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Wearing a mask should not be linked to politics

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For some, not wearing a mask or face covering in public places has become a political statement.

Apparently, for at least a few conservatives in Washington state, it seems to be embraced as a way of protesting Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee’s coronavirus-pandemic orders that have effectively shut down much of the economy.

Sadly, this has led to some giving those wearing masks the stink-eye, or worse, as a way of shaming them. Washington state is not alone.

Yes, the economic impacts and the negative changes to our lives are frustrating.

We all want to get back to our pre-COVID-19 lives. On this point, liberals, conservatives, Democrats, Republicans, independents and moderates can agree.

But not wearing a mask as a protest is ridiculous — and dangerous — as is shaming.

Masks should have zero to do with partisan politics.

The urging of community members to wear face coverings is done simply to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Ultimately this should result in fewer COVID-19 cases and speed the opening of the economy and the resumption of public activities.

On Friday, North Dakota’s Republican governor, Doug Burgum, made that point with tears welling in his eyes. His message was insightful, heartfelt and spot on.

Burgum decried a “senseless dividing line” between U.S. residents over whether masks should be worn in public during the coronavirus pandemic. He was at the brink of tears when he urged his state’s citizens to “try to dial up your empathy and your understanding.”

“We’re all in this together, and there’s only one battle we’re fighting,” he said. “And that’s the battle of the virus.”

Burgum went on to say, “If someone is wearing a mask, they’re not doing it to represent what political party they’re in or what candidates they support.

“...They might be doing it because they’ve got a 5-year-old who’s been going through cancer treatments. They might have vulnerable adults in their life who currently have COVID-19 and are fighting.

“So again, I would just love to see our state, as part of being ‘North Dakota smart,’ also be ‘North Dakota kind,’ ‘North Dakota empathetic,’ ‘North Dakota understanding,’ to do this thing. Because if somebody wants to wear a mask, there should be no mask shaming.”

Well said, governor. Well said.