Well, it’s something.
And depending on how the word is emphasized out loud, “something” could mean just about anything — from praise to scorn.
We’ll leave it to you to draw your own conclusion after reading the county commissioners’ proclamation, issued last week, that was intended to connote unity on a responsible approach to combating COVID-19.
The commissioners’ statement, long on verbiage but murky on meaning, was cobbled together after Okanogan County Community Health Director Lauri Jones pleaded with them to take a strong stand for effective coronavirus countermeasures. The county’s COVID-19 case count has spiked dramatically in recent weeks, and Jones was hoping for some strongly worded leadership from the three commissioners. What she got was this (excerpted from the document):
“We issue a desperate appeal to the Okanogan County community at large to implement the cautionary measures suggested by Okanogan County health officials, and in signing this proclamation, each of us commit to setting an example to the public in implementing measures recommended by our Okanogan County health officials …”
The “desperate” part makes sense. But “cautionary?” “Recommended?” The directives from the state, and the countermeasures that people who actually know something (as opposed the hoaxers, deniers and so-called freedom fighters) say will be required to curb the virus, are a lot more than cautionary suggestions. They are necessary actions, and will make the difference between the county’s residents being healthy, alive and on the road to a recovering economy, as opposed to watching the virus continue to rage.
To be fair, give the commissioners credit for being responsive and trying to merge three points of view into a coherent statement, which might have held up better if they had chosen not to add their concluding statement: “This proclamation shall be in effect until a photograph of all three commissioners together with their smiling faces, without masks, is released to the public.”
We’d love to see that picture, but the attempt to leaven the crisis with levity falls a bit flat. Then the commissioners each added their own personal statements, which while well-meaning nonetheless may have undermined the hoped-for unity of the entire proclamation. Commissioner Jim DeTro begrudgingly offered that “I don’t like being mandated by government; however I do take precautionary measures …” Hardly a call to arms against the most vicious public health menace in more than a century.
What the commissioners could do to show more meaningful leadership is not just implore people to “implement” and demonstrate compliance, but also to require and enforce compliance as appropriate. It is the law, and it is enforceable in a number of ways, even if some law enforcement officials or amateur lawyers try to tell you otherwise.
Commissioner Andy Hover was right when he said that “The effort to control the virus is clearly not a political issue.” But the board of commissioners is still gingerly treating COVID-19 as if it were indeed a political issue rather than a health calamity. If they brought all their powers to bear on aggressively counteracting the COVID-19, no one would care about politics when the coronavirus curve begins to flatten and plunge.
Related to that…
They are simply doing their jobs — that is, giving competent, science-based, non-political guidance on how to battle the coronavirus. From Anthony Fauci on down, they are this country’s genuine superheroes.
For that, the nation’s public health officials are being harassed, vilified and threatened with physical harm or even death (see related story, page A1).
That’s shameful (and probably criminal) behavior anywhere, and right here in Okanogan County the dangerous lunacy has been cranked up to the max in response to Lauri Jones’ consistently forthright — and brave — assertiveness on how to control the virus here. She’s been right, and her critics have not only been terribly wrong but also destructive in their resistance to the only countermeasures that have a chance of working.
Across the country, a host of public health officials have resigned, retired or been fired. Those still on the job are trying to save lives and help the country begin the long journey back to normalcy. Anywhere they are not heeded, COVID-19 goes on a rampage. The health officials’ harassers are a threat to all of us. And apparently some of those critics would rather silence the voices of reason than accept truth, reality and responsibility for their own role in prolonging the pandemic crisis.