Letters to the Editor: These GOP governors are risking lives for their ambitions

A man in front of a Texas governor's seal.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott at a news conference in Austin on Sept. 17, 2020.
(Associated Press)

To the editor: I’m not a lawyer, so it isn’t clear to me if any of the following would apply to the governors of Florida, Texas and South Dakota: criminal negligence, dereliction of duty, gross incompetence, violation of their oaths of office, and abuse and neglect of elders and children. (“Why are vaccination rates so low? We found the worst county in each state and asked the politicians,” Aug. 9)

However, I am a career public health physician with more than 30 years of experience in communicable disease epidemiology and control, so I can say without any doubt or hesitation that these elected politicians are ethically challenged and morally bankrupt.

How pathetic to use the COVID-19 pandemic to advance their political agenda and aspirations.


David E. Dassey, M.D., Los Angeles


To the editor: To borrow Tolstoy’s observation on happy and unhappy families, all vaccinated people are alike, and each unvaccinated person is unvaccinated in their own way.

Clearly, large numbers of the unvaccinated have been “inoculated” against taking the vaccine by right-wing politics who define government as the enemy. Those who are waiting until the vaccine is proven safe belie their position by opposing the wearing of masks.

I will suggest one other reason for those who refuse vaccination. Just as some belligerent, antisocial, self-loathing individuals are known to commit “suicide by cop,” the comments and behaviors of some unvaccinated people suggest “suicide by COVID” as a motive. Even if the disease does not result in death, it offers them a certain amount of notoriety and bragging rights for having survived it.

Marcia Goldstein, Laguna Woods


To the editor: There are many reasons that people have given not to be vaccinated, but almost all of them (except medical contraindications) boil down to the idea that getting vaccinated is a “personal choice.”


For diseases like tetanus, HPV and rabies, vaccination is a personal health intervention. For diseases like measles, smallpox and COVID-19, widespread vaccination programs are public health interventions.

Choosing not to get vaccinated against tetanus is a personal choice. The only person you put at risk is yourself.

Choosing not to participate in a widespread vaccination program against a deadly contagion like COVID-19 is a public choice, similar to choosing not to follow traffic lights. Everyone nearby is put at risk.

Please get vaccinated. The life you save could be somebody else’s.

Philip Rohrbacher, Los Angeles

The writer is a registered nurse.