While I am happy to see Pocatello's city council move toward a mask mandate, it's frankly too late. The past eight months of this pandemic have shown our leadership to have a shocking disregard for the lives of one another, instead upholding some abstracted principle of "freedom" that somehow manages to allow those who refuse the idea of even modest inconveniences to run over people's freedom to live their lives a little more safely from death, longterm disability, and suffering.

The city of Pocatello, Bannock County, and the state of Idaho have all played a months-long game of buck passing. The city wants the county to do it, the county wants the state to do it, and the state seems to be willing to abandon us all in the impossible hopes that maybe the federal government would do something. One of our city councillors disregarded the idea of a mask mandate months ago because such a small percentage of our population was sick with COVID (never mind that the positivity rate is calculated not on population but on testing numbers, which were woefully inadequate with reporting too delayed at the time; this is, in fact, still true) and said that he'd consider supporting a mandate when the hospitals are at capacity.

Months later, that same city councillor finds us knocking at the door of our hospital's capacity numbers and, like clockwork, now thinks that there's just no point in a mandate so why bother? Still, I find that display of unyielding belief to one's own political stances preferable to the city councillor who offers, again, after eight months of this pandemic, the panacea of a survey (a survey!) so we can continue to spin our wheels and accomplish nothing while giving the appearance of fair-and-balanced action. If only COVID were a tax or service they could try to slash, perhaps we'd have taken some action in an attempt to try and save the lives of some of our friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues.

I will never understand the desire for power so that one can stymy action in the face of the worst global event of several generations, but here we are. I can only hope that it's possible to vote folks with some morality into those seats in the coming year.

Rachael Levay,