EDITORIAL: Mask mandate is complicated issue

Anyone naive enough to think the community would quickly heal itself after the election was sadly mistaken. The pandemic continues, and that is a focal point of suspicion, angst and rage. Next week, the Tahlequah City Council will vote on whether to revamp the ordinance requiring facial masks. The change would allow the city to extend the mandate, or cut if off earlier than its expiration date of Nov. 30. Emotions are high, and although party politics might affect attitudes at the national level, that’s not necessarily the case for Tahlequah. And while many who deem themselves progressive want the mandate to continue, others are pushing back. One city councilor, who doesn’t oppose masks per se but objects to a mandate, is asking for feedback. The Nov. 12 meeting, wherein a vote is expected, could be contentious. There are no easy answers, but whatever side they fall on, officials believe their own positions will be best. Either way will offend, because the mandate has been difficult to enforce, as Police Chief Nate King has frankly said. So those who are accusing officials of "self-serving" behavior are off the mark – unless by "self-serving" they mean doing what constituents want, even to bolster chances of reelection. Many people are ambivalent about mandates, because they see problems on both sides. Others dislike the mandate, but themselves are wearing masks and practicing social distancing. The issue is nuanced, but many people are spreading misinformation, and the truth might help some people decide […]

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