The coronavirus, COVID-19, continues to rage uncontrolled throughout the United States. For months, people with actual scientific and medical education and experience have issued urgent warnings over and over: wear a face mask (covering both mouth and nose). Stay 6 feet apart from others.
After many weeks of confusion throughout our country, the harsh, sharp reality set in during the second week of March. Stores, schools and offices that had been open as usual on Friday were closed on Monday. Nothing has been the same since then. Businesses have suffered. Jobs have been lost. Our economy has tanked. People have been inconvenienced and are afraid.
In Marion and McDowell County, many business people as well as city and county officials have urged our local people to wear a face mask.
Why? Out of concern for the health of other people and also for themselves.
It’s been said over and over. The virus is invisible. A person can be infected and not know it. Even though you might not get sick, you could infect someone who does get sick. Getting sick from this corona virus ranges from having minor symptoms to being hospitalized with severe breathing problems to death.
To say that the coronavirus can cause a person to die is not alarmist. It is not ridiculous. Just ask the surviving family and friends of the 150,000-plus people who have already died in the United States from this coronavirus.
Amazingly, some people still claim the whole thing is fake, a hoax or a political conspiracy. A virus that kills people all over the globe, shuts down businesses and ruins national economies in countries throughout the world is not fake, a hoax or a conspiracy. It is not a political issue.
In an effort to slow down the spread of this serious health threat, some governors have issued mandatory executive orders for all people to wear a face mask when in public.
Still, in spite of all the evidence that proves it helps, some people still refuse. “You are violating my constitutional rights,” some have said. Here’s what that means: “You can’t make me care about anyone else. It is my right to be selfish. I have the constitutional right to spread virus germs. I don’t care who dies.”
There are some things we do in order to live safely. We stop at a red traffic light. We wear helmets when riding motorcycles and bikes. We put our children in child safety seats and we wear seat belts in our vehicles. Some people objected to these as well, saying these restrictions on personal freedom violated our rights under the U.S. Constitution. But we do them, because they are important for the safety of everyone.
We are told over and over: Wear a face mask. Stay six feet apart in public. And yet we all have seen the result. Large numbers of people refuse to do either. Employees in stores with signs requiring face coverings do not enforce them.
Why do we, as a civilized people, have to worry about enforcement? Why would anyone not do these simple things to show concern and compassion for others ... and make a difference?
The U.S. economy is in chaos. As long as the majority of people are afraid they will be infected by others who don’t wear a face mask and who don’t stay six feet apart in public, they will not go back into non-essential stores and businesses. It’s really that simple. We are harming ourselves by self-centered, stubborn attitudes and refusal to care about others.
Because of this crisis that confronts us daily, and because some really good people sometimes need a nudge, I am now doing what I can do to help.
As mayor of the city of Marion, I am issuing a Mayoral Order Mandate that requires every person in Marion to do these two simple things when in public: (1) Wear a face mask, and (2) Stay six feet apart. Do this on sidewalks, inside businesses and offices, and anywhere you gather.
The mandate shall begin in Marion on Friday, Aug. 7 at 8 a.m. and shall remain effect until terminated with a subsequent mayoral order.
There is no enforcement mechanism for this mandate. I am not instructing the Marion Police Department to arrest or issue a citation to anyone who does not comply. There is no monetary penalty and no other legal penalty for disobeying this mandate.
So why do I bother to issue the mandate with no enforcement system? I do it to reinforce the importance of looking out for each other. I’m expecting all our people to show basic human decency toward each other. Everyone in Marion is now called out to show concern and compassion for others. As mayor, I’m telling you ... but I’m not making you. It’s up to you to do it.
For those who will complain and whine: this crisis is not about you, but this solution does involve you. This is about everyone in Marion and McDowell County. People you know and people you don’t know. People who look like you and people who don’t look like you. Color of skin doesn’t matter. Language doesn’t matter. Where you live doesn’t matter. This is for all of us. We all depend on each other.
Doing these simple things will slow the spread of the coronavirus. That will cause people to be less afraid to send their children back to school. That will enable people not to worry about going back to a restaurant or to a movie or to a sports event or to any non-essential business. When people feel safe, our economy will improve. Everything is connected, because everybody is connected. As the old slogan goes: If you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.
Do your part. Show concern for others. Cooperate for something that is bigger than you and that will help everybody. It’s actually pretty simple: Honor the mandate. When you are in public in Marion, Wear a face mask and stay 6 feet apart.
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