By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Dane County is leading the charge once again into mask land, requiring everyone as young as 2 to wear face coverings indoors.
The mandate goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, and is set to expire Sept. 16.
“We still believe vaccines are our best tool to protect our community,” said Janel Heinrich, director of Public Health Madison & Dane County (PHMDC). “But as cases continue to increase, requiring face coverings is an easy added layer of protection to further help keep people safe, including our youngest children not yet eligible to be vaccinated.”
While the COVID-19 cases may be climbing in the county, the health department’s stringent mask order is going younger. Even during the virus surge of last fall and winter, before the widespread distribution of the vaccines, Public Health’s mask mandate was for those 5 and up.
What changed? Hysteria over the so-called delta variant. The county is moving headlong from recommendation to order.
“With our kids heading back to school and hospitals in other parts of the country overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases, moving from a mask recommendation to a requirement is a common sense step to prevent disease spread and protect the kids in our community who can’t get vaccinated yet,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi.
So, again, here comes forced masking in Dane County schools — including preschools and daycare centers. Pre-K administrators are now sending emails advising frustrated and worried parents to “take time over the next several days” to talk to their toddlers about how to “safely wear a mask.”
“We know this is a large transition and appreciate families working with their child to make the change as easy as possible,” one preschool email states.
The email offers these important tips:
- Explain germs and why we need to use masks in simple language that they can understand. An example phrase to share with your child could be, Germs can go from our body to someone else’s body when we cough, sneeze, spit, or breathe too close to someone else.
- Explain that face mask wearing is a rule right now. For example, “It’s a rule to wear shoes outside and for now, it’s a rule to wear a face mask when we go to school.
The email also suggests parents have their children practice wearing the mask at home — the only place where the health department has not intruded, at least for now.
“Let your child put a mask on a favorite stuffed animal,” the email states.
- Put it on for short time periods to help your child get used to it and build up to longer wear.
- Provide breaks from the mask when needed.
Dane County health officials say they are following Centers for Disease Control & Prevention guidelines, which recommend “universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status” — 2 years and up.
Kids under 12 can’t get the vaccine. There are many parents who believe their children shouldn’t be forced to wear masks either, particularly very young children. Pediatricians advise against children under 2 wearing masks, “due to risks of suffocation” because they can’t communicate if they are having trouble breathing. Do such risks magically end when a child turns 2? Certainly not for some.
More so, the COVID-related death rate among children is not only low, it’s almost nonexistent. As of Aug. 7, 165 children under 14 in the United States had died of COVID. Overall, more than 4.41 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic.
“Among states reporting, children were 0.00%-0.25% of all COVID-19 deaths, and 7 states reported zero child deaths,” the American Academy of Pediatrics reported.
But Dane County’s unelected health bureaucrats are back pushing their unelected power around.