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Opinion: Declare an emergency and issue a mask mandate for schools

Gov. Spencer Cox should be the adult in the room and do what’s necessary to protect Utah’s children.

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A child attends a pro-mask rally in Salt Lake County.

Malin Philp, of Salt Lake City, attends a pro-mask rally at the Salt Lake County Government Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021, after the Salt Lake County Council voted against a mask mandate for K-6 students in schools.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Gov. Spencer Cox was right when he said, “If we want smaller government, we need bigger people.”

Watching irrational commentary by anti-mask Utahns, I’ve been disturbed by parallels to overly permissive parenting. Perhaps you’ve observed parents with a screeching toddler futilely trying to reason with the child for extended periods of time. There is a time and place for reason, but too many Utahns are screaming blatant falsehoods and demanding elected leaders kowtow to their demands.

Now that schools are open, it may be too late to avert catastrophe — the trigger identified by Salt Lake County Council Republicans for taking action when they struck down a mask mandate in local elementary schools. 

We can still put on a mask to slow the spread and mitigate what is surely coming — sickness, lost time at school for children and work for attentive parents, hospitalization, death and despair for too many of our brothers and sisters. But we’ve had long enough to voluntarily choose the right.

Gov. Cox, be the adult in the room and the bigger person. Declare an emergency and issue a mask mandate for schools. Masks kept schools open last year. Kids aren’t vaccinated yet and “everything else” is not enough.

Deborah Gatrell

West Valley City