1. Opinion

The coronavirus pandemic is a time to go big on a huge national infrastructure program

Here’s what readers are saying in Sunday’s letters to the editor.
The county will build the 500 million-gallon reservoir at a former mine east of Interstate 75 at Boyette and Overpass roads.
The county will build the 500 million-gallon reservoir at a former mine east of Interstate 75 at Boyette and Overpass roads.

Go big on infrastructure


It is now clear that the coronavirus pandemic is going to lead to a deep, if not extended, economic recession, both in Florida and nationwide. In addition to cash payments, small business loans and bailouts for travel and leisure industries, now would be the most opportune time for Congress and the states to collaborate on a major national infrastructure program.

Bond interest rates will never be lower, and there will soon be a glut of unemployed hourly and service sector workers. As we in the Tampa Bay area have experienced over the past several years, rapid population growth and urban development have overrun our existing roadways, water supplies and wastewater treatment capacities.

Infrastructure investments stimulate the economy at multiple levels, including a wide range of supply chains and the employment of engineers, architects, scientists, surveyors and thousands of construction workers. Assuming we are looking at a short pronounced recession, major investments in roadway and airport improvements, new water supplies and sewer upgrades over the next two to three years would go a long way to support economic recovery, as well as allow for our outpaced communities to catch up on their extensive public infrastructure needs.

Doug Robison, St. Petersburg

What’s cloth is new again


Customer Joseph Nathan loads toilet paper into the trunk of his car at a Stop & Shop supermarket that opened special morning hours to serve people 60-years and older due to coronavirus concerns, March 20, 2020, in Teaneck, N.J. [JOHN MINCHILLO | AP]

FaceTime is the new family vacation. Kitchen towels are the new paper towels. Handkerchiefs are the new Kleenex. Diapers are the new toilet paper rolls. I ordered a dozen handkerchiefs and a dozen small face cloths to use as napkins … not ready for the diapers just yet … but who knows?

Kenneth Weiss, Treasure Island

Model social-distancing

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks at a news conference, March 19, 2020, at the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston, Iowa. [OLIVIA SUN | AP]

Although I cannot say why so many vibrant young adults are still congregating in masses, I do wonder whom they will turn to for help if or when the coronavirus affects them. Also, I would like to see “social distancing” employed on television. Newscasts with people side by side, government officials with a throng of people surrounding them. Really! A picture paints a thousand words, and I would like to see my president, governor, etc., holding updates in their offices. Heaven knows, none of the questions being asked are new.

Dorothy Kossow, Palm Harbor

Use IRAs as cash now

Legislation should be enacted to let working Americans use their Individual Retirement Accounts as disposable funds in this emergency. It should:

1. Temporarily remove the 10 percent early withdrawal penalty to permit those under the age of 59½ to withdraw funds from their IRA without financial harm. After all, it is their money!

2. Waive the income tax due on any withdrawals made during a period of national emergency.

3. Provide the opportunity for IRA holders to reimburse their IRAs later, without penalties, for any funds withdrawn during national emergency.

These temporary measures would have the effect of accelerating financial recovery from a national emergency by releasing fenced financial resources (at the option of the IRA owner) to meet emergency needs on a personal level without the burden of government penalties or taxes and with less impact on the national debt. Further, it would provide an opportunity for IRA holders to become whole once adverse financial conditions have receded.

Wallace Guthrie, St. Petersburg

Yoga and calmer days

From left, Lashone Wilson, Lara Atella, and Mariam Sufi, hold an online yoga class via webcam, at left, at Hot Yoga Capitol Hill on H Street in Northeast Washington, March 18, 2020. [ANDREW HARNIK | AP]

My husband and I meditate between the hours of 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. as the universe is calm during that time. Within minutes of sitting, we are able to connect to the goodness and the divine.

However, in the last several days, with the commerce and movements of people coming to a halt, I have noticed a remarkable phenomenon I have not experienced before: the same calmness of the universe felt at 10 in the morning, at 2 in the afternoon, at 4 in the afternoon, etc. I am also not feeling the anxiety other people feel due to our current situation.

All of us are fine and getting on. Those who may not have tried “sitting” (meditation), give it a go and connect to the goodness of the universe.

The air is calm and inviting for everyone to recharge their spiritual batteries even during the daytime hours. Please try and experience the calmness for yourselves.

Bella Y. Patel, Riverview

Don’t flush that!

A customer pushes her shopping cart brimming with toilet paper back to her vehicle after shopping at a Stop & Shop Supermarket that opened special morning hours to serve people 60-years and older due to coronavirus concerns, March 20, 2020, in Teaneck, N.J. [JOHN MINCHILLO | AP]

As a licensed specialty contractor here in St. Petersburg for the last 35 years, I would like to encourage my fellow citizens to use common sense when dealing with this unusual situation we now face.

Because some people have felt the need to hoard toilet paper, other less fortunate people may run out.

Please, keep in mind it is very bad for your plumbing to flush paper towels or handy wipes down the sewer pipes.

Condo and apartment dwellers should take note: Flushing large amounts of these kinds of material might very well clog your pipes.

Do you want to live in a building with no working sinks, bathtubs, washing machines and toilets?

Flushing inappropriate material down the toilet will not only add to your suffering, but will make a lot of area plumbers very rich.

Brian Walkowiak, St. Petersburg

Hand wipes for doors

In this March 19, 2020, photo, a woman in a face mask walks past a "Wash Your Hands" sign after buying groceries in Oak Park, Ill. [MARTHA IRVINE | AP]

Two of the primary precautions to avoid the virus are frequent and thorough washing of the hands and not touching objects and surfaces that have not been cleaned.

With this said, many of the public restrooms in stores, public buildings, etc., have turned to air dryers for your hands.

While this may lead to a cost savings, how are you supposed to open the restroom door to exit? Open the door of the toilet stall to get paper? Use your little finger?

Maybe these facilities should take heed and provide paper towels, sanitary wipes, etc., and a disposal container.

Ken Muzyk Sr., Brandon

To our Readers,
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