It is common knowledge that the COVID-19 virus is highly contagious. Thus, I find some of the comments made by Union County Sheriff Cody Bowen in a recent East Oregonian article very concerning. "I believe that as Americans, we have the (individual) right to choose," Bowen said.

So, I take his comment by what I read in black and white, and I will not theorize and philosophize on what he could mean. Therefore, by choosing to not wear a mask and not be vaccinated, which go hand-in-hand here in Eastern Oregon, and which greatly increase the spread of the virus, I see such comments, and choices, as very short-sighted, especially for an elected public servant.

Sheriff Bowen's comments were made in a letter to Gov. Kate Brown after she and her administration issued a mandate that requires masks for everyone inside a public school in Oregon this year. Gov. Brown made it clear her decision was based on science and date.

I agree with a letter in the Saturday, Aug. 24, 2021, EO stating individual "rights" do not give citizens the right and freedom to infect other citizens. Personally, I had my first vaccine shot against COVID-19 before Christmas 2020, and my second two weeks later. However, I still wear a mask as a precaution for the health and well-being of others. As Sheriff Bowen stated, this is my choice, and I do not feel that my rights are being infringed upon.

John Donne's wise words from several centuries ago still hold true: "No man is an island, unto itself." And, of course, the Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway borrowed these few words to begin his world-renowned novel, "For Whom the Bell Tolls."

Bob Shippentower

Pendleton

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