Dear Friends and Neighbors,
With Gov. Jay Inslee set to extend parts of his “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” quarantine in the upcoming days, it's time to put things into perspective.
It's estimated that around 22 million people have lost their jobs in our country, with nearly a million seeking unemployment here in our state. I've heard from employers, employees, small business owners, friends and neighbors all asking the same thing: when is this going to end?
In my opinion, it should end today – now!
Our state was one of the first hit by the new coronavirus and also one of the first to go into a lockdown, quarantine mode. With schools and all but essential businesses closing, life has taken on a surreal quality of confusion, frustration and isolation. The governor's list of “essential” businesses lacked clarity and caused angst throughout our communities as certain public construction projects were allowed, but all private construction was halted. While I'm glad to see the governor is now going to allow certain private construction to continue, much of the damage has been done to an industry – with real people, doing real work, collecting REAL PAYCHECKS – that will now take a very long time to recover. This scenario has played out all over our state and local economies as so many in our communities have lost jobs or have been furloughed.
In the eight states that did not go into shutdown mode (Wyoming, Utah, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Iowa and Arkansas), it is very difficult to prove that their citizens' health and safety are worse off than the citizens of states that completely shut down their economies.
As of this week, our state has seen a total of 13,842 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 786 deaths. In Utah, those numbers are 4,233 and 41. In Oklahoma, those numbers are 3,280 and 197. In Nebraska, those numbers are 3,358 and 56. Deaths in our state during the most recent flu season are up to 96. Each death is personal and a sad tragedy. I only offer the statistics as reference points for the greater discussion at hand: our liberties.
If we've learned anything from the last two months, hopefully it's a reminder that authoritarian approaches do not work – they effectively remove our God-given liberties outlined and protected in our state and national constitutions. Who would have thought that the mayor of Los Angeles, CA would use cellphone data to “hunt down” those not complying with his orders? Or that he would order tons of sand be dumped in a skate park to discourage outdoor activity? If we accept these actions from our leaders as the “new normal,” I fear we are on a dangerous path.
In addition, we're seeing a very serious underutilization of our hospital and health services as people stay away from receiving any type of non-COVID-19 medical care. Some hospitals and health clinics are laying health care workers off at this time and people who would normally seek preventative care are refusing to do so. This is bad for the overall health of our community.
It's time to reopen our economy!
Last week, Republicans in both the state House and Senate released the Safe Economic Restart Plan. We have been working on various ideas, strategies and methods for safely, smartly and regionally reopening our economy, and will continue to do so.
Here are some news stories on the plan:
- Republican lawmakers release plan to reopen Washington's economy amid coronavirus (The Seattle Times)
- Challenging Inslee, GOP lawmakers release plan to restart the economy (The News Tribune)
- Legislative Republicans unveil “safe economic restart plan” (The Daily World)
- Inslee facing increasing pressure to allow homebuilding and other sectors to reopen (NW News Network)
While I'm pleased the governor is allowing fishing, some limited outdoor recreation, and the slow re-opening of our economy, more needs to be done. I intend to do my part at the Legislative level to keep the pressure on! Enough is enough! Let's let people get back to work!
We are now in the containment phase with the new coronavirus. It's time we ignore the panic and rely on facts. This means we have to examine accumulated data to see what really happened and stop staring at the hypothetical projections that continue to rule many, despite consistently being proven wrong and causing panic.