You have a right to be safe from COVID-19, and no one has any right to infect you with it.

Unfortunately, this virus spreads both before people develop symptoms, and from people who exhibit no symptoms at all. So unless we want to test everyone in the state for COVID every couple of days (which would be unfeasible for several reasons), there’s no way to know who is or isn’t contagious. That means we each have a duty to make sure that we aren’t going around infecting our fellow citizens. Right now, we have three tools to help us do this: social distancing (up to and including lockdowns), masks, and vaccines. Here’s how our state government should make the best use of each of these tools:

  • Require either full vaccination or regular (minimum weekly) COVID testing for everyone whose job requires in-person interactions with other people.
  • Enforce either social distancing or vaccination requirements for public gatherings until the pandemic ends.
  • Invest in fiber optic and other telecommuting infrastructure for those who choose to homeschool or to work remotely, enabling them to maintain social distance.
  • Put mask mandates, lockdowns, and other restrictions into the hands of local public health professionals, not elected politicians.
  • Ensure that any such restrictions both follow the science and minimize economic hardship.
  • Clearly communicate any changes to public health guidelines well in advance of the date they will take effect.

As this virus spreads, it changes. We will see new variants behaving in new ways as long as there are unvaccinated people left for them to infect. As we learn about these new variants, the tools we use to fight them will need to change as well. We cannot continue to make the mistake of thinking we can legislate an end date to a natural disaster. Our legislature has already tried that, and it didn’t work. What will work is every Utahn coming together, owning both our personal and societal responsibilities, and following the science to end this pandemic—and we can end it!

As we do so, let’s remember the old American saying, “Your right to swing your fist stops where my nose begins.” The same principle applies to COVID: our rights to do as we please—to go around unvaccinated or to not wear a mask—STOP when that behavior risks infecting others. Your right to stay uninfected matters more than those inconveniences. A vote for Daniel Friend is a vote for your right to stay safe from COVID-19.

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