To the editor:
As COVID cases continue to rise alarmingly in Vermont, I wonder why it’s so hard for our governor to institute a simple statewide indoor mask mandate. He’s done it before, successfully, with many more restrictions. Far from being, as he calls it, “an abuse of [his] authority,” this is a simple health and hygiene measure to protect us from chances of catching or spreading this aggressive and potentially life-threatening virus.
With the onset of cold weather, more time spent indoors, the borders open to foreign tourists and skiers, and as we consider holiday gatherings with families and friends, it’s very difficult to imagine the number of cases, hospitalizations and possible death counts going down, based on past experience.
Gov. Scott’s mantra – “take personal responsibility, get your vaccination, wear a mask and stay six feet apart” – is a laudable exhortation, but it’s no longer working. My wife and I have gotten all the shots, we wear masks indoors, give others space and wash our hands frequently. We shop mostly in Montpelier and a little in Barre, Phil Scott’s hometown. Most Montpelier shopkeepers and customers take Covid seriously by wearing masks. Unfortunately, many of the citizens in Barre don’t seem to care. We stopped in a few businesses there recently and found few salespeople or customers wearing masks, let alone keeping their distance. It turned us off to wanting to shop there for a while, probably the last thing the Chamber of Commerce wants to hear.
Gov. Scott claims many people won’t abide by a mask mandate, so why bother? Certainly, some selfish or ignorant people do not care about their responsibility to fellow citizens and won’t comply. So be it. But the majority of people will do the right thing if ordered to in a health crisis such as this.
As much as we appreciate the transparency and truthfulness of the governor’s weekly press conferences, we need more than explanations of how and why the virus is spreading, and more leadership from our governor. Leaving it to the legislature to allow patchwork, town by town mask ordinances is not the solution. I urge him to please step up and order a statewide mask mandate.