Dear Governor McKee,
I am a life-long Rhode Islander, a practicing physician, and an independent voter. I am writing to you regarding the potential for another indoor mask mandate in Rhode Island, and any other potential COVID-related restrictions that people around you may suggest would be helpful. I can tell you that myself, and the overwhelming majority of other independent voters in Rhode Island, vehemently disagree with any potential new or bolstered restrictions regarding COVID going forward.
My personal background is both that of a scientist (molecular biology and genetics) and a physician (Internal Medicine). It has been clear, through independent studies and well powered meta-analyses, that indoor mask mandates do not change the epidemiologic curve of a respiratory pathogen such as Coronavirus, and in smaller children actually add physiologically detrimental “dead-space” to their respiratory tracts. I am happy to debate the scientific merits of specific types of masks, their usefulness in specific situations, but I believe the vast majority of people realize, without needing a physics or biology lesson, that cloth and paper masks, worn as they are worn by the general public, infer a statistically insignificant reduction in viral transmission.
I, along with the majority of the 383,000 independent voters in this state, request that you start moving Rhode Island OUT of restrictive practices, and INTO a pragmatic and logical approach to getting on with our lives, and to recover what we can of all that has been lost, culturally and economically, in the past 22 months.
This means first and foremost not imposing any indoor mask mandate or medical information requirements for entry into public spaces. Secondly it means moving toward an end to the in-school mask requirements and putting our children’s education and mental health above adults’ mental fallacies.
I can tell you anecdotally, that I and my family have avoided every business that has continued to require indoor masking, and we have frequented those that respect personal freedom of choice. We even pulled our youngest child out of his school at the beginning of this year, because they were planning on putting a mask on our toddler. Thankfully we have a private school that respects people’s freedoms and has a headmaster educated enough to realize what makes sense and what does not. If we were unable to find accommodations for our three children such as this, we would be homeschooling them.
I am certain that if an indoor mask mandate or medical information presentation requirement were to be put in place in Rhode Island, the economy will suffer immediately. People will stop going out, they will increase their use of online vendors, such as Amazon, and even directly from China with Wish or Ali Baba Express. It is not that people are paranoid by the endemic nature of this virus, it is that they are bothered by the continued restrictions which make life unfriendly, unhappy, and dystopian. They are bothered by the continued fear mongering from non-practicing doctors, who have no finger on the pulse of the general population, and instead sit in an ivory tower pretending that these punitive restrictions are “classic public health measures” – my God, what lunacy to say that masking children in school, and forcing people to choose their job or an injection is “classic measures” – laughable, and disgraceful. In fact, restrictions such as these are so antithetical to Roger Williams’ founding principles that people are actively looking to leave the state. Rhode Island has always been fiercely independent, and if the people cannot keep it that way, the productive, voting, conscientious members of society will soon dwindle.
Please do not allow yourself to fall victim to the dystopian dreamscape of medical bureaucrats with degrees but no lived real-world experience. Please put yourself back into the shoes in which you once walked, a local yokel small business owner, who in fact did know better than the government, since you were on the ground living the rules, the laws, the taxes, and the meager benefits we have all seen doled out by a perpetually corrupt and disconnected state government.
I believe you realize that the restrictions we have seen thus far have done nothing to slow down the transmission of COVID, and nothing to change the area under the curve. Retreating back to useless decrees that limit our freedoms in the name of medical safety is not only intellectually dishonest, but also hurtful to your constituents, our businesses, and our mental health. We have decimated our healthcare system not with a virus, but with the draconian restrictions on society because of the virus. A virus which will remain endemic for the foreseeable future, one that is spreading amongst the American Deer population, and amongst our domestic felines, two populations I don’t see complying with vaccine mandates anytime soon. A virus which is attenuating itself to something genetically closer to HKU1, our common cold.
We have injured our society enough, we look to you to make smart, pragmatic and logically sound decisions, unswayed by fallacies and intellectually vapid scare tactics designed to keep people away from their fellow humans, out of stores, and out of the economy. Please make the right decision and lead Rhode Island out of this pandemic, not further into it.
Jonathan Martin, MD
(Doctor Martin is a member of the #ParentsUnitedRI coalition)