Dear Editor –
A mandatory mask mandate within Green Cove Springs was defeated [July 14] in Emergency session. This meeting served as an example of local government and democracy at its finest. As a living document that has withstood many tests of time, the Constitution would have been proud. All present experienced the free exchange of ideas in pursuit of that which was proposed to keep us safe and harbor our most vulnerable. The GCS mask mandate was defeated despite our best efforts to include exception and exemptions in the most relaxed language possible.
Our attempt to rise above the generic, “We strongly recommend” language was disparaged, belittled and strongly dismissed. Despite strong debate on both sides, the voices in opposition rose with anecdotal, personal and internet expertise information that won the day.
Though our inability to pass a mask rule can be regarded as a victory for individual rights – the expression of our inability to safeguard our most vulnerable is somewhat disappointing. The donning of a mask – effective or not – is a statement of compassion for our neighbors and community as a whole. If the constant refrain that “We are all in this together” held any truth – this measure seems a small token of our commitment to that ideal. Our chances to exhibit true compassion are often fleeting. Humbly, this act stands as more than a gesture – it literally punches your “I care” card.
If minimizing or delaying local hospitalizations, physically attending school classes and gaining on normalcy are our collective goals – I would settle for a quorum on the fact that this is a highly infectious agent. As such, anything that we can do to steal from it, weaken its advance and surround its designs on our families demands our biggest embrace – at a distance. This simple, inconvenient act remains with hand-washing and distancing in our defensive quiver. Personal liberty disputes should not handicap our ability to safe-guard the infirm, elderly and medically compromised.
As stated at the Council meeting, I do not regard this as Government over-reach but as a compassionate opportunity for our community to circle the wagons, and place those at risk – as far from harm’s way as possible.
In our current internet assisted environment, the facts will always be disputed, contradicted and argued. Maybe our City Council could have framed it better but the intent was clear – action stands a better chance than debate. Though not a requirement – kindly wear a mask, stand back and wash-up. The fabric of our Community is only as precious as each of you. Thanks for listening.
Vice Mayor, GCS City Council Member (Seat 1)