Tragic Setback for Public Health

On August 12, the Salt Lake County Council voted 6 to 3, on strict political party lines, to overturn the mask mandate policy announced by the director of the Salt Lake County Health Department. This act of hubris, recklessness, and callous disregard for the lives of others, threatens the entire community. It will cost some people their lives and many others their long-term health. Some of those victims will be our children. How can anyone think that is appropriate public policy, especially when the sacrifice involved is so minuscule?

Schools are petri dishes for the virus. A pandemic anywhere is a pandemic everywhere, and the delta variant is a new ball game–more transmissible and therefore more deadly than the original virus. This is not just a matter of how often children have died of COVID in the past. Two days ago, four teachers died in just one county in Florida from COVID.

For the Council members to prioritize their own non-expertise, misunderstanding, and ignorance on this issue over the knowledge, and experience of physicians, scientists, and public health experts is appalling. And to do so merely to score political points with a narrow, fanatical base, is contemptible cowardice.

We are all expected to curtail our freedom to protect others; to obey traffic laws and seat belt laws, no-smoking ordinances, no fireworks ordinances, etc, etc. Business owners are legally required to provide a safe environment for employees and customers. It is illegal for manufacturers to sell products known to be dangerous. Just about every law you can think of is some version of curtailing individual behavior or a requirement of a small individual sacrifice for the benefit and safety of everyone else. That’s in fact what constitutes civilization. Last week, the County Council voted against civilization in favor of selfishness, cruelty, and mob rule.

More in the Salt Lake Tribune report

Some of those COVID victims will be our children.