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This crisis will not matter if we don’t vote | Letters
Here’s what readers are saying in Saturday’s letters to the editor.
Wearing gloves, a King County Election worker collect ballots from a drop box in the Washington State primary, March 10, 2020, in Seattle.
Wearing gloves, a King County Election worker collect ballots from a drop box in the Washington State primary, March 10, 2020, in Seattle. [ JOHN FROSCHAUER | AP ]
Published Apr. 17, 2020

We must vote if we want change

Get ready for more mail ballots | Column, April 14

I’m currently serving as a physician at one of our region’s hospitals, located in the center of Tampa’s COVID-19 response. I would like to say thank you. Thank you so much for staying home, the hand-sewn masks, the takeout discounts, and even the attention aimed at our “health care heroes” throughout our media. Thank you as well for the thoughts and prayers.

But despite it all, make no mistake: we must take this moment, in the midst of this crisis, to acknowledge that all those measures will be a drop in the bucket if we do not all vote in November. While this pandemic continues, we must support mail-in voting initiatives so that we can safely perform our democratic duty. I fear what would happen if we are not able to vote — if we don’t mobilize against corruption and incompetence in our institutions. For too long, an ignorance of science and a profit-driven indifference to humanity have dominated the big-picture policy conversations in America. If we don’t facilitate civic participation in the healing of our country at local, state, and national levels, then we will be letting our frontline responders down.

Thank you each of you for your sacrifice, no matter how big or small. This upcoming election, let’s come together for justice, compassion and progress. These ideals are what drew me to the practice of medicine, and they will also draw me and my colleagues into ensuring our votes count in November. For the sake of all of us, make sure your voice is heard!

Dr. Neil Manimala, Tampa

Jane Castor is a leader

Castor: Criticizing DeSantis is not helpful | April 16

Mayor Jane Castor has been a frequent guest on national TV lately. But she hasn't used her platform to bash Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Mayor Jane Castor has been a frequent guest on national TV lately. But she hasn't used her platform to bash Gov. Ron DeSantis. [ City of Tampa ]

Mayor Jane Castor is displaying superior leadership in her handling of the coronavirus pandemic. She is not looking to win a popularity contest or worrying about her re-election. She is following the advice of epidemiologists and scientists who have studied these diseases. In addition, we already know what will happen. As the mayor noted, look at New York City. Tampa may be smaller but the progress of the virus will be the same. It is interesting to note that Forbes recently published an article stating the countries that fared the best during this pandemic have been headed by women. Thank you, Mayor Castor, for your intelligence and courage. You are a true public servant.

Ann Jamieson, St. Petersburg

Now’s the time for a pet

People, pets foster new ties | April 15

Scruffy and Kim during a meet-and-greet over Zoom.
Scruffy and Kim during a meet-and-greet over Zoom. [ Courtesy of St. Francis Society ]

During these trying times, many of us are looking for ways to help while sheltering in place. Now more than ever, our local animal rescues are in need of support. Friends of Strays is just one of many Bay Area shelters seeking people to foster cats or dogs.

The demand for shelter services is also increasing. Economic distress is a leading reason people surrender their animals. While most shelters are not able to onboard new volunteers at this time due to social distancing measures, shelters are in desperate need of food and supplies. Consider donating if you can or visiting the website of the shelter nearest you to see what supplies they may need that you can order for them online.

Of course, if you can open your heart and home to a pet, now is the perfect time to bring home your new best friend.

Heather Grzelka, St. Petersburg

The writer is a volunteer district leader for the Humane Society of the United States.

Social distancing only works if you do it

Curfew sends the wrong message | Editorial, April 15

Officials meet for a status report meeting by the Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group at the Hillsborough County Public Safety Operations Complex on March 12, 2020 in Tampa.
Officials meet for a status report meeting by the Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group at the Hillsborough County Public Safety Operations Complex on March 12, 2020 in Tampa. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]

The Times and its readers can debate about the efficacy of social distancing in public and whether or not leaders have gone too far in requirements. But in my two essential trips out in public in South Tampa in the last week, what I have seen is that there are almost no people out in public abiding by any of these suggestions, guidelines or mandatory restrictions. Perhaps the discussion should pivot to: Why do people refuse to listen to public officials who are simply trying to protect them?

Nelson Black, Tampa

Removing the danger

Gun violence in the time of coronavirus

During this very challenging time of COVID-19, many families find themselves without income, food or resources to help them. Charitable organizations and food banks are overwhelmed with requests. In a home with a depressed or anger-prone family member, the stress can be unbearable. Add a gun to the mix and this could cause a very dangerous situation.

There is help for those who believe they or their loved ones are in danger through the Risk Protection Order, Florida Statute 790.401. The Risk Protection Order helps prevent a person in crisis from harming themselves or others by temporarily removing the gun and prohibiting the purchase of firearms.

If you are concerned about someone in your family, call 911. Law enforcement will assess the situation, remove the gun if warranted and petition the court. It is imperative that we equip families with the resources to get through this difficult time safely.

Dr. Idelia Phillips and Nancy Granda, Tampa

The writers are the president and gun safety chair of the League of Women Voter Voters of Hillsborough County.

Those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones

Pictures don’t tell the whole story | Editorial notebook, April 11

Clearwater Beach pictured on March 18, at left, and March 24, at right.
Clearwater Beach pictured on March 18, at left, and March 24, at right. [ DOUGLAS CLIFFORD | Tampa Bay Times ]

I appreciated Elizabeth Djinis’ editorial notebook and the memory of those crowded beach photos in March. Florida suffered national ridicule over those images and now there is a suggestion from a New York Times political journalist that failure to practice distancing was a “Southern” thing. I read the New York Times but, like Ms. Djinis, I take exception to Michael Barbaro’s tweet. I suspect the majority of those beachgoers were not Florida residents. Most of us who live here know better than to go to the local beaches anytime in March, coronavirus or not. Spring breakers and tourists make the traffic and beach a place to avoid. So, before Barbaro casts stones in our direction, he might want to inquire how many of those spring breakers on the beach were actually from “northern” states.

Robin Frank, Tampa