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Editor, The Beacon:

Claims that requiring or even recommending people get vaccinated or wear a mask infringes on our constitutional freedoms have gone a bit off the rails. The most-extreme argue this is no different than Nazi concentration camps. Seriously? This is nothing like Nazi gas chambers.

The soft-peddlers merely claim people should have the freedom of choice to do as they wish, ignoring that we don’t have unlimited freedoms like driving on the left side of the road, going barefoot and shirtless in restaurants, or, heaven forbid, not wearing pants in public.

But their protests do raise the question of what is a more appropriate analogy than Nazi concentration camps. I suggest public-smoking bans are the appropriate models.

Like the COVID spreaders, those opposing antismoking measures focused on freedom and the economy. Restaurants and bars were especially worried they would lose customers. They were wrong. After bans went in place, their businesses flourished as nonsmokers, like me, came out to enjoy dining in fresh cancer-free air.

The laws were enacted to protect the health and welfare of employees and customers. Smoking didn’t harm only the smoker. Secondhand smoke was causing more than 40,000 deaths each year.

The COVID virus, like carcinogenic tobacco fumes, is spread through the air. Because the virus needs water droplets for both transportation and survival, wearing a mask is an excellent method to stop its spread. The only better option is for everyone to be vaccinated.

Like those who opposed smoking bans, the anti-vaxxers and maskless are harming our economy. I know teachers, restaurant servers and even a warehouse worker who quit because their employers were not mandating vaccines and masks. Who wants to work around unvaccinated/unmasked co-workers and customers?

Millions avoid indoor dining, fearful that servers and other customers might be contagious. Unlike tobacco smoke, you can’t smell the virus. We changed doctors and dermatologists this year because their staff quit wearing masks, and we learned some who touched us and came within inches of our faces were not vaccinated.

Let’s do our part to halt this pandemic and bring back the economy. Get vaccinated, and wear a mask in public places.

Sam Sloss

DeLand

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