To the Editor:
The Caledonian-Record’s banner headline on last Thursday’s paper, “Legislators Poised to Abdicate Mask Mandates to Towns,” gave the entirely false impression that it is the Legislature that is “abdicating” responsibility.
In fact, and as the article did report, it is Governor Scott who is forfeiting leadership on mask policy.
In the face of a surge in COVID two times higher than the previous peak last winter, the Governor refuses to take any statewide policy steps.
One option discussed on a recent VTDigger “Deeper Dig” is Nevada’s policy of referencing CDC data to determine when to require facial coverings on a county-by-county basis. Above the CDC thresholds, masks required; below, masks not required. This seems a sensible policy to me, one that stops the incessant debate, is based on data, and incentivizes communities in a positive way to take responsibility for lowering virus spread. See https://vtdigger.org/2021/11/19/the-deeper-dig-the-case-for-mask-mandates/
I also worry that asking local select boards and city councils to decide whether facial coverings are wise policy will only foment more division in our communities. Local boards have no resources or special access to dispassionate scientific data; they will inevitably be confronted by local citizens who have their own minds made up; and they may make their judgments based on their own bias. Local government is not the best level of government to make this type of policy.
All that said, I expect to support the legislation the Governor has laid before us, however imperfect. I expect the Legislature will take up a more comprehensive policy when we reconvene in January.
St. Johnsbury, Vt.