Staff Editorial – Why We Support Mask and Vaccine Mandates


Last week an article in the Monterey Herald by Steve Lisowski, a nurse at Salinas Memorial Hospital in Salinas, Calif., stirred attention online. Lisowski’s essay chronicles the final, desperate days of a patient succumbing to COVID-19, a patient who collectively represents all the patients the Chicagoland native has seen die from this tragic illness.

All told, more than 650,000 of our fellow citizens have died from COVID-19, an incomprehensible number. Yet, more than a year after the first COVID case in the US, we still see this terrible disease ravaging Americans, primarily those who remain unvaccinated. Compared to this time last year, when the country was closed and the economy in shambles, we’re demonstrably worse thanks to the Delta variant and vaccination hold-outs.

So it should come as no surprise that, a week after Lisowski’s heart-rending essay, President Joe Biden announced sweeping new federal mandates to require vaccination for all U.S. companies employing 100 or more people, as well as all contractors who work with the federal government, a move that affects an estimated 80-100 million American workers.

While we understand the slippery slope that comes with medical mandates for citizens, we support temporary mask and vaccine mandates, when appropriate, to protect the lives of vulnerable citizens, frontline healthcare and retail workers and our fellow students and staff.

We support President Brian Caputo and the college board in their Sept. 9 decision to  officially require masking, as well as either vaccination or weekly testing, for all students and staff in response to Governor Pritzker’s recent executive order. As Caputo stated, “we must all do our part” to protect the health and safety of our COD family.

If we look back, even a few decades, there’s abundant proof vaccines work, and they’ve never done much to affect freedom adversely. Ask a grandparent about the scourge of polio, a disease that affected young people particularly hard and caused paralysis and death in the mid-1900s. Thanks to decades-long vaccination efforts, polio hasn’t been seen in the Western hemisphere since 1994.

Chickenpox. Measles. Influenza. All have been slowed or stopped by vaccines. And we’re still free and thinking under our own auspices. Vaccinated citizens aren’t under the control of the government, and their DNA hasn’t been altered in insidious ways.

At this point in the COVID fight, case numbers are surging almost exclusively in unvaccinated Americans, and unvaccinated children, who aren’t yet eligible to receive the vaccine, are heading back to school for another uncertain season of in-person learning. The last week of August saw the highest weekly increase in pediatric cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

Now is the time for a vaccine mandate.

Our democracy and way of life rely on open discourse, understanding that we will never agree on everything as citizens. But we respect one another enough to discuss our differences without resorting to intimidation and violence, and ultimately do what’s best for the country as a whole.

As Americans, and more so as students seeking higher education, what sets us apart is our ability to put facts first and set aside our differences when there is a clear benefit for society.

This is why the Courier staff supports temporary vaccine and mask mandates, along with meaningful discussion about the potential negative consequences.