Letters to the Editor: It’s reckless to brush off disease outbreaks like SARS or coronavirus


To the editor: I was horrified by Katherine A. Mason’s op-ed article, in which she proudly describes her choice to avoid what seemed to her to be an unnecessary quarantine, which her parents wished to impose when she returned from China during the early days of the SARS epidemic in 2003.

Instead of isolating her 23-year-old self out of concern for the welfare of others, she ignored the possibility that she just might indeed be responsible for introducing a terrible disease into her country. Instead she went to Manhattan, which she smugly called “the worst possible place to travel to when you might have a deadly disease.”

Her complete disregard for the effects of her choice on other people’s well-being is typical of anti-vaxxers, who are unwilling to contribute to “herd immunity” if it comes at the cost of their own preferences. Like those anti-vaxxers, Mason’s behavior when she was young was unethical and potentially dangerous.


Shame on her, and shame on the L.A. Times for giving ink to such an unethical exemplar.

Janet Weaver, Huntington Beach


To the editor: I was relieved to read Mason’s piece. I have been wondering why there’s so much panic about the coronavirus, with only 11 cases reported in the U.S. I keep thinking, what am I missing?

Currently, fewer than 500 people have died globally from the virus, which is sad but must be put into perspective. In the U.S., tens of thousands of people die from the flu annually.

As Mason writes, we seem to be overreacting to the coronavirus outbreak, which is slowing China’s economy while also generating a frenzy and even racism and xenophobia. I hope world governments reevaulate the situation and take a cautious but responsible approach.

Kendall Wolf, Encino