Cartoon 11/2/20

The Maryville City Council did its job. The council passed a mask mandate and later re-upped the ordinance through Nov. 24 to keep COVID-19 cases low. Elected officials did what was necessary to ensure the safety of those they lead. However, now that cases are spiking in Maryville and mask wearers are decreasing, it’s time to change strategy.

One must ask, what’s the point of a mandate if it isn’t enforced? The answer is, of course, there isn’t one. Since the initial mandate was passed in Maryville, there has not been a single citation given out by Maryville Public Safety, meaning there should be 100% compliance with the mandate.

Anybody that has been in public in Maryville in the last few months knows that isn’t the case. The original purpose of the mandate was to help with educating the public, Maryville City Councilman Tye Parsons said. Maryville Public Safety officers focused more on reminding people to properly wear a mask and less on writing citations.

The mandate did have the desired effect initially, Parsons said. The number of people wearing masks increased, but it has begun to dip recently.

“I think we are starting to see our compliance going back down, unfortunately,” Parsons said.

The Council wanted to prevent unrest over the mandate, Parsons said. While that is a reasonable cause now that compliance is dipping, risking some people being upset over citations is not equal to anti-maskers risking others’ lives.

It’s clear that the proverbial third wave of COVID-19 has hit Maryville with 42 cases reported Oct. 27, according to the Nodaway County Health Department. Meanwhile, against the Council’s wishes, the “super-spreader” Downtown Trick-or-Treat took place with hundreds of people packing into the square. It’s clear from a video posted on this publication’s website that many attendees declined to wear masks to this event. There were no repercussions for their actions, save the eye rolls and stares directed toward them

“No citations have been issued at this point, but there have been several warnings to both individuals and businesses,” Maryville City Manager Greg McDanel said in a phone call Oct. 29.

Warnings can be a great way to achieve compliance without having to levy a fine against an individual. However, when there has not been a single citation issued, why would anyone take a warning seriously?

The speed limit is enforced even if the offender is only going 10 mph over the limit and even on an empty road. Why? Because the law is there to protect people, and enforcement of that law makes people more likely to follow it. 

The mask ordinance has been put in place to protect others. It should be clear to everyone by now that wearing a mask is designed to protect others. Masks limit the spread of COVID-19; that’s simply a scientific fact. Those who choose to ignore that and endanger others willfully deserve to reap the consequences of their actions.

COVID-19 has killed hundreds of thousands of people in this country, and some of those deaths in the ever-growing toll are Maryville residents. This isn’t the flu or the common cold. It’s a serious virus that has killed many people’s loved ones, and the ordinance designed to help prevent it needs to be enforced.

“Unacceptable,” McDanel tweeted in response to Maryville having 42 cases in a day, urging Maryville residents to wear a mask.

If someone feared a $100 hit to their bank account, they would be more likely to wear their mask and less likely to spread the virus. It’s simple. The lack of enforcement is truly what’s unacceptable.

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