To the Editor:

People say “I don’t want to wear a mask, so mind your own business” or “I’m just exercising my personal freedoms.”

Wearing a mask isn’t about you. It’s about protecting others.

Councilman Barington voted against a mask mandate because of what a military person said about protecting our freedoms. I also joined the military years ago to protect the freedoms we have in this country, but also to keep all Americans safe. I would never think that my freedoms would mean I could put other lives or health in jeopardy. Should a person be able to go into a school, bar, restaurant or retail business and smoke? No. Why? Because that would put others’ health at risk.

Barington also stated a mask mandate was government overreach and strips residents of their constitutional rights and civil liberties, and businesses should make their own decisions. Yet bars are told when they can operate, restaurants have to have food inspections and businesses are required to have exit signs. Why? To keep people safe and healthy. Also, when Walmart and Menards exercised their freedoms and required masks, people said that infringed on their freedoms. They can’t have it both ways.

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When this virus first started, the CDC, our governor, our mayor and city council emphasized social distancing, hand washing and use of common sense. What happened to that? Why did the mayor and city council have to be pleaded with by our health professionals to pass a mask mandate?

The vulnerable were also told “if they don’t feel comfortable going out, stay home.” Where are their freedoms? Where were the freedoms of the people in nursing homes and assisted living that have died of COVID? They didn’t choose to get infected and die a horrifying death.

People say this virus is like the flu. It’s not. You can get a flu shot. The flu kills on average 40,000 Americans a year. COVID has killed over 350,000 Americans so far.

I don’t know anyone that enjoys wearing a mask, but they do it to protect others. It’s called sacrifice.

Stewart Hanson