Florida will ‘surge more doses’ of coronavirus vaccine to Pinellas | Feb. 18
It’s hard without a computer
The most vulnerable residents of Pinellas County — those over the age of 75 — are falling through the cracks in obtaining the COVID-19 vaccinations. And that is unconscionable.
Our 87-year-old neighbor has been isolated alone in her home for nearly a year. She’s a delightful, independent woman who could be enjoying a full and rich life were it not for the pandemic. But, she doesn’t have a computer so it’s hard to get an appointment for the vaccine. My husband and I offered to go online to get her signed up. We have now tried to get her an appointment on the Publix website four times with no luck. (I feel like I’m pulling the lever on a slot machine every time we try.) But the Publix site is far superior to the CDR HealthPro website we tried earlier, which was a total disaster.
I recently ran into an 85-year-old neighbor who shared his frustration at not being able to get an appointment because he doesn’t have a computer. He said his granddaughter got the vaccine because she works for a health care facility, even though she has no patient contact and works from home. That is not right.
The state needs to come up with a plan to vaccinate our most vulnerable seniors, and it needs to come up with it now.
Marsha Hurst, Palm Harbor
Bill to limit mail-in voting | Feb. 18
Let voters mail it in
The U.S. Constitution says that the “the right of citizens of the United States, who are 18 years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of age.” But Florida Republicans are still looking for that elusive mail-in vote fraud. The whole idea of our democracy is that we want everyone who is eligible to vote, to vote. The party of Lincoln has become the party of voter suppression. They should knock it off.
Terrence Callahan, Crystal Beach
FBI, others provide insight into Oldsmar water attack | Feb. 18
Tips to safeguard your computer
With the pandemic forcing many people to work from home, it is imperative that everyone practice sound cybersecurity. Perhaps a hacker will not poison you, but what about accessing the files on your computer systems at home? Or accessing the files at your company that you work for through your computer system at home? Not to mention accessing any of your home automation devices or security systems. Here are some tips to help protect you:
1. Use a company-approved VPN (virtual private network) solution.
2. Change your passphrase every 90 days.
3. Change the default password for routers and home automation systems.
4. Use MAC authentication whenever possible.
5. Change the default access ports for all network devices.
6. Set up a guest network for visitors and for home automation devices.
7. Install virus and web protection on all your devices.
8. Review your router access logs on a weekly basis.
9. Encrypt your devices.
10. Have separate devices for work and personal use.
11. Keep your computer operating system (OS) current and patch your systems and devices regularly.
Mark Khan, Tampa
Walk like a garbage man | Feb. 17
Pick up on your block
I loved the article about walking to pick up litter. I used to pick up grocery bags full of litter while walking the dog but then took it up a notch after COVID-19 entered our world. After spending the day working remotely, I had to go outside. I decided to make it my mission to pick up litter while walking. It helps the environment, makes my community look better, exercise for me and can socialize at a distance walking with a friend. Win-win for all. I found a great sense of accomplishment and joy making the neighborhood look better, especially later driving down a clean street. Who doesn’t need some joy right now? Costs nothing, benefits all. If everyone would pick up the litter on their block, our community would sparkle and be better for our grandkids.
Jan Tracy, Safety Harbor
Pact will restore voter confidence | Column, Feb. 9
Let the winner of the popular vote be the winner
It would be a great idea to elect the president by the national popular vote. It is simple, reasonable, fair and democratic. These guest columnists clearly stated the advantages of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. Electoral votes would be awarded to the winner of the national popular vote, not the state vote as we do presently. It would count everyone’s vote equally, no matter what state you live in. Best of all, this can be achieved just by joining with 15 other states who have already passed the bill. It won’t eliminate the Electoral College but reform it. Legislation for the National Popular Vote has been introduced into the Florida Legislature. We’ll be hearing a lot about this fair idea. Let’s support it.
Kathleen Allen, St. Petersburg
Apprentice program right step for Tampa | Editorial, Feb. 17
Apprentice for the future
I commend the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board for supporting Tampa’s apprenticeship ordinance. Having work hours set aside for apprenticeships means more opportunities for students to gain firsthand experience in the construction process.
As an electrician, I know learning the ins and outs of a rewarding and demanding career didn’t happen overnight. My experience in a Florida Department of Education-registered apprenticeship program prepared me through on-the-job learning. Expanding the opportunities for members of our community to be trained on large public projects just makes sense.
Registered apprenticeships provide hands-on and classroom training for highly skilled, good-paying careers. Despite the economic downturn due to COVID-19, skilled construction careers are still in high demand in the Tampa Bay area. Tampa has the chance to use our publicly funded projects to invest in the next generation of skilled tradespeople.
Cody Skirmont, Riverview