Opinion: Wearing a face mask is a symbol of responsibility and respect

Opinion: Wearing a face mask is a symbol of responsibility and respect
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Opinion: Wearing a face mask is a symbol of responsibility and respect

Wearing face masks to help reduce exposure to Coronavirus has become a political issue by selfish politicians who don’t seem to care. Elected officials who encourage the wearing of facemarks are being responsible and caring while officials who don’t and make excuses for not doing so are irresponsible and don’t belong in office. Originally published in the Patch Online 12-02-20.

By Ray Hanania

Wearing a face mask has been turned into a political issue with some people mocking those who wear face masks.

With the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic continuing to spread and continuing to take lives, it is the height of arrogance and disrespect to not wear one.

It’s especially disrespectful to the public when elected officials refuse to wear face masks and fail to encourage the public to wear face masks. Elected officials are supposed to set the example as role models of good behavior but in places like Orland Park’s Village Hall, that’s unfortunately just simply not the case at all.

How can it hurt to wear a face mask? It’s no different than putting your hand over your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough. The face mask isn’t the sole answer to avoiding getting sick with coronavirus but it is one way to help prevent the spread of the virus to others and to prevent yourself from becoming infected.

Officials at Orland Township wear face masks to help protect the residents of the community and they encourage the public to wear face masks. Photo courtesy of Orland Township

Officials at Orland Township wear face masks to help protect the residents of the community and they encourage the public to wear face masks. Photo courtesy of Orland Township

If more people would wear a face mask, we probably would be in as deep a problem as we are today.

The CDC recommends that everyone wears a face mask when they are in public, writing, “CDC recommends that people wear masks in public settings, like on public and mass transportation, at events and gatherings, and anywhere they will be around other people.”

Despite the political spin from Mayor Keith Pekau and the Village of Orland Park that cases of the coronavirus are “decreasing,” the data in fact shows that the cases are increasing. You don’t have to listen to the political spin that is being irresponsibly spread from Village Hall, which has become the capitol of irresponsibility these past few years.

Data from the Illinois Department of Public Health shows that for Orland Park and its two zip codes, 60462 and 60467, the total number of cases is currently at 3,463, a troubling surge over the past 30 days when it was only 2,094. That’s an increase of 1,369 new infections of Orland Park residents.

It is true that the positivity rate has slightly dropped from the 12.5 percent that it was a few weeks back to the 10.1 percent that it is today. But is that something to celebrate or promote from an official source when a positivity rate of 3 percent is considered safe?

It’s all disturbing to have this kind of irresponsibility from a local public official who seemed to care more about his photo in front of the Christmas Tree during the lighting this past week than to serve as a role model of responsibility by wearing a face mask.

The message that is being sent out by officials not wearing a face mask is that despite their claims that they care about your safety, they really do not.

The most vulnerable people in our community are senior citizens. And I am not just saying that because I am a senior citizen. I am saying that because Orland Park has a large senior citizen population hat deserves to be protected and cared for and made our priority.

The media age in Orland Park is 22 percent higher than the rest of the State of Illinois. The population density in Orland Park is 1096 percent higher than the rest of the state. You can point to areas downstate and say nothing is happening there, but when we look at Orland Park, it is clear the threat of Coronavirus is real and it is severe.

About 20 percent of Orland Park’s 58,600 residents are Senior Citizens, 65 years and older, data shows. And that number from the Census is old taken from the last Census in 2010. I think it is even higher today. A quarter of those Senior Citizens live alone. One-fifth of those seniors are veterans. The average annual income for a senior in Orland Park is about $47,000.

Senior citizens in Orland Park were vulnerable even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck some nine months ago.

I understand how young people don’t care about their health. They don’t face the same deteriorating health problems that most seniors face. So yea, they are going to go party and have fun in tight gatherings because our youth has a sense of invincibility, and irresponsibility in the case of some.

That’s why good leadership is so important in a community. If the elected officials don’t think wearing a face mask is important, why would the young people wear a face masks, especially in today’s era of heightened concerns reflecting a higher than average increase in the number of young people who turned out to vote for the very first time in their lives.

The elected officials in Orland Park promoted the idea of voting. Sure, they want those votes. But they just don’t seem to care about taking maximum precautions to protect the health of the others around us in society. They should be wearing face masks. They should be urging residents to wear face masks.

They should stop gambling politically with the health of the community, including not jeopardizing the lives of our senior citizen community. They should stop ridiculing those who wear face masks. Most importantly, they should start encouraging everyone to wear face masks and enforce a requirement that the face masks be worn in every Village business, community public event and office.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall columnist. Reach him at www.Hanania.com.)

Ray Hanania

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