An alert reader said “Every time I go to a certain big box store, more people are not wearing masks than are? What’s going on? There’s a sign on the door that says masks are required. Can they not enforce it?”

We passed the query along to Anita McBurnett of the Marshall County EMA office, who has been very involved in the county’s pandemic response. She said the simple answer is that no seems ready to step up to the plate to enforce the mask mandate.

“We are under a state mandate,” McBurnett said. “The governor has issued a public health order at the direction of state health officer. But it is up to local law enforcement. That is who would enforce it. No one across the state in law enforcement is enforcing it. It has been an issue since the summer.”

She said big box stores not enforcing the mask mandate “is not just a Marshall County issue. It is statewide and nationwide. It is one of the top complaints my fellow EMA directors get.”

She said how the public reacts to a health emergency can be the difference in protecting lives.

“This is no different from a tornado warning or a snow and ice warning,” McBurnett said. “We put out guidance on preparedness. We say you need to seek shelter. It’s up to you to follow through.”

She said the coronavirus threat is real.

“We’ve had 95 deaths in Marshall County alone,” she said. “We have 26 or 27 in each hospital, 15 of them on ventilators. Now we are seeing some patients who are having long term issues with this.”

She said Marshall County saw spikes after July 4th, Halloween and Thanksgiving. They're bracing for another spike following Christmas and New Year's.

She said people getting the vaccine need to remember it is a 2-dose vaccine.

“You get one shot and another 4 weeks later,” she said. “You are still susceptible during that 4 week period.”

She said people may think, ‘It’s not going to get me,’ but they should have consideration for others and wear a mask when going out in public.

“You can’t control what a tornado does,” she said. “But you can wear a mask. You can social distance. You can wear a mask or a face shield.”

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