Reader: It’s time to mask up, get vaxxed

The delta variant of COVID-19 is burning across the U.S., in some states worse than others. We here in West Virginia have been lucky so far but that cannot last much longer without taking precautions once again.

Gov. Jim Justice, as of this writing, has yet to reinstate mandates on masks, social distancing or even a partial form of lockdown, such as capacity limits in stores, schools or other forms of business. If we want to mitigate the dangers of this new wave of outbreaks then we must take these measures as well as get vaccinated.

To those who are or have been complaining about mask or vaccine mandates, give me this opportunity to invite you to shut up. If you say that we don’t need mandates because they would be an infringement of your freedom, you would be wrong.

Masking up and getting the vaccine is not about giving up freedoms, it’s about civic responsibility. Wearing a mask and getting vaccinated has the same kind of responsibility such as not driving while drunk, making certain that people are wearing their seat belts while riding on a roller coaster or making certain that you keep your guns unloaded at all times they are not in use and that the bullets are kept out of reach of children. That is what wearing masks and getting vaccinated is like. It’s nothing like being forced to join the army when you’re a pacifist.

If you think it’s government overreach to declare mandates, you’re still wrong. Vaccines for other diseases, such as polio or mumps, have been mandatory for decades.

If you think it should be the sole responsibility of, say, a parent to have their children wear masks and get vaccinated and that the government has no say in the matter, under the belief that the government shouldn’t tell you how to be a parent, you’d be wrong. The reason? Because there is such a thing as bad parents, and government officials will need to intervene on behalf of the children. Why do you think Child Protective Services exist?

If you want to say we have no reason to panic because West Virginia isn’t getting its hospitals filled to the bursting with patients and that ambulances aren’t lining up and down the streets with COVID-infected people, you’d be wrong again. The reason why we haven’t reached the nightmarish levels that have plagued Florida and Texas isn’t because of a lack of precaution but because those states’ respective governors are fighting against precautions.

That’s the only good thing I can say about Gov. Justice right now: He isn’t stopping or trying to punish people for taking precautions into their own hands. It would be better if he led but at least he’s standing aside rather than getting in the way.

That’s not to say that West Virginia won’t get as bad. We’re inching our way towards that already. It’s just that we need to take more precautions and encourage/enforce others to do the same.

Don’t like that idea? Well, tell me: Would you run into a fire without heat-resistant gear? Would you go into shark-infested waters without a protective cage? Would you step onto broken glass and not be grateful that you were wearing shoes at the time?

It’s about protection, and sometimes people need to be told that or even forced to do it. Why do you think we have laws against drunk driving or they hand out tickets if you’re not wearing a seat belt? It seems painfully obvious that we shouldn’t drive drunk or that we should buckle up, and yet we get people out there thinking otherwise all the time. That’s basically what anti-mask and anti-vax people are now, those who hold themselves above such life-saving precautions.

Wear masks, get vaccinated and, for the love of Heaven, do not take medicine meant for livestock.

Edward S. Brenwalt



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