Precautions critical to curbing virus spread

I don’t understand why wearing masks in the region of Wisconsin where we live is so controversial. I don’t understand why county boards, city councils and school boards aren’t making mask wearing mandatory in stores, offices, churches and schools. Where is the medical data that supports a refusal to require them in classrooms and hallways in our local schools or the lack of mask requirements in local stores and offices?

There isn’t any. The reason we don’t have mandates and requirements for something as simple as facemasks in public places is political. Public health officers won’t declare a health emergency and issue mandates to protect communities because they either suspect or know that local leaders will not support them. Those leaders either believe in “personal choice” or are afraid of offending residents who treat wearing masks as “personal choice” and mandates to wear them as government control of individuals.

I grew up in southern Arizona, so the arguments about personal choice and individual freedoms trumping community needs are familiar. It was a mandatory part of social studies curricula in high school. Libertarian politics is very attractive. Governments, whatever form they take, need to be afraid of the people, not the other way around. But there is a dark side to libertarian ideology; because individual freedoms have the highest priority, the needs of the community are irrelevant unless they become a way for someone to make money.

This summer and fall, communities need all of us to wear masks, along with taking other basic precautions, if we are going to come through this epidemic without many more people becoming seriously ill or dying. Anyone claiming “personal choice” to not do everything they can to protect the community make it clear that the only person in the community that matters is them.

David Behling

Chippewa Falls