GOVERNMENT

Citizen group pushes for voter referendum to stop Provo mask madate

Sep 1, 2020, 5:45 PM
(Utah County Commission members speaking to people opposing a mandate on masks in schools.  Credit:...
(Utah County Commission members speaking to people opposing a mandate on masks in schools. Credit: Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News, July 15, 2020)
(Utah County Commission members speaking to people opposing a mandate on masks in schools. Credit: Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News, July 15, 2020)

PROVO – It’s the next round in the political fight over Provo’s newly imposed mask mandate.  A citizens group called Utahns for Medical Freedom (UMF) wants to stop the Provo mask mandate by gathering enough signatures for a voter referendum on the matter.

History of the mask mandate

The Provo mask mandate has already gone through a tense political battle.  The city council approved it unanimously, only for it to be vetoed by Mayor Michelle Kaufusi.  Then, the council decided to override her veto with a 6-1 vote.

Officials with UMF acknowledge that people have wildly different opinions about the effectiveness of masks when it comes to public health.  However, organizer Mary Ann Nielsen believes the final say should still be left to the people of Provo.   She calls the masks draconian and invasive.

“It’s very unethical and very unconstitutional,” Nielsen said.

Masks aren’t like seat belts, group says

A mask order isn’t like other safety laws already on the books, according to Nielsen.  To her, this isn’t similar to ordinances requiring seat belts or motorcycle helmets.

“There’s a big difference between a seat belt, a helmet [and masks].  Those things don’t do any damage to your body.  Masks do cause damage to your body,” Nielsen said.

Provo mask mandate leads to carbon dioxide danger, group says

She says the masks force people to breathe in their own carbon dioxide, and she says there are studies showing the masks can increase the users’ odds of getting lung disease or staph infections. The American Lung Association says there’s some evidence that prolonged use of N-95 masks can cause problems for people with pre-existing lung conditions, but there’s no evidence wearing one will weaken the immune system.

Also, there are doctors who say it’s possible to get a staph infection from using a mask, but only when the user has an untreated wound on the face.  So, it’s quite rare.

What has to happen first

UMF officials believe they have enough support to get the required 3,200 signatures, but, they’re not allowed to collect them just yet.  City Recorder Amanda Ercanbrack says the city attorney will have to decide if the mandate is eligible for a referendum, which she believes it will be.  After that, the city has to create a fiscal note before UMF can get the materials they need for their petition.

“We’re looking at sometime around September 25th, most likely, when they will receive the petition materials.  At that point, they can begin collecting signatures,” Ercanbrack says.

Once they get those materials, the group has only 45 days to collect enough signatures.  However, no one should expect the referendum on this year’s ballot.  Ercanbrack says the deadline for this year has already passed.

“Regardless of the outcome, if they got enough signatures it wouldn’t appear on the ballot until 2021,” she said. 

The mandate is scheduled to sunset November 14th, unless the city decides to extend it.  If the group is successful in getting the signatures, the referendum would prevent the city from enacting the mandate until the voters make their decision.


How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus is transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A

Utah’s Coronavirus Information

UtahState Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States

Today’s Top Stories

Government

Former astronaut and Utah Sen. Jake Garn will be honored Saturday with an art installation tribute ...
Mark Jones

Former Utah Sen. Jake Garn to be honored with art tribute on Saturday

Former Utah Sen. Jake Garn will be honored with an art installation tribute Saturday at the Salt Lake City International Airport.
1 day ago
President John F. Kennedy signs the Mental Retardation Facilities and Community Mental Health Cente...
Curt Gresseth

Is forcing the homeless into treatment the answer?

NYC Mayor Eric Adams has announced a program that involuntarily treats homeless people in "psychiatric crisis." A BYU psychologist weighs the New York approach against the ethics of patient autonomy.
1 day ago
File photo: Soldiers from the Utah National Guard prepare to depart Roland R. Wright Air National G...
Amie Schaeffer

Utah Air National Guard Airman dies during routine deployment

An airman from the Utah National Guard passed away from undisclosed medical issues while deployed in Guam on Nov. 29.
2 days ago
Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson wants his old job back. ...
Mark Jones

Rocky Anderson announces bid to run for SLC mayor in 2023

Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson announced Wednesday that he is seeking reelection to get his old job back.
3 days ago
Former Vice President Mike Pence is seen here with audience members after appearing at at CNN town ...
Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN

Pence says Trump was ‘wrong’ for dinner with Holocaust denier

Former Vice President Mike Pence says former President Donald Trump was wrong for having dinner with a Holocaust denier and should apologize for it.
4 days ago
FILE - A Montana man was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in the Capitol riot. (AP P...
The Associated Press

Montana man gets 3 years in prison for role in Capitol riot

A Montana man will spend three years in federal prison for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S Capitol.
8 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Citizen group pushes for voter referendum to stop Provo mask madate