Letter: Election Day mask laxity seems to have boosted COVID-19 cases

The Detroit News

I’m one of the very few elected Democrats residing in Ottawa County. This year, I chose to poll-challenge in my hometown of Georgetown Township. On election day, I saw several election inspectors in the Georgetown municipal building and other precincts who weren’t wearing a mask, and also refused to put one on after I reminded them of the requirements. I spoke with a precinct chair who expressed major concerns that even since the primary the local clerk wasn't enforcing the mask law, yet they chose to work election day because it was essential. 

A judge sided with the health department's order to close a Hudsonville Christian school for not requiring masks, Melton writes.

Georgetown Township election inspectors came into contact with thousands of voters — in a town where not wearing your mask is both a political and religious statement. The same day, a local judge sided with the Ottawa County Department of Public Health (OCDPH) for shutting down a Hudsonville Christian school for not requiring masks and also not reporting or cooperating with them on contact tracing

Our Christian community seems to have conveniently forgotten that God charged us to be our brother’s keeper. What we do matters to more than just ourselves. 

Within 10 days of elections in Ottawa County, COVID cases peaked at over 430 in a single day and continue to hover over 300. A staff person at the OCDPH confessed to me that regional health resources are reaching critical mass, cases locally are peaking higher than ever before. Ottawa is a mostly rural and suburban county with limited resources, neighboring presently overburdened Kent and Muskegon counties.

Indeed, the township of Chester (where I now reside) and the neighboring rural city of Ravenna also have outbreaks of COVID where we had once felt more secure. Schools are returning to remote learning, forcing parents and workers to scramble, threatening to return us all back to a shutdown, and threatening the very fragile economic recovery we were all enjoying.

Allegan State Rep. Steve Johnson decried the governor’s new restrictions, posting that “you can’t just hide from a virus. You fight a virus by building up your immune system, exercising, and living a healthy lifestyle.” It’s a statement that defies the science, lacks any meaningful empathy and demonizes those most at risk for this disease — all in the name of freedom.

House and Senate Republicans challenged the governor’s executive orders, but now that her emergency powers have been struck down and COVID cases are skyrocketing in Michigan, what is your plan? If you’re going to complain and fight the governor on her every move to combat this pandemic, you’d better have a superior plan. Otherwise it’s just shenanigans that’ll only lead to more cases.

Callie Melton, board of directors, Ottawa County Conservation District