Fran Edstrom color mug shot

by Frances Edstrom

 

Congratulations to the Winona City Council for the vote to overturn Mayor Scott Sherman’s ill-advised mask mandate.

I understand that there has been a surge in COVID cases locally, but that is to be expected with the delta variant circulating around, a few thousand college kids returning to Winona and school starting.

A mask mandate at this time would be ridiculous and intrusive. Who are we protecting with such a wide mandate? People who have not been vaccinated, that’s who.

That group may include children, but the vaccine has been approved for kids 12 and older. Most of the cases of COVID in children at this time are occurring in teens 16 and older who have not been vaccinated. Cases in younger children are usually quite mild.

The unvaccinated are the ones ending up in the hospital with the more severe cases of COVID. That should be a clear message to the unvaccinated that the odds are stacked against them.

I understand and accept that people have the freedom to decide whether or not to be vaccinated. However, I do not accept the premise that those of us who have been vaccinated should be required to mask up to protect those who have decided not to get the vaccine.

Businesses shouldn’t be mandated to become health police. If a certain business owner freely decides that all employees and customers must be masked, that is perfectly acceptable. If a business owner sees no reason to require masks, that, too, is just fine. We can choose whom to patronize.

When the previous mayor issued a mask mandate, there was no vaccine widely available, and masking and hand-washing were our only defenses against the virus. Now, vaccines are practically available on every street corner! Winona Health has a walk-in vaccine and testing clinic. Local pharmacies are administering the vaccine, as well. The immunocompromised among us are being offered a third shot.

There is not much of an excuse to not be vaccinated these days. The Food and Drug Administration has approved the Pfizer vaccine, and will soon approve Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. If a person does decide not to get the vaccine, that person also is deciding to take a chance on getting the COVID virus.

Mayor Sherman’s mask mandate was unneeded and overly intrusive in our lives and businesses.