On Monday night, the Columbia City Council voted to impose a mandatory mask-wearing ordinance for 90 days in most public and some private places.
Everyone age 10 and older will be required to wear a mask when around people beyond their household.
The penalty for failing to wear a mask is a $15 fine for individuals. Businesses face a $100 fine for each employee.
I realize that emotions run high about this issue. Some Columbians believe a mandatory face covering ordinance is an unnecessary imposition and a violation of personal freedom, an example of government overreach.
Perhaps, but is it a necessary one during a pandemic?
Masks are cumbersome and annoying. No matter how decorative we make them, they can be uncomfortable to wear, especially given Missouri heat and humidity.
Yet, we are compelled to do many things for our safety and the safety of others that are cumbersome, like buckling a seat belt, wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle and putting our young children in a car seat.
However, very few people complain about these rules. All of us must give up some personal freedoms to live in a democracy. It is called being committed to the common good.
For example, we have free speech, but we cannot carelessly yell fire in a crowded theater. We must be willing to do some things for the benefit of all of us, including health and safety demands that impinge on our personal freedom(s).
The facts are that more than 130,000 people have died from the coronavirus in the United States.
Contrary to a president caught in the throes of denial, the new cases being reported are not because of increased testing. It is because of new cases.
These new cases are not to be taken lightly or ignored. The pandemic is not over. It is not going to “just disappear.”
COVID-19 is an equal opportunity danger to all of us. It does care if one is white or a person of color, wealthy or poor, Republican, Democrat or independent. It does not care about age, rank or title.
The coronavirus can be deadly, and we must get a handle on it quickly. Wearing a mask and social distancing are not political issues (Republican vs. Democrat). This is a human issue.
If you think wearing a mask is uncomfortable and constricts your freedom, what do you think a respirator will be like? Or a casket?
The virus is surging in Boone County. If the virus is not contained, it will continue to affect our local economy, our ability to return to work, whether school will reopen and much of our normal lives.
All Columbians can benefit economically, personally and socially by simply wearing a mask and following the parameters of social distancing.
I’m glad the Columbia City Council passed a mandatory mask ordinance for the common good of all Columbians. It just makes good, common sense.
But I have lived long enough to learn that common sense is not all that common. Despite what the City Council does, everyone please wear a mask in public and practice social distancing. It does just make good sense.
The Rev. C.W. Dawson Jr. was the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in philosophy at MU. He teaches at Columbia College and Moberly Area Community College and writes for the Missourian.