Letter to Editor: Commissioners’ logic disturbing

Staff Writer
Hays Daily News

To say I have lost faith in the ability of our current county commissioners to lead in this time of a global pandemic would be an understatement. I have now attended two county commissioners meetings in July, and I have serious doubts about our commissioners’ understanding of the face mask issue and the best way to protect our community.

Commissioner Butch Schlyer appears to be the most ill-informed—or perhaps simply the commissioner full of the most bluster. At the July 20 meeting, he claimed to have “spent all weekend researching these masks,” but I have to question the quality of his “research.” A simple search of the trusted MayoClinic.org site turned up a clear and straightforward article “COVID-19: How much protection do face masks offer?” The article asserts that “face masks combined with other preventive measures, such as frequent hand-washing and social distancing, help slow the spread of the virus.” Moreover, “a cloth mask is intended to trap droplets that are released when the wearer talks, coughs or sneezes.”

When Schlyer asserted, “A mask won’t stop a damn virus. . . . It’s like using chicken wire to keep out flies or mosquitoes,” he revealed a startling lack of understanding regarding the purpose of wearing a cloth mask. The purpose, as the MayoClinic.org site explains, is to reduce the distance and spread of the relatively large droplets that carry the virus from one person to another, NOT to filter the virus itself with the cloth. How can someone who does not even understand the concept of wearing a mask to reduce viral load be responsible for making a crucial decision regarding said masks?

He went on to compare the back-and-forth discussion of masks to “a bunch of ducks farting underwater.” In fact, he announced, “I’m deleting everything I get on my email about a mask.” That should be disturbing news to his constituents. He also claimed that the Dillons and Walmart mask mandates are just “political,” and he is “pissed off” that his 94-year-old father cannot shop at Dillons without a mask or a face shield.

The other two commissioners had their own disturbing revelations to make. “Thank God that this doesn’t affect kids,” said Commissioner Dustin Roths. If it did, he said, “my fatherly instinct would come out.” Presumably, a mask mandate might be warranted if children were at high risk, but since it’s mostly the elderly, cancer patients and others with underlying conditions who are at risk, he sees no reason to reverse his vote against a mask mandate. He even quoted Patrick Henry: “Give me liberty or give me death.” It seems a bit of a stretch to compare a temporary mask mandate (which could prevent much suffering and even death) to the tyranny of colonial British rule. A more fitting slogan for his stance might change the original one slightly: “Give me liberty AND give me death.”

County Health Director Jason Kennedy repeatedly delivered the message that “social distancing works” and we should “limit groups of people.” Nevertheless, Commissioner Dean Haselhorst revealed that on the day before, he had attended St. Joseph Catholic Church, where “out of the probably 400 people there, 8 had masks on.” In other words, one of the three people deciding on policy to govern the health of our community is himself ignoring the County Health Director’s advice to social distance and avoid large gatherings. Haselhorst went on to say that if we would simply stop watching the 6 o’clock and the 10 o’clock news, we’d “forget about what’s going on.” Surely, sticking one’s head in the sand is not the best way to lead during a time of crisis.

Cheryl Hofstetter Duffy,