1. Opinion

Let pharmacies test for and treat flu and strep

Here’s what readers are saying in Thursday’s letters to the editor
A patient receives a flu shot.
A patient receives a flu shot.
Published Jan. 22

Let pharmacies test for, treat flu

Flu season

Allowing local pharmacies to test and treat for flu and strep would help families across Florida. Recently, my daughter came down with a fever. With the pediatrician’s office closed for the weekend, we waited until Monday to get in and see the doctor, where we quickly learned she had the flu. While I did my best to keep all five of my kids separated, they all caught it, and we had to make another trip to our doctor’s office. You can imagine what my family went through during this stressful time. I don’t wish this upon any of our families in the Sunshine State. That’s why I’m supporting HB 389 by Rep. Tyler Sirois, R-Merritt Island, this session.

State Rep. Jackie Toledo [Courtesy of Florida House of Representatives]

This legislation would allow local pharmacies to test for the flu, as well as strep, and provide immediate treatment. This means my family and families across Florida wouldn’t have to wait over the weekend to see if we have these very contagious illnesses. Nor would we be at risk of not receiving the antiviral medication within the first 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms, which drastically reduces the duration and severity of symptoms. We could walk into our pharmacy, where we can already receive flu shots and be swabbed, tested and given medication.

More than 17 states allow for this additional access point. Florida should be next to create this collaboration among local pharmacists and physicians and help slow the spread of flu and strep.

Had we been able to walk in and out of our local pharmacy over the weekend, it’s possible the flu wouldn’t have spread to all my children.

Rep. Jackie Toledo, R-Tampa

How about beads of paper?


Stray beads hang from tree branches after the Gasparilla parade. [Tampa Bay Times]

If we switched from plastic straws to paper straws to help the environment, then we should be able to switch from plastic beads to paper beads for Gasparilla.

Mary Becker, St. Petersburg

Don’t just promise — produce

The 2020 presidential election

From left, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.,and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg look to answer a question during a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN and the Des Moines Register in Des Moines, Iowa. [PATRICK SEMANSKY | AP]

Before I can take anything that presidential candidates are promising to do for me and this country seriously, I want them to tell me how they are going to implement their plans.

I want to hear how much they are going to cost, where the money is coming from, whom they will benefit, whom they will penalize and how long it will take to put them into action.

Otherwise, I’ll consider what they are saying just pipe dreams spewed by chameleons who will say anything to the audience to whom they are speaking.

Marilyn Messina, Tampa

Voters choose Republicans

The 2020 elections

The Republicans have an iron grip in Florida because the voters wanted it that way. Elections have consequences, so get used to it.

John Spengler, Spring Hill

Bad news we need to know

Rising seas, falling prices | Jan. 18

Waves roll onto the shore near Hightower Beach Park at Satellite Beach in the small coastal Florida city. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | TImes]

Thank you for the “Florida in Focus: Climate Change” reporting series through the partnership with the Florida Climate Reporting Network.

Please keep this emergency front and center with readers. It’s awful, but we need to know. Help us pay attention, so we feel moved to finally address it with meaningful and effective action.

Sara Hendricks, Lutz


  1. From left, Democratic presidential candidates, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. (AP Photo/John Locher)
  2. Rep. Jamie Grant, R- Tampa, center,  is congratulated by House members after passage of the Amendment 4 bill, May 3, 2019. Florida lawmakers lost another round Wednesday, with a federal appeals court ruling the restrictions on felon voting rights are unconstitutional.
  3. It's not a bad time to be looking for a job. [Scott Keeler, Times]
  4. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, right, addresses a joint session of the Florida Legislature during his State of the State address in Tallahassee.
  5. No issue is too small for Florida lawmakers in Tallahassee to attack citizen initiatives and local control.
  6. This photo shows multiple forms printed from the Internal Revenue Service web page that are used for 2018 U.S. federal tax returns.
  7. A boy named Jamal, 12, looks for an item in his new room at Joshua House in Lutz in 2016.
  8. Megan Davila, 25, a Child Protection Investigator in training, along with Jacque Salary, 46, a Child Protection Investigator and mentor for almost seven years, pictured with their case files in the family visitation room at the Child Protection Investigation Division of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. Investigators are the front line of the foster care system, responsible for sometimes life-or-death decisions about whether to remove a child because of issues like domestic violence and drug use in the home.
  9. The Florida Senate is taking one step forward this year on criminal justice reform – requiring racial and ethnic impact statements for legislation we consider, writes State Sen. Jeff Brandes.
  10. Joey Cousin, a transgender student from Broward county and an opponent of the SB 404, known as the "parental consent" bill, speaks at a press conference at the Capitol. The bill requires girls under the age of 18 get a parent's consent before having an abortion was approved Wednesday in its final committee stop.