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The pandemic and civil liberties

Mask mandates and COVID vaccination requirements are a controversial topic. Some see the requirements as necessary and imperative; others see the requirement as restriction on our basic American freedoms.

President Abraham Lincoln – the first republican elected president – said the government was formed to do things for people that they could not do themselves.

A few examples of needed government mandates/laws are:

* Since you and I cannot protect ourselves from people who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs we have laws that prohibit that.

* Since you and I cannot protect ourselves or our children from polio or smallpox without the help of science and medicine, we have requirements for vaccinations.

* While we support hunting in our county, we benefit from regulations that restrict the firing of guns near our residences.

It seems to me that mandates regarding shots to limit the impact of the COVID virus and regulations about wearing masks to try to slow its spread are not infringements upon our freedoms, rather they are a current example of our government doing things for all of us that we cannot do for ourselves.

Cases of COVID and resulting deaths are on the rise in Lycoming County, partly because so many of us are not vaccinated – 54.7% unvaccinated or less than fully vaccinated as of the end of November. Geisinger reports that 89% of their ICU patients have COVID and 92% of their patients on ventilators with COVID have not been vaccinated. COVID will continue to threaten the health of all of us (especially the most vulnerable) by spreading and mutating, as long as there is a large, unvaccinated segment of the population to infect. The right to make our own health care decisions does not include the right to inflict harm on others.

In closing let me suggest that if you think children should not be required to be vaccinated or wear masks at school, would you grant me permission to drive at 100 miles an hour past schools while they are in session or 100 miles an hour past stopped school buses because I’m late for work? If you don’t, is it an infringement upon my freedoms? Or is it a necessary mandate to protect our children from harm?

As a 78-year-old male with a damaged immune system I want to be protected from the virus and therefore have gotten three shots and wear a mask in public situations. I also wear a mask because I want to limit my ability to spread the virus to others if I have COVID without symptoms.

How about you?

Richard Page Allen is a native of Williamsport, a local businessman and an avid outdoorsman.

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