Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Roger Harnack
Gazette Publish 



April 23, 2020

Gov. Jay Inslee had to know a showdown was coming with Eastern Washington.

State law allocated him 30 days in which to operate under emergency authority, unless the Legislature convenes and passes a concurrent resolution. That didn't happen.

And with his initial stay-home quarantine issued Feb. 29 due to the coronavirus outbreak, many east of the Cascades have been anxiously awaiting the governor's nod to return to work, to recreate and to shop.

Without even a cautious nod, the tension has been rising.

On Tuesday, April 21, commissioners in neighboring Franklin County reached their breaking point. Led by Clint Didier of Eltopia, they voted unanimously to reject the quarantine and to encourage businesses to reopen.

Their action followed calls for more common sense and restoration of freedoms guaranteed to American citizens by state and federal constitutions.

Senate Minority Leader Mark Schoesler of Ritzville, who also represents Whitman County in the Legislature, has been calling for an end to the disparity with state government designating some businesses and their workers "essential," but leaving "non-essential" businesses closed and their employees sitting at home worrying about their health, their families and their livelihoods.

Elsewhere, Rep. Brad Klippert of Kennewick has been calling for lawmakers to reject any further delay in reopening the state. Douglas and Chelan counties last week reopened construction on permitted home projects. And Franklin County Sheriff Jim Raymond said Monday that neither he nor his deputies would enforce any quarantine that contradicts constitutional rights to go to church, assemble peaceably or provide for your family.

Franklin County's move Tuesday shouldn't have come as a surprise to anyone, certainly not the governor, and certainly not after protests in many areas of the state over the weekend.

Yes, there are coronavirus cases here; no, an emergency does not exist in our neck of the woods, at least not a medical emergency.

We do have an economic emergency. Our downtowns are empty. Our residents are hoping for government checks to arrive in the mail to keep them afloat. And our rural hospitals are on the verge of failure as revenue losses have led to staff cuts and layoffs.

Ironic, isn't it, being quarantined for a health emergency while hospitals are close to failing due to a lack of patients.

There are people here ill due to the virus. Those who are sick or who have medical conditions should choose to stay home - choose to stay home.

They can voluntarily self-quarantine until they're healthy enough and ready to rejoin society. Nobody is making them go out in public - in fact, government benefits and many businesses have made it all too easy to stay home.

Those who venture out can still practice social distancing. They can still wear masks. But they don't have to.

That's what being American is all about - personal choice. As our region moves toward reopening, make your choices wisely.

- Roger Harnack

is the publisher of Free Press Publishing.

Email him at [email protected]


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