Letters: Missoula’s elected officials should enforce county’s mask mandate

Dear Mayor Engen,

I hope this message finds you well. I know I struggle to feel any degree of security considering the growing disaster overtaking our country, our state, and our city. As our elected leader, I imagine the devastation weighs even more heavily on you.

However, there are steps you can take to ensure our citizens’ safety in the midst of this devastating pandemic. Enforcing a mask mandate inside and outside goes without saying as does closing bars, dine-in restaurants, gyms, and casinos. It’s been said there’s no political will for such measures. The statistics would indicate otherwise. On September 9, there were 40 active Covid-19 cases in Missoula County. As of November 9, there were 1,457.

Data aside, the most egregious issue with the enforcement of Covid-19 orders in Missoula is that there is none. In one week alone, I witnessed violations at my doctor’s office, the DMV, the office building at a different doctor’s office, and my radiologist—all places where I should feel especially safe.

We desperately need more restrictions in Missoula, but they will be meaningless if there is no enforcement. We are way past the point of a voluntary stay at home order. The people volunteering to stay at home are not the problem, and the health and safety of the people who are unable to stay at home should not be jeopardized because of the negligence of others.

If the people elected to protect our state and our country will not make the sane, responsible choices necessary to save our lives, you still can. Please do more to enforce existing Covid-19 orders. Increase messaging to community members. Explain why it’s important to wear a mask and how to wear one correctly. Remind people to stay at home, to stop socializing, and educate them on how to safely go out when it’s absolutely necessary. Make free Covid-19 testing widely available and accessible. Institute rigorous contact tracing, and finally, introduce more orders to stop the accelerating spread of Covid-19 in our community.

This may hurt in the short run, but it will pay off exponentially in the long run. It is your right and your responsibility to take the necessary steps to ensure our safety. Thank you for your hard work and dedication.

Regards,
Kim Yaged