Kate Bossi and Jessica Williams aren’t your typical fire-breathing-revolutionaries. Bossi is a Sunday school teacher and a grandmother. Williams is all of 5’2” and has two school-age children. These two New Hampshire women join a growing number of ordinary Americans confronting draconian and confusing COVID diktats still imposed by governments and businesses.
Police arrested Bossi at a public meeting of the Timberlane Regional School Board on May 20 because she wasn’t wearing a mask. In a video posted to YouTube, Bossi’s daughter, Jackie Wydola, can be heard saying, “Mom, I love you,” as three masked Plaistow, N.H., police officers loom over Bossi and force her arms behind her back.
Last month, the chair of the Governor Wentworth Regional School Board called the police on Williams because Williams was sitting by herself in a school auditorium unmasked. Wolfeboro Police Chief Dean Rondeau responded to the call but didn’t arrest Williams.
“I don’t think a judge would look kindly on removing a member of the public from a public meeting for not wearing a mask,” Rondeau said.
“My constitutional and statutory right to attend a public meeting of a public body supersedes the school district’s ability to force me to wear particular articles of clothing against my will,” Williams said in an interview, from an outside table at the Lone Wolfe Brewing Company in Wolfeboro. It’s May, a day after the Centers for Disease Control abruptly reversed course and acknowledged the obvious: vaccinated people don’t have to wear masks. Yet a man and woman at the next table, about 12 feet away, were wearing masks while they waited for their food.
“It’s absolutely insane,” says Don Bolduc, a retired brigadier general and the only Republican currently in the U.S. Senate race to unseat Democrat incumbent Maggie Hassan. “The whole idea that you can think it’s smart for people, especially children, to be wearing a mask, rebreathing the carbon dioxide that your body is supposed to be expelling. It makes no sense.”
Even though a statewide mask mandate expired on April 16, a confusing hodgepodge of local and private regulations remains. Along with mixed messaging from the state, these arbitrary restrictions continue to cause conflict among friends, neighbors, and families in communities across New Hampshire.
Some cities and towns, including Concord and Nashua, still have mask mandates, and the majority of stores in the resort town of Wolfeboro still require customers to wear masks. The hardware store had a new sign handwritten in large Sharpie letters, reading: “STILL REQUIRING MASKS.”
The owner of a thrift store told a customer recently she would continue to require masks until at least October. The Water Village Community Church in nearby Ossipee has a marquee announcing its 9:30 a.m. service that reads, “Always Remember, Please Wear Masks.”
One local resident, Abbey Lawrence, recently wrote a letter to the editor of Wolfeboro’s hometown paper, the Granite State News:
Unfortunately, face masks do not do what many people think they do. Last May the CDC published a meta-analysis of mask studies, and concluded: ‘Our systematic review found no significant effect of face masks on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza.’ Masks that are of dubious effectiveness against influenza can be no more effective against the coronavirus.
The paper rejected her letter. When she asked editor Brendan Berube why he hadn’t published it, he replied, “I do not feel that it is appropriate for our publications to provide a forum for claims about the ineffectiveness of face masks.”
In Tuftonboro last weekend, I watched a woman wearing a mask, alone in her car, as she pulled into the town dump to throw her trash into an outdoor compactor. On a beautiful spring day at a local garden shop, another woman walked through the outdoor nursery carrying a masked infant in her arms, with two young children, also masked, by her side. Back in Wolfeboro, five or six people all wore masks as they waited in line to buy fish from the back of a seafood truck in a parking lot.
Mask confusion isn’t limited to New Hampshire. Dr. Anthony Fauci insisted in congressional testimony last month it wasn’t theater for him to wear two masks even though he is fully vaccinated. But this month he admitted vaccinated people don’t need to wear masks. “I didn’t want to look like I was giving mixed signals,” he told George Stephanopoulos.
Dr. Fauci admits his wearing masks indoors despite being vaccinated was based on imagery, not science:
"I didn’t want to look like I was giving mixed signals but being a fully vaccinated person, the chances of my getting infected in an indoor setting is extremely low." pic.twitter.com/UdJdhHvoR0
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) May 18, 2021
“Due to the inconsistent, convoluted, and ever-changing guidance/messaging from President Biden’s CDC, the confusion from businesses and schools across the country is understandable,” New Hampshire’s Republican governor, Chris Sununu, recently told Fox News in a statement. But some of the confusion in New Hampshire comes from Sununu’s executive branch.
Sununu rejected a mask mandate before last year’s election, only to reverse course immediately after being reelected to a third two-year term as governor. Then, when his mask mandate finally expired in April, Sununu said municipalities and businesses could make their own mask requirements. After the CDC said vaccinated people don’t need to wear masks, Sununu’s state epidemiologist Dr. Ben Chan recommended “everybody, including fully vaccinated people, continue to wear face masks.”
“Sununu was following the bad advice he was getting from aides, scientists, and just doing what they said,” says Bolduc. The New Hampshire governor, who is widely expected to challenge Bolduc in the Republican primary, “kept the mandate way too long, but then when he did end it, he didn’t really,” Bolduc adds. “He didn’t let people get on with their lives. He maintained the fear and uncertainty.”
Bolduc says he doesn’t want his grandchildren to wear masks. “That lethargy we see in children, it’s not because they had a long day. It’s from that d-mn mask.”
“When you say, ‘Just wear the mask,’ you clearly have no understanding of early childhood development,” Bossi told CBS Boston after her arrest.
Bossi is facing charges of disorderly conduct and criminal trespass, which could each include a $1,200 fine. Williams says she’s “received hate mail and death threats” for her efforts to free students from wearing masks.
The couple at the next table, at the Lone Wolfe in Wolfeboro, finally removed their masks to eat. Maybe someday soon they won’t put them back on. With examples of people such as Bossi and Williams taking a stand for liberty and rationality, it might just happen.
If there isn’t freedom in the “Live Free or Die” state, where is it? Perhaps in your state. But unless Americans take a stand against mask mandates and arbitrary restrictions that continue more than a year after the initial spread of COVID-19, Bossi and Williams won’t be the last victims of such tyranny.