Combining public health, environmental issues

Published: 10/21/2021 4:32:32 PM

David Kempf, in his Oct. 15 letter “Mask mandates killing our planet” advocating the ending of mask mandates in order to keep plastic out of the oceans, is conflating public health policy with environmental issues.

We are in the midst of a historic pandemic in which masks have been proven to impede the spread of COVID. It would be grossly irresponsible to end mask mandates and sacrifice lives under the rather flimsy pretext of supporting the environment. In fact, one can both enforce mask mandates and ban the use of disposable plastic face coverings.

Nonetheless, I support Mr Kempf’s concerns about ocean pollution. If governments are going to address this issue there needs to be strict regulations regarding all sorts of plastic products — bottles, wrapping, packaging, household utensils and toys have been carried into the ocean via rivers for many decades, and about 20% of this global catastrophe is comprised of plastics used in commercial fishing gear.

Certainly, it makes sense to avoid using cheap plastic for COVID face coverings when studies indicate that multi-layered cloth coverings are more effective at screening out infected droplets than plastic, disposable masks.

I would hope that Mr. Kempf is sincere in his environmental convictions: that he avoids eating commercial fish, does not purchase drinks or foods in plastic containers and that he wears cloth face coverings in indoor spaces.

I would also assume that he does not support Republican deregulation of environmental protection, and would also guess that he is not merely using environmental concerns as a smokescreen for Republican antipathy toward all public health mandates that address COVID harms. Otherwise, he is simply trolling us.

Phil Wilson

Northampton


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