Commissioner Bill Lee calls on Herbert to exempt Utah County from K-12 mask mandate 02

Loren Pearce, of Clearfield, raises his hand with other attendees as Utah County Commissioner Bill Lee speaks during a gathering held outside the Utah County Historic Courthouse in Provo just before a Utah County Commission meeting Wednesday, July 15, 2020. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

THUMBS UP: To Orem City leadership for having the good sense to ask the public to wear face masks in the city buildings. Political diatribes aside, these leaders feel compelled to provide the safest atmosphere they can for their personnel and public. We commend them for this action and hope that by this action the COVID-19 counts in their city and Utah will start the downward slope and that the lives of many will be spared the extra pain, suffering and death that is currently the norm.

THUMBS DOWN: To Provo residents and other visitors who have made a rumor mill so active that city leaders felt compelled to start a new website called RumorStop. In a city that thrives on proclaiming its virtues and values, it is ironic that such a website should have to be considered. Misinformation and rumor are words that should never be aligned with these more highly valued words, Provo — Welcome Home.

THUMBS DOWN: To increasing COVID-19 numbers in the state of Utah. This could have been easily avoidable but a failure to comply with sound recommendations from state and national epidemiologists has really put Utah in a pickle.

THUMBS UP: Fire season is still upon us. As Pioneer Day is approaching, this is a reminder to please take precautions to ensure that you are using fireworks and other flammables properly. Fires strike fast, hard and has an impact on the people that live in Utah Valley.

THUMBS DOWN: To Commissioner Bill Lee for putting the health of residents, journalists, public officials and employees at risk by encouraging Utah County residents opposed to the statewide mask mandate for public K-12 schools to pack into a commission meeting Wednesday. This is particularly disturbing since, just a week before, an infectious disease expert told Lee and the other commissioners that masks are the best way to prevent COVID-19 from spreading. The stunt demonstrated a blatant disregard for public safety and was a shameful action by an elected county executive.

THUMBS UP: To Orem city officials for announcing on Tuesday that they will require masks to be worn in all civic buildings, including the city library, public safety building and public works building. City Manager Jamie Davidson said the “health of our employees is a responsibility I take very seriously,” and requiring masks in public buildings is a great step in the right direction for Orem.

THUMBS DOWN: To those — and we all know people like this — who, even though you may share some common viewpoints or at least some valid concerns, choose the most inane way possible to act or present those views that it just torpedoes any potential for compromise or finding common ground. When you have two diametrically opposing viewpoints, one can still often understand where the other side is coming from — even while disagreeing with their proposed solutions — up until the point they stop acting like adults. For those unclear on the concept, those who packed Wednesday’s Utah County Planning Commission meeting like a bunch of raving maskless sardines, shouting down council proceedings (brief though they were) and then chanting, “USA, USA” (um, why exactly?) should be ashamed of themselves. Congrats for putting Provo in the national news for all the wrong reasons while damaging your cause at the same time.

THUMBS UP: To BYU’s Tom Holmoe for laboring in what continues to be the most difficult athletic director job in the country. After working for years to put together one of the most impressive football schedules in school history, five Power 5 games were wiped off the schedule in the blink of an eye thanks to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic and several big conferences arbitrarily deciding to cancel non-league games. Here’s hoping Holmoe is able to nimbly shift from Plan A to B to C to D and beyond as necessary. Nobody said football independence would be easy — but here’s hoping it will still be worth it when this year’s games begin finally kick off.

THUMBS DOWN: To Commissioner Bill Lee's request for Gov. Gary Herbert to give Utah County "compassionate exemption from the one-size-fits-all mask mandate in Utah County's public schools." Until health officials have a handle on the mounting positive confirmations of COVID-19 in the area, children and teachers should not go back to school. It may be inconvenient, but it is necessary. During a normal year, the beginning of the school year and the start of colder weather almost always mean an increase in the number of students calling out sick. This year will be no exception.

THUMBS DOWN: Another Utah County fire broke out Wednesday near Cedar Fort and Fairfield. The fire initially threatened several homes, and dozens of residents were evacuated or put under an evacuation advisory. This fire, like hundreds of wildfires started this year, was human caused, according to the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands. Utah County residents need to be aware of how their actions affect the area. Fire season isn't over yet; be conscientious.