by SC Associate Publisher Chuck Larsen
Sanibel City Council covered several Covid-19 issues at their meeting today, Nov 2.
It was reported that 72 percent of city employees are now vaccinated compared with 63.5 percent in Lee County. Interim City Manager Steve Chaipel said that the recent incentive program giving employees $500 cash for getting vaccinated helped increase the number locally.
While not mandating vaccination, City Council voted unanimously to offer a $500 cash incentive to any new employees hired who are already vaccinated or who get vaccinated with 60 days of employment. The incentive will begin immediately and run for 12 months.
For booster shots, Sanibel previously offered four hours of paid leave for any employees getting a Covid booster.
Council passed a motion to reopen City Hall to visitors on site with masking.
The electronic sign just off the causeway has been used for mask and vaccination messages. Councilman John Henshaw felt that nobody would get vaccinated due to reading the sign. Councilman Scot Crater said the sign was still effective and important to let everyone know the city takes Covid seriously.
Council voted 3-2 to remove the sign. Councilmen Crater and Mike Miller voted against the removal motion.
Council considered removing the mask requirement at the Recreation Center. The new filtration and ventilation system has been installed, but is not fully operational due to some missing parts which are on back order.
Council voted 4-1 to retain the mask requirement and reconsider when the filtration and ventilation system is fully operational. Mayor Holly Smith voted against the motion.
Can someone please explain the logic in removing the mask/vaccination sign on the causeway? It does not imply a mandate, rather it suggests that we would appreciate the health considerations as we try to protect ourselves for the unknown upcoming season. You obviously are taking the situation seriously by instituting a generous monetary incentive for city employees to get vaccinated.
The residents want to be as proactive as possible about Covid practices due to the island swelling to over 26,000 residents during season. These non year round residents and thousands of additional day tourists are coming from all over the US and all over the world where practices to be as safe as possible may not be in place. And our Canadian tourists who have been exercising safe protocols for well over a year will welcome it. The Globe and Mail, Canada ( weekly distribution over 2 mil) just published an article titled:
‘Canadians travelling to Florida should be prepared for the state’s lax COVID-19 rules.’
Many of us year round locals have been texting all morning after reading this column. Relieved to have Miller and Crater injecting much needed clear logic on all these issues. What happened to the rest of our Councillors and Mayor? Do we become citizens of a lesser importance in season?
The city should mandate vaccination to protect it citizens!!
I AM APPALLED AT WHAT I PERCEIVE AS THE IGNORANCE OF SOME MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF SANIBEL. WE ARE IN THE MIDST, NOT THE END, OF A WAR AGAINST AN UNSEEN ENEMY, THE COVID VIRUS.
GOING BACK TO THE GREAT FLU EPIDEMIC OF 1918 IT WAS FOUND THAT MASKING HELPED TO REDUCE THE SPREAD OF THE FLU.
PHYSICIANS IN OPERATING ROOMS ALL MUST WEAR MASKS. AS AN ONCOLOGIST WHO HAS SPENT A PROFESSIONAL LIFE CARING FOR THE INCREDIBLY ILL WITH VERY SERIOUS INFECTIONS, I NEVER WENT INTO A PATIENT’S ROOM WITHOUT A MASK.
I WORKED WITH RNA VIRUSES FOR YEARS. I DID LEARN THAT RNA VIRUSES ARE UNCANNY AND CAN MUTATE QUICKLY AS WE HAVE SEEN IN THE COVID-19 GROUP. THE DELTA VARIANT AND OTHERS MORE SEVERE CANNOT AT THE PRESENT TIME BE CONTROLLED ADEQUATELY.
AND HERE WE ARE IN THE MIDST OF A PANDEMIC CONTINUING TO IGNORE WHAT’S BEST FOR OURSELVES AND THE COMMUNITY.
PLEASE RECONSIDER FULL MASKING FOR INDOOR SHOPS AND SERVICES FOR CITY EMPLOYEES AND FOR OUR COMMUNITY THAT LIVE, WORK AND ENJOY THE BENEFITS OF OUR BEAUTIFUL ISLAND.
SANIBEL IS OFFERING MONEY TO ENTICE EMPLOYEES TO DO WHAT THEY KNOW IS BEST TO PREVENT THIS VIRUS FROM SPREADING.
I BELIEVE THERE SHOULD BE FULL IMMUNIZATIONS REQUIRED FOR EVERYONE WITHOUT THE NEED FOR MONETARY REWARD. KEEPING OURSELVES AND OUR COMMUNITY SAFE SHOULD BE SUFFICIENT REASON TO RUN, NOT WALK TO THE NEAREST VACCINATION CENTER.
MICHAEL DERECHIN, MD