Members of Burlington City Council on Wednesday night voted unanimously to impose a citywide mask mandate, but many local residents warned beforehand that the mandate would do more harm than good.
“Despite real world evidence over that past 20 months supporting the futility of masks in stopping the transmission of the airborne SARS COV2 virus, scared Vermonters feel they have to do something and cling to the mask mandates,” said Aimee Stephenson, a Burlington resident who holds a doctorate in microbiology and molecular genetics from the University of Vermont.
The proposal in question was to have a citywide mask mandate which can only be avoided if every employee and worker in the establishment can show proof of vaccination. It’s not yet clear how that will be enforced.
Masks will be required while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers Covid-19 spread as “substantial” or “high” for Chittenden County. State law requires that local mask mandates be renewed each month, and cannot extend beyond April 30, 2022.
Stephenson noted that what makes the mask rule in Burlington more controversial is that its application is tied to the vaccination status of the workers and customers of the establishment in question.
“The proposed mask rule in Burlington is even more insidious though because it applies only to the unvaccinated and it exempts persons entering public buildings who show proof of COVID-19 vaccination, or what is commonly referred to as vaccine passports,” she said.
Stephenson continued that if the councilors are to “follow the science” then they should know that vaccinated persons can get and spread the virus, and the current vaccines have been shown to have waning effectiveness over just months.
She said data tracking of vaccinated versus unvaccinated shows the vaccinated now lead in COVID cases, and more serious conditions are common in both groups.
“Hospitalizations and deaths are also rising daily among the vaccinated, an indication that the vaccines do not provide lasting protection from [SARS COV2] outcomes. Given these facts, to privilege the vaccinated only as exempt from the mask mandate is both nonsensical and blatant discrimination against the unvaccinated.”
She also emphasized that for individuals who have had COVID-19, their natural immunity is known to be strong to stop transmission of the virus, and she says there are more than 100 scientific studies to support that.
Christopher-Aaron Felker, chair of the Burlington Republican Party, also spoke against the mandate. He noted that the city’s high vaccination rate already makes a mask mandate unnecessary.
“Today Vermont, Chittenden County, and Burlington are positioned as one of the most vaccinated states, counties, and cities in the entire United States. We have abundant access to testing and treatments to cope with any potential infections for COVID-19,” he said.
Felker noted that the governor and the Republican Party in Vermont have already made similar statements regarding the lack of justification for such a measure.
“The governor is on record stating that these are unnecessary and the entire GOP caucus in the House and Senate here in Vermont are opposed to these unwarranted and unnecessary powers,” he said.
He also reminded that mask mandates negatively impact the business community, which is already facing challenges from understaffing and high crime rates.
On the subject of mask-effectiveness, The Federalist compiled “These 12 Graphs Show Mask Mandates Do Nothing To Stop COVID” and its author reminds readers that only elderly are at substantial risk from COVID-19.
Writing for the Federalist last year, author Yinon Weiss offered a commentary on 12 graphs that “show mask mandates do nothing to stop COVID.”