Thanks to Gov. Gary Herbert and his sidekick and heir apparent Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, who’s also chairman of Herbert’s COVID-19 task force, Utah is once again sinking into the doldrums of rapidly rising COVID-19 infections. The governor and Cox have failed to extend requirements for all parts of Utah to wear face masks. Fortunately, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Grand County and Summit County have held fast in requiring face masks, which has reduced infection transmission in those localities.

Had Cox and Herbert extended the same most basic of safety measures to each county in the state, and made clear how important it is for all of us to consistently wear face masks, we could all feel safer being in any part of the state. With effective leadership, we would know our fellow Utahns would extend each other the respect and protection face masks have proven to provide. I regard it as a tragedy that Utah has suffered such a lack of leadership when it comes to taking even the most basic precautions and having the expectation that each Utahn would protect and keep safe one another.

I believe we have the right to demand our leaders work diligently to provide the most basic of governmental responsibilities: provide for the health and safety of every citizen. Because Cox and Herbert pandered to the least, instead of the most worthy of leadership qualities, Utah is now experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases at a crucial time as school resumes and cold weather is just around the corner. Soon we all will spend much more time indoors.

Just as with other airborne pathogens, being indoors tends to create conditions ideal for virulent transmission. Face masks are the one, simple and universal intervention proven effective to slow spread of COVID-19 if each of us consistently and generously shield others from potentially infectious breath.

It’s time for effective leadership at the helm of state government and stop the pathetic, dithering, menace that’s infected Utah leadership in the Herbert-Cox era.

Marv Poulson, Salt Lake City