A mandate to wear facemasks without enforcement isn’t a mandate, just another plea for cooperation from the public. A vaccine for COVD-19, third leading cause of death in the U.S., won’t be available for several months. Those who disobey the mask “mandate” (Wyoming’s compliance lowest in the US at 60-65%), continue acting without regard for the health and safety of others, who believe going maskless is an expression of “freedom,” will not be penalized, according to county and city officials.
On Wyoming Public Radio: “Steve Morgan of the Laramie Police Department said law enforcement officials don’t plan rigorous enforcement, but they hope people will follow the directions. He said if a citizen has a complaint about a business not complying, they will contact health officials who will deal with the issue. ‘Our typical reaction would be to refer that to the public health department. They have some COVID advocates that are used to investigate such cases and use the examples as educational.’”
Steve Morgan’s being misinformed has misinformed the public. Dr Jean Allais, Albany County Health Officer, responded to my communication: “Please know that our primary goal in effecting the mask mandate is to protect the health and safety of our community and to slow transmission rates among members of the public in order to prevent our medical system from being overwhelmed. This goal will be best accomplished through education and adherence to safe practices, not through criminal prosecution and punitive measures.
“As the County Health Officer appointed to protect public health, I do not have the ability to make arrests or institute criminal prosecution. Individuals who do not comply with the county health ordinance do have the possibility of facing misdemeanor charges under Wyoming statute, however, that decision is ultimately up to county prosecutors. Given the current statewide budget shortages, resources throughout the state and in our county are thin.”
Do you know the phone number of a county prosecutor offhand? What makes anyone think that those who have been refusing to wear a mask in public and observe social distancing will now just because there’s a toothless mandate?
While people are fatigued from restrictions due to the disease, weary of wearing a mask in public, we must all demonstrate greater concern for all of the medical staff, first responders, and essential workers who are even more fatigued with the critical work they’re performing under duress and threat of infection. The difference here is between “inconveniences” for most people versus “existential threat” to those we count on to provide necessary and emergency services. Enforcing the mandate with rigor seems not too much to ask when the consequences are so dire.
As of this writing, the governors of 35 states have ordered mandatory wearing of face coverings, the most recent being the Republican Burgum of North Dakota. With the holidays approaching, if Wyomingites and denizens of Albany County neglect to take simple precautions, this will not be a season of joy but of immense sorrow.
Freedom doesn’t grant people a right to be inconsiderate, stupid, and dangerous around others. Those most irresponsible for not wearing facemasks, for not having common courtesy to protect others and themselves, are Republicans. Of this I have proof. During the primary election I was an election judge, one of four assigned to hand out ballots by party affiliation to the voters. I kept a tally of anyone who entered the polling place without a facemask, 12, all of whom were Republicans. I sent this information to Wyoming Secretary of State Edward Buchanan and County Clerk Jackie Gonzales. Secretaru Buchanan had earlier scoffed at my prediction and protest: “Since most people who refuse to wear a facemask are affiliated with one particular political party, entering a polling place without a facemask is making a political statement as much as wearing a T-shirt that expresses a political preference, which is not allowed.”
Scofflaws, you’ve been unmasked.