Facial Recognition and the Mask Mandate

By Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryI have been noticing it for a few weeks now. Fewer people in my part of Illinois are wearing masks going to indoor public places. I see two reasons for this; first, a growing number of Illinois residents (especially those who are fully vaccinated) are less afraid of the virus than before. And second, many are becoming irked by the Illinois governor’s mask mandate. A growing number of people are wondering when this mandate (which is not a law) will end, and what was the point of getting vaccinated when all of Illinois is being returned to what it was in 2020?

Even the delta and Mu variants that have emerged are questionable as for how dangerous they are for people who are already fully vaccinated. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines are simply a recommendation that people who live in densely populated areas or high-risk areas for corona virus should wear a mask even if they are vaccinated. This is not mandated, and how can this Illinois mandate apply for fully vaccinated people living in thoroughly rural under-populated areas of Illinois who are less likely to get this virus than be struck by a tornado?

But I am coming to the conclusion this is as much about power as safety paranoia. The real other danger I see is that state authorities could start requiring that facial recognition technology be used in public places to monitor who is wearing a mask and who is not. If a governor can issue an executive order, without legislative and judicial overview, for people to wear masks regardless of their state of vaccination in a “public health emergency”, then what is to stop him from issuing an executive order for facial recognition technology to be used in public in the name of protecting public health? It becomes an unconstitutional catch-all, and what becomes the point of having a state constitution if one man and one part of the branch of government can simply issue executive orders and they become the law of the land? What happens to privacy laws? They can be circumvented in the name of public health.

Here are some facts that we should all keep in mind. First, any breakthrough variants of the corona virus will have a 0.03 percent chance of affecting a fully vaccinated person. Those are better odds than being on an operating room table or catching a truly deadly virus like meningitis or West Nile virus. Second, ruling by decree means what is the point of having a legislature or a court system if one man can make up all the rules? Finally, if the Illinois governor can decree that everyone should wear masks because he commands it, then what is to stop him from giving state police enforcement powers including the use of facial recognition technology to go after violators? We should all now be thinking about how constitutional law is being trashed and how we might all be soon living in a dystopian world.

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