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An open letter to Clinton County patrons

(Editor’s Note: In regard to the letter to the editor below, The Express editorial board decided to waive its requirement that the author be identified because of the significance and importance of the public health issue being addressed.)

I am first providing an explanation as to why I wish to have my name withheld. This issue is one that causes deep division. As an employee of a local retailer for nearly 20 years — a retailer that is well-liked by the community — I do not wish to impact the business I work for because of my opinion and my opinion could very well do that. If you cannot print my letter I understand, however, I feel it is very important.

When businesses ask that you wear a mask, please know it is NOT an attempt to infringe upon your rights. As an employee of a local business for many years, I can assure you the idea of wearing a mask particularly in warm weather is both uncomfortable and unappealing, especially for eight hours in a row, though I am more than happy to do it to ensure the safety of staff and patrons alike.

Businesses are taking extra sanitation measures to keep everyone safe. Understanding that many infected are asymptomatic makes mask wearing and sanitation of utmost importance. I take countless measures each and every day to protect everyone.

Please see and know that wearing a mask isn’t about you. It’s about protecting fellow patrons and the employees — employees who come in contact with hundreds of people everyday … employees who must hold their tongue as you come strolling in with a blatant look of defiance broadcast on your face because “You don’t have to wear one and we can’t make you.”

Because we are not allowed to ask you if you have a medical condition that prohibits you from wearing one, we have to assume this is the case effectively tying our hands.

I am required to spend countless hours each day to keep you safe but you can’t put on a mask for 10 minutes while you shop because it infringes on your rights? It is very difficult not to become embittered by this segment of the population. To think that the mask issue is a direct attempt to control you is a type of self importance and selfishness I never wish to possess.

Every single person we come in contact with, without a mask on is an increased chance of contracting a virus and taking it home to our families, perhaps even in the absence of any symptoms. Are condoms fun and comfortable? Do they make intercourse more enjoyable? I think we all know the answer to this. And yet, they are widely used and why is that? Because the importance of protecting others and ourselves is evident. So why is a mask any different?

Each employee has families they return home to. They live with a certain amount of concern that they could bring this virus home to them without knowing. There’s an increased risk with each person they come in contact with who is not wearing a mask.

As I live with high risk individuals, I now wear a mask in their presence in my own home due to the increasing amount of individuals who refuse to wear masks. Do I enjoy wearing a mask at work and at home? No, not really, but it is a necessity to protect them.

So please, please think of something greater than yourself before you decide not to wear a mask. Have respect for all the people you encounter as you conduct your business! That look of smug self-satisfaction as you enter my place of employment without a mask on makes my blood boil.

I do all of this for you each and every day. I make adjustments in my home life to keep my family safe because of the amount of people I am required to be in contact with.

But you? You can’t even make this one concession, one small inconvenience for a short amount of time to keep the community and those who serve them safe. Your selfishness does a disservice to everyone and speaks volumes of your character.

— Sincerely, Your public servant

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