For the past 40-plus years it's been my pleasure to live in Walker County. For the most part, I found my fellow residents to be decent and upstanding members of the community, often showing more than the usual concern for their fellow residents. But, today I find I'm alarmed by the widespread disregard for the safety and well being many of our citizens and businesses are showing toward each other with regard to the COVID-19 epidemic.

Our Governor has asked us to follow a few simple steps to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus and help protect our more vulnerable citizens. It's up to all of us citizens to conform to his executive order and wear masks when in public places and try to maintain social distance from one another. He's also made it mandatory for businesses to enforce mask wearing and social distancing.

What I find alarming is the out and out refusal of some of our residents to take these few precautions to protect each other, many of whom are making the claim that they have a “God given” right to ignore the Governor's order. I'm particularly alarmed by the number of businesses, like a local gym, who not only refuse to enforce the order, but even post signs that mask wearing is “optional” and won't even try to enforce social distancing, thus placing all of their members at risk of contracting the virus and possibly spreading it further.

I'd like to point out that Walker county has the third highest infection rate in the state at 2,890 per 100k population as of Monday July 6th and has had for many weeks. This is due in large part to the selfishness of many of our citizens who prefer to rationalize their irresponsible behavior with nonsense rather than following the science and cowardice on the part of some businesses who are afraid of alienating a few customers rather than doing their part to protect the public.

Finally, I'd like to point out that responsibility for enforcing the governor's order has been given to law enforcement. Have HPD and Walker County SO been enforcing the order? It doesn't appear so.