Minnesota’s statewide mask mandate, which went into effect a week ago, would appear on many levels the best option for a bad scenario.
That bad scenario is the rise in COVID-19 cases, not just the explosion in Sun Belt states but also with the incremental increase in cases recently here in Minnesota.
It’s been clear the past month, COVID-19 isn’t going away on its own and we need a way to stem the tide. The face mask mandate is one way to do that. Now we just need the residents of Minnesota to buy in.
Certainly none of us wants to have to wear a mask, and in a perfect world none of us would. But the world isn’t perfect right now, and if wearing a mask can help us slow the COVID-19 spread then it should be in all of our best interests to do so.
As Brainerd Lakes Chamber of Commerce president Matt Kilian told chamber members in an email a couple weeks ago, “Whether or not you believe in the effectiveness of masks, the right to incur personal risk, or the Governor’s own leadership, we strongly urge everyone to do whatever it takes to make sure our local businesses aren’t shut down again. There is no doubt that another round of closures would be even more devastating than the first.”
We couldn't agree more, and that’s why we would urge everyone to mask up. As much as Brainerd lakes area businesses have suffered this year, we don’t want to take a step backward -- with our health or our local economy.
And that’s what this should be, a health issue. Unfortunately, as with most things these days, it’s also become a political issue.
In making his announcement of a statewide face mask mandate, Gov. Tim Walz called it a small sacrifice for a potential big gain.
"This is the way," Walz said, "the cheapest, most effective way for us to open up our business, for us to get our kids back in school, for us to keep our grandparents healthy, and for us to get back that life that we all miss so much."
That, it would seem to us, should be everyone’s goal.
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka of Nisswa took an opposing stance, calling the mandate a “one-size-fits-all” approach. "... the mandate feels like a heavy-handed, broad approach that won’t work well for every situation,” Gazelka explained. While we can agree with that sentiment for many government directives, we don’t in this case. A statewide mandate is better than a patchwork of orders across municipalities, and it takes the enforcement burden off local governments and businesses. Barring a better alternative, this would seem to be the best course of action.
Yes, there will be a learning curve but we hope face mask wearing catches on. This is the world we live in -- for now. Let’s all do our part so that sooner rather than later we do not have to wear face masks at all.