To the Editor:

Before my retirement, I was a family doctor in Derry Township, including over 35 years as a school physician for the Derry Area School District.

In those capacities, I tried to always follow the evidence published by medical and public health organizations so as to provide the best health recommendations to my patients and, when necessary, to community organizations and the school system. I am, therefore, disappointed to read in the recent Latrobe Bulletin of the outspoken opposition by some students and members of the community to the wearing of masks in school as mandated by the state Health Department under Gov. Wolf.

The recent surge in COVID cases by the emergence of the delta variant has been clearly documented, and it is putting unvaccinated people (including children under 12 years old) and immunocompromised people at increased risk of acquiring this potentially deadly infection, and adding additional strain to our hospitals and health care providers.

For these reasons, we should be willing to make accommodations to our public routines to help protect others (and possibly ourselves) from this serious disease. I understand the desire for personal autonomy, but we have a long history in our country of making some individual sacrifices (which, in this case, does not produce any personal harm) to help our fellow American citizens. Every law-abiding citizen does his/her best to obey traffic signals, to not supply alcoholic beverages to minors, to not smoke in public buildings or restaurants, to wear seat belts and put our young children in car seats. All of these behaviors involve modifications of some of our personal and communal behaviors to help protect others from harm.

I hope that those who oppose mask wearing for themselves, especially those in positions of responsibility, will reconsider their position and be willing to follow the advice and public health recommendations for the benefit of others.

Dr. James Sillaman III


(1) comment

Sean M. Kemmerer

Thank you, Dr. Sillaman for your years of service to the Derry Area community, and for speaking truth in the face of misinformation. We need more voices like yours.

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