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Leaders should encourage vaccinations

By Staff | Jul 27, 2021

To the editor:

To read our local papers and listen to our city leaders, one would think Covid 19 was a problem of the past. Few businesses post signs to ask customers to wear a face mask and only a handful actually require face masks for entrance.

Yet, Florida has fully 20 percent of all new Covid cases in the United States, thanks to a high rate of those who refuse to get one of three widely available and free vaccines. Almost 100 percent of this preventable surge, primarily with the Delta variant, occurs with those unvaccinated. Today’s news is that three states — Florida, Texas and Missouri — are responsible for 40 percent of all new Covid cases in the country. The Delta variant is seeking out the unvaccinated.

On July 21, Gov. Ron DeSantis urged Floridians to get the vaccine, insisting it is safe. Yet he is still responsible for leading pandemic mitigation efforts such as lockdowns and face mask mandates. He tied the hands of county and city leaders by forbidding them from taking strong Covid measures. “If you are vaccinated, fully vaccinated, the chance of you getting seriously ill or dying from Covid is effectively zero. These vaccines are saving lives.” It was refreshing to hear our governor announce that when Covid cases have doubled in one week among Florida’s unvaccinated population.

Only 47.9 percent of Florida’s residents are fully vaccinated, according to the Mayo Clinic. That makes us No. 22 in the United States. Even worse, less than 42 percent of Florida’s nursing home staff was fully vaccinated by June, which is the second lowest rate in the country. I don’t agree with DeSantis on much, but I do on this: the key to stopping this current surge in Covid-related hospitalizations and deaths is to increase the vaccination rate.

Our local leaders may not want to say or do anything to scare off tourists or upset island business owners. But this Covid surge with the Delta variant will continue. The very least they can do is follow the lead of DeSantis and publicly encourage vaccinations.

Alison Ward