Moscow’s recent face mask mandate drew some harsh criticism during Monday’s Moscow City Council meeting, with several speakers describing it as “dehumanizing” and unscientific.
Mayor Bill Lambert issued the mandate last week, based on recommendations from public health officials. It requires people ages 5 and older to wear face coverings in public, if they’re unable to maintain a 6-foot separation from non-family members.
The emergency order includes exceptions for people with certain medical conditions and disabilities, as well as for people who are incarcerated.
Ten people spoke against the order during Monday’s meeting. Several suggested the coronavirus wasn’t as significant a threat as elected officials are portraying — particularly in Latah County, where fewer than two dozen confirmed cases have been reported, with no deaths. Others said mandatory masks created more health problems than they prevented, both by raising anxiety levels and by keeping people from breathing fresh air.
One woman, for example, likened the human immune system to a muscle that atrophies if it isn’t exercised regularly.
“By being exposed to germs and bacteria, we will in fact strengthen ourselves,” she said. “Our greatest defense (against the coronavirus) is our immune system.”
A couple of speakers also criticized council members for allegedly “bullying” or publicly “shaming” businesses that didn’t comply with the mask order to their satisfaction.
Amy Kohl, who served seven years on the Moscow Chamber of Commerce board, described such behavior as “astonishing,” adding that it “won’t yield positive results, and is a poor example of the city reaching out to businesses.”