A public meeting about a mandatory school mask policy in Utah was cancelled when dozens of people not wearing masks filled the room.
It comes after the Governor of Utah, Gary Herbert, ordered all students and teachers to wear masks inside schools and on buses in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Despite the order being brought in in an attempt to save lives, and despite public health experts saying the evidence is clear that masks help prevent the spread of the virus, many residents were unhappy about it and flocked to the meeting to voice their concerns.
Wednesday’s gathering in Provo was called by Utah County Commissioner Bill Lee, who intended to propose a vote for a ‘compassionate exemption’ from the statewide mandate because he ‘trusts teachers and parents’.
Soon it was proven the parents couldn’t be trusted though, because the small room quickly filled up with dozens of maskless people who arrived with signs protesting face masks. They also removed the social distancing tape that had been placed on chairs, and soon the room was overflowing.
Utah County Commissioner Tanner Ainge said the meeting ‘violated current health recommendations’ and moved to suspend the meeting until a later date, with his motion to adjourn approved with a 2-to-1 vote. Lee voted against it, ABC4 News reports.
‘This is the exact opposite of what we need to be doing,’ Ainge said to the crowd at the meeting. ‘We are supposed to be physically distancing, wearing masks.’ The audience responded with a loud chorus of boos.
Despite the meeting getting cancelled, many of the approximately 100 people in the audience stayed, along with the two other commissioners besides Ainge. Outside the building Lee answered questions from parents, who gathered closely around him without a mask in sight.
‘I think it’s totally wrong,’ Denna Robertson told Lee. ‘I think it’s a political hoax, and I am against masks.’ Another person, Carly Lisonbee, said Ainge and others wanted to ‘override a parent’s decision over what they think is best for their child’, as per USA Today.
‘I think you’re forgetting we live in America,’ Lisonbee continued. ‘And we the people decide. You work for we the people, not the other way around.’
A teacher attending the gathering attempted to talk sense into the parents, telling them: ‘All I’m saying is, I’m trying to save my grandma’s life, and I’m a teacher.’
Tina Cannon, a former teacher, agreed, telling the crowd: ‘Since when do we have a constitutional right to put other lives in danger? We can’t smoke in public places — because it puts other people’s lives in danger.’
And she’s right. With coronavirus cases in Utah climbing each day, with more than 30,000 cases recorded and the state this week being declared a ‘red zone’ for the virus, it’s difficult to see why residents would so blatantly ignore scientific advice.
Studies and public health experts have shown that masks are an important way to slow the spread of the virus, with Dr. Robert Redfield – director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – saying the pandemic could be brought under control in less than two months if the American public were to embrace mask-wearing now.
Yet people continue to fight against it, continuing to put their own and others’ lives at risk and ensuring the global health crisis continues each day they do.
It’s okay to not panic about everything going on in the world right now. LADbible and UNILAD’s aim with our campaign, Cutting Through, is to provide our community with facts and stories from the people who are either qualified to comment or have experienced first-hand the situation we’re facing. For more information from the World Health Organization, click here.
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