LETTER: Mask littering

Mark Jensen/Anthony, New Mexico

To the editor:

There have been several letters published recently discussing the propriety and apparently, the legality of Leavenworth’s mask mandate for private businesses and nonprofits like churches. See, for example, letters from April Cromer and Pat Davidson published Dec. 22. Those opinions seem to fall strangely along political lines rather than based in any real principals of public health or safety.

I am writing not to add to the cacophony of discussion about whether people should be required to wear masks, but rather after wearing their required masks, they should be allowed to casually discard them onto the sidewalks and streets of Leavenworth. In the past few weeks, this potentially deadly form of littering in the community appears to be more and more prevalent either from some strange form of political protest or simple reckless laziness on the part of local citizens.

More than 15% of Leavenworth County residents are over the age of 65. My parents are in their early 70s and have made the prudent choice this year to largely isolate themselves from the community and even their children and grandchildren to avoid contracting a disease that is known to be especially deadly to people their age.

Aside from the occasional trip out of their homes to perform the most essential tasks, my parents’ daily reprieve from their isolation is a morning walk near their home close to downtown Leavenworth. On recent walks, my mother has counted the discarded masks strewn on the side of the roads and sidewalks. One morning on two streets in downtown Leavenworth, there were 21 discarded masks, 19 disposable and two cloth. My mother is normally in the habit of policing up other people’s litter during her walks and discarding it in trash bins for the betterment of the community she has lived in for the past 34 years. That charitable contribution could be deadly to her now.

Consider this letter a call for neighborly action. Please discard your masks in a trash can. It is not just simple littering. You are risking my parents’ lives. Stop it, please.

Note: Mark Jensen is a 1991 graduate of Leavenworth High School.