Mask Editorial

Citizens, many of them masked, sit in the council chambers last week to, in part, hear how council members feel about a proclamation “strongly encouraging” residents to wear masks when in public.

“Particularly rural mayors. If every rural mayor could mandate mask wearing. The virus is there. You may not see it today because it may be in young people. But it’s spreading. And it will hit your nursing homes, and it will hit those who have serious consequences to this virus.”

— Dr. Deborah Birx, coronavirus response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force on July 27, 2020, the same day Ripon Mayor Ted Grant offered a proclamation about wearing masks in public.

None of the aldermen seated in the Ripon Common Council chambers at last week’s meeting was an epidemiologist. None uttered the word “science,” nor noted that more than 30 states (including Wisconsin neighbors Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois) require citizens to wear masks in public. They never cited the CDC recommendation that people wear cloth face coverings in public.

They seemed blind to the rapid virus transmission in this state that caused the governor to impose a masking order 72 hours later.

But here’s what was said after Mayor Ted Grant wisely introduced an advisory proclamation “strongly” encouraging citizens to wear face coverings in public when they can’t social distance:

Citizen Timothy Bachleitner: “Moral busybodies” are removing people’s ability to show love by smiling.

Response: Hard to smile when you are on a ventilator.

Citizen Jenny Holt: Doctors and studies showing the efficacy of wearing face masks are countered by “equally as valid” research showing face masks are not effective.

Response: That’s a false equivalency. Medical professionals treating patients and conducting research are united. On July 2, the American Hospital Association, American Medical Association and American Nurses Association released a joint letter urging people to wear masks, social distance and wash hands (in that order).

Ald. Ben Morrison: People against wearing masks can do “online ordering. That’s kind of cool.”

Response: No it’s not. Supporting local retailers is kind of cool.

Ald. John Splitt: “By now people have made up their minds if they want to wear a mask, if they don’t want to wear a mask. And I truly don’t see even going forward with this proclamation.”

Response: Leadership is the art of motivating a group of people to act toward achieving a common goal for the benefit of all.

Ald. Al Schraeder: Remove the word “strongly” from preceding “encouraged” in the proclamation.

Response: Please wear a mask, maybe; I dunno, perhaps you’ll save a life. But hey, your call. You are your brother’s keeper, just not strongly.

Ald. Howard Hansen: “It’s freedom of choice is what I tell [my constituents].”

Response: Surgeon Gen. Jerome Adams tweeted last month: “Some feel face coverings infringe on their freedom of choice — but if more wear them, we’ll have MORE freedom to go out.”

Ald. Jim Werch: “We do not have a local CDC” to recommend a mask ban, he said, before seeking guidance from City Attorney Lud Wurtz on the city’s authority to require masks.

Response: Ripon has no CDC, but it has a hospital with only three ICU beds.

Ald. Morrison: “We should all be able to decide what to do with our bodies.”

Response: Just as your right to put your fist anywhere ends at the tip of my nose, so too do you have no right to spread your respiratory droplets to others, putting their lives in jeopardy.

We are at war but no one is asking us to storm the beaches of Normandy. Our civic duty simply requires us to protect our brothers and sisters by placing cloth over our mouths and noses when in public.

The council should at least pass an advisory proclamation encouraging the wearing of face masks — strongly.

— Tim Lyke

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