Governor’s plan leaves rural Washington behind

Governor Inslee’s regional reopening plan announced Jan. 5 leaves much to be desired. It is not fair or equitable. But his announcement to allow two regions on the west side of the state to reopen on Feb. 1 is utterly ridiculous.

To move the most populated areas in the state into Phase 2, by changing the metrics makes absolutely no sense. Leaving sparsely populated counties with low COVID numbers, such as Lincoln, or counties that have an outstanding track record managing this pandemic, such as Kittitas, behind is extremely short-sighted.

Our health districts in Kittitas, Grant and Lincoln counties have demonstrated they have the expertise to manage this crisis as they have been able to bring their numbers under control. This new plan ignores local control and the success these local health districts have proven can be accomplished.

The governor talks about the science he is using to manage this pandemic, so where is the science to reopen high populated counties with high exposure rates, yet tie rural counties with low rates to urban areas with much higher rates to keep them closed down? Is the governor manipulating the metrics for his own agenda?

The governor needs to back up his science with facts. The citizens of this state want answers, and they deserve answers. It’s time to take a real look at the damage to this state and the citizens who call Washington home.

We have advocated since the pandemic began to engage the elected members of the Legislature and local elected officials all around the state to manage this crisis. We have been totally shut out of this process. One Washington?

As we look at the map of the regions advancing into Phase 2 compared to the regions left behind in Phase 1, it makes us wonder what the governor is basing his decision on. Solid science or politics?

You can’t manage a pandemic with week to week open-close drastic measures. When you prohibit people an opportunity to be social and live their life, they will do it anyway on their own. This is driving up the numbers and creating more and more frustration and anger. This is leading us to higher mental health cases and suicidal issues. This is not keeping people safe or healthy, and the facts are proving this to be true.

We are seeing others in the Legislature beginning to push back as well; it is now going beyond partisan politics. Many of our friends from the other side of the state and across the aisle are sending the same message. We are here to serve and represent the people. The people need to be heard. The time is now to lift the state of emergency, bring the legislators and local elected officials on board to craft a plan for recovery that will work for us all, based on sound science and facts.

This plan leaves half the state behind, which is the half that has shown the ability to manage and control this virus. How long are we going down this road? How long are we going to live in denial? Approximately 80% of the country is operating at 50% capacity. Why not Washington? Our numbers support opening at the same level!  

We trust our constituents to do the right thing and work to stop the spread of this deadly virus. We honor the hard work and sacrifices they have made. It’s time for a sensible recovery plan for ALL of Washington.

Sen. Judy Warnick, and Reps. Tom Dent and Alex Ybarra represent the 13th Legislative District, which includes Lincoln, Kittitas, and parts of Grant and Yakima counties.

State Representative Alex Ybarra, 13th Legislative District
470 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
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