Commerce Matters: Mask up and shut down the angry rhetoric (Voices)

Ann Silver is CEO of the Reno + Sparks Chamber of Commerce.

Ann Silver is CEO of the Reno + Sparks Chamber of Commerce.

A renewed mask mandate for public spaces?

No surprise. Less than 50% of our neighbors, family members and colleagues are unwilling to become vaccinated due to philosophical, social, religious, medical or political reasons, and so we’re again in the unfortunate position of putting those in supermarkets, retail stores, restaurants, bars, shops and all the places we rely upon in a position to confront the vitriol from those unwilling to accept that humanity and respect for others is essential if we’re to eliminate this pandemic.

No one likes wearing a mask, least of all those who must have them cover their faces for a full day’s shift. No one likes government interference in our daily lives, our freedoms or our enjoyment at seeing people’s faces.

But let’s face it, the pandemic and the newest variant around the globe aren’t going away without the full cooperation and compliance from everyone who values human life.

A large percentage of our population is resistant to medical facts and doctors’ advice that repeatedly advocate for vaccinations and note that the variant is more contagious and deadly than COVID-19.

Remember when pregnant women learned that drinking might harm a growing fetus inside their bodies or cigarette packages contained the warning that death was a consequence of smoking? We all listened, and habits changed.

Yet with a world-wide pandemic, the deaths of over 600,000 Americans, and hospitalization rates increasing, we are, once again, confronted with the anger and resentment against masks and a directive that’s meant to slow down transmission and allow lives and commerce to thrive.

Businesses also died along the span of this pandemic and many others held on thanks to government funding and the support of consumers.

Other businesses saw their operations take off in unexpected ways throughout 2020 and 2021 and they did so with masks, social distancing and adherence to state, county and city requirements.

We all were grateful to continue to shop, dine, recreate and enjoy our lives with full reliance on our business community’s compliance. Can we now do our part to protect these hard-working business owners and their employees by masking up and shutting down the angry rhetoric?

We get it. No one likes to be told what to do, but the alternatives are pretty awful, and masks will be the least of our problems.

“Commerce Matters” is a monthly Voices column in the NNBW authored by Ann Silver, CEO of the Reno + Sparks Chamber of Commerce. Reach her for comment at


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