Three women took their objection to face coverings to the streets this past weekend, but their efforts proved unpersuasive.

Tammy Jock of Lisbon, Nikki Rickett of Ogdensburg and Amber L. Williams of Heulveton held a protest Sunday outside Ogdensburg City Hall. They conveyed their opposition to the state requirement on wearing masks during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

New York mandates residents to wear protective coverings over their faces when in public. Businesses may be penalized if they don’t enforce this rule.

“Freedom of choice. I believe that we have a freedom to choose, and we’ve done research,” Ms. Williams, according to a story published Sunday by the Watertown Daily Times. “People should have the right to choose if they should wear a mask or not.”

“I don’t like to fully compare it to the flu, but that’s the closest thing we have to a comparison,” Ms. Rickett added. “People get the flu; they go home; they get sick; they come back.”

Both Ms. Rickett and Ms. Williams said they believe that wearing masks doesn’t do much of anything to stop the spread of infection. Neither of them wears a covering when they’re in public. Ms. Rickett said the state’s mask order violates the Health Insurance Privacy and Portability Act of 1996 as well as the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Ms. Jock said she has a rare heart condition that reduces her oxygen intake. Her doctors have urged her not to wear a mask, she added.

Protests are effective ways of communicating viewpoints about an important issue. It helps if you have accurate information, however, and these women failed in this sense.

This coronavirus is not comparable to the flu. It’s formally named severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2); it’s similar to the virus that caused the deadly outbreak of SARS in 2003.

The coronavirus is very contagious and incredibly devastating to many people who develop COVID-19 as a result of becoming infected. More than 140,000 Americans have died so far.

To claim that wearing masks does little to prevent infection is to ignore the findings of health care experts worldwide. Face coverings offer significant protection against breathing in respiratory droplets that carry the virus.

HIPPA prohibits health care providers and insurance companies from revealing medical information about an individual. And the Fourth Amendment keeps the government from conducting unreasonable searches and seizures on citizens without due process. Neither of these has anything to do with being required to use face coverings in public.

People may obtain exemptions from wearing masks if doing so poses risks to them because of medical conditions they have. But doctors have said such people are likely to be more vulnerable to developing COVID-19 as a result of their medical conditions.

So while wearing masks would cause problems for them, going out in public less protected imperils their health as well. It would be better for these people to make arrangements with family members or friends to conduct business in public on their behalf whenever feasible.

We respect the right of these women to hold a demonstration to state their case. But they are not well informed about the seriousness of the coronavirus, and refusing to wear masks puts them and others in jeopardy.

Maintaining our liberties in a free society is vital. But this carries responsibilities. We are all responsible for understanding the facts about this health care crisis and doing what we can to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Wearing masks in public is one of the best safeguards against harming others.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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