July 18, 2020
The Republican Governor of our state issued an edict yesterday saying effective Monday, masks will be required for anyone over the age of 10 who is out in public (unless prohibited for health). Several cities already had laws requiring the use of masks. More businesses had also gone from suggesting to requiring masks to enter, and not just the local stores but large chains like Target and Walmart. Despite the existing level of acceptance, the Executive Order was met with public outcry. State representatives spoke out because they were not contacted. Law enforcement complained about enforcing the misdemeanor offence, with many saying they would refuse. Individuals spoke to the constitutionality of making this mandate against their civil rights.
The edict was made in response to the rising number of cases across the state as we began to open. The guidelines for opening included directives like, six-foot social distancing, not gathering in large groups, and wearing a mask when not at home. These are the guidelines issued by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and are like every state. The problem is the lack of compliance. The essential meat processing industry was hit first, and Memorial Day and Fourth of July celebrations blew the two months of lock down completely out of the water.
A national CDC internet survey in April found about 62% said they would follow the recommendations and a repeat in May showed an increased to more than 76%. The CDC said on a post today if everyone would just wear a mask, and nothing else, we could have the outbreak under control within six to eight weeks. Neither polling figure is close to “everyone.” I did find the timing of the mandate interesting. I guess the Governor thought we could all use one last night in the bars mingling with other unmasked people to get it out of our system. Oh wait, that is why we are doing this in the first place.
THOUGHTS: To wear a mask or not is not an issue of personal freedom amid a national crisis. Governors who are refusing to put a mask order in place cite the rights of individuals and say they will make the right decision. The obvious problem with that logic is they do not. That is evidenced by the large parties of unmasked people celebrating in closed conditions. We hear daily that wearing a mask is not about you, it is about me. There is an adage from the 19th century that says, “My right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins.” In this case perhaps the nose should be covered. Change is coming and it starts with you.