We are all coping with extraordinary challenges in these times. We are faced with a pandemic that is threatening to our health and to the health of our loved ones and neighbors. Ripple effects are far reaching, including significant impacts on the economy, mental health and isolation.

To make matters worse, this virus is not yet well understood. It is unpredictable in its path, its symptoms and its outcome. And so far, it seems to have invaded at least 216 countries across the globe without a vaccine or approved treatment to combat it.  To be sure, unfortunate side effects are the confusion, the division and the weariness it is leaving in its wake.  

I first want to thank my board colleagues for the willingness to take up the issue of masking and to discuss it openly. I still believe that it is in the community’s best interest that we, as Aldermen, be transparent, as informed as possible and responsive to the community we serve.

Thanks also to the citizens who answered our request for feedback. Overwhelmingly, there is a clear community resistance to a mask mandate.  

I am also grateful to the Webster County Health Unit Board of Trustees for meeting this past Friday night to consider and offer their position on the issue of a masking mandate. That is the direction the Board of Aldermen desired to inform our action. They are the recognized authority in our community on health matters, and their answer was that, at this time, based on current data and community input, rather than mandate mask wearing, they will continue to "encourage" the wearing of masks.

Therefore, all things considered, I recognize that to enact a mandate would be counterproductive.

It is also clear that, on both sides of the mandate issue, there is support for voluntary masking.

Like the Webster County Health Unit, the City of Marshfield does continue to encourage and promote the wearing of face masks. A post on the Webster County Health Unit’s Facebook page quotes Centers for Disease Control Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield, saying, "Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of this virus — particularly when used universally within a community setting. All Americans have a responsibility to protect themselves, their families and their communities."

So, even without a mandate, let us continue to look after ourselves and one another by masking where and when appropriate.

The above quote posted to the Health Unit Facebook page seems to dovetail very well with the City of Marshfield's new logo and multiple associated tag lines which all include the anchor word "Together." Perhaps an additional (and hopefully very temporary) tag line could be, "Stopping a Pandemic — Together."

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