it is what we expect and what we want of our leaders. You have the right to disagree with Leah Baldacci, or with me for that matter, but you have no right to prohibit free speech.

Mary-Michael Billings

Orrington

Testing and tracing

I am responding to the OpEd by Sue Bernard of Caribou in the June 22 edition of the BDN.

Bernard is upset by the rules imposed on churchgoers by the powers that be. And she understandably is upset by those in our society that ignore any precautions such as those who take part in protests or those who go to grocery stores without masks, etc.

I am a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal church in Fort Fairfield. Our leaders have carefully provided rules for us to come together and have services. Granted these rules are objectionable. In fact I find them to be the antithesis of why I go to church. However we need to somehow get together.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has explained several times that the way to slow the COVID-19 virus is to test and trace new infections. Otherwise the situation follows Darwinism — survival of the fittest. God gave humans a brain that is different from all the other animals on this earth. In order to survive this pandemic we need to use it.

In 1935, Hans Zinsser, a professor of microbiology from Harvard, published “Rats, Lice and History,” a detailed description of how epidemics have changed world history. The fall of Rome and other large societies was due to epidemics, not to the winning of battles. Huge armies were destroyed by the plague, cholera, malaria and other diseases. In those days sanitation and transmission of disease were poorly understood.

The only way we can slow this pandemic is to test and trace individual infections especially in Aroostook County. Otherwise a little spike becomes a resurgence.

William Babson Jr., MD

Sinclair

Don’t let virus keep you from voting

By now, many of us know someone or of someone who has had the COVID-19 virus and has beaten it or succumbed to it. Many continue to fall ill and medical personnel continue issuing requests for social distancing and wearing masks for personal safety and the safety of others.

This pandemic may be continuing on through the summer and beyond. Those of us who know survivors and their struggles to regain their health, or have health issues ourselves, understand that a decision to go out to vote in the July 14 primary election is a concern. There is a solution. In Maine, we can vote using an absentee ballot and avoid the voting lines while exercising our patriotic right and duty to vote.

There are two ways to get an absentee ballot. The best and easiest way is to contact your town hall and ask the clerk to mail you an absentee ballot. When you get it, it will have a ballot and an envelope. You mark the ballot, seal it in the envelope, and drop it off at town hall or mail it to the clerk.

The other way to get a ballot is online through the State of Maine Online Absentee Ballot Request Service and they will send you the ballot to mail or bring to your town hall.

This year’s election is crucial to our democracy. But let’s not let the virus keep us from voting. Maine is exceptional. Anyone can vote Absentee. It’s our duty, let’s do it.

Veronica Magnan

Candidate for State House District 131

Stockton Springs

Trump’s testing logic

According to President Donald Trump, excess testing for the virus is to blame for the surge in COVID-19 infections. By this logic, young women wishing to not become pregnant should simply avoid taking a pregnancy test.

Phil Locke

Bangor