Nebraska’s Gov. Ricketts’ policies are going to kill teachers

I talked to a teacher today. She lives in Nebraska. It’s one of the states that doesn’t have a mask mandate. Yesterday I learned that Omaha is the largest US city with neither a state nor a local mask mandate.  She’s worried that the schools aren’t prepared to safely reopen for in-person learning. I agree with her.

I’m filled with rage that she is going to be subjected to an unnecessary experiment on the transmission and spread of a deadly virus. We do NOT need another human death data point to prove what the rest of the country has learned over and over again.

I’m trying to channel my anger in a productive way. I want the elected officials in the state to know how long aerosols stay in the air. So I’ll post videos showing that.

I want them to understand that air handling in rooms makes a big difference on how long aerosols stay afloat and what has to be done to clear aerosols from rooms. See this thread and video.

But what do you do when someone you love lives in a place where the Governor threatens to sue the county health director if they require masks in the state’s most populous county? (Link)

How do you help them when their Governor told the local officials in the county with the highest infection rates in the state they wouldn’t get federal COVID-19 money if they required masks?   (You might remember when Rachel Maddow brought that up about the cases in Dakota County with the Tyson meatpacking plant.)

Ricketts tells local governments they won’t get federal COVID-19 money if they require masks

LINCOLN — At his regular coronavirus press conferences, Gov. Pete Ricketts makes a point of urging Nebraskans to wear a mask when they go to a store.

Where are the masks? In the staff’s hands. When you control the money you can even get medical professionals to model bad behavior. From Governor Ricketts’ OWN Twitter feed August 4, 2020

But when it comes to the state’s 93 courthouses and other county offices, he doesn’t want local officials to require masks. In fact, he’s told counties that they won’t receive any of the $100 million in federal COVID-19 money if their “customers” are required to wear masks.

“The governor encourages people to wear a mask,” according to his spokesman Taylor Gage, “but does not believe that failure to wear a mask should be the basis for denying taxpayers’ services.”

The no-mask mandate has been poorly received in some corners of the state, with officials criticizing the loss of local control. It also runs counter to the advice of public health officials, who have stressed the importance of wearing masks.

In Lincoln, the state’s second-largest city, officials were preparing to require all visitors to wear masks when entering the City-County Building. But the draft rules were promptly dropped when officials were informed that Lancaster County wouldn’t receive CARES Act money if it instituted a mask requirement.

I’ve watched dozens of school board and city council meetings around the country discussing mask mandates. I’ve watched helplessly as city council people say they are “following the data” as the reason they won’t vote for a mask mandate. But there is no expert in the room to explain they are looking at outdated or the wrong data for their situation.

I’ve heard school boards quoting studies from Switzerland, New Zealand, Denmark & Finland on infection rates in schools to justify in-person schooling.  But they are not comparing the transmission of a virus in societies that wear masks to the US with our anti-maskers.

They aren’t comparing communities that don’t have a high rate of community spread to ones that do. They aren’t doing what Laurie Garrett says must be done to understand the infection rate in their community. First there must be baseline testing and then daily testing with fast results followed by contact tracing.

When they compare reopening the schools in the US to other countries they are also missing a bigger picture. Some other countries had leaders who understood how to use their economic system to protect human lives while they prepared for and fought the virus.

The US COULD have done the same, but instead protected corporate lives & profits. Once THEY were protected the Trump admin stopped seeing the urgency to protect human lives. The phrase “It is what it is” shows that they accept a certain number of people will die.

Ignorance & Incompetence vs Willful Ignorance & Maliciousness

We gave people the benefit of the doubt at certain points in the pandemic. In the beginning we could say, “They didn’t know better.” or “They were doing the best they could with what they understood at the time.” We believed they were acting in good faith.

But now we are seeing people who KNOW how these actions will play out. They can’t say, ‘We didn’t know that people would die!” They will work up multiple rationalizations on why they HAD to push for reopening schools in person. They don’t want to be called irrational immoral monsters because of their decisions and actions.

No one should be running this deadly experiment. What do we do when it’s over? Who do we hold accountable? Who knew better but argued and pushed for this unnecessary experiment to happened?

The group of people I’m raging at now are those who are actively thwarting actions that will save lives. I’m infuriated by those in power doing this, but also angry at those who see this as a experiment to run in their community with the lives of my friends and loved ones.

Cross posted to Hullabaloo 

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