Gov. Kate Brown held a press conference on COVID-19 last Friday where she urged local officials to lead by example, educate citizens on the need to follow COVID-19 regulations and enforce the rules when necessary.

The governor’s comments drew a response from the Association of Oregon Counties on Friday and the Douglas County Board of Commissioners on Monday. Both entities raised objections but disagreed with the other’s approaches — especially on enforcing the rules.

On Friday, the Association of Oregon Counties issued a written statement calling on the governor to fund county enforcement efforts. It asked Brown to reach out to county sheriffs and to provide support and resources.

Association of Oregon Counties Executive Director Gina Firman Nikkel said the counties are already committed to doing their part to protect public health.

“We are partners with the State, delivering critical services to Oregonians on their behalf. Today we ask the governor and State officials to support counties. These increased expectations the governor announced require additional resources that the State has yet to distribute,” Nikkel said in a written statement.

On Monday, the Douglas County Board of Commissioners responded with a statement of its own. Douglas County hadn’t been consulted about the association’s statement ahead of time, it said. Furthermore, the Douglas County commissioners said they don’t believe it’s appropriate for the county to be placed in the role of enforcers at all.

The commissioners wrote that they stand with, represent and support the county’s citizens and businesses, and they want them to be economically stable and healthy, as well as to have access to necessary services.

Enforcement, however, is another matter.

“(W)e do not support county ‘enforcement’ of State issued COVID guidelines. Instead, as the local public health authority, we feel it is paramount for State officials to provide easy to understand, timely access to the latest information, resources and medical guidance in order to educate residents about COVID that allows them to make informed, responsible decisions,” they wrote. “This information should also flow directly to the County Commissioners, so they can share with their residents. We feel that most people will do the right thing, if given the opportunity and knowledge to do so.”

The commissioners also said it’s impossible to understand the unique needs of each of Oregon’s 36 counties, and the state should work directly with county commissioners.

That’s not what’s happening, they wrote.

Instead, communication has to be accessed through an “unclear maze” of emergency managers, public health officials and the Association of Oregon Counties.

That maze, they wrote, has made it incredibly difficult for the county to access and spend relief money where it’s needed most.

“While our main priority for this pandemic has been to save lives and prevent the continued spread of the virus, we want to make it clear that we will continue to advocate for better coordination, education and communication from State Officials working directly with County Commissioners. It is imperative that the State treat us as a partner in this fight and not the enemy,” Douglas County Commissioner Tim Freeman said in a written statement.

Reporter Carisa Cegavske can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213.

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Senior Reporter

Carisa Cegavske is the senior reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213. Follow her on Twitter @carisa_cegavske

(13) comments

Rise722

I am beginning to think that some people need to go live in the bigger cities because obviously us hicks that want to make our own choices, just aren't living up to their expectations. Masks are arbitrary and the CDC has already said they are of dubious value. And, I find it quite refreshing that our Commissioners, Sheriff, etc. like people to think for themselves and govern their own lives.

mworden

Rise, you have the right to your own opinions, but not your own facts. The CDC has NOT said that face coverings are of dubious vaIue. From the CDC website, updated August 7 --- "CDC recommends that people wear masks in public and when around people who don’t live in your household." That's a fact, easiIy obtained by visiting the CDC website. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover-guidance.html

Mike

Hick: a person who lives in the country, regarded as being unintelligent.

A person who refers to their self as a "hick" may not have the capacity to comprehend facts or the truth.

melrosereader

Gosh. We sure do need new commissioners, new sheriff, the whole new kit and caboodle. This right wing science-denying cult is just plain exhausting.

CitizenJoe

Yes: Vote 'em out--as in the song:

https://youtu.be/B_6-8AE7Cao

sectorstar

I had posted about my experience working at Costco and how the mask thing was a joke when the entire town developed "medical conditions" over night so they didn't have to wear one. A few weeks ago I posted about the new policy change where if you didn't wear a mask, you were not allowed in the store PERIOD, and employees were given the ok to actually be able to tell other customers to put their mask on or wear them correctly without fear of getting in trouble. About a week into that change, corporate did a 180 and than said we were no longer allowed to say anything. If a customer says they can't wear a mask, a manager is called to the door "with a smile" (how they know you are smiling with a mask on is beyond me) and talks to them about how they are violating the mask mandate and shopping at their own risk. They are given a paper about the mask policy (which usually just gets left in the shopping cart or on the floor) and the manager has to let them in with no mask. Apparently too many people complained to corporate about the new change in themask policy and that was why we went back down on it. Though it should be noted that at our store anyways, the majority of management was not in favor of the sudden change. It was one of those "its orders from the top, but we don't agree with it" type of things.

That was probably the first time I've been embarrassed to have my name attached to a company with that reversal of policy. Now we're back to before where well over half the shoppers in there can't wear a mask because of a medical condition, or just take their mask off once they're inside and employees are powerless to do anything about it. But yet if an employee at my store anyways doesn't have their mask on correctly thats grounds to be sent home.

Mike

According to Costco's updated policy, "all Costco members and guests must wear a face covering that covers their mouth and nose at all times while at Costco. This requirement does not apply to children under the age of 2 or to individuals who are unable to wear a face covering due to a medical condition.

Costco in Connecticut requires a written documentation by a medical provider for people with medical conditions.

What a shame. Too bad Costco cares so little for their workers.

https://www.costco.com/covid-updates.html

TJ

[sad]

Mike

Rather than pick excerpts from the Douglas County Commissioner's statement, why doesn't the News-Review simply print the entire statement? It's only one page. I've attached the below link for people who want to read the entire statement from our Commissioners. Below are some of the other things written by our Commissioners:

“We do not support county enforcement’ of State issued COVID guidelines… We feel that most people will do the right thing, if given the opportunity and knowledge to do so.”

“The State should not question our ability to meet the needs of our constituents.”

“The County Commissioners are the ones making the difficult decisions day in and day out for our residents.”

“We were one of the first counties to submit our application for Phase One and Phase Two reopening.”

“Our Douglas County Commissioners…are a leading force in Oregon by executing forward thinking solutions to combat the spread of the coronavirus in our County.”

“While our main priority for this pandemic has been to save lives and prevent the continued spread of the virus…it is imperative that the State treat us as a partner in this fight and not the enemy,” commented Commissioner Tim Freeman.

https://flashalert.net/id/DouglasCoGovernment

Mike

First of all, saving lives HASN'T been our County Commissioners main priority. Keeping their campaign contributor buddies businesses open has been their main priority. Douglas County shouldn't have had 2 deaths if saving lives had been our Commissioner’s first priority.

Second, it’s difficult to believe our County Commissioners, who consider themselves, “a leading force in Oregon," would have taken the steps necessary to stem the spread of coronavirus and kept Douglas County residents safe. Keep in mind these are the same Commissioners who said during a Board of Commissioner meeting’ “There is no call for social distancing…There is no call to close events…People should go about their lives...This virus, like most viruses, will cycle through and we’ll move on to the next thing.” These are the same Commissioners who encouraged businesses to reopen during the Governors’ shut down order and then contributed money to pay the fines for business that were cited.

Third, it’s difficult to believe Douglas County residents would have been safe from the virus under the questionable leadership of our Commissioners had the state NOT stepped in.

Finally, after observing the facemask fiasco, it is difficult for me to believe “people will do the right thing.”

TJ

[thumbup]

Mike

Commissioner Freeman has it wrong. The state DOES need to treat the Commissioners as the enemy of people who wish to survive this pandemic. If not for the actions of the state, the inactions of our County Commissioners would have doomed many more county residents to death.

CitizenJoe

Concur: "If not for the actions of the state, the inactions of our County Commissioners would have doomed many more county residents to death."

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