You would think by now we would have learned the tragic consequences of politicizing the strategies to mitigate this horrific pandemic which has taken a MILLION American lives! The anti-vaccination, anti-masking, and anti-science pushback on the means to stop COVID-19 has extended the life span of this virus at the cost of far too many lives. But the politicizing has continued and will impact families on the Eastern Shore.
During this session of the General Assembly and the advent of Gov. Glenn Youngkin taking office, our elected leaders have rushed pell-mell to end the existing mask mandates for our public schools. Despite the courageous stands of the school boards in Northampton and Accomack counties to continue the mandates to protect the health and safety of our school children, teachers and staffs, Del. Rob Bloxom and Sen. Lynwood Lewis voted to support legislation giving parents the option to send their children to school without masks.
Even as the CDC urges caution not to prematurely end mask mandates, the bill was rushed to the governor’s desk so he could sign it and immediately end the mandate geared to protect our schools. Even as our kindergartners do not have a vaccine, even as children can expose their elderly grandparents to the virus, even as teachers have to endure another stressful action, and even as the legislation adds to the divisiveness rather than unity in our public discourse, politics has once again trumped science. At what cost? Is waiting until the end of the month, into April, or at least when the data shows the worst is over, too much to ask our elected officials? Many folks have supported the existing mandates and have written to urge our legislators to put science over politics. The legislation has passed but it is not too late to write to the governor and our General Assembly delegation to express our disappointment and outrage over these actions. We must continue the positive efforts, based on science and not politics, to stop this terrible pandemic. Action is critical before even more lives are lost subjecting families, friends and neighbors to the grief that is the tragic calling card of COVID-19!
The Rev. Rick Willis,