Maybe masks and distancing at Biden’s address were good things | Letters
Here’s what readers are saying in Saturday’s letters to the editor.
Member of Congress applaud as President Joe Biden speaks to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol.
Member of Congress applaud as President Joe Biden speaks to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol. [ ANDREW HARNIK | AP ]
Published May 1

The wrong message

Masks and social distance were wrong for Biden’s speech | Column, April 30

I admire Dr. Leana Wen, but her column regarding President Joe Biden’s address to Congress is barking up the wrong tree. She criticizes the setting as sending the wrong message to the COVID-19 vaccine-hesitant. In short, she argues that because vaccines are so effective, there was no need for the distancing and masking in the chamber (everyone attending should have simply been required to be vaccinated). But it just ended up implying we still don’t have the freedoms we seek even after getting vaccinated, so why get vaccinated?

We now have more data about the very low chance of carrying and spreading COVID-19 even post-vaccine. That is a perfectly good reason for lifting restrictions on masking and distancing for the vaccinated. Criticism of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines as overly cautious may be quite valid. But the argument ends there. Seriously, are we to think that vaccine-hesitant folks would view an unmasked, packed House chamber on TV, and say to themselves “Gosh, look at that, they’re vaccinated and having the time of their lives. I’m gonna go schedule my vaccine after all!” Of course not.

I too hope the CDC will refine its guidelines to reflect the latest data on safety for vaccinated individuals. But let’s not delude ourselves into believing vaccine hesitancy is stemming from the notion that we still can’t do what we want, so why bother? It arises much more from suspicion, ignorance about vaccines — which may come from active anti-vax misinformation — fear of side effects, mistaken beliefs about the severity/mildness of the virus, and pandemic fatigue causing people incorrectly to decide it’s all over with, no precautions needed. That last point is exactly what the vaccine-hesitant would have taken from Dr. Wen’s suggested presidential address setting.

Dr. Teresa Brandt, Temple Terrace

Just mail it in

Legislature approves host of election law changes | April 30

If I want to mail my ballot via the U.S. Postal Service, to whom will I present my ID? The mail carrier who delivers my mail at home or the postal worker who stuffs mail into my post office box? I realize this may be too difficult to answer for our representative Florida lawmakers, but they do have a year or so to screw this up even more!

Cathi Greene, Dunedin

Don’t always run government like a business

Don’t rush St. Petersburg marina plan | Editorial, April 28

The movement to privatize traditional government roles has been a slow-moving disaster for our country. The process creates a few people who become millionaires or billionaires while destroying good-paying middle-class jobs in places like jails, parks and post offices. The “legal corruption” machine of corporations supporting friendly candidates in return for the turning over of public assets or jobs is the anti-theses of a fair and transparent government. Keep the St. Petersburg waterfront in the public domain.

Mike Flood, Gulfport

Just doing his job

Officials see possible breakthrough in Hillsborough school budget crisis | April 29

Hillsborough school superintendent Addison Davis just gave the School Board a look at the reality of the district’s financial situation. This is something the School Board should have been doing all this time. In other words, he is doing his job.

Roger Montgomerty, Tampa