Scientific research shows that wearing face masks cuts transmission of the COVID coronavirus by 50 to 60 percent. It follows that reducing its spread increases the ability of medical facilities to treat those who become seriously ill with the virus.

Given the evidence that one person passes the virus to another, it is inconceivable that laws that mandate citizens to wear masks in confined public places are even debatable.

The city of Hailey enacted such a law with little fanfare. However, Ketchum officials had a lengthy debate before voting 3-1 for the mandate.

Mayor Neil Bradshaw wanted the City Council to enact a toothless resolution. He joined City Councilman Jim Slanetz in claiming that a mask ordinance is unenforceable.

Nonsense. If true, traffic laws would be unenforceable because all drivers that exceed the speed limit or blow through a stop sign are not caught and punished. Building codes that prevent occupants from being killed by buildings that collapse under the weight of the first snowfall would be unenforceable. Taken to its logical absurdity, this reasoning would negate all laws, eliminate the need for lawmakers and reduce the nation to chaos.

Both Bradshaw and Slanetz worried primarily that differing opinions might create political polarization. Sweden did, too. It did nothing about the viral pandemic and, apparently, chose economic health over human health. That didn’t work. Its economy has fared worse than other countries, including nearby Norway and Denmark, which locked down early and reopened slowly.

Sweden demonstrates that all opinions aren’t created equal and shouldn’t receive equal consideration. Facts, like facemasks, are hugely inconvenient. It’s inconvenient that humans can’t fly, but misplaced belief that we can inevitably ends in disaster.

The job of elected officials is to look out for the health and safety of the people who elect them. In Ketchum, those are local residents, a majority of whom have primary or secondary contact with visitors in their jobs. Residents and businesses were adamant about needing the city’s legal backing for masks in indoor public places.

City Council members Amanda Breen and Courtney Hamilton brought facts to the table and staunchly led the charge to protect residents in order to avoid a repeat of the spring, when Blaine County had one of the highest infection rates in the nation and businesses were shut down.

Now Bellevue, Sun Valley and Gov. Brad Little need to get on board to stave off another huge surge of coronavirus. Pandering to political polarization and unfounded beliefs invites disaster.

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