If you’re ready for the economy to fully open, then Kelly Cooper has a question for you: Why aren’t you wearing a mask?
If you want schools to safely start, then she has the same question: Why aren’t you wearing a mask?
If you want to keep the curve of COVID-19 cases flat, then she wants to know: Why aren’t you wearing a mask?
There’s no question where Cooper, the independent candidate for the District 31 State House seat, stands on wearing face coverings during the current pandemic: Wear them.
“Mindfulness of others is just the way we should all live,” she says.
Wearing a mask isn’t just about good health, it’s about good business.
“For me, it’s about jobs,” says Cooper. “Our job pool on the entire Kenai Peninsula is pretty small and pretty inter-related, so if I’m not responsible or if someone one of my employee’s spouses works for isn’t, it affects more than one business and it hurts our economy even more.”
Cooper is proud that her coffee shop, Coop’s Coffee on East End Road, was the first in the Homer area to mandate mask wearing for all employees. She’s also proud that the shop has broken revenue records during the pandemic.
“We were able to do it with the cooperation of my crew. We couldn’t have stayed open if they hadn’t done what I asked them to do,” she says.
Being a drive-through only business has helped. While other businesses shut down, she was able to remain open — a piece of normal in a world turned upside down.
There’s no doubt keeping any business running during a pandemic requires extra work — including more cleaning, plenty of hand sanitizing and taking steps to safely distance from co-workers and customers.
And wearing masks.
“All the baristas know that if we have a positive, we’re shut down,” she says.
That doesn’t mean it’s easy or that the baristas like wearing masks. They don’t.
“They’re sick of the masks. They’re hard to wear. It’s hot in there. But I’ve never given them an end time because I don’t know when that is. So they know if they work there, they have to wear them. It’s that simple.”
For Cooper, wearing a mask is not about politics or legal rights.
Instead, it’s about doing the right thing and keeping the community as healthy as possible.
“Do your homework. Do your research. I don’t care if the virus is not as deadly as they say. If one of your loved ones dies … it’s going to matter to you,” she says.
While wearing a mask may not feel normal, it’s a way to help life return to a semblance of pre-COVID days.
“If you want to keep our economy moving, if you want your kids to go to school, if you want that mom to be able to go back to work because she doesn’t have daycare and she needs her kids in school, well, wear the mask,” says Cooper.
It’s really as simple as that.