Mask debate heats up in Marshalltown 1

As the country continues to weather the COVID-19 pandemic, the debate on whether to wear masks or not has become increasingly heated.

Marshalltown residents are required to wear masks to enter some stores in town such as Walmart, along with government buildings.

While the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends everyone 2 years of age or older wear a face mask and stay 6 feet away from others, some Americans believe a mask mandate is an infringement on their personal freedoms.

Jack Bingham of Montour is against wearing masks because he does not believe they work.

“They’re not going to stop what’s going on,” he said.

Bingham said people are wearing all different kinds of masks — cloth, medical and more — and they are not effective.

He said during a recent trip to the store, a fellow shopper commented on the fact that he was not wearing a mask. Bingham asked the woman, “Do you think your mask works?” When she said yes, he responded that it should not matter if he wears a mask since hers works.

Bingham said people are touching products when they go to stores.

“What’s the purpose of the mask if your hands are touching everything?” he asked.

According to the CDC, experts believe the virus is spreading mainly from person-to-person. It might be possible for someone to become infected with COVID-19 by touching a contaminated surface and then touching their mouth or nose, but it is not believed to be the main way the virus spreads.

Marshalltown resident Chris Kadner agrees that wearing masks is not the answer.

“My feeling on mandating masks is that it should be a personal choice,” he said. “We live in the land of the free because of the brave and as a middle-aged father I have witnessed a lot of things in my lifetime that were far worse than this so called ‘pandemic’ we are living through currently.”

Kadner said there is still much uncertainty about COVID-19.

“There is no right answer at this time because frankly we don’t, as a country, truly know what’s the best way to fend off this virus,” he said. “Everything is speculation and I’m not willing to freely give up my rights that others have died to defend on a hunch from a very small group of close-minded doctors and politicians.”

Kadner cited the 857 Iowa deaths from COVID-19 as of Wednesday, which is .027 percent of the population. He believes that is not enough to be labeled a pandemic. The number of deaths was 867 on Friday.

He asks for people to stop being mean to others with opposing views, as no one has all the answers.

“You don’t have to agree with someone to have respect for them as a person. We as human beings can simply agree to disagree,” Kadner said.

Shanna Draper from Marshalltown believes the inconvenience of wearing a mask is a small price to pay.

“I feel if we can slow the spread or prevent one person from getting it… then it’s worth it,” she said.

Draper said some people are not able to wear masks for various reasons and they should not be forced to stay home to protect themselves. The use of masks by those who are able to wear them can provide protection.

“We should just support each other and do our best,” Draper said.

As a nurse, she said it is proven to help prevent the spread of the virus. While masks are not 100 percent effective, they do slow the spread.

Draper hopes people remember everyone is in a different situation. Some residents may be immunocompromised without showing any outward signs. Wearing a mask helps protect the vulnerable.

Dennis Houlihan of Marshalltown has been outspoken in his support for mask-wearing.

“It’s one of the easiest, cheapest, one of the most effective things we can do,” he said.

Houlihan said buying a mask is a relatively inexpensive way to help protect the community.

“I’ve seen more and more people wearing masks as they realize it’s the right thing to do,” he said.

Houlihan said it is everyone’s responsibility to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

In response to anti-maskers, he said mask mandates are not about the government asserting control.

“This isn’t about control or your freedoms or anything like that. This is a national health crisis,” Houlihan said.

According to him, wearing a mask is about doing one’s part to protect the community and no one has “the freedom to infect other people.”

Houlihan said the CDC, Surgeon General and World Health Organization all say the country can get the virus under control if enough people wear masks for four to eight weeks.

“It’s really pretty simple; wear a mask, social distance, practice good personal hygiene,” he said.

Houlihan wants anti-maskers to think about the benefits of wearing a mask.

“If you could save someone’s life by wearing a mask, why wouldn’t you?” he asked.

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Contact Anna Shearer at 641-753-6611 or ashearer@timesrepublican.com

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