Joe Henderson: COVID-19 cases are way up, but so are vaccinations
Vaccines are here, but are Image via AP.

Moderna Vaccine Kids
The deadly delta variant is wreaking havoc in Florida, but there may be a silver lining.

Masks again are a must-have accessory, even though Gov. Ron DeSantis would rule out anything that begins with “must.” But major Florida companies like Disney and Publix reinstated mask requirements for employees, and the Governor can’t stop that — we think.

Disney took it a step further.

The self-styled happiest place on earth now requires all non-union employees to get vaccinated. It’s a shame it had to come to that, but blame it on the times in which we live.

However, the point here is not to harangue about the increasing COVID-19 threat to our state and civilization. We know it’s bad and could get worse, but there is hope. That’s because it appears plenty of people already know that the virus is nothing to mess with and, praise be, are rolling up their sleeves.

If this trend continues, maybe this latest tussle with the bug that just keeps coming won’t last as long as many fear.

By the way, that’s just a little sprout of hope and not an excuse for anyone unvaccinated to refuse to take the shot. The overwhelming majority of people who have fallen seriously ill or died during this latest surge are unvaccinated.

According to the state health department, 334,064 doses of the vaccine were administered in the most recent weekly report. That’s the highest total in about six weeks and an increase of nearly 96,000 from the first week in July.

The state reports more than 11.7 million Floridians have received the vaccine so far, which is about 61% of the population. Vaccinations give them high levels of protection against the worst effects of the virus.

The three age groups under 50% — those age 12 to 39 — are the most vulnerable to the delta variant. They obviously have a lot of catching up, but the good news is that the vaccination numbers in those groups are increasing too.

Somewhere, I imagine DeSantis smiles as he channels his inner John Wayne. I have to say “somewhere” because the Governor, as is becoming normal, had nothing official on his schedule for today.

He might want to hold off on any premature victory celebration, though, because U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz remains in DeSantis’ orbit. Beware of flying Gaetz goo when the frat boy explodes. It’s messy.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that Gaetz appeared at a coffee house in Largo called Conservative Grounds on Sunday. He referred to Dr. Anthony Fauci as a “sniveling twit” and charged, sans proof or logic, that Democrats are using the coronavirus to create socialism in America.

There he goes, once again, projecting himself onto another person.

DeSantis is guilty of politicizing Fauci, too, and it’s a terrible approach.

The attitude of turning a deadly virus into a political football is a big reason why we can’t make this bug go away. People decide to believe what they want instead of understanding what’s true. They’d rather follow conspiracies instead of logic.

Gaetz gives the loonies what they want, and, in return, they feed his ego.

Instead of ignoring Gaetz and accepting the indisputable truth that vaccines are the way to stop the virus, people do it the other way around.

Who’s afraid of the big, bad bug, right?

You can’t help those folks, though, and that’s probably why some companies reinstated mask requirements.

For the rest of us, take heart. Going back to maskland is annoying, but maybe it won’t last too long this time. Just keep those vaccination numbers increasing.

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


  • Charles

    August 2, 2021 at 7:39 pm

    A typical Henderson.
    25% good information
    50% embarrassing, unnecessary, misleading political bias
    25% hate rhetoric
    Every time Henderson picks up a pen he solidifies himself as Florida’s Jackassery King.

  • Tom

    August 2, 2021 at 9:37 pm

    Joe, did you see Nikki Fraud, I mean Freud excuse me I mean Fried, now says she does not support the lockdowns. Also, does not support Mask mandates. Don’t tell the Dems or the aristocrats faithful. What a joke. Fraud is pandering to America’s Governors voters. LMAO. Me thinks they have studied the voter profile and they know how well in standing America’s Gov is with the peeps and the peeps are with him. She’s running a gen election strategy in a primary. Her voters don’t agree with her, the aristocrat party wanted lockdowns and masks. This is hysterical and Fraud is just a blatant hypocrite.

  • Cj messina

    August 5, 2021 at 5:37 am

    Amazing how this liberal posing as a journalist exposes his left leaning propoganda that promotes the mainstream narrative as news. You, Mr. Henderson would make Nazi propaganda minster Joseph Goebbels (creator of journalism as propaganda) very proud as being one of his protege students. The fact that this experimental so called vaccine is very dangerous and the China released “Plan-demic” is working flawlessly to destroy America owes it’s success to idiot liberals like yourself posing as journalists.

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