September 20, 2020

Grant County Herald

Community news from the prairie to the lakes

Gov. Walz was right to issue face mask mandate

BY C. A. RAY, Editor

Minnesota Governor Walz has taken a lot of guff over his most recent order that everyone must wear a face covering inside a business in the state of Minnesota. He has been called a dictator, power-hungry, and Republicans have even contemplated legislation to strip him of his power to issue executive orders during the COVID-19 crisis.

The criticism is misplaced. I believe Governor Walz did the right thing. 

I’m not the only one. Minnesota Medical Association President Keith Stelter, MD, said, “The Minnesota Medical Association thanks Gov. Walz for requiring all Minnesotans to wear face masks in indoor public places and businesses.

 “Late last month, the MMA and the state’s physicians urged public and private leaders across Minnesota to require the wearing of face masks or face coverings to help control the spread of COVID-19. Since that time, we’ve seen a number of cities and businesses agree that this was a sound strategy to help protect the health of their communities.

 “Wearing masks is an important and safe tool in the fight to slow the spread of COVID-19, along with maintaining social distancing, washing your hands, staying home when you’re sick, and getting tested if you have symptoms. These are all ways that Minnesotans can practice good health. Wearing a mask is important because the virus can be spread by people who don’t have symptoms or know they are sick.”

I only wish Governor Walz would have issued the order at least a month ago. Had masks been mandated a month ago, I am convinced lives would have been saved and the State of Minnesota would have been a much safer place to live.

There is a lot of precedent for the Governor’s order. Just over 10 years ago, Minnesota banned smoking in bars, cafes and all other indoor businesses. Smokers freaked out. I remember interviewing a local business owner who swore the cops would have to arrest him, and drag him out of his bar in handcuffs, before he complied. I remember another bar owner saying the law would bankrupt him.

Neither happened. 

When I was a kid, I often walked about barefoot, as I went to stores, or the local cafe for an ice cream cone. Then those signs started appearing “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service.” It seems bare feet spread disease.

I put on shoes. It was no big deal. (Sound familiar?)

I remember in the mid-60s when Federal Law mandated all new automobiles sold in the United States must have seat belts for all passengers. Car manufactures rebelled, saying such a mandate would raise the price of cars. Many drivers complained that seat belts were restrictive and violated their rights (where have I heard that one before?)

Nonsense. Back in the mid-60s around 1,000 Minnesotans where slaughtered in car accidents every year. The cost of this was incalculably high, not only in insurance and lost wages, but in broken hearts and broken families.

The point is, one of the most important jobs for public officials is protecting the people he, or she, represents. In issuing the face mask mandate, and the other executive orders Gov. Walz has issued during this crisis, he is doing his job.