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Are you part of the pandemic problem? | Letters
Here’s what readers are saying in Sunday’s letters to the editor.
Leanne Montenegro, 21, covers her eyes as she doesn't like the sight of needles, while she receives the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a FEMA vaccination center at Miami Dade College, Monday, April 5, 2021, in Miami. Any adult in Florida is now eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine. In addition, the state announced that teens ages 16 and 17 can also get the vaccine with parental permission.
Leanne Montenegro, 21, covers her eyes as she doesn't like the sight of needles, while she receives the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a FEMA vaccination center at Miami Dade College, Monday, April 5, 2021, in Miami. Any adult in Florida is now eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine. In addition, the state announced that teens ages 16 and 17 can also get the vaccine with parental permission. [ LYNNE SLADKY | AP ]
Published Apr. 12
Updated Apr. 12

Are you part of the problem or the solution?

We still have some work to do in COVID fight | Editorial, April 7

I’m tired of keeping silent and tiptoeing around people who embrace their willful ignorance likes it’s a virtue! This is to all the people who refuse to wear masks. This is for all the people who could take the COVID-19 vaccine and won’t. You are the ones, along with the equally irresponsible leaders like Gov. Ron DeSantis, who are prolonging the pandemic, the negative economic impact (there are safe ways to open up) and the continuing death toll from COVID-19. You are refusing to participate in those safe ways.

Are you, in general, an anti-vaxxer or just a political anti-vaxxer? Educate yourself by corroborating information from several reputable‚ credible sources. I understand fears when it comes to medicine and vaccines; there are side effects. I’m not expecting you to blindly ignore negative information. I’m just asking you to investigate through credible sources, then weigh the risk-to-benefit factor.

Consider that you are complicit in the prolonging of this pandemic if you do not get vaccinated. Consider that you are complicit in adding to the death toll if you do not get vaccinated. Don’t your spiritual or religious beliefs call you to morally and ethically act for the greater good? Saving lives and ending this pandemic is for the greater good. Now, there is light at the end of the tunnel because the vaccines were developed so quickly — for the greater good. So do your part. Get the vaccine and wear your masks until we reach herd immunity and can go about living “normally” again. But going forward, let’s hope we are wiser and kinder to one another.

A. O’Brien, Pinellas Park

We deserve bonuses, too

DeSantis pitches $1,000 bonuses for Florida teachers, principals | March 31

We are the paraprofessionals who beat the odds and taught first-graders to read over Zoom. We are the transcription assistants for the visually impaired who ensured that all students could continue learning in a remote environment. We are the Certified Nursing Assistants who implemented COVID safety plans with limited resources. We are the bilingual specialists who came up with innovative lessons to teach students about the global impacts of the pandemic and articulate their work in multiple languages. We are the Exceptional Student Education (ESE) associates who worked with our highest need students this year knowing that keeping a six-foot distance would be nearly impossible. And we were left out of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ proposal to compensate educators for the extra work, the hazardous conditions and the personal sacrifices all educators endured this year to meet the needs of our students and communities.

Education Support Professionals are a broad classification of school workers that includes bus drivers, teachers’ assistants, cafeteria workers, custodial staff, front office clerks and many more. We are often directly involved in the education of students — we design lessons that liberate their thinking, establish relationships that build confidence and purpose and provide the individualized support they need to grow as learners and well-rounded people. We often are the educators who grew up in the neighborhoods where we work and that look like the students and communities we serve. We speak their languages and share in their struggles. For far too long, we have been in the shadows. We value the dedication of our colleagues who claim “teacher” as their official title, but object to being cast as accessories to their leading roles. When the governor left us out of the $1,000 bonus checks, it stung. We are asking to be given our due respect and the bonus pay we have earned.

Nelly Henjes, Largo

The writer is the president of the Pinellas Education Support Professionals Association.

What’s wrong with property insurance

Florida’s property insurance market is ailing. There is no quick fix. | April 7

Florida insurance woes began with the insurance companies relying on third-party adjusters for roofs. The roof hawkers come through our communities claiming they can get you a free roof from hail or storm damage — for damage that really never happened! In our small subdivision, many roofs were replaced, scamming the insurance companies to replace 15- to 18-year-old shingles that were known to be defective as they only lasted 15 years (if that). It is time to prorate roofs and to perform random inspections by company auditors before roof replacements to verify the third-party adjusters. Next, stop building on the shoreline and on barrier islands and have homeowners pay the real insurance costs to live next to the ocean or gulf. So many hotels have flooded during storms only to rebuild like same over and over again. Require flood insurance in flood-prone areas. If flood insurance is not carried or cannot be obtained due to risk, no federal loans will be provided to rebuild.

Craig Lewis, Tampa

A quick vaccination

‘We’re finally here’ | April 6

I would like to commend the personnel at the Raymond James Stadium vaccination site for their efficiency and pleasant demeanor. On our first visit we were in and out in 45 minutes. On our second visit (Easter Sunday) we were in and out in 30 minutes, and never had to leave our car. They have a very streamlined system at this site, and I would highly recommend using this site for your COVID-19 vaccines.

Barbara Fisher, Valrico

Have mask, will travel

Pasco County ends mask order | April 6

Living close to the Pasco-Hillsborough County line, I typically shop in both counties. With Pasco cancelling its mask mandate, instead of shopping at Wiregrass Mall in Pasco County, my mom and I headed south to Citrus Park Mall in Hillsborough, where mask mandates continue, thankfully. In the meantime, Pasco’s foolish decision puts retail employees and customers at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 since vaccination rates are still low and further, it is not clear if the vaccines are effective against all the mutating variants.

Susie Hoeller, Lutz