opinion | Rethinking US International Travel Rules

To the editors:

At “Early Notifications Signal Variation Is Less Severe” (front page, December 7):

Well, now there are even more restrictions on international air travel to the United States, with testing no earlier than the day before departure being the last requirement. What now? Testing within 10 minutes of boarding?

Why is proof of full vaccination with a booster, wearing a mask at all times, and perhaps a temperature check at the airport not good enough for a US citizen to return home? The ultimate irony here is that domestic flights do not require vaccination, testing or temperature monitoring. So when a fully vaccinated person boards a domestic flight, he or she could be exposed to who knows how many anti-vaxxers.

Can’t the government see that it is doing two things by piling up international flight requirements: 1) abolish international travel, and 2) downplay the importance of vaccination, the very message it doesn’t want to get across? Instead, the government should set a simple requirement for all air travel: In addition to wearing a mask, you must be fully vaccinated or have a legitimate medical reason not to.

The pandemic will be with us until the government finds the nerve to seriously reduce the pool of unvaccinated individuals. This is Immunology 101. Vaccination mandates are the best tool we have to slow the pandemic and should be extended to all air travelers.

Michael Madigan
Murphysboro, ill.
The author is Professor Emeritus of Microbiology at Southern Illinois University.

To the editors:

While restricting access to the United States from countries in southern Africa has met with criticism both here and abroad, it is more important to consider whether US policy towards the rest of the world is only full vaccination and pre-vaccination. boarding to test negative will someday be as effective as China’s requirement that visitors not only be fully vaccinated and test negative, but then you have to quarantine for at least 14 days at a guarded hotel (own expense).

That China has had just over 100,000 cases and fewer than 5,000 deaths — compared to nearly 50 million cases and 800,000 deaths in the United States — suggests its strict policies are vastly superior to America’s.

Peter Flemming
West Caldwell, New Jersey

To the editors:

On “Last winter Diners froze. This year they choose” (news article, December 3):

I find a big misunderstanding about the concept of outdoor dining. Some of the photos accompanying this article show structures so enclosed that they are essentially indoors. In fact, New York City rules for restaurants would not classify many such structures as outdoor, and these places would be subject to indoor dining rules.

Unfortunately, a lack of enforcement, understanding and reporting means people eat in places where they think they are safe, but may not be. I expect that in some cases, with vaccine card checks and professional ventilation, the interior spaces of some restaurants could be safer than their extra outdoors structures.

Opinion Conversation
Questions about the Covid-19 vaccine and its rollout.

Especially with the Omicron variety on the rise, New Yorkers need a better understanding of the risks of dining in these many poorly ventilated structures that masquerade as outdoor space and invite unvaccinated patrons.

Four walls and a roof sounds like indoors to me.

Eric Scheer

To the editors:

As a research scientist dedicated to early childhood education in New England, I appreciated “The Solution to Poverty? Invest in Kids,” by David L. Kirp (Opinion guest essay, Dec. 5).

In that regard, Vermont is leading the way thanks to a 2014 law of state legislators establishing a universal kindergarten. It is clear that there is a push for similar action at the national level, as all children in this country deserve access to quality early childhood education.

In the four years since Vermont’s universal pre-K was signed into law, enrollment rates for government-funded pre-K have risen 30 percent. It’s no wonder. Young learners thrive in such environments with guidance from dedicated professionals who cover a variety of topics from social and emotional learning to math.

While there have been some transition challenges, Vermonters is committed to continuous improvement and prides itself on being on the right side of early education history.

Clare Waterman
Peacham, Vt.
The writer is a researcher at the Education Development Center.

To the editors:

It’s ironic that the Supreme Court seems ready to rule Roe. to decimate (if not overthrown) so soon after your article wrote about young couples who decide to remain childless because of the state of the environment, the land, and the world (“In an Age Like This, Is It Still OK to Procreate?,” Sunday Styles, Nov. 21).

This discussion may not be relevant in light of the future decision of the country’s highest court, which could remove the possibility of that choice for these couples – and thereby force them to start families in exactly the world they believe is which is wrong for their children.

In fact, undoing Roe will do nothing but strengthen this worldview.

Naomi Segal Deitz
Portland, OR.

To the editors:

Re “Can a machine learn morality?” (Business, Nov. 23):

The attempt to teach ethics to an artificial intelligence system is a step towards an uneasy but inevitable realization: Any attempt at machine ethics involves codifying concepts that humans have never quite managed to make clear to themselves.

Milleniums of brilliant minds in philosophy have not reached any authoritative system of ethics, and there is no particular reason to believe that they ever will.

Fortunately, humans can turn to our own innate sense of empathy and honesty, varying from culture to culture, but ultimately derived from evolved tendencies toward social stability, to overcome the shortcomings of ethical guidelines. Machines have no such instincts and therefore cannot help but expose the gaps in a fixed set of moral principles.

As well ‘instructed’ as it is, an AI can only be a repository of what humans have previously decided; it can’t tell us anything we don’t already know.

Rob Louis
Cazenovia, New York
The writer is a Ph.D. student at UMass Amherst and teaches AI, ethics and media.

To the editors:

Re “Baseball Finally Gets a Big Picture on Hodges,” by Tyler Kepner (On Baseball, Dec. 7):

I was pleased to read that Gil Hodges was eventually posthumously elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame as a player. I will never forget June 1968, when he was manager of the New York Mets. I called the Mets office to speak to Mr. Hodges. I was surprised when he answered the phone.

I told him I was from upstate New York and wanted to surprise my dad for his birthday with two tickets to an upcoming Mets game. I told him I was willing to pay for the tickets but asked if he could arrange really good seats. He took my name and told me the tickets would be at the Will Call counter.

When we got to Shea Stadium I walked to the window and was pleasantly surprised to be told that Mr Hodges had paid for the tickets. And they were front row behind the Mets dugout.

With all the player and manager qualities that led the Mets to the World Series Championship in 1969, this former New Yorker will remember him as a kind man, a real human being.

(Rabbi) Reuven H. Taff

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