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Op-ed: Senator Borrello, please follow the science on Covid-19

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By Cynthia Schreiner

I just read with complete disgust Senator George Borrello’s statement regarding Governor Kathy Hochul’s mask mandate, to take effect Monday. As we’ve seen countless times over the past two years, here comes another Republican denying science.

It isn’t our government leaders that are making research and science-based recommendations to stop the spread of an airborne virus that provokes people to resist common sense directives. It is the continuing Republican attempt to pander to the anti-vax, anti-mask voters in our midst. Labeling simple health directives such as “wear a mask while in public” as “UNFAIR! and ‘overreach” is what is creating the polarization that Mr. Borrello so hypocritically decries. Asking the general public to wear a mask to protect others when they enter a public space is no more” unfair” or “unrealistic” than asking them to wear pants.

I recently returned from Germany, where yes, there are free, pop up Covid testing sites every other block. Yet despite the proliferation of Covid testing centers on every corner, Germany (like the rest of Europe) is currently surging with a rapidly rising number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Testing for an airborne virus after it has been transmitted, does literally nothing to stop it from spreading. Masks do. In light our our own raging Covid crisis situation right here in Allegany County, perhaps now is the time to stop incorrectly labeling fact based scientifically proven mitigation measures as “questionable,” or suggesting that ” resistance”  and “volatile conflicts” over a mask mandate are inevitable.

As we all witnessed on January 6th, violence is inevitable only when it is suggested, supported and encouraged, Senator Borrello: Stop repeating anti-science talking points, tell the public the truth, encourage people to be a little less selfish, and maybe there would be less public resistance to getting vaccinated and wearing masks.

I urge you to rethink your political strategy of falsely labeling something as simple, harmless and cost effective as asking the citizens of our fair state to wear a mask in public as an “unfair burden” with “questionable benefits.” The benefits of getting vaccinated and masking up to stop the spread of the global pandemic have been proven, over and over.

Perhaps the time has come to leave the health advice on how to stop this pandemic to the doctors, scientists and epidemiologists who’ve spent their lives and careers studying viruses, instead of politicians. If the conversation and rhetoric over the past two years regarding Covid -19 had been “simply about public health”  maybe nearly 800,000 of our fellow Americans wouldn’t already be dead. If only.

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