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The long-term tragedy of coronavirus will be depression and suicide | Letters

Here’s what readers are saying in Friday’s letters to the editor.
In this July 24, 2014, file photo, an inmate sits by a window at the mental health unit at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's Stockton Health Facility in Stockton, Calif. [RICH PEDRONCELLI  |  AP]
In this July 24, 2014, file photo, an inmate sits by a window at the mental health unit at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's Stockton Health Facility in Stockton, Calif. [RICH PEDRONCELLI | AP]

It’s not science vs. business


I’m a bit annoyed at how the Tampa Bay Times focuses on the political aspect of the coronavirus and pushes how Democrats favor science and Republicans favor business. Science involves many factors and variables that must all be weighed in every good analysis. During times of economic turmoil, depression and suicide rise substantially. During the Great Recession, there were an estimated 10,000 suicides.

My family is empirically based, in the scientific and medical fields. In the next few months, the coronavirus will be contained one way or another, and the long-term tragedy will be the cases of depression, PTSD, child abuse and suicide.

Mental health is a bigger factor in science and analysis than you might ever imagine, and it is correlated to economic growth and financial well-being. I stay positive, largely based on statistics. Even though there is a good likelihood that I will catch COVID-19, given my families’ medical work, there is still a 99 percent chance I’ll live.

Steve Wotovich, Redington Beach

Buy just what you need

Don Freymiller finds a cart of toilet paper in a mostly-empty paper goods aisle at a Homeland store in Oklahoma City, March 23, 2020. [SUE OGROCKI | AP]

I understand the logic of stocking up to reduce exposure to others when shopping, but the hoarding means that there are now not enough essentials on the shelves for the many people who have been buying only what they need on the assumption that production and distribution of food is not under threat, as it would be in a hurricane. Under the current circumstances, there would be enough for everyone if people would stop hoarding. Encouraging people to stock up in larger quantities than the means of production and distribution can keep up with guarantees that many people will end up with none of the necessities that we all need. It would provide a greater service to the community, and would lower the general level of anxiety that we are all experiencing, if you pointed out that this is not a hurricane situation relative to the normal availability of food and household goods.

Allen Howard, St. Petersburg

Who’s paying for this?

Congress is passing a $2 trillion-dollar stimulus package. I have questions. First, where is this money coming from? It isn’t like we have that kind of money sitting around, unused. What will it do to the inflation rate? We are soon to reach a threshold. We will have borrowed so much money that we will not be able to pay even just the interest. Then what will we do? I can’t even conceive of a possible solution. Can you?

Wayne Parlow, Ridge Manor

My tail is wagging for a walk

Jen Salvey, of St. Petersburg, walks her dogs Sebastian and Lola outside of Tropicana Field, March 26, 2020, in St. Petersburg, Fla. [CHRIS O'MEARA | AP]

I told our dog, Maggie, that I now understood what it’s like to be in the house all day. I also told her it’s clear to me why she practically does backflips when asked if she wants to go for a ride and why she almost wags her tail off her body when asked if she wants to go on a walk. Is hubby, Dave, asking if I want to go on a walk? Oh my goodness, my posterior is swaying back and forth. I totally understand our Maggie these days. Walks are so exciting!

Linda Reed, Tampa

My mask protects you

A couple covers their faces with an improvised mask to protect themselves from coronavirus as they walk in Adams Morgan district of Washington, March 26, 2020. [MANUEL BALCE CENETA | AP]

I’m thinking of wearing protection over my mouth and nose not to protect myself but those with whom I might come in contact. I would be reducing the air I expel from reaching others. We place too much emphasis on protecting ourselves over protecting those around us.

Ricardo Trompet, Dade City

For those of us in the service industry, there is no end in sight

People dine at Parkshore Grill. [MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times]

I am writing to express my complete and utter disgust at the way I see the majority of people handling the loose rule of social distancing. I’m a single waitress who lives alone and supports myself—and who lost my job last Friday when the mass closing of restaurants occurred. It was frustrating, it continues to be scary and there is no real end in sight. I’ve followed the news somewhat, keeping aware of the most important things I need to know without obsessing over it. Having gone through varying opinions throughout this ordeal, one thing is clear. The sooner we just buckle down, lay low and stay home for awhile, the sooner we will be able to flatten the curve of this virus. Am I likely to die of it if I contract it? I’m 43 and in great health, so I doubt it. It would be easy for me, in my current state of being unemployed with no income, to become extremely angry and start quoting statistics or talking about the flu or how this is unnecessary. Yes, I believe this is a tremendous, years-long blow to what was once a great economy in the not so distant past.

Today, I decided to venture out to the grocery store for a few things (I gave up on looking for toilet paper or bleach long ago). It was absolutely astounding, standing in my local Publix, to imagine that anything different was happening in our current world. Six feet apart? What a joke. No one is acting any differently than before. I even saw a worker making a joke to another about it. When I was in line, the man behind me (who was wearing his Hillsborough County Schools polo shirt) was almost literally breathing down my neck. Seriously? Look, to put it bluntly, it all sucks. I lost my job. There’s little light at the end of the tunnel right now. But we have got to take this seriously. The sooner we do, the sooner we can get life back to what it used to look like. As Mayor Jane Castor said, “I don’t know what universe some people are living in.” Neither do I, Mayor Castor. Sadly, these events have done nothing to restore my faith in humanity.

Christine Dupuy, Tampa

Shouldn’t we wear a mask?

We’re trying to beat this thing. We’re washing our hands. We’re socially distancing. We’re closing down businesses. But isn’t there an additional easy step that we can be taking to combat COVID-19? Can’t we all be covering our mouths and noses in some way when we go out in public? Can’t we all be wearing a mask? We know we don’t have enough professionally manufactured masks for everyone in this country to wear and that the professionally manufactured masks that do exist need to go to our healthcare workers. But can’t a “mask” be something homemade from a T-shirt, scarf, bandana or a paper towel creation from a YouTube video? Isn’t anything that reduces droplets going into or out of our respiratory systems helpful to stop the spread of COVID-19? Yes. We don’t we don’t need a government directive to act on this knowledge. When we go out, let’s cover our mouths and noses in some fashion. It’s easy. It’s cheap. It’s an immediate action we can take to help save lives and businesses.

Maggie Knaust, St. Petersburg

Don’t forget the home health-care industry

A highway sign in Carmel, Ind., urges resident to stay home as the state ordered residents to remain at home except for essential activities to slow the spread of COVID-19, March 25, 2020. [MICHAEL CONROY | AP]

Though hospitals and emergency department nurses and physicians are on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, the home health-care industry is only a half step behind. Home health agencies collaborate closely with hospital partners to keep those who are chronically ill or recovering from life-altering surgeries and procedures out of the hospital when the susceptibility of contracting disease or infection is increased.

The current situation with COVID-19 is spurring nothing but feelings of uneasiness and concern amongst our patients and their families. Home health agencies are taking several actions to help relieve these feelings within the community, as well as help reduce the burden on hospital partners. To start, home health providers have set up triage call centers staffed with skilled clinical teams. These centers are open to the public and provide an additional, reliable resource to contact with questions and concerns about COVID-19.

In addition, the home health-care industry is assisting physicians by providing teleconferencing/telehealth options for communicating with patients. This reduces the need for patients to leave their homes and also significantly reduces contact and exposure to the virus. Home health care providers are also conducting COVID-19 testing in homes and caring for infected patients as another way to ease the burden on hospitals and help free up beds for those in need of immediate attention or in critical condition.

However, in the face of the current health and economic state of our nation (and world), it’s increasingly more difficult to continue to provide these services. If the federal government doesn’t act to ease the restrictions placed on home health care agencies just as 2020 began, the result could be catastrophic. The home health industry needs policy makers to act now to address this.

Our congressional members have the ability and responsibility to ensure our seniors receive the best care in their home. Suspending the split-payment reimbursement reduction, which went into effect Jan. 1, will help ease the financial impact to ensure the home health care industry can continue providing essential healthcare to the community and continue to help reduce the impact on the hospital system, which is already in dire straits.

James DeVriendt, Bradenton

It’s not the economy, stupid

Nothing has clarified the social and political and economic philosophies of the Republican and Democratic parties like the medical and economic crisis America now faces. The Republicans seem to advocate using people to serve the economy, on the premise that once the economy is “saved,” it will then trickle down and save the population. By contrast, the Democrats advocate saving the people first, on the premise that if the population is saved, it will then “save” the economy from the bottom up. No, the two parties are not saying the same thing. It is not semantics. They are expressing moral values. Either people serve the economy, which as an after-effect serves the people, or the economy serves the people, who then make the economy work to their advantage. That difference is most clearly expressed by the president, who wants the economy “restarted” quickly, even if some people have to be sacrificed (see the lieutenant governor of Texas’ statement on the matter), a policy which I contend stands in stark contrast to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s focus on, first, healing the population so as few people as possible suffer the extreme consequences of the coronavirus, knowing that once the medical crisis has passed, a healthy people will then take care of “restarting” the economy.

Ronald Vierling, Odessa

Does a curfew make sense?

William Stone, 9, of Largo runs along Bayshore Boulevard during the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic half-marathon.

I’m a runner and look forward to a 4- to 8-mile run several times a week. I’ve had to modify my run times from daylight, to around 9 p.m. due to the volume of people using the sidewalk on Tampa’s Bayshore, as well as River Walk during normal hours.

I question the effectiveness and wisdom of a curfew for Tampa. If the goal is to have people disperse, then a stay-at-home order is the path to achieving this. Implementing a curfew will force more people out during the reduced hours, and in turn increase exposure. A curfew doesn’t address the environmental issues that aid in transmitting this disease.

What we need now is increased exercise capacity. This can be solved by temporarily closing the northbound lanes of Bayshore Boulevard, and opening it to bicycles and other people-powered wheeled vehicles. Pedestrians and runners can use the existing path. The southbound lanes can either be left for traffic to flow in one direction, or changed to allow one lane in each direction. Our town employees are the best at converting Bayshore for parades, I'm sure they can make this transition look very easy.

Robert Prol, Tampa

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