The mask debate kicked off a heated legislative session

HARTFORD — The General Assembly’s tradition of open-ended debate was put to the test Thursday night when an eastern Connecticut conservative who unsuccessfully challenged the state’s COVID warrants in court, stood for over an hour, saying face masks are not effective for general use and actually hurt children.

Rep. Doug Dubitsky, R-Chaplin, Member of the Legislative Assembly Conservative caucuscited “dozens and dozens of peer-reviewed studies spanning decades,” during an hour and seven-minute monologue to a mostly empty Chamber chamber.

In a brief counter-argument, Westport’s Rep. Jonathan Steinberg went to great lengths to poke holes in the claims because it was just a bogus plan. It was an eye-opening exchange in a heated vote on just the second day of the 3-month 2022 legislative session, a rare sight on opening week.

Dubitsky rose to speak more than four hours into the debate to expand a dozen pandemic emergency measures and send legislation to the Senate Monday for the final action. By then, Republicans had apparently offered every possible argument to try to defeat the legislation in the House, which has a 96-53 Democratic majority pending the next two special elections.

Read aloud medical and research journals, many from obscure institutions around the world, and address conservative talking pointsDubitsky, a lawyer in his third term, had the longest remarks, by far, in the debates of the day. The House began its working day just after noon, took a brief break in the late afternoon, and ended with a final vote just before 10 p.m.

“A few people have mentioned, here and there, the adverse effects on children,” Dubitsky began. “And, here and there, people mentioned science. But when it comes to forcing someone, especially a child, to wear a medical device — what a mask is, it’s a medical device — the first thing you should always do is make sure that this medical device is safe and effective.”

“Masks harm children’s physical and mental health,” Dubitsky said toward his conclusion, more than an hour later.

Minutes later, Steinberg — who as co-chair of the public health committee chaired marathon public hearings, including last year’s 24-hour virtual hearing that was dominated by parents opposed to the demands of the state to have childhood vaccines attend public schools – spoke.

The Democrat recalled the statewide fear of two years ago as the coronavirus gripped the nation and there was no vaccine in sight.

“The hardest sacrifice we had to ask for was that of our children, who may not have understood what we were asking of them, or why it was so important, but proved to be incredibly adaptable to the realities of wearing a mask,” Steinberg said. . The rules, he said, “were the natural result of trying to defeat a plague that was trying to kill as many people on the planet as possible.”

Noting that the statewide death toll has topped 10,000, he attempted to refute Dubitsky’s one-man mini-buccaneer message in a few words.

“We’re about to get past this thing,” Steinberg said as lawmakers began to return to the House chamber ahead of the final vote.

“For every study cited by my colleague, I can give you a dozen that are actually peer-reviewed that suggest masks have a benefit and that’s why the CDC and the association of pediatricians always recommend them,” Steinberg said. “So if you want to talk about science, we can be here all night, but I don’t think that’s really what we’re here to talk about. We are here to talk about how we, as a legislature, will preside over the conclusion of this pandemic. And what we have before us today is the means by which this will be accomplished.

The expanded orders passed by an 86-62 vote with nine Democrats joining each Republican.

[email protected] Twitter: @KenDixonCT

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