Does self-interest triumph over concern for the community?

COMMENTARY

MILT THOMAS

County Commission 7-14

As the dust settles from Tuesday’s County Commission meeting, social media sites are ablaze with opinions one way or the other. The Commission voted 3-2 against mandating face masks in buildings open to the public. Commissioners Zorc, Solari and Flescher voted against the ordinance, while O’Bryan and Adams voted in favor. Solari retires at the end of this term; Zorc is up for re-election.

Citizens who spoke against the ordinance most often cited freedom, personal choice and medical or behavioral reasons (asthma, allergies, claustrophobia, etc.). Apparently those conditions are not as much of a problem in St. Lucie and Martin Counties, where mask mandates were approved.

It is also not a problem in most European countries that reduced the rate of infection and deaths substantially when masks were required at a national level. The recent surge of infections are in countries where no mask mandate exists or people ignore it.

Here in Indian River County, social media comments are either aghast at the mandate loss or approve of it citing the above mentioned reasons as well as cherry-picking other sources that dispute factual evidence of the need for masks and social distancing.

But let us deal with reality. The two countries currently leading the world in existing and new coronavirus cases are the US and Brazil, both countries where national political leaders offer no cohesive program to address the problem. In both countries it is up to regional and local government officials to deal with the worldwide pandemic.

Regardless of whose opinions you support, the only universally successful preventative measures are wearing masks and social distancing in public. Locally, it seems that most people in public places wear masks. Based on the reality here and abroad, those people are much less likely to contract the virus (unless, of course, they reside in a home where one or more members do not wear masks in public).

If you wear a mask in public and keep your distance from those who do not wear masks, your chances of contracting the virus are minimized. If you have the virus and wear a mask, your chance of spreading the virus to those around you is also minimized. Conversely, if you do not wear a mask or keep a reasonable distance from others, your chance of contracting and/or spreading the virus are infinitely greater. This is not an opinion – it is a documented fact.

For those who spoke against masks at the County Commission, it would be interesting to know if they at least practice social distancing. My experience is that they probably do not. That is where all their reasons for failure to wear masks fall apart. No health issue would prevent anyone from keeping a safe distance from other people in public places. The only logical reason for failure to do so would be a lack of respect and compassion for other people in the community.

4 comments

  1. Not wearing a face mask could be compared to going out with a loaded gun. If you don’t wear a mask and are infected, you could easily be responsible for someone dying. You may never know about this person/people so would feel no guilt, but the person would be just as dead. We complained about being forced to wear seatbelts when it was enacted into law, and now feel unprotected without one.

  2. I agree with Ms Brayton that not wearing a mask (along with distancing ourselves, washing hands, using sanitizer) benefits ourselves and anyone with whom we encounter. Were I to infect someone with COVID-19 (not knowing I was carrying the virus), I’d be devastated. The virus spreading from one to another like Dominoes falling gives me chills. Yes, wearing a mask for a short while is not even close to bearing guilt for the rest of ones life. It really is no big deal in the scheme of things.

  3. Hi Milt. We have a flu vaccine, yet only around half of Americans choose to take the shot.

    Are the other half villains in your calculus? Thanks. Nick.

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