| Naples Daily News
Veteran has called but awaits shot
I am a Vietnam veteran age 74 with a Purple Heart and medals for valor and I use the VA for primary care. I registered with the VA last year to receive a vaccination against COVID-19. I have called the Bay Pines (VA Healthcare System) COVID number several times.
The recording says stay on the line to be listed to get the vaccine and you will be called. But when you finally get to speak to someone, they tell you there is no list, to call back in a few days.
The last lady was very helpful and looked me up and said I had been on the list for almost a year, but the VA was not using the list because they never knew how many shots they would be given. She said the VA does not prioritize by age or health condition, that the VA had to honor all veterans who were employed as firefighters, police, health care workers, teachers, and all TSA employees whether veterans or not. She said the Bay Pines VA has the largest number of veterans over age 65 in the United States, about 37,000.
So the VA is running the vaccination schedule just like all the private companies, first come, first served, unless you can afford to contribute a large sum to the governor’s re-election campaign.
William Ochiltree, Cape Coral
No luck in Lee; got vaccine elsewhere
Like many other people, I tried to register for a COVID-19 vaccine when Lee County opened its disastrous “first come, first served” vaccine sites. And again when they opened phone appointments. And when Publix opened its online appointment service. And when I heard Walmart was opening a service, maybe. I signed up on the state appointment site. I checked every county south of Orlando and signed up where I could.
And then I heard — crickets. Nothing from Lee. Nothing from the state. Nothing from Publix. Nothing. For two months.
Then I heard CVS was participating in vaccine distribution, so I went online and found nothing in Lee County, as usual. But I did find appointments available in Hendry County and quickly reserved times for myself and my spouse. We received our first shots at the beginning of March and will be fully vaccinated by the end of the month. Thank you, CVS.
From Lee County? Not a peep. My conclusion is Lee County has “moved on,” that it has decided its role in trying to contain a pandemic begins and ends with providing a site. I can’t say I’m surprised; I have long since concluded this county works for developers and very few others.
Kathleen Finderson, Fort Myers Beach
Man, 80, asks when it will be his turn
I’m glad to see the governor has expanded the number of people eligible for coronavirus vaccinations. These (newly eligible) people along with those who live in gated communities and who knows how many more of his cronies receiving the vaccine will greatly improve the state’s overall health.
I wonder, though, Gov. DeSantis, when it will be my turn. I am 80 years old and have stage 4 thyroid cancer. Yet I seem to be on the low end of the totem pole for getting a vaccine appointment.
I have been on the county site, the Walmart site and the Winn-Dixie site. Over a month ago, I signed up on the state site and have heard nothing. I have called the VA. Yesterday on the Publix site, I actually got in, but only after all the reservations in Collier County were filled.
Rick Hafely, East Naples
ER doctor’s bill stuns patient
I recently was treated at a hospital emergency room. I received two bills, one from the hospital and one from the doctor. The hospital accepted my Medicare and other insurance, but the doctor charged almost 10 times what the procedure would have cost in a doctor’s office.
Only a portion of the doctor’s bill was covered by my insurance.
The hospital said the doctor is an independent entity and that it has no control over what that doctor bills.
The state and Collier County (governments) will entertain complaints about doctors, except when it involves billing. Legal recourse is expensive, with no guarantee of success.
Let me add that I had been treated at the same emergency room previously and was reasonably charged. I guess it all depends on the doctor. Beware!
Fred Muggs, North Naples
Bill would add restrictions to voting
Gov. DeSantis is promoting a bill that would limit mail voting by requiring annual requests, eliminating drop boxes, and restricting ballot delivery by folks other than family.
This follows similar actions in other states where efforts to make voting more difficult are being proposed, supposedly to eliminate questionable voting, even in Florida, where there has been no problem with illegal voting.
What the bill (SB 90) actually would do is reduce convenience. The most affected would be seniors.
Seniors like me are more likely than others to get confused about whether they have registered, so I do not appreciate having to deal with this annually.
Being able to pull up to a drop box and drop in a ballot is so much easier than having to park, drag out a cane, walker or wheelchair and take the ballot to a voting center. When I can’t easily drive to such a facility, it’s wonderful to ask a caregiver, friend or neighbor to drop off my ballot. Restricting this to relatives would be a problem for many of us seniors who do not have family nearby.
So why is the governor trying to make voting more inconvenient for seniors? I hope the Legislature will be more realistic and defeat these anti-senior measures.
(Editor’s note: SB 90 was passed 4-2 by the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee on Wednesday and a reference review is pending.)
Sandra Moriarty, Bonita Springs
Tourism showing signs of recovery
A revitalization of Florida’s tourism industry will be the key to the state’s economic recovery. History shows us the tourism industry has boosted the state’s economy after recessions, hurricanes and other disasters. In a post-pandemic world, tourism will continue to play that critical role.
Certainly, COVID-19 hit the tourism and hospitality industries particularly hard. Here in Collier County, we have lost group-meeting business, which accounts for 30 percent of our traditional annual visitation. Another loss is international visitors who typically account for 20 percent of our annual visitation. Small family-owned businesses are struggling to stay open.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. We have shown recovery in visitation and visitor spending. Some of our lost demand for travel has returned to our area, especially on weekends. That’s a credit to the combination of state and local tourism promotion efforts that continue to spread the word that Florida is open and ready for business.
Prior to the pandemic, Collier County’s travel and tourism industry generated $2 billion in spending from short-term visitors and supported more than 40,000 jobs. With strong tourism promotion efforts, we will get back there. All of us in Florida’s tourism industry are ready to rebuild our state’s economy one visitor at a time.
Jack Wert, executive director, Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention & Visitors Bureau