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  1. Opinion

Our son died of the flu. We have to protect our children.

Here’s what readers are saying in Sunday’s letters to the editor

Our son died of flu; protect yours

The flu season

Did you know that seasonal flu is one of the top 10 causes of deaths in the U.S., resulting in upwards of 61,000 deaths, including approximately 100 children?

It’s true. Flu does not discriminate, but children are especially vulnerable to this vaccine-preventable disease. Approximately 30 percent of school-aged children fall ill with the flu during bad flu seasons, resulting in about 38 million days of school missed each year in the United States. It’s imperative that we help protect this vulnerable population.

This session, there is legislation that can help protect our state’s children, families and communities against the flu, as well as strep. House Bill 389 and Senate Bill 714 would allow local pharmacists to test and treat for these contagious diseases in Florida.

As a non-profit organization made up of families whose loved ones have suffered serious medical complications or died from flu, including families from Florida, the goal of Families Fighting Flu is to save lives and reduce hospitalizations by protecting children, families and communities against flu. We encourage Florida’s state leaders to strongly consider supporting HB 389 and SB 714. By supporting this legislation, we can help protect our children, our families and our communities against the flu.

Serese Marotta, Syracuse, N.Y.

The writer, chief operating officer of Families Fighting Flu, lost her 5-year-old son, Joseph, to the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009.

Mayor stands for his city

The state of Clearwater

Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos, center, answers a question from Scott Palmer, Phillies Director of Public Affairs, at Spectrum Field, where Cretekos helped training staff unload boxes, bags of equipment in preparation for the Phillies 2020 Spring Training season. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

Despite the political rhetoric, Clearwater remains a community of which all residents should be proud. Over the last eight years, the city has invested taxpayer funds wisely. The budget is, and has been, in balance, the city‘s bond rating is excellent, the pension fund is the envy of most, and the city‘s reserves account has increased from $22 million on Sept. 30, 2012, to an anticipated $39 million at the end of fiscal year 2019/2020.

The Morningside Recreation Center was finally built. Countryside residents celebrated the opening of a new library and fire station. An updated Emergency Operations Center is ready, and Clearwater’s beach was named the No. 1 beach in the country for the second consecutive year. Work on the Imagine Clearwater plan for Coachman Park is progressing. The groundbreaking for improvements at Crest Lake Park is scheduled for this month, and work at the Seminole Boat Ramp district is being finalized.

While other communities have struggled with stormwater and sewage overflows, Clearwater’s infrastructure functions without similar, repeating occurrences. The city is one of three selected by the state to develop strategies to combat coastal flooding.

The city has also worked with partners to bring national and international softball tournaments to town, to provide additional workforce housing, to reach out to minority communities, and to promote economic development along the U.S. 19 corridor and downtown.

The foundations set by this and previous councils, as well as the city‘s staff, are solid. Clearwater is on track for the next decade, and it has not lost sight of its core mission.

Council and staff have stayed focused on its responsibilities that serve the people first, not on making headlines. The new mayor and council will be in a position to continue those services and programs that have made Clearwater a great place to call “home.”

George Cretekos, mayor of Clearwater

I made up my own mind

Early voters: Hold on for now | Editorial, Feb. 16

Pallets with Presidential Preference Primary Election ballots are loaded on a truck at the Elections Service Center to be delivered to the post office, on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020 in Tampa. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]

This editorial, in my opinion, totally misses its mark. You end by advising the reader to wait for more primary election results before voting in the Florida primary, scheduled for March 17. Whether or not, as you state, a voter needs more clarity brought forth by other races is questionable for many voters such as myself.

Voters can build several criteria for choosing a president. Among them are experience in a political position, decency as a human being and how they present themselves as a candidate. History may show that some candidates don’t offer any of these characteristics. The selection on my ballot — which has already been mailed — was based on the apparent decency of that individual and how well informed he or she is to handle the chore of president of the United States. I have been blessed in this regard because, in this instance, I do not need the opinion of others to make a judgment. I hope you have other readers so blessed.

Joe Green, Brooksville

An open internet with spies

The good fight for an open internet | Column, Feb. 16

There were three articles in last Sunday’s Tampa Bay Times — one about facial recognition technology that enables the government and police to track your every move, one about the CIA’s rigged encryption technology that allowed them to spy on friends and foe alike, and another by Libby Liu where she describes the fight for an open internet against totalitarian regimes by agencies like the Open Technology Fund and the U.S. Agency for Global Media.

She describes how “enemies of a free internet invest more than ever in censorship and surveillance technology.”

In light of the first two articles, it wouldn’t be surprising if the CIA or the National Security Agency have already infiltrated her organization and taken control of any software they have developed in their quest for a free and open internet.

One would be naive to assume otherwise.

Gregory Kuebler, Dunedin

It is far from ‘free’

Medicare for all

This shows a page from the 2019 U.S. Medicare Handbook in Washington. [ PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS | AP ]

Last fall I went on Medicare. Part A is free, Part B is not, and I chose a third part to cover my healthy doctor visits and more and a medicine coverage as well. I could have chosen an eye-care plan as well.

I keep hearing about Medicare for all. Be careful what you wish for, my Medicare coverage is costing me about $450 a month, for just me.

I do not hear any candidates saying what will be covered and if you can go to the doctor of your choice or the hospital of your choice. Someone, somehow will be paying for this.

Tim Keffalas, Tarpon Springs

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