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Letters to the Editor: Now is not the time for legal nitpicking over Newsom’s stay-at-home order

Coronavirus orders
The intersection of the 101 and 110 freeways in downtown Los Angeles has unusually light traffic amid the coronavirus pandemic.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Harry Litman’s column, “Here’s what’s wrong with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order: It’s a legal mess,” may have benefited from a bit more pre-publication thought.

Litman writes that there will likely be litigation challenging the governor’s order, and it may well succeed. I’ll consider two of his cited examples.

In February, the city of Costa Mesa sued to prevent the state from establishing a quarantine center there for persons possibly exposed to the coronavirus, and authorities predictably “backed away from the plan.” That result suggests nothing about the city’s chances of prevailing on the merits.

As for the example of New Jersey’s failed effort to quarantine a nurse who had been exposed to the Ebola virus, the nurse in question was not only asymptomatic, but she also did not test positive for the virus. In contrast, everyone in California is a potential carrier of the coronavirus, and we all face the risk of exposure.

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Being an attorney myself, I can appreciate the focus of an attorney’s thinking through the prism of potential litigation and fees, but as the saying goes, the “Constitution is not a suicide pact.”

Jack Quirk, Northridge

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To the editor: Litman correctly identifies what quarantine is within a legal framework. It does not imply impeding the activities of citizens on such a broad scale as we are seeing, unless there is reasonable cause to do so.

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With a lack of comprehensive testing of a sample of the population as well as the absence of antibody testing, we have an unclear picture of this disease from a broad, scientific perspective. We have no data on people who might be carriers or those who have recovered and have immunity, so we cannot know how pervasive or deadly a pathogen this coronavirus really is.

As all health professionals know, a lack of knowledge cultivates fear. Fear, therefore, is the driving force in this shut-down.

Fear is not a reason for broad government action that restricts constitutional rights. We will see how this plays out legally when herd immunity is achieved, the incidence of illness decreases and the smoke of panic clears.

Teresa Sanders, Long Beach

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The writer is a registered nurse.

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To the editor: At this time in our lives, facing the fallout of the coronavirus, is it really necessary for someone to question the legality of the governor’s stay-at-home order?

This is not the time to nitpick. It’s time for all of us, including Litman, to do what we are asked to do.

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Sheldon Lazar, Encino

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To the editor: In the past when a person pleaded guilty to a minor offense in order to get sentenced to home confinement for six months or so, I always criticized it as being soft on crime.

Now after two weeks of having to stay at home, my dear wife says it is cruel and inhuman punishment.

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Clay Wells, Newport Beach


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