Wear a face mask for good reason

The life you save may be your own … or your grandma’s, or the friendly lady who rings up your groceries or maybe it will be the young college student who’s mowed your grass for as long as you can remember. The point is, if we all wear faces masks, lives will be saved. These will be real people. They will still be alive to ring in 2021, if, and only if, we come together as patriots for the common good. For every life we save, we’ll also save many mothers, fathers, grandchildren, and friends from grief and despair. We’ll get control of the virus sooner and possibly prevent the need for another shutdown. Isn’t that worth the inconvenience and irritation of putting on a mask?

Around 75 people showed up at a city council meeting last week to protest the possibility of a citywide mask mandate. Some were armed. There was no mortal danger at this meeting. The guns were there to intimidate, and those carrying them cared more about exercising power than freedom.

I will confidently say that most eastern Idahoans care more about our community’s wellbeing than about a power struggle over safety rules. So why aren’t more of us wearing masks now? Perhaps Wednesday’s new record of 727 statewide cases and the 16 in Bonneville County will convince us that the COVID-19 virus is no hoax or an overblown flu. So far, 138,000 Americans have died from it. As yet, the Idaho death toll is “only” 111. But don’t think we have a special dispensation from God. It’s blind luck. We are just as vulnerable as any other state. If we want to keep deaths low in Idaho, it’s imperative we ignore Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin and her radical right followers, who are pushing us to “Disobey Idaho.” This isn’t about freedom. It’s about common sense.

Why has mask-wearing become politicized? Our governor wasn’t trying to take our freedoms when he crafted a safety plan to flatten our curve. He was trying to follow the science and save our lives. When Rebecca Casper decided to hold off on a mask mandate, she was calculating data and risks and giving us the chance to voluntarily step up to the plate. Gov. Little and Mayor Casper aren’t giving in to intimidation by armed wingnuts who don’t want to be told what to do. We shouldn’t either.

If any one of us could look a dying COVID-19 victim in the eye or witness the sobs of a grieving family member, we wouldn’t question masks. We’d just wear them. Look at the science, folks. This virus is real. Our country and our community need us to temporarily follow a few simple safety measures to save lives, open businesses and allow our kids to get back into the classroom. No matter what the status of the mandates is, by the time you read this, let’s choose patriotism and unity and voluntarily wear masks in public for the wellbeing of everybody.

We can do that, can’t we?

Jackie Stephens is the Precinct 21 captain.