The Journal Gazette
Sunday, September 19, 2021 1:00 am

Golden Pen: August

Mask mandates backed by irrefutable statistics

It was refreshing to see Fort Wayne Community Schools put the safety of children above the selfish demands of politically motivated parents and require masks. For families in other districts, it was a small moment of hope and optimism that maybe other schools would follow their lead.

Sadly, local school boards appear to be worried more about what makes political sense than scientific sense. It is difficult to understand how any reasonable human being can not conclude things are about to get much worse.

As of the data from Aug. 11, our seven-day moving average in Indiana is a whopping 1,165 cases higher than it was a year ago on the same date. We are worse in terms of total cases, people hospitalized and people on ventilators. Surely everyone remembers the peaks of the surge last winter and the pits of despair it led to. We are racing toward those peaks at a much faster rate.

It took us until Oct. 21, 2020, to get as bad as we were on Aug. 11. Case acceleration is faster than it has ever been in Indiana, despite a smaller pool of likely COVID-19 candidates.

The risk to the kids who are too young to get vaccinated and who are stuck in classrooms without masks or social distancing is growing by the day. Leaders from the school board to the governor are displaying a horrifying negligence in their obligations to keep those kids safe.

Our kids are being offered up as sacrifices at the altar of political placation. It is time to put aside the conspiracy theories, willful ignorance and misplaced priorities and to do the right thing. Follow the science. Require masks. Protect our kids.

Situations like this require brave leaders to rise to the occasion and take a stand for what is morally right, regardless of how unpopular it is. Where are those brave leaders now?

It is time to be better. For our kids' sake.

About the author

Shawn McCarthy, whose letter appeared Aug. 19, has been selected as the month's Golden Pen Award winner. In the judgment of the editors, he had August's most effective letter.

The St. Louis native and his family have lived in Fort Wayne about eight years. McCarthy and his wife have six children (three girls and three boys), aged 12 to 2. Among the pastimes of the Army veteran are his participation as a Junior Achievement instructor and Cub Scout leader. He is also a member of Dinner Detective, a comedy improv troupe that offers an interactive experience at the downtown Mariott.

Since May 2020, McCarthy has been employed through a private company as a contact tracer for the state. His knowledge and experience caused him to write his letter; he said his purpose was to combat the misinformation regarding the coronavirus that has us “literally in disbelief territory.”

“I get pretty emotional about it,” he said. “...This is a right/wrong thing when you get down to the data.

“I try to lay out some facts,” adds McCarthy, who studied political science and political journalism in college (he was also managing editor of his college newspaper and hosted a talk radio show on campus). “There's only one answer. Two plus two doesn't equal five.

“Everything's backward,” McCarthy says of decisions such as the recent denial of a mask mandate in his children's Southwest Allen County Schools district. “I'll never stop talking about it.”

McCarthy received a gold-plated pen for his efforts. The Golden Pen Award was established to express our appreciation for the contribution our letter writers make to the editorial page.

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