In Our Opinion: Disputes unmask extent of misinformation, confusion about face coverings

Together with social distancing, donning a face covering is proven to be one of the most simple, low-tech and effective ways to prevent the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus.

While most of us have gotten used to wearing masks in public, some people are apparently still confused by the most basic facts and rules about them. A couple of controversies over the ubiquitous coverings have recently made news again on Whidbey Island.

A woman acting as her own attorney filed an injunction request asking a judge to force the hospital, the library district and county Public Health to treat her as being exempt from mask mandates due to her medical problem.

The facts of her experience are unclear and state law isn’t exactly transparent. To go into a business, people only need to claim a medical problem that makes wearing a mask unhealthy, no proof required. But government agencies are a different matter. State rules, for example, specifically say all library patrons must wear masks, no exemptions required.

Even the state Department of Health didn’t have a ready answer about who can refuse service to people who won’t wear masks for medical reasons.

In addition, more than 100 people signed a letter asking Oak Harbor Public Schools to stop requiring students to wear masks in class, despite the fact that the state mandates it. It’s understandable that parents would want their kids to be comfortable at school and for classes to return to being as normal as possible. Yet the letter makes reckless claims about children and masks based on supposed “studies” by a naturopath known for talking cancer patients into taking herbal concoctions.

But the letter does make a good point about the lack of clarity from the federal government about masks early in the pandemic. It makes sense that the message might change as the science is solidified, but politics played a part in the early mixed messages.

On a national level, many of the people who still resist masks — and spread misinformation — are the same windbags who tried to argue early in the pandemic that the government was over-reacting about the seriousness of the virus. You don’t hear that nonsense so much lately, now that COVID-19 has raised the nation’s death rate to the highest it’s been since the early 1900s, even more than the Spanish flu.

Hopefully, the mask controversy will become a non-issue later this year as COVID-19 rates decrease as more people become vaccinated and mandates are dropped. That may be delayed, unfortunately, if another round of misinformation campaigns persists and experts fail to reach everyone with a clear message.

More in Opinion

In Our Opinion: Island County’s pandemic bonuses are a smart idea, if legal

The latest federal stimulus plan, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021,… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: Welcome back, Whidbey Island Fair, how we missed ya

After a year marked by fear, divisiveness and distancing, attending the Whidbey… Continue reading

My garden.
On the Rock, we walk, wander and garden while the sun shines

During sunshine, we are outdoors walking our trails, wandering our beaches and tending our gardens.

In Our Opinion: Ships should follow same environmental rules as everyone else

Over the last year, giant hulking figures emitting low, intrusive rumbles have… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: It’s time for governor to put social distancing behind us

It’s time for the days of mandatory social distancing to come to… Continue reading

Sound Off: Coverage of clear-cutting on island doesn’t tell complete story

Your recent article, “Despite how it may seem, clear-cutting not increasing,” lacks… Continue reading

From the Editor: Press releases always welcome, but they are just the first step

People are a lot more savvy about how newspapers work than they… Continue reading

Sound Off: This is a time to renew our pledge to remember the fallen

For many, Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer. The end of… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: Illegal or not, Coupeville school board actions troubling

As role models for students, school boards should strive to follow the… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: With candidate filing week at hand, it’s time to run for office

The outcome of this year’s election could have a significant impact on… Continue reading

Sound Off: Rethinking proposed bans on natural gas

By Don Brunell Sometimes being first isn’t good. Such is the case… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: Disputes unmask extent of misinformation, confusion about face coverings

Together with social distancing, donning a face covering is proven to be… Continue reading