Tuesday, June 30, 2020 | 5:50 p.m.
Nevada’s order requiring face coverings in public has drawn the ire of a recently formed political action committee that claims the mandate is an overreach of powers by Gov. Steve Sisolak and an infringement on individual freedom.
No Mask Nevada says it is “building an army of voters to stand up for our freedom, our constitution and against Sisolak’s mask requirement.”
The group is chaired by Melissa Blundo, a restaurant owner in Pahrump who said mask requirements take away the freedom of choice for people to protect their health as they see fit and puts the responsibility on business owners to enforce the mask rules.
“It’s not my job as a business owner,” said Blundo, who is the vice chair of Pahrump Valley Republican Women and wife of Nye County Commissioner Leo Blundo. “It’s my job as a business owner to serve the people that walk into my door, not to police them regarding a mask on their face or not.”
Sisolak in announcing the order last week said wearing a mask is “another opportunity to limit our risk for exposure and infection, and to keep our businesses open and our economy moving.” Health experts widely agree that wearing a mask is crucial in limiting the virus spread.
Nevada’s coronavirus rates have been high in recent days, with 734 new cases on Sunday and 562 on Monday.
“If you choose to wear a mask because you believe that is going to protect you from something, then by all means, I 100% support you, wear a mask,” Blundo said. “If you feel like you need to go even further than that and you want to wear a hazmat suit, for that matter, wear a hazmat suit.”
Sisolak has repeatedly said wearing a mask is a nonpartisan issue, calling the safety measure important to keeping the residents and visitors safe during the pandemic.
“It is disappointing and outright dangerous to see any attempt to turn face coverings into a political issue during a public health crisis,” said Meghin Delaney, the governor’s spokesperson.
A study published in Health Affairs estimates that state mask mandates may have blocked 230,000-450,000 COVID-19 cases from April 8 to May 15. A May 2020 experiment published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that a damp washcloth blocked the vast majority of droplets released when a person spoke the phrase “stay healthy.”
The recommendation that Americans wear masks from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is ”based on what we know about the role respiratory droplets play in the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, paired with emerging evidence from clinical and laboratory studies that shows cloth face coverings reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth.”
“Efforts like this will only make the pandemic worse,” Delaney said. “As the governor said last week, wearing a face covering isn’t a political statement, it’s a medical necessity, a human obligation and it’s good for business.”
No Mask Nevada held a rally Monday in Pahrump. Other events are in the works for the region, Blundo said.
“If we all comply, it’s a step toward socialism,” she said. “It’s a step toward socialized medicine and I don’t believe in that.”