EDITORIAL: Thank you, anti-maskers

CONGRATULATIONS, ANTI-MASKERS. Your refusal to help join the effort to end the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in something we’ve needed for some time: the mandatory use of face masks. Thank you for that.

Early this week New York Governor Kathy Hochul (D) made it official that everyone who enters buildings in this state that are open to the public must wear a mask when inside. It might have been a voluntary recommendation, but your refusal to wear masks or get fully vaccinated against the virus called for stronger action. Your decision not to take simple safe and effective measures against Covid-19 has undoubtedly contributed pathways for the virus to spread. And if the virus could speak, it might also say thanks for leaving so many juicy human hosts as unprotected targets for the virus to visit.

Some public buildings would let you in without a mask during this state’s new mandatory Holiday Mask-a-thon. All you’d have to do is prove that you are fully vaccinated by one of the approved vaccines. But it’s unlikely that committed anti-maskers would do that. They seem to want to prove that they are proudly vaccine-free, unless it’s with a concoction no reputable lab would approve for addressing this illness.

Well, who needs to get into public buildings, anyway?

In a statement this week about the new mask mandate County Board of Supervisors Chairman Matt Murell (R-Stockport) reminded county residents of the penalty of up to $1,000 per violation for any businesses that don’t adhere to the mask/vaccination rules. He could have scoffed at the requirement that local health departments are supposed to enforce the law. That sounds like a non-starter if only because health department personnel at all levels are busy with other pandemic tasks at the moment.

But by leaving the prospect of such a hefty fine as a possibility Chairman Murell is clearly reinforcing the importance of the mandate. He knows this isn’t a political game. The consequences are costly. Lives are at stake.

That’s why so many of us who are vaccinated and who do wear masks are so confused by the defiance of leading anti-maskers and vax deniers. Why will they not cooperate in the international effort to contain and perhaps eradicate the virus that causes Covid-19? We know that the virus can be passed to and from people who show no outward symptoms. Being vaccinated and wearing masks are the two best methods to disrupt transmission of the illness.

In the case of masks, it’s true that the mandatory requirement is annoying and can be a minor inconvenience. But it is the cheapest and among the most effective ways to protect others around us, even if we may never know whose life we have saved.

So here are two other ways to consider the mandatory mask requirement:

1. If the mask mandate doesn’t lower the rate of Covid-19 infection—and it’s likely it won’t—the next step will be mandatory vaccination;

2. This holiday season is a time to give gifts. Wearing a mask is a safe and nearly cost-free act of generosity. Pull a mask up over your over mouth and nose. Better yet, get vaccinated. That way you protect yourself and others too.

Another ‘double issue’

OUR NEXT ISSUE comes out on newsstands and is delivered to post offices next Wednesday, December 22. It will include our winter-long calendar “Happening this winter.” There will be no separate issue on December 30. Instead, that issue will be part of our double issue we traditionally publish this time of year. Our first issue in 2022 will come out January 6.

On Pages 2 and 5 of this issue you will find information about early deadlines for submissions to The Columbia Paper.

Happy Holiday Season

The Columbia Paper and www.columbiapaper.com

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