Two weeks ago when North Carolina Congressman Madison Cawthorn called public school mask mandates “psychological child abuse,” I thought we’d reached the apex of devout anti-science reactionaries. But now that indoor mask mandates are officially back in place in the Triangle, I can see how very wrong I was.

North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson, who has long been an anti-masker, quickly joined the lemmings, claiming that any politician who supported vaccination should be voted out of office. This, as the News & Observer pointed out, would include his GOP brethren state House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Phil Berger. 

This brand of science illiteracy, sadly, has a trickle-down effect. It’s not just under-qualified politicians encouraging reckless behavior, but our local GOP.

This week, the Republican Party of Wake County said it plans to censure Republican school board members Roxie Cash and Karen Carter for voting in favor of requiring students and teachers in Wake County schools to wear masks. 

And this weekend, the Wake County Young Republicans have planned a peaceful pizza party/protest “against unnecessary mask mandates.” 

“Those that participate are welcome to join us afterward in Nash Square for a slice of pizza in the park!” an event flyer says. “Lunch is outside, so we don’t have to wear masks. :)” 

According to one Twitterer, a store manager had a gun pulled on her after asking someone to follow the mandate this weekend.

I live in the Raleigh North Carolina area. Visited a local chain store yesterday. About half of the people were wearing masks which was mandated. The store manager said she had had a gun pulled on her because she had asked someone to wear a mask. I don’t get it

— Christine Zahuranec (@czzahuranec) August 15, 2021

One reader wrote to us frantic that, although her local Durham Planet Fitness had a sign outside saying masks were mandatory, staff haven’t been enforcing it, resulting in all sorts of sweaty unmasked folks huffing and puffing into the communal air. 

The INDY attempted to contact Planet Fitness, but could not get through to a local manager. 

In sleepy old Holly Springs, beloved ice creamery Mama Bird’s had to preemptively reinstate curbside pick up to protect its teenaged employees from verbal abuse by the devoutly unmasked.

“Unfortunately they were often met with unnecessary aggressive and personal push-back from adult customers,” according to a social media post by the business. “In an effort to curtail these interactions, Mama Bird’s is strictly operating under curbside service until further notice.”

It continued: “This was not an easy decision for us and is one that could ultimately close our doors for good, but we feel it is necessary.” 

Though private businesses are free to require their customers to wear masks at will, Holly Springs joins the other Wake municipalities of Apex, Fuquay-Varina, and Wake Forest in not requiring an official indoor mask mandate, as Raleigh, Cary, and Knightdale already have done, and Wake County will do this week. (It’s unclear where Garner, Morrisville, Rolesville, Wendell, and Zebulon stand.) 

What kind of sociopath not only threatens a soft-serve scooping teenager but an ice cream shop’s very survival because they don’t want to cover their precious face with a small piece of cloth? If you are afraid wearing a mask will deplete your oxygen and cause brain damage, I have bad news for you…

It’s too late. 

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