Joplin council decision on masks disappointing
I was disappointed that the Joplin City Council did not pass the proposed mask ordinance on Wednesday.
Not wearing a mask by choice can put many people in jeopardy. A person can have COVID-19 with few or no symptoms. Data indicate that those nearing age 80 and older are especially threatened by this virus, along with those with other compromising health problems such as asthma. Although I have not reached the threshold age of the most vulnerable, many of my friends have reached that age.
Those most threatened are aware of those who are not wearing masks. The unmasked can unknowingly become modern "Typhoid Marys," carrying the disease — not knowing it but transmitting it. Recently, I was going to purchase a new lawn mower and had decided on the one. The store selling the mower did not require the wearing of masks, so I walked away without the mower.
Those of us who may be more vulnerable have to view every non-mask wearer as a potential unknowing assassin. That may seem like an overstatement, but think upon it for a minute. The "by choice" non-mask wearing person cares little about the well-being of others, or he would be wearing a mask. For those who think not wearing or wearing a mask represents a political statement, I can guarantee you that COVID-19 is bipartisan and doesn't care about a president's political affiliation.
Council failed to protect people
On Wednesday evening, the Joplin City Council had the opportunity to take the single most important action since the COVID-19 pandemic to protect the people of Joplin, and the council let us down by failing to pass a face mask ordinance.
The local population of COVID-19 patients is climbing daily because people aren't taking the necessary precautions when out in public, even after four months of it being publicized. A decision to require the wearing of face masks in public shouldn't be viewed as a link to political party viewpoints, or as infringing on people's comfort and personal freedoms, or with concern for the potential effects on local merchants, or how it would be enforced by the police. It is about slowing down the progression of the pandemic dramatically affecting the health of our community.
Joplin City Council members sat and listened as the head of the COVID-19 unit at Freeman Health System urged them to pass this ordinance. Television viewers were stunned when they saw footage of COVID-19 units in New York. Too soon they have forgotten the horror of patients being treated in hallways and ad hoc hospitals that more closely resembled developing countries than the one of the richest cities in the United States.
Now, COVID-19 is here in the Four-State Area, getting worse every day, and residents still aren't taking precautions. It is true that all face masks are not 100% effective, but other than hand washing and social distancing, it is what the public can do to help.
Have you seen footage of people on the streets in other cities and countries all wearing face masks? Have you walked around grocery stores or hardware stores locally and the only people you see wearing masks are mandated employees and a few shoppers?
I would feel significantly safer going out to shop if I thought everyone around me was going to be wearing masks. Now, with no face mask ordinance and numbers on the increase in Joplin and surrounding counties, the only smart thing to do is to stay home like people did when there was no COVID-19 in the area. I am truly sorry for the effect this will have on our local merchants, as I believe in buying locally, but it is the only option responsible residents have to protect their health.
The council's proposal is to spend taxpayers' dollars to purchase masks for residents who want them and for those who can't afford them.
The solution we need is for people to be mandated to wear masks in public because they are not doing it on their own, and the purpose of a government is to lead.
How many lives will have to be lost before this happens? Jasper County has now had its first fatality.