The Lincoln County News published around 17 stories in August on whether or not and where people are required wear a face mask in Lincoln County, during these Delta variant days of COVID-19.
To some people wearing a mask at all times during a global pandemic, even with mass vaccinations, is imperative.
To others, masks are a matter of personal choice.
There are many people, too, who wear masks in certain situations, but not in others, with no strong feelings either way.
Crowded indoor event in the heat of summer? Mask. Outdoor cookout with family and close friends? No mask.
It’s one thing when you are deciding what to do for your own health, that of your family, and how your choices impact others.
But school boards, selectmen, town administrators, teachers, healthcare workers, and public servants across the county and the state need to consider everyone whose care is entrusted to them.
They look for guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Maine Department of Education, and Governor Mills’ administration.
Maine is following U.S. CDC guidance: “Persons in counties with ‘substantial’ or ‘high’ levels of COVID-19 community transmission are advised to wear face coverings in public indoor settings,” according to news release from Gov. Mills’ office on July 28.
I want to key in on the word “advised.” To advise is to recommend, suggest, or encourage. It is not a mandate.
By the way, at the moment Lincoln County is in the “substantial” or “high” category of community transmission, according to a daily graph maintained by the Bangor Daily News.
Additionally, the news release recommends that “all teachers, staff, and students in K-12 schools wear face coverings, regardless of vaccination status or community transmission level.”
The word “recommend,” as noted before, is not a mandate.
But the tricky thing about a piece of advice or a recommendation is that you can take it or leave it.
It’s just not so simple when the consequences of doing so could impact so many. That’s why select boards and school committees – especially school committees – are in such a difficult sea over whether or not and where masks need to be worn in our public buildings and schools.
Lincoln County is fortunate that so many parents, residents, business owners and citizens of all stripes attend meetings, speaking up about what matters to them. Without community feedback on important issues, public servants can’t consider all viewpoints when making decisions that impact so many.
But let’s keep in mind that every single person is doing the best they can with the information they have at the time, including facts, recommendations, opinions, and even hunches.
Let’s trust our public servants to keep all relevant guidance in mind on masks, and other matters, as well.