Surprised and Disappointed

To the editor:

I was disappointed to read in last week’s Gazette the Hardwick Select Board did not take advantage of the governor’s and Legislature’s action to allow the adoption of a mask mandate for public spaces. And I was surprised, and disappointed, that some town employees, some members of the Select Board and some residents in attendance were not wearing masks during the meeting. (According to the Gazette article, masking is required in the Memorial Building since last April.)

Statements, by unnamed people attending the public meeting, as well as the town manager, the police chief and board members said a mask mandate would be unenforceable and/or divisive.

Persons who disrupt a public meeting can be asked to leave. If they refuse, they can be removed. And that says nothing about common sense.

I’m sure many a parent has had arguments — dare I say divisive arguments — with their children about bedtime, eating the food on their plate, being home by a certain time, focusing on homework rather than a television show, and other matters.

Not everyone agrees seat belts are needed. Not everyone believes vaccinating children for contagious diseases is a good idea. Not everyone believes it is wrong, and illegal, to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater when there is no fire. At times, disagreement — dare I say divisiveness — saves lives.

Divisiveness is part of life. That’s not the issue. The issue is public health and the common good. Close to 800,000 people in the United States have died from COVID, millions have been stricken by the virus, millions more around the world have been sickened and died. COVID is contagious. COVID is deadly.

The people of this town, the state, the nation, the world need to wear masks. The people need to get vaccinated and boosted. People need to take this virus seriously to stop serious illness and, yes, more death.

COVID is not a matter of “personal rights.” The adage that one person’s rights end where another person’s nose begins seems most appropriate in this time of need. According to the scientists and medical professionals, the COVID virus passes easily between the eyes, mouth — and noses — when inhaling and exhaling.

COVID is a public health crisis and the public needs to act if the disease is to be controlled. That’s not divisive. That’s reality.

Ross Connelly