Requiring us to wear a mask infringes on our personal liberties | Letters
Here’s what readers are saying in Monday’s letters to the editor.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor puts on her mask after speaking with the press following a U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson's visit to downtown Tampa on June 19,2020.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor puts on her mask after speaking with the press following a U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson's visit to downtown Tampa on June 19,2020. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Jun. 22, 2020

A mask is a must in Tampa | June 19

Personal liberties trump safety

Benjamin Franklin once said: “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” This is a precious reminder in the age of coronavirus hysteria. Hordes, terrified of an invisible enemy, seem to have found it in vogue to surrender not just their liberties, but to attack the liberties of others, and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and Tampa Mayor Jane Castor are plenty keen to oblige mob rule.

The right to bodily integrity and autonomy is the most fundamental of all human rights—and these tyrannical politicians have infringed upon it, claiming that it is necessary to somehow stop the spread of COVID-19. As horrifying as having one’s rights trampled on is—somehow we’ve all collectively decided to passively tolerate digital strip searches in order to use aircraft—this isn’t just a run-of-the-mill indecency. The mask policy is also a massive medical experiment with unknown long-term consequences.

That this is happening in the United States of America is unfathomable. Every citizen has a responsibility to resist this absurdity. I will not comply with mask mandates, and I urge every red-blooded freedom-loving American remaining to do the same.

Amelia Bennett, Tampa

No housing refunds if campuses close again | June 18

This is not right

Florida State University and the University of South Florida notified students that, sould the campuses have to close at any time during the 2020-2021 academic year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the money that the students and/or their parents paid to live on campus for the full academic year would not be refunded on a prorated basis.

The policy in my opinion is unconscionable! I say that from having spent 42 years as a student affairs administrator on a number of university campuses, over half of those as a vice president whose portfolio included responsibility for on-campus housing.

Part of my service was at Kent State University, beginning a few years after four students were killed and nine were wounded by the Ohio National Guard on May 4, 1970.

That was near the end of the spring semester. Virtually all expenses for on-campus housing had been incurred, and yet the university refunded the full amount of room and board charges for the spring semester paid by students and their families, even though the university closed shortly after the tragedy.

While I’m not a lawyer, I hope that some families challenge the policies in court and perhaps even consider filing a class-action lawsuit to challenge such a draconian policy.

Roger Sorochty, City

Insurance coverage of air medical services

Put patients first

It is unethical to pass House Bill 747, because it will put our patients at risk of losing critical healthcare resources. HB 747 was pushed through the Legislature unilaterally by insurers who claimed, without any supporting public health data, that air medical services are not that necessary and can easily be trimmed from Florida’s health care system—more importantly, from insurers’ own balance sheets. This simply isn’t true.

If the insurers who pushed HB 747 were truly interested in protecting patients, they would go in-network with providers. Instead, HB 747 allows insurers to pay air medical services at arbitrary rates of the insurers’ own calculation and to exit existing in-network agreements. As we’ve seen with other government failures in health economics, the only choice providers have in these situations is to close their doors.

I’m a physician, not a politician, but I’m pretty sure that the medical equivalent of allowing HB 747 to become law is to send a trauma patient home even though they could have internal bleeding. This issue can be fixed if health insurers are expected and required by government officials to cover air medical services with in-network negotiations. That’s it.

As a physician specializing in critically ill patients and a Floridian, I believe we should put patients first when it comes to health policy, not health insurers’ legislative priorities and balance sheets.

Charles Sand

The writer is an emergency and EMS physician in West Central Florida and the medical director of four AirLife and LifeNet helicopters in the Tampa Bay area.

Video shows teens in Tampa shootout | June 11

Defund the police: Nope

Instead of calling police concerning the teens involved in the shootout on a public Tampa street, social workers should have been called to intervene. The social workers could have told these teens that shooting guns is not a good coping mechanism. Extended counseling could then be put in place to educate those who enabled access to the guns. Links to positive programs could be shared with all involved.

However, opening a door knowing there were loaded guns and perhaps unstable teens on the other side of that door is dangerous and potentially life-threatening. On second thought, I guess that is more of a police thing. Good thing they were not defunded.

Janet Burt, Odessa

Hillsborough GOP chair under fire over posts | June 14

Let’s call a spade a spade

The Hillsborough County Republican Party wants to get rid of their chairman, Jim Waurishuk? Oh, heck no. He is the most candid face of the Florida GOP in the state. Under no circumstances should he be removed.

The GOP nationally has thousands of “Jims” around the country and uses them gleefully to rouse rabble, so why should Florida demur? Florida Cabinet members Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Attorney General Ashley Moody, as well as Gov. Ron DeSantis, simply ignore the questions and concerns of Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the solitary Democrat, in a phone meeting, because they can. They’re toxically partisan. And Waurishuk makes them squeamish? No way.

Steve Douglas, St. Petersburg