No mask? No mas!
Latest estimates are that 135,000 Americans will die of lung cancer this year. We’ve banned smoking from buildings other than homes.
An estimated 36,000 Americans will die in traffic accidents. We ticket motorists who refuse to wear seat belts, enforce speed limits, and require vehicles to have air bags.
As many as 22,000 Americans will die this year from influenza. More than half the population of Marion County got flu shots to provide at least partial protection.
With two months left in the year, 231,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. Yet far fewer than half the people you see in Marion County stores are wearing masks.
Politicians have either refused to require masks or refused to have police enforce rules in the few areas where masks are required.
This must change. Not someday. Now.
As the latest grim numbers reveal, the pandemic that began earlier this spring has reached dramatic new heights. Marion County recorded more new cases in the past seven days than it did in the 127 days after its first case was detected.
It’s time to stop playing politics with our community’s health. Instead of burying our heads in the sand we need to cover our noses and mouths. Otherwise, a killer disease will continue to spread from the young, for whom it’s likely to cause only mild discomfort, to the old, who very well could die.
If politicians continue to refuse to do their duty to protect society, it’s time for people to act. We can’t insert buttons into our newspaper. If we could, the button we’d encourage everyone to wear would say: “No mask, no sale.”
Wear it to every business you enter. If anything less than 100% of the customers and employees in the store aren’t wearing masks and staying at least six feet apart, let the proprietor know you can’t do business with him or her.
React to people not wearing masks the same as you would to someone who lights up in church, in an elevator, or at a table next to yours in a restaurant.
Demand that police and sheriff’s deputies stop people who aren’t wearing masks just as surely as they would stop someone skateboarding down the middle of US-56.
Last spring, we devastated our economy and cost millions of people their livelihoods to prevent a sudden spike in cases. That spike appears to be coming now. If all we did in spring was delay the surge until fall, we just threw trillions of dollars and millions of our friends and neighbors down a gigantic rat hole.
School officials need to help educate the citizenry by following community infection standards previously adopted. Those state standards quite clearly state that all face-to-face instruction, athletics, and travel should end if community infection rates reach the levels that have been massively eclipsed by the current outbreak. Local standards based solely on percentages of students infected are silly and self-fulfilling. Most students younger than teens never even are tested. That’s why community standards were used instead in state guidelines.
Civic and business leaders need to demonstrate responsibility by canceling in-person promotions and events unless they can guarantee that each and every participant wears a mask and remains at least six feet apart.
Failing to follow up on our previous shutdown with continued precautions would be like a dieter being so pleased with having turned down a second helping of green beans that he or she celebrates by eating two slices of cake.
It’s time for everyone to become more concerned about the right to life — not just for unborn fetuses, where there is a competing right to choose, but for protecting the most vulnerable members of society, about which no reasonable argument can be made regarding freedom of choice.
If politicians and civic leaders won’t act to protect the public, it’s up to the rest of us to shun and shame those who insist on having an unlimited right to spread disease. Treat them like the self-centered, reckless killers they are.
— ERIC MEYER
Last modified Nov. 4, 2020