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Ignoring mask mandate doesn’t make you patriot

As Americans, we grow up believing that everyone is entitled to their opinion.

That isn’t always true. Sure, it’s fine to have any opinion in your head, or your home or among friends.

But when your beliefs in some way threaten public health, it turns out that you might have to follow guidelines for the common good.

Both the U.S. and state Supreme Courts have ruled that public health mandates are constitutional. We are in the midst of a deadly pandemic.

Living in rural Pennsylvania, you may still be able to convince yourself that it is a hoax, or that ignoring the mask mandate makes you a patriot. You are wrong.

The facts about COVID-19 are real. A patriot would do what is best for his country. When you walk into Walmart without a mask or refuse to social distance because you want to get on with your life, you are not standing up for your rights. You are endangering the community and prolonging the suffering.

You may be convinced that you can’t wear a mask. For a small number of people, that is true. But when your entire family shows up at a local store without masks, other shoppers will have a hard time believing that you all have serious medical conditions.

If you legitimately can’t wear a mask, there is every chance that your condition makes you someone who should seriously consider curbside delivery, because the outcome of infection for someone like you is probably not good.

Schools across the country are struggling to find safe ways to open. Parents are facing terrifying decisions. Teachers and other school employees are fearing for their safety.

Meanwhile, because they don’t choose to believe that this problem is real, other people, including some of those whom the students will soon be in close contact with, are out at bars, beaches and parties.

Our safe little corner of the world could easily cease to be safe because these people believe that they are entitled to their opinion and can disregard all of the guidelines that were designed to keep all of us from harm.

So have your opinion. Believe COVID-19 is a hoax. Think of yourself as a defender of your rights.

But please also defend the rights of the rest of us. Either follow the guidelines or stay away from those who know that this threat is real.

Barbara Tessin

Hollidaysburg

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