Howard County Times

Letters: It’s not the time to reopen Howard County schools for in-person learning | READER COMMENTARY

99.8% survival rate is still unacceptable

Reader Ruth Taylor in her letter expresses her position that the survival rate of school children from COVID-19 is 99.8% and therefore “it’s past time to open all schools” (“It’s past time for schools to be reopened in Howard County,” Oct. 29). Hopefully she includes math classes because, if correct, the statistic is significant.

Consider if tap water is safe to drink 99.8% of the time. What day in the next year and a half should be the exception that poisons everyone preparing their morning coffee? Or contemplate that if Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. delivered electricity 99.8% of the time, there would be 16 hours of power failure per user every year. Dare it be suggested that if 99.8% of car trips are accident-free, there would be no need for insurance since only one claim will be filed every two years instead of the more typical nine?


A 99.8% rate means one child in 500 dies annually in school from COVID-19. The typical child attends school for kindergarten, 12 years of graded classes and four years for a bachelor’s degree for a total of 17 years. At that rate, the chance of a child’s death is one in 30.

Low odds? Perhaps. Acceptable? No. When the survival rate reaches 100%, open the schools. Certain politicians claim it won’t be long. Until then, virtual learning is the way to continue.


Kenneth Kepler


Not the time to reopen Howard County schools

I’m writing in response to Ruth Taylor’s letter, urging the county to reopen schools based on the survival rate for persons under 50 to be 99.8% with COVID-19, according to the CDC.

First of all, the CDC (tragically) has become less than completely trustworthy as a result of all the unprecedented political pressure exerted by the current administration.

Secondly, I don’t know where on the CDC site to find this claim. It is uncharacteristic for the CDC to give a blanket survival rate for such a wide age range, especially without any qualifiers for risk factors, etc. The information I’ve seen on the site divides all statistics into smaller age ranges, as they properly should be.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, even if that survival rate were to be accurate, Ms. Taylor makes no reference to the probability of an infected person being a carrier and coming home and spreading the virus to family and friends who are in high-risk categories.

Given the alarming spikes in the infection rates across the country, it’s only a matter of time before Maryland also has higher numbers, especially if it starts to emulate the questionable decisions made by other states.

Everybody would really like schools to reopen as soon as possible, but given how much we still don’t know about this virus, and given that it is nowhere close to being conquered, this is definitely not the time to reconsider the decision to keep schools closed for in-person attendance.


Ani Thakar


Howard County should end its contract with ICE

On Oct. 7, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball vetoed County Bill 51-2020, which would have ended the county’s contract with ICE to detain immigrants at the Howard County Detention Center.

Mr. Ball justified his veto, in part, because of the presumed quality of the center: If the goal is to ensure that all ICE detainees are treated humanely and with dignity in the Trump administration era, we should want them housed at the Howard County Detention Center.

Unfortunately, Mr. Ball’s rosy assessment of conditions at the center are dead wrong, according to a recent investigation conducted by the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security, based on an unannounced visit to the facility,

The report “identified violations of ICE detention standards that threatened the health, safety and rights of detainees. Although [the center] generally complied with ICE detention standards regarding communication, it did not meet the standards for detainee searches, food service and record requirements for segregation and medical grievances. We determined [the center] excessively strip-searched ICE detainees leaving their housing unit to attend activities within the facility, in violation of ICE detention standards and the facility’s own search policy.”


Investigators found that detainees, even “low-custody” detainees, were routinely forced to undergo strip searches (i.e body cavity searches) after visiting chapel or meeting with their lawyers within the jail facility.

The Department of Homeland Security was so disturbed by conditions in the detention center that a “detention services manager” was recommended for the facility to ensure compliance with federal detention standards.

Clearly immigrants in the Howard County Detention Center are not “treated humanely and with dignity” as Mr. Ball claims. It is time for Howard County to stop making $2 million per year from the ICE contract and stop this appalling treatment of human beings.

Calvin Ball, rescind your veto of CB 51-2020.

Laurie Liskin

Ellicott City


Participating in democracy is important

Howard County Times: Top stories


Daily highlights from Howard County's number one source for local news.

People of all ages have trouble getting out of bed these days — not just the sleep-deprived and those of us with aches and pain. For many of us, difficulties getting out of bed are associated with uncertainty, isolation, and are linked to the ecological, climate and societal crises we are experiencing.

So what are we to do? Clearly self-care is important in that we must each take care of the home we have: our bodies. At the minimum, we must nourish our bodies and exercise to function. But in addition, we need to connect with other humans, and what better way than to talk about voting, and joining civic organizations that engages you?

Each week, at 4 p.m. on Sundays, since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, I meet with members of a civic organization that supports each person to develop fully as an individual participating in our democracy. We are all voting, talking about voting and helping people put together voting plans. In addition, we want to engage everyone to talk to their representatives about what matters to them.

Good leaders typically lead with nudges from the rest of us. Think about values you want to nudge your leaders with. I will be asking leaders to lead on the values of integrity, nonpartisanship and inclusiveness to signal the movement toward a society where we are all empowered to be part of solutions.

Working toward such a society helps me get out of bed!

Sabrina S. Fu


Ellicott City