One of our editors, while covering a health committee meeting in a neighboring county last week, encountered an example of the deeper harm not masking up can cause, in the workplace, in the community and in public service.
At the meeting, several committee members, county staff, members of the public AND the chair of the health committee itself, were attending mask free, with very little social distancing. A masked member of the committee opted to speak during public comment, making her disdain of the lack of masks known, and rightfully shamed the room for failing to take seriously the biggest reason they were all gathered there together, representing public health while choosing to ignore public health safety guidelines.
After chastising those in the room, she announced she’d likely be resigning from the committee because she couldn’t support their negligence.
This speaks to a larger issue that deserves its own editorial, we should be doing everything we can to retain those passionate community members that choose to volunteer their time serving on public bodies to work for the greater good.
By choosing to not wear masks or practice social distancing at meetings, public officials are sending the message to their constituents that they have a true lack of care for the well-being, health and safety of the community.
This lack of caring seems to say, “We’re going to gather in this large group, without masks and without distancing, and then continue on with our non-quarantine lives throughout the community, not considering if we’re infected and if we could infect you too.”
The same applies when public officials, local, state or federal, lollygag around and play politics on any sort of action they have the opportunity to take to protect and help everyone.
By not wearing masks, the officials also send a similar message to the employees for the entity they represent, one of carelessness and disregard for their health.
Public officials are often looked to as role models in the community, and by not taking a pandemic seriously in public, they, in effect, encourage others to do the same. We should be celebrating public officials that are conducting themselves and taking action both in ways that assist and protect the common good, and ridiculing those that refuse to wear a mask and take action that protects our community.
Last week, Sauk County Public Health Officer, Tim Lawther, served his last day on the job after tendering his resignation, with just over a year under his belt. His recent statements reflect a bevy of complaints he had regarding the county and its supervisors largely failing to take the pandemic seriously. Again, we risk pushing passionate and competent people out of roles in a time we need them most
Lack of seriousness surrounding a public health crisis results in what we’ve seen around our state especially in the last two weeks—every day it seems we’re setting record highs for new positive cases, schools shutting down, hospitals at or near capacity and field hospitals being pressed into use.
Sounds like something straight out of a dystopian novel, right? Sadly, because so many have chosen to be selfish and disregard the health and safety of our community, their constituents, this is now the dystopian world we live in.
COVID-19 has been on our collective conscience since the end of last year, we’re all sick of hearing about it, we’re sick of having to wear a mask when we’re trying to get out and enjoy some of the year we have left, but we run the risk of some of us having zero years left if we continue down the path we’re on. Let’s get this right so we can concentrate on the things that build community and bring it together.
We’re eight months into this pandemic, just wear a mask.
Oh — and cover your nose too.