Inflaming COVID fears. The U.S. has three authorized vaccines against COVID-19, but none against misinformation. That painful truth was underscored recently after a Miami private school made news again with another mind-boggling COVID policy. In April, the Centner Academy, a nearly 300-student school from Pre-K to eighth grade, warned staff not to take the vaccine and announced that those who did would risk losing their jobs. Now the school is raising alarms about child vaccinations just as the U.S. prepares to authorize vaccines for those aged 5 to 11. As the Miami Herald reports, the school notified parents last week they’d have to keep their children home for 30 days if they receive the vaccination. David Centner, who founded the school with his wife, Leila Centner, in 2019, called the policy “a prudent precautionary measure after much thoughtful deliberation” aimed at easing parental fears. But the COVID vaccine does not make a person infectious. And as experts note, suggesting so could dissuade skeptics from getting the potentially-lifesaving jab. Yet another irresponsible move as Florida tries to turn the corner.
Guilty plea in Parkland. The families of the victims were graced with one shred of relief this week when Nikolas Cruz pleaded guilty to murder in the 2018 high school massacre in Parkland that left 17 dead. Cruz, 23, was charged with 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder in the Feb. 14, 2018, attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School outside Ft. Lauderdale. A penalty trial will determine if Cruz will receive a sentence of death or life in prison without parole, and juror screening is scheduled to begin next month. We’ll leave it to the attorneys, judge and jury to ably manage the penalty phase. But at least for now, the pleading spares those closest to the tragedy a huge emotional toll. Their loss will never go away, but here’s at least one fewer time they will have to relive it.
Told you it was nice. The national media are getting wise to an open secret: Tampa Bay’s a great place to retire. The metropolitan area landed as the sixth best place to retire in America, according to new rankings by U.S. News and World Report. The company evaluated the 150 most populous metropolitan areas in the U.S., including Puerto Rico, for 2021-22, and measured six indexes, from housing affordability and taxes to the quality of health care. U.S. News credits the Tampa Bay metro as a “diverse region,” offering everything from “a thriving Hispanic community” in Tampa to the fine arts in St. Petersburg and the Clearwater beaches. “Residents of the Tampa Bay area enjoy both a laid-back beach lifestyle and the amenities of a large metropolitan area,” the publication notes. The distinction is a reflection of the many varied reasons that people are attracted to Tampa Bay. And with eight of the top 10-ranked retirement spots located in Florida, it’s also a reminder of the need to remain competitive in the Sunshine State.
Thanksgiving returns. Before COVID, retailers had all but bombed Thanksgiving into submission. Who wants a sit-down dinner with the family when laptops and baby dolls are half priced? But major retailers like Best Buy and Target announced recently they will again close on Thanksgiving Day this year, in what could be a long-term reshaping of the Thanksgiving/Black Friday marathon. Many retailers closed last Thanksgiving out of pandemic-related public health concerns. This year, hiccups in the supply chain and a shortage of workers has also taken its toll. Companies recognize that Americans’ buying habits are changing. And while the Thanksgiving scrum was for many part of the experience, it also became a tiring, stressful and artificial way of attracting customers and moving products. The good news is that Americans can relax, nap and have that second helping. The bad news is that their Uncle Billy may still be there.
You could use a good laugh
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Editorials are the institutional voice of the Tampa Bay Times. The members of the Editorial Board are Editor of Editorials Graham Brink, Sherri Day, Sebastian Dortch, John Hill, Jim Verhulst and Chairman and CEO Paul Tash. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinion news.