This is not an editorial on wearing a mask. This is an editorial on a new law that involves wearing a mask and the enforcement of that law.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged Kentuckians to wear a mask on Tuesday at a stop at a Glasgow hospital. On Friday, Gov. Andy Beshear will make it a law.
The governor’s executive order is intended is to curb new cases of the coronavirus, but it is creating confusion and frustration at a time when clarity is essential.
While the number of cases are up in Kentucky and in other states, the number of coronavirus-related deaths are down. Way down. The CDC reports there were 16,877 coronavirus-related deaths on April 18, there were 2,394 on June 20, and there were 230 on July 4.
Life is precious and we don’t want to minimize those 230 deaths, but the downward trend is encouraging as we journey into the fifth month of COVID-19.
People should exercise caution, but didn’t we expect the number of cases to go up when people were given the green light to leave their homes? Didn’t we expect the number of cases to go up when testing happened more often? The answers to those questions are obvious.
Who will enforce the governor’s order? At the Thursday press conference, he said it would be handled on the local level and by health department officials. Police seem to have their hands full these days. Do they have time to be on mask patrol? And how does a health department worker enforce this in a public or retail setting?
The governor said folks who approach a register without a mask don’t have to be served. Does that mean cashiers are responsible for enforcing this order? Is that what they signed up to do? That seems like it could lead to some ugly situations.
All the way back on April 28, the governor issued the 10 Steps for Healthy at Work referencing the White House’ guidelines at that time. His fourth point references universal masks and other necessary PPE. Yes, those were mandates and guidelines, but do we really need new laws, even if they are temporary? Is that the way we win the hearts of the people?
Gov. Beshear also doesn’t seem to be tapping into the wise counsel that the commonwealth has provided him in the legislature and even in his previous office down the hall. He says nothing about this virus is political but that doesn’t seem like “We’re all in this together” does it?
Some of his previous mandates have led to court action involving Constitutional rights. It’s all led to anger, confusion and fear.
This mandate on masks isn’t much different than what was recommended earlier. Right or wrong, masks have become a political line in the sand for some and making them mandatory, especially with no way to enforce the guideline, will not make our situation any better.
BRANDON PORTER is communictions director for the Kentucky Baptist Convention.