Let's start with some facts that everyone knows, even if they don't acknowledge them:
- COVID cases are rising again.
- The Delta variant is becoming the dominant strain of COVID.
- The Delta variant is much more contagious than earlier strains. And, it appears it is also much more deadly.
- Being vaccinated does not guarantee you will not get this new variant, but it will keep you from getting as sick.
- Being vaccinated AND wearing a mask is the best way to protect yourself from getting COVID.
- And finally, wearing a mask also protects those around you – which is especially important, as recent data indicates that vaccinated people can still be a carrier for the Delta variant.
Those are all facts. You can dispute them, you can whine about them, but COVID doesn't care.
So, in light of the facts above, the CDC has gone back to recommending masks for everyone in public places, and for children in school (since they can't be vaccinated). Our governor, in response, followed the science and the CDC recommendations and said that state employees had to wear masks inside their offices, whether or not they are vaccinated.
Unfortunately, three of our state officials — all Republican, of course — have chosen to support the virus over their own employees.
As noted by the Courier-Journal, Ryan Quarles (Ag), Mike Harmon (Auditor), and Allison Ball (Treasurer), have all said that they will not follow the mask mandate in their offices.
Here are the explanations those three offered for their decisions:
- Quarles: "It's time to end the mandates as the voluntary vaccines offer the best protection from COVID-19 and the Delta variant. It's an individual choice."
- Harmon: "The majority of employees who regularly work [in their Frankfort office] are vaccinated and can also social distance in their individual workspaces."
- Ball: "The Treasury has a very high rate of vaccination among its employees, and the staff has been extremely responsible both in monitoring their own health, and in not placing their fellow employees at undue risk."
Apparently, protecting their fellow workers from the Delta variant is not that important to these three Repubs.
Asked about these responses, Beshear said, "I care more about my people than my popularity. I've got the backbone to do what's right for them. I wish other people did, too."
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