|CITY COUNCILORS CALL ON BOARD OF HEALTH TO RESCIND MASK MANDATE
On December 15, 2021, the three appointed members of the Westfield Board of Health (WBOH) voted to mandate mask wearing effective Dec. 20th with no end date. No public participation was allowed at this special meeting with over 50 residents in attendance online via Zoom. Director Joe Rouse stated that he would not read the emails and letters submitted to the board out loud because “there were too many to read.” He stated board members had read all the letters. The order for the mandate was copied nearly verbatim from the Easthampton mandate and was not read at the meeting. The public did not hear or see the order before it was enacted.
We are very concerned that the Chair of the WBOH made a false statement of facts regarding the number of public correspondence submitted that were in opposition to the mask mandate. Juanita Carnes stated that letters in favor and against masks were about equally 50/50. Because of this false statement, a public records request was submitted and revealed that each board member received between 28 and 33 letters from November 1 to December 15, 2021 from residents concerning mask mandates. Director Rouse received 33 letters, of which 31 were in opposition to a mandate and only 2 in favor. Chair Juanita Carnes received 28 letters, with 26 opposed and 2 in favor. The board’s action gives an appearance that the vote to implement a mask mandate was predetermined. Furthermore, they produced no evidence, data, or reason for mandating individuals to mask up.
Because it was closed to the public for participation, this prompted dozens of residents to speak out in opposition to the mandate at the December 16th city council meeting during public participation. They raised questions on the efficacy of masks for preventing the transmission of viruses and health concerns of the prolonged wearing of masks, especially for people with respiratory issues and for school children. The question of the legality and constitutionality of mask mandates were also shared. Here is a link to the meeting. Public participation starts at 1 min. 26 sec. https://vimeo.com/channels/185778/657674918
Given the WBOH mandate, City Councilors Allie, Morganelli, Beltrandi, Flaherty and Adams filed 2 motions requesting information and data from the WBOH on the efficacy of surgical, fabric, N95 or other face coverings or masks, and requested what peer-reviewed scientific papers/studies the WBOH is citing that masks prevent the transmission of viruses, specifically Coronaviruses. The City Solicitor’s office informed the council that they are not obligated to provide this information, but the WBOH stated they would communicate this data. The Council awaits this pertinent information.
The recommendations and protocols regarding mask wearing have changed often and with little notice. The CDC and U.S. Surgeon General have changed positions from not recommending wearing masks to wearing masks, to recommending masks can or may prevent the transmission of the virus. They never stated masks “will” stop the transmission.
Another reason the WBOH mask mandate is not logical or reasonable, is that the order is based on the emergence of the highly contagious, yet relatively mild Omicron variant. The world has known since November 18th when Dr. Angelique Coetzee, chair of South African Medical Association, one of the first to discover the Omicron variant, told Reuters that she had seven patients at her clinic that had symptoms different from the dominant Delta variant, with “very mild” symptoms. It is also widely known by infectious disease specialists that all viruses mutate, with each variant weaker than the original virus.
Despite a surge in cases, recent hospitalizations have been comparatively lower from peaks of the surges with Covid-19 and the Delta variant. Since the emergence of the Omicron variant last month, only one Omicron death has been reported in the United States, one in Germany, one in Australia, and a dozen in the UK.
On December 28th, CDC officials announced updated estimates for weeks ending on Dec 18th & 25th that they had erroneously indicated a nearly six-fold increase in Omicron’s share of infections. The new numbers for the Omicron proportion of cases were reduced from 73.2 percent, down to 22.5 percent. “Setting aside the question of how the initial estimate was so inaccurate, if CDC’s new estimate of Omicron prevalence is precise, then it suggests that a good portion of the current hospitalizations we’re seeing from COVID may still be driven by Delta infections,” said former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.
On June 15th, 2021 Governor Baker and Mayor Humason ended the state of emergency in Massachusetts and Westfield. Since that time, essential workers, nurses, and law enforcement were fired, forced to quit, or retired from their jobs rather than take the mandated vaccine. By what authority do our government officials, private companies or hospitals have to force people to inject something into their bodies, or require essential workers to give up their healthcare privacy or fire nurses, correctional officers and state troopers?
Every year at this time, the number of patients in the hospital is at its highest level. Despite the “panicked” narrative from the media and hospital officials that the hospitals are “overwhelmed,” it is not due to Covid patients, but rather staffing shortages. When they say there are no beds, it means there is not enough staff to take care of patients. This poses a real threat to public health, since nurses can’t surpass the maximum number of patients they can take care of. Staffing shortages have led to closed hospital beds and/or floors and a reduction in preventative and elective surgeries, testing and treatments.
Should we allow the government to place additional burdens on businesses, employees, students, and working families by requiring masks, vaccines, and vaccine passports? Government overreach is at a dangerous and ludicrous point. Why is it “perfectly appropriate” for the Governor to fire essential state employees with health or religious exemptions to help “slow the spread of the virus” when the science shows that the vaccine does not stop transmission of the virus? Furthermore, we are now segregating based on personal individual health decisions. Vaccine passport cities are closed to anyone not producing one. This is all happening without people stopping to THINK about these mandates and changes that are unfolding across our supposedly free nation. If we don’t stop with the masking, what’s next for Westfield?
We believe it’s appropriate for the WBOH to respond to the overwhelming health and safety concerns and evidence presented by Westfield residents who cited hundreds of studies on the inefficiencies of various masks to prevent transmission of viruses and the health concerns of prolonged mask wearing, especially for school age children. We call upon the WBOH to immediately rescind the mask mandate and remove the $1000 a day fine for businesses. If the WBOH believes they need to do something with mask wearing, an advisory would be more appropriate thereby giving individuals the freedom to wear a mask or not. Furthermore, those that understand proper nutrition for immune system support would appreciate the WBOH educating instead of handing out mandates. Why have they not posted information on preventative and early nutritional support such as 50 mg of Zinc, 1000mg of vitamin C and 5000 IU of Vitamin D3 on the city website and reminding the public of this?
We are confident the entire community in Westfield, including elected and appointed leaders, first responders, business owners, residents, students and faculty, will continue to do the best they can in response to the ever-changing circumstances that Covid-19 has brought upon us.
Westfield City Councilors