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More Lawmakers Sound Off on COVID Policies
Disproportionally impacts women, single-parent homes, rural communities and small businesses.

In a letter addressed to Governor Brown several elected officials have requested that the Governor reconsider policies relating to COVID-19 restrictions.

The letter points out that "COVID-19 cases will ebb and flow over the next several months just as they have over the last several weeks. This metric is not a reliable indicator of the situation." Several experts have pointed out that increases in cases may be linked to testing quantity and quality, and not indicative of an increase in the severity of the outbreak.

It is time to re-evaluate the metrics and the ever-changing goal posts related to slowing the spread of COVID-19 in our rural, semi-rural, eastern and frontier communities. We have shut down for months, we have met the metrics required, we have followed the goal posts as they’ve moved, we have adhered to the rules, we have slowed the spread—and yet, our counties, communities, small businesses, K-12 schools, childcare and colleges, health departments and more, sit in a stale and stagnant state without forward progress. We have done and continue to do all that is within our capacity to slow the spread of COVID-19, and now, some of our border counties are being directly affected by decisions and actions from outside our state over which we have no control.

This is not a sustainable position for our communities.

The letter notes that current COVID-19 policies "disproportionally impact women, single-parent homes, rural communities and small businesses... students are struggling in their education as well as their mental and emotional fitness, families have been stressed to the maximum, and decade-old businesses that are the lifeblood of our Oregon communities have closed for good." Focusing on the impacts to various facets of society, the elected officials propose four areas for change:

1.Restaurants and bars: Our hospitality industry, restaurants and bars must be able to stay open. The data shared by OHA does not show any indication that our restaurants and bars are the cause of increased cases. In addition, our hospitality industry is responsible for employing tens of thousands and Oregonians and keeping our already-fragile economy moving. Our restaurants and bars need to be able to extend their hours beyond the arbitrary closing time of 10:00pm and need to safely expand their indoor occupancy especially as we head into the holiday season and winter when indoor restaurants, lodging and tourism activity will grow. We are at risk for nearly 40% of our remaining businesses closing in the next six months if we do not allow for reasonable expansion of these services and industries.

2.Schools: Our schools need to be allowed to fully re-open for in-classroom learning, and our students need to be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities. All teachers, students, staff, and volunteers that want to return to in-person learning should be able to do so in a safe manner. All teachers, students, staff, and volunteers that desire to continue CDL should be able to do so. If it is safe for college athletes to return to sports, assuredly it is safe for high school students. Parents need to be able to return to work, and our students and teachers need the stability of the classroom.

3.State Agencies: We need to reopen our state agencies at all levels, including and specifically DMVs, across the state. We would argue, and assume you would agree, that our state agencies and state employees are essential. These agencies are funded with public dollars and our public needs full access to these essential services.

4.Religious institutions: Release our churches and places of worship. While outliers will exist as the exception, most churches and places of worship will be and have been more than scrupulous in protecting their congregations from harm from COVID-19. Give pastors, religious leaders and governing boards the latitude to exercise their best judgement for safety.

The letter concludes:

We have a simple ask. As the leaders chosen by Oregonians to represent their best interests and be their advocates, throughout and across our beautiful state, we would ask that the Governor and Governor’s office participate in these meetings and work with us, assess the proposals and plans we put forward, and consider the options we will be recommending for your consideration and approval. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

The letter has been signed by lawmakers representing overwhelmingly rural areas.

Senator Lynn Findley, Senate District 30
Senator Bill Hansell, Senate District 29
Senator Kim Thatcher, Senate District 13
Senator Fred Girod, Senate District 9
Senator Brian Boquist, Senate District 12
Senator Chuck Thomsen, Senate District 26
Rep. Mark Owens, House District 60
Rep. Greg Barretto, House District 58
Rep. Raquel Moore-Green, House District 19
Rep. Shelly Boshart-Davis, House District 15
Rep.Vikki Breese-Iverson, House District 55
Rep. Mike Nearman, House District 23
Rep. Bill Post, House District 25
Rep. Rick Lewis, House District 18
Rep. Carl Wilson, House District 3
Rep. Elect and Commissioner Lily Morgan, House District 3
Rep-Elect Bobby Levy, House District 58
Bill Harvey Baker, County Commissioner
Mark Bennett Baker, County Commissioner
Bruce Nichols, Baker County Commissioner
Jerry Brummer, Crook County Commissioner
Patti Adair, Deschutes County Commissioner
Tony DeBone, Deschutes County Commissioner
Jim Hamsher, Grant County Commissioner
Sam Palmer, Grant County Commissioner
Pete Runnels, Harney County Commissioner
Patty Dorroh, Harney County Commissioner
Kristen Shelman, Harney County Commissioner
Mae Huston, Jefferson County Commissioner
Donnie Boyd, Klamath County Commissioner
Derrick DeGroot, Klamath County Commissioner
Kelley Minty Morris, Klamath County Commissioner
Mark Albertson, Lake County Commissioner
Brad Winters, Lake County Commissioner
James Williams, Lake County Commissioner
Donald Hodge, Malheur County Commissioner
Larry Wilson, Malheur County Commissioner
Dan Joyce, Malheur County Commissioner
Melissa Lindsay, Morrow County Commissioner
Don Russell, Morrow County Commissioner
Jim Doherty, Morrow County Commissioner
Todd Nash, Wallowa County Commissioner
Craig Pope, Polk County Commissioner
Bill Elfering, Umatilla County Commissioner
George Murdock, Umatilla County Commissioner
John Shafer, Umatilla County Commissioner
Paul Anderes, Union County Commissioner
Matt Scarfo, Union County Commissioner
Donna Beverage, Union County Commissioner
Susan Roberts, Wallowa County Commissioner
Mary Starrett, Yamhill County Commissioner

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash.com


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-11-18 08:51:36Last Update: 2020-11-18 13:09:01



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