NATSO CEO Stirs Face Mask Debate With Controversial “Patriotic Duty” Comment
Little Rock, AR – Recent comments made by the CEO of the National Association of Truckstop Operators (NATSO) is stirring the face mask debate among many truckers.
Like many Americans, truckers are questioning the efficacy of widespread facial covering mandates in states, municipalities, and most major truck stop chain stores across the nation.
Are masks an effective and scientifically proven tool to slow the spread of COVID-19?
If so, why did the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) initially downplay the effectiveness of facial coverings before reversing course?
Even if wearing masks is a scientifically proven way to slow the spread of COVID-19, is forcing Americans to do so under penalty of fines and even imprisonment going too far?
These are all questions Americans are continually faced with and many people hold strong opinions on.
However, recent comments by Lisa Mullings, CEO of NATSO, ratcheted the face mask debate up another notch within the trucking community.
Late last month, citing the CDC’s guidance, NATSO issued a plea to all of its member truck stops and travel plazas urging the adoption of a mandatory mask policy nationwide.
NATSO also contended a lack of a consistent policy from state to state was causing confusion among truckers and travelers.
Mullings took it a step further though, and seemed to suggest that business owners who did not require masks be worn inside their stores are acting in an unpatriotic manner.
“While we understand that there is disagreement about whether to mask, we are urging members to follow the advice of medical experts, including the CDC,” Mullings said. “We have a patriotic duty to guard the health of our employees and customers and believe this is an easy way to get the U.S. economy moving during this unprecedented global pandemic.”
Her comments immediately drew scores of angry replies on Transportation Nation Network’s (TNN) social media pages and in our members only comments section.
Here are just a few…
“Patriotic duty? Created confusion? If you are really worried about masking up, use a REAL mask that is actually made for filtering out dangerous agents. Not these ridiculous things everyone is wearing,” said James Driver.
Eddie Cilurso simply asked, “Is she for real?”
“My patriotic duty is to not fall for this bullsh-t,” Mike Snodgrass fired back.
Danny Heifner argued mask mandates don’t have anything at all to do with patriotism.
“Nothing to do with being patriotic… [it’s] all about control,” he commented.
Jamie Stewart had this idea many truckers are sure to support: “If they say that wearing a mask is patriotic then they need to lower their over inflated prices and outrageous fees to park to show their patriotism!”
Dennis Cormack said he thinks the issue for truck stops is not about patriotism, it’s about liability if someone gets sick.
“Lawyers are involved now and telling business to do it to avoid being sued when someone claims they got [COVID-19] in their place of business,” he stated.
While the overwhelming majority of comments were in opposition to face mask mandates, some did express support for the policy.
“Anti-maskers are part of the reason why this country is nothing more than an embarrassment to the rest of the world. Grow the f-ck up and put on the damn mask,” said Robert Lamb
Martin Knipfer added, “It is not like you have to wear it while you are sleeping alone in your bed.”
Kevin Hock directed his comments specifically at truckers.
“These comments prove why truckers are dumb sh-ts,” he responded.
Despite the fury over the issue, some argue such mandates are not worth getting worked up over because they are unenforceable.
“They can’t legally make you wear one. Whether it be medical condition or religious. And you don’t have to explain why. The first lawsuit for violating civil rights will stop all the nonsense,” Josh Thomas declared.
Tim Boyle agreed, stating: “According to Pilot’s policies all you have to do is say you are medically exempt. End of discussion unless they want an ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) Lawsuit.”
To Boyle’s point, a spokesperson for Pilot Company told TNN its policy does not apply to “children or to persons with a medical condition that prevent wearing a face covering.”
Other major retailers that have adopted similar mandatory facial covering policies such as Walmart, Walgreens, and Home Depot have each indicated customers who refuse to wear masks are still served.
Thank you to all those who shared your feedback with us on this issue.