To the Editor:
Grant County commissioners just submitted to the governor a very flawed letter on our behalf. In making their case to take back local control of COVID-19 mandates, they made misleading and unreasoned claims. They stated that with only seven cases of COVID this summer, state mandates did not fit our widely dispersed rural population. However, they seriously failed to update the county infection rate surging since early August (highest in the state, Aug. 26), most occurring since the fair where people gathered from all over the county.
Focus needs to be back on prevention of virus spread. But in giving favor to misinformed advocates for individual liberties over community health, commissioners are asking that school employees and health care workers be given a choice to get the vaccine or get tested once a week. How might their policy play out in reality? The delta variant appears to be contagious as early as two days before it’s even detectable. If a staff member is tested only once a week, they could spread the virus for up to five days before being diagnosed with COVID-19, exposing many vulnerable patients or unvaccinated young children.
Rather than making public health safety the top priority, county commissioners are enabling individuals who, based on politics, emotions or misinformation, choose not to trust scientifically proven effectiveness of masks and vaccines.
The legal argument for the well-being of the public over individual liberty has been determined for generations. Recently, conservative Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett rejected an appeal by non-vaccinators (who fought Indiana University’s vaccine mandate), citing that an individual’s constitutional rights do not take precedence over the safety of others. Supreme Court decisions conclude: Personal liberty is not assured without regard for injury you may cause to others; your liberties are limited if the lives of others are threatened by your choices. People who understand this do not see mask or vaccine mandates as an end to liberties or liberties being taken away. They see liberty coming with responsibilities to others. If the county commissioners had the wisdom to understand this, they would have written a reasoned (not an ignorant) letter to the governor. They didn’t.
Kay Scheurer Steele