I hardly know where to begin in commenting on the discussion of masks, COVID infection rate, compliance with the Governor’s COVID orders that occurred at the most recent County Council meeting.

Perhaps the most striking aspect was the failure of the director of public health to provide any statistics. When asked how many complaints there had been regarding the failure of bars to impose guidelines for distancing, her non-scientific response was an irrelevant, “you don’t want to know.” I thought that a rather astounding response to an honest question by council to ascertain the extent of violation of guidelines prior to a discussion of the need to draft an emergency order to impose civil penalties on those who are in non-compliance. I still want an answer; show me the data.

Later in the conversation, she acknowledged that the offenders were a handful of people who were “in your face” in their violation of the standards. Does that not raise the obvious question of why not deal with that handful rather than impose additional penalties on those who are trying to comply.

Business owners here have been hurt by the pandemic; they do not need further oversight and interference. In my experience, most of the business owners in Talbot County are community-minded, responsible people who have invested money, sweat equity and their reputations in the way they conduct their businesses. These people deserve our support, not harassment, not orders from people, with one exception who have never run businesses.

Probably the single most appalling statement of the evening was from Council President Corey Pack who suggested that those who claimed to be unable to wear masks defend their claims in court. When Ms Price objected to Mr. Pack’s suggestion, she rightly stated that having to defend in court one’s exemption from wearing a mask is a HIPPA violation. I don’t know where the public health director came up with a contradiction of that statement. Exposure of medical records is a violation of HIPPA. Not sure where ADA applies; I was one of the people pushing that legislation decades ago, but that is not one of the provisions I recall. Regardless of which laws apply, the suggestion is one that sent chills up my spine. Where does Mr. Pack think the encroachment on privacy should end? What next to attack our right to privacy?

There are many people who, for various reasons, cannot wear masks. Although any discussion of the efficacy of masks, which is certainly far from established science, was forbidden, there is real controversy among the medical profession as to the danger masks pose for many people. That reality was ignored; on the contrary, failure to do so was attacked as selfish, subject to fine regardless of the legitimacy of the objection or refusal. What gives any member of council that right?

People need to be aware of the emergency measures to be imposed by the Council. Will they reduce the number of people who can gather to worship while failing to limit the number who can gather to demonstrate? Where in the Constitution is that justified? Will they limit the operation of restaurants and bars to the extent that they force them out of business? Will they treat the people who have invested their time and money to provide services in this community as children who must be told what to do? Will they impose egregious fines? Will there be a sunset provision to the emergency order?

My question to the Council is why they are voting on emergency measures when the director of public health refuses to quantify the problem? Emergency measures that impact the entire county are not justified by a few bad actors. Sounds like a power trip to me. Enough.



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