Results of Speak Up!: Are Covid Mandates Good or Bad? Survey
Battles over required masking and vaccination continue to rage across the country, but here in Amherst survey respondents are largely, though not totally, united in their acceptance of Covid mandates.
Of the 47 people who completed the survey, only 2 expressed any opposition to mask mandates, and 3 disapproved of vaccination requirements.
Interestingly, of the three respondents who oppose vaccine mandates, two declared strong support for mask mandates.
Results are illustrated in the following charts.
Readers were also asked to describe places around Amherst where they have felt either unsafe from the virus or excessively restricted by covid-related rules. A number of people identified situations where they feel that safeguards are inadequate.
Comments are listed below.
Please indicate situations in the Amherst area where you feel that Covid protections do not go far enough.
- UMASS Athletic events at the Mullins Center.
- With off-campus students and their partying and get-togethers.
- Among students living off campus.
- In my experience, Amherst public buildings take indoor mask requirements quite seriously, for which I am grateful. By contrast, on a recent trip to Vermont I found indoor mask wearing to be much less commonly practiced, despite Vermont’s COVID-19 infection rate being 50% higher than Massachusetts.
- When folks are wearing their mask under their nose or under their chin, it is useless in protecting against Covid. I understand it is awkward to tell someone to wear their mask properly, but proper use the mask is critical. How to skillfully address this issue?
- Student parties outdoors and indoors in private dwellings.
- I write as news of the new Omicron variant has been revealed in South Africa and India. It is apparently easily transmittable, and the success of current vaccines in deterring it is unknown. The consequences for eating and drinking establishments could be profound, so there is a natural inclination to allow eating and drinking when seated. However, I am worried about this. The question is not whether requirements are sufficient but also whether they can be sufficiently enforced. In all other situations mask mandates should be consistent throughout the 5 College area and we must learn to wear masks when outside our homes for the long term.
Vaccinations should be required and there should be no exceptions. At the same time, we must be alert to the possibilities that current vaccines may not provide the protection or length of protection that we originally thought, and we (scientists and the public) have to engage in long-term thinking.
- Frat parties
- Vaccination should be required of anyone entering a public building.
- Inconsistencies in schools regarding enforcing mask wearing and having windows open/eating outside even when the weather was good…even buses…not having windows open, etc. It varies depending on the teachers/staff members. Pooled testing should be a mandatory for area businesses as well as schools. Our town has done well with having testing much more available than some other communities and very much appreciated. This is a Public Health issue…not personal liberty and freedom or political thing. That is pure selfishness. If things are consistently done, then that will allow us to be safe gathering with friends and family, keeping schools open, or doing things together with others. Masking up, routine testing, and vaccines are all good mitigation to keep the public safe.
- If they lift the mask mandate in schools, that will be a problem.
- Require pooled testing in schools
- At large public settings where people are partying without masks on. Bars in town like the Spoke and off campus student parties at frats, apartment complexes, or neighborhood houses are places I’ve seen hundreds of unmasked people going in and out without masks. I also think the schools should have an alternative to the cafeteria for the winter.
- Mask enforcement at schools
- It’s not whether far enough or too far, it’s inconsistent policies, especially at UMass, which fail to protect the public and which have led to great distress. Some examples:
1) very few UMass buildings are properly ventilated, and everyone is supposed to be masked indoors but faculty who are not required to wear masks indoors while lecturing;
2) UMass classroom space is very limited in normal times, but alternative venues and outdoor classes are discouraged even though in COVID times we need much more space;
3) Thousands of UMass students cram together into large exam rooms for several hours each evening….
- I am shocked that restaurants and the Amherst Cinema are at full capacity. This seems dangerous.
- Student parties and gatherings, which appear to have continued as usual, and which no doubt have been responsible for COVID transmission among the vaccinated.
- UMass should be doing more to create or utilize better ventilated spaces, both indoors and outdoors – the trend over the past half century to “seal up” building for energy conservation purposes runs counter to public health needs in the event of aerosolized pathogens.
Sorting out this conflict of goals will be challenge as we “build back better!”
- Mullins Center – mask mandates are strong and folks mostly comply but enforcement is weak for scofflaws.
I realized that mask compliance was pretty good in Amherst especially after shopping in Hadley and Easthampton and running into all those unmasked people.
- Inconsistent or incorrect mask wearing at sporting events.
Please indicate situations in the Amherst area where you feel that Covid restrictions go too far.
- None, we need to everything we can to prevent spread of COVID.
- Town mask mandates that are based in fear and emotions rather than data and science. Amherst and neighboring towns with continued mask mandates reference increasing case numbers in the region but do not discuss the number of or trend in hospitalizations or deaths, which are the things we were trying to prevent initially. Now it seems, the towns will not back off mandates until there are zero COVID cases, which is not realistic.
- None that I can think of
- I applaud all restrictions at this point.
- The word “plague” has fallen out of favor but perhaps we should acknowledge that we are in a plague situation which requires extreme measures of regulation and enforcement. So there are no situations locally in which restrictions go too far. We have a short-term crisis where we must bend every effort to control the spread of COVID and a long-term inevitability that we will have to learn to live with it and protect ourselves from it. We are dealing with the unknown here, and as uncomfortable as that may be, our leaders = both political and scientific – must acknowledge it and really lead all residents in accepting and following restrictions until the crisis phase is under control.
- It is ridiculous to require one to wear a mask at a venue with very few people in very large spaces like art museums, Amherst Cinema with a half dozen people in the large auditorium. Smart folks will wear masks if they feel threatened. Masks should not be required in outdoor situations except where there are crowds.
- One downside of COVID (and the related short staffing of the service industry) is that restaurants and cafes have shorter hours. It is sad that at 8:00 at night the only places open in town are bars, not cafes or restaurants.
- Having to wait outside at doctors’ offices rather than checking in at the desk. Not being able to accompany animals inside vets’ office.
- Not far enough! Amherst needs to be more strict.
- I don’t remember if Amherst College loosened some of their restrictions, after student protests. While it is admirable that they are trying to protect students, it seems like their measures are too restrictive, and invite rebellion by the affected parties.
- Documentation of vaccination status (especially) at UMass is generally straightforward, but it has caught a handful of folks who were first vaccinated out-of-state off-guard and handled less than optimally by UMass HR. Though one could say all is well that ends well, all HR officers need to do a lot more outreach before sending a formal suspension or termination notice to a long-standing employee – especially when there is already ample evidence for vaccine compliance (even if a form is missing or information is not found “in the system”). “Ready, fire, aim” is the wrong order….
- Outdoor mask wearing
- Can’t think of any.
As we enter the indoor season, the ravages of COVID-19 and its effect on our lives continue to make headlines.
- The omicron variant has surfaced in our neighboring state of New York
- UMass, Amherst and Hampshire will all require students to receive a vaccine booster prior to beginning the spring semester
- Face masks will be required on all domestic flights and public transportation at least through March 18
- And Massachusetts plans to make available, if not mandate, a digital vaccine passport in the near future
May we all enjoy safe, happy and healthy holidays, and may 2022 mark the end of the need for Covid mandates.